Here we are, gentle reader. The year 2011, and still no sign of personal jet packs anywhere near the horizon. I thought this was supposed to be the future? Alas, maybe someday, but I digress. I hope that your New Year was a pleasant one, and that the past few days find all of your resolutions still firmly in place and moving you forward to a brighter future. Speaking of resolutions, I am reminded of the time when I had resolved to see if it was possible to write a movie in 21 days. Gather round gentle readers, as I recall the tale.
After having successfully completed all of the exercises and the pre-work, I was excited when Day 1, of my 21 days, finally arrived. My momentum was strong and I was ready to keep right on rolling. Now once again, I should note that the idea I was working on was not a new one to me. I had a firm grasp of the general story, characters, and plot line, so as I was doing the pre-visualization and placing my "story markers", I was able to do so with relative ease. Day 1 was going to be my first real challenge during the process. Mainly because I was no longer putting onto paper, (or more accurately, storing as bits of data on my hard drive), ideas I had already spent time thinking about, I was actually going to have to do some writing. I knew this day would come eventually, but as I have stated numerous times, I had hoped that somehow the screenplay would write itself as a result of going through the book. Yet here I was, faced with the tyranny of the blank page, (or again to be more accurate, the blank screen and its partner in crime, the ever blinking cursor). The assignment for Day 1, write the first ten pages of your screenplay.
As a part of following the instructions in the book, all writing assignments were to be timed. Meaning that author, Viki King, only allowed for a certain amount of time, during which, each assignment was to be completed. Day 1 was no exception. I must say, I think that this is nothing short of genius. It makes the task much less daunting to know there is a definitive end in terms of time spent. The time limit for Day 1 was two hours. The book is quite clear that the reader is not to take any longer than two hours to complete this assignment. Even if you as the reader, (the reader of the book, but I guess you too gentle reader), should want to take all day to write the first ten pages, you are not to do so under penalty of death or worse. At the two hour mark you are to be done. What's more, the book states that if done properly, the first ten pages could be done in as little as ten minutes. And that gentle reader, is what I am talking about! Ten pages written in ten minutes, is exactly the kind of fairy dust I was looking for! At the very worst it would take two hours, but if it could be done in ten minutes, well then, that is what I was gonna do! Oscar night here I come!
I sat down to write. After 45 minutes or so I took a break. My ten pages were not done. I sat down again and tried to write without editing myself, just throwing down ideas. 40 more minutes roll by, not done. It was time to go have dinner with my family, so I left home with my task incomplete and my spirits a little low. When I got home later that night there was a part of me that just wanted to call it a day. So what? I didn't quite get it done. Maybe I could finish doing Day 1 as part of Day 2 and catch up tomorrow. After all, it sure didn't get done in ten minutes. I'd been lied to, why should I continue to finish the process? Who was going to know? But alas, gentle reader, I knew in my heart, I was going to know. I had not put in the full two hours and my work was not done for the day. Though the hour was late, I sat down and in the 30 or so minutes I had left, I finished writing the ten pages that were required to complete Day 1. There was a great sense of accomplishment that went along with completing those pages. To know how much I struggled, how badly I wanted to give up for the day, but that I dug down and did what it took to complete Day 1, in the time allotted, made me believe that in 21 days I really would have my first feature length screenplay. I held on to that thought as I went to bed that night, not knowing that it was going to be torn away from me on Day 2.