I am neurotic, or a Zero Draft Thirty update

November 9, 2015

I was telling my friend how neurotic working on my screenplay draft was making me revealing me to be, and she said I should blog about it. So. Here we go.

To recap: I did The Artist’s Way. I discovered that maybe I was blocked because I don’t want to write books but want to write TV. I decided to use NaNoWriMo to work on a pilot script even though that’s for novel writing. I discovered Zero Draft Thirty and pledged to do that instead.

Now that that’s out of the way: my neuroses. I have been working on my script almost every single day. It is terrible–as it bloody well should be. It’s a zero draft (or, as I teach my students, a shitty first draft). I have silenced the inner critic! I have let go of resistance!

Well, kind of.

See, the thing is I get really distracted by What Happens When I Finished.

For example, I’m listening to Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me? (which is fantastic) and as she describes her life in L.A. and being a writer, I think, “I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to move to L.A. and start over and uproot my life.” I mean, it sounds great for her but also really and truly horrifying. Because I have stability! I like my job! But if I do what I set out to do with this writing then MY WHOLE LIFE MIGHT CHANGE.

It might change for the better, granted. But it could change.

The problem with this is that I haven’t actually finished anything yet. Please note that nowhere in this scenario does the idea of failing present itself. Only because I have worked through that. I used to be too scared to start anything because WHAT IF I DON’T FINISH? Now I have moved onto WHAT IF I FINISH AND IT IS AS BELOVED AS I EXPECT IT TO BE? So I also have a huge ego problem along with my fear of change/success. But at least I have gotten over my fear of failure.

Also, I started thinking that maybe I made the wrong choice and I should be thinking about writing books. I mean, I do love books more than TV, don’t I? I never imagined myself as a TV writer, really, but almost always as a book writer. Why am I wasting my time doing this script if really I want to write books? WHY CAN’T I MAKE A DECISION? Also, don’t forget about your love of short stories, Akilah!

But, really, the issue there is that I suffer from all or nothing/black and white thinking.

Today, while doing my morning pages, I realized that deciding to work on a script right now doesn’t mean I can’t work on a book or other writing project later. But it takes a lot of work for me to have these realizations. Because I always go straight for the “I can have x or y, and those are the only options.” Everything is either/or and never both/and with me.

So where does that leave me? Today, it left me finishing my pilot draft and giving myself permission to work on some other types of writing. It also reminded me that I need to stop thinking so much of everything I do as a product that must be sold. At this point in my life, I need to be writing because if I don’t write, I am miserable. If I do write, as shown above, I am also miserable, but not as miserable as when I’m not. Because it’s a very different kind of misery to constantly wonder why I’m not doing something I think I want to do versus wondering if I’m doing it right. (Did I also mention I’m a perfectionist? Yeah, so that’s a thing.) At least if I’m doing it wrong, I can tell myself to relax and just enjoy the process whereas if I’m not doing it at all, I hate myself every day.

So, in conclusion: I am neurotic. The end. Wait, I should end on an up note. The plus is that today I recognize how neurotic I am and know how to work through it. There. The real end.

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