I put aside the new draft of an action script that's been giving me trouble and began a dramedy that was chomping at the bit. I had a few notes for it, but it didn't really gel until I realized the two main characters should not be in their late 20s. Life begins at 40, at least for these two fellas.
Inspiration hit me hard one day, and I pumped out a rough outline, character sketches and the first 25 pages. It helped that I borrowed from myself by using an idea I originally envisioned for another film I never got around to working on at all. At the end of the day, I slept on what I had accomplished.
Editing took over most of my time for the next two weeks. But I managed to squeeze out a page or two every day until I reached the mid-point, which is in many cases where (and when) tight screenplays can go berserk.
Predictably, I went berserk.
Over the next day or so I introduced random characters. I let gags drive the plot. I allowed quirk and montages set to Bachman Turner Overdrive overtake the characters. The script was about to careen off a cliff, and I was doing all the pushing.
I let it rest. My mind needed to focus on something else for a bit. In this case, it was Chuck Palahniuk's novel Rant.
Reading a book by a best-selling novelist that goes berserk halfway through can do wonders for the bruised ego of a writer lost in insanity. Granted, Rant's berserk twists have a purpose, but it's encouraging to witness lunacy elsewhere when trying to battle it from within.
I began major rewrites. About half of what I wrote was nixed. Characters' sex (or sexual orientations) were altered. Sentimentality was stripped in favor of humor-meets-heart. And I finished the damn thing.
Then I went back and changed even more things, tied up loose ends, adjusted the pacing. I read top-to-bottom to make sure everything made sense. Now it's up to my writer's group to provide outsider's feedback.
All things considered, the first draft took about a week to write. If I was to get paid to do this for a living, I could finish several drafts in a year. It's all a matter of making time.
Now, back to that action script. I just need some time...