“I’ll read the part of Francis, you can read Steve, and you Emma – you can be the narrator – oh and Jack”
I eye the paper that has been placed in front of me. Taking in my lines – turning the page – more narration. How did I draw the short straw and the longest part? Do I have to put on a voice? My mind is scrambling to remember what a ‘narrator’ sounds like. All I can think of is ‘Day 3 in the Big Brother house’ – complete with the Geordie accent.
Both eyes are on me – I begin!
The genius in me didn’t realise that being on a scriptwriting course would entail reading scripts. Out loud. To each other.
Two hours later, the evening air clung to my cheeks as the wind whistled round my legs. I held my jacket closer to me as I danced past a busker on my way to Waterloo. If this feeling could have been bottled – I would have given myself a spritz every morning.
My right hand ached with accomplishment – it had been months since I had taken pen to paper to create. And over 6 weeks since I had written at all – my blog was screaming out to be loved or at least visited.
Side note: although I haven’t posted for a while – for some reason I am getting daily visits to a post I wrote months ago: ‘Online Dating – Why do guys share their Uber rating? And other such questions!‘
But I left my blog alone. Not knowing what to write or what direction to go in. Thinking of the person at the other side of the screen – in another room, another city, another country – thinking of what they wanted to read. How to write for them. How to make my voice resonate. How to stir up their emotions. Get them to think, to change, to like…….me.
I didn’t have the words or the answer on how to achieve this. So I stopped. I didn’t write. I played down my wants and needs and every day that went by, I had made a decision.
Not making a decision IS making a decision – not to act. Not to take a chance. Not to say yes for fear of it being wrong. For fear of not being accepted or even worse – judged.
My go to badge that I repeatedly wear is that of indecision. Stating with almost a smug pride that ‘I’m bad at making decisions‘ or ‘I’m so indecisive‘ as if that was a fact – an always! At times I felt that not making a decision kept me safe when all it did was keep me stagnant.
Last month I
read devoured a book called ‘Mastery’ – by Robert Greene (after finally getting stuck into it 2 years after purchase) and one, of the many, ‘wow’ moments that hit me like a lighting bolt was that it is said to generally take 7 years for someone to become a master of something. 7 years! Note: or 10,000 hours – so you can’t claim mastery by doing something once a month for 7 years!
Reading that had my mind scanning the list of things that I had wanted to do. Some of them I had started and not finished – others had been pipe dreams that hung around – shouting pick me – pick me!
As my heart heaved, sinking to the pit of my stomach – I catapulted into action and clicked purchase on the course that had been sitting patiently waiting for me. I had a goal of going on a scriptwriting course long before I approached my 30s. There was even a time that I had dreamt of going to New York for 6 months to do one. I’m 37 now and if it is true what Robert Greene says, then I would have been a master – or at least a competent script writer now
If I had chosen to cast my doubts aside about; money ‘I can’t afford it’ and age ‘I’m too old’ then maybe I’d be a proud owner of a degree in Psychology or Creative Writing. No surprise there that I couldn’t decide which one so I took the savage act of indecision and chose neither!
Back to Thursday. The other person on the course is on a similar path to mine, as he had been wanting to try scriptwriting for 9 years! Yet I felt that we were polar opposites apart. I sat there, head resting in my hand, listening intently as he shared the idea that had been occupying his time. I was taken into his fantasy world and wanted to know more. I also didn’t want him to stop as I knew that when he did – it would be my turn.
“Emma. Tell me why you’ve decided to come on the course and what script idea you want to work on”
I could feel my head shrinking into my shoulders, looking at both of them in turn as I open my mouth…….
‘I love to write. I’ve always wanted to go on a scriptwriting course’ – #nailedit
‘But…..’ – #ohdear
‘I’m not sure I want to be a scriptwriter. I just want to try it and see what direction I want to take my writing in’ – #indecision = #FEAR
‘I do have an idea. Not as far along or as good as that’ I say nodding to my left – #comparison #puttingselfdown
I proceed to rush through an idea I had for a film, that came to me whilst on a bus and occasionally revisits me. I’ve never written it down or treated it with time or respect but I’m in the spotlight – I have to say something.
I’m sure the tutor is massaging my ego with his feedback, it was certainly a great tactic to move us on to the next exercise – bringing our ideas to life by writing the first few pages.
My palms began to sweat as I told him that until reading that House of Cards script that I had never even seen a script let alone written one! Seriously guys – I really don’t know why I was so shocked that I was asked to write on a scriptwriting course. I think I was expecting to learn first and write later.
So there I was with the bare bones of a plot, 20 mins to write and absolutely no time to be indecisive!
With time against me I managed to pull something out of the bag. Was it perfect? Absolutely not – but it was a start and although I trembled reading out the very first rough draft of my very first script – I was proud that I just got to it.
The majority of decisions are not set in stone which is what I need to remind myself when trying to decipher what the best route is. I’m not Mystic Meg so need to learn to trust going with my gut or the flow.
I still don’t know where I want my writing to take me but another take away from ‘Mastery’ was that many of the greats started off on one path which led to another. The difference I have with them and the other guy on the course? They focused on one thing at a time.
So it’s decision time. What am I going to do? I had to take a deep breath before typing then as I am still holding on to the inaccurate statement that ‘I can’t make decisions‘ but I can. I decided what time to get out of bed this morning, what to have for breakfast, when to have a cup of tea, where to write, whether to go out tonight and I’ll continue making decisions through the day – throughout my life.
We are always making decisions……..
I would rather own the decisions I make and steer them into the right direction than letting a non-decision take control.
With that said, I’ve decided I am going to give Scriptwriting a proper go! Tick off the dream that 20something me had.
I know my strengths do not lie in consistency or being focused or finishing. I got reminded this following a few personality tests I did yesterday when I was on a leadership management course. They were always my lowest scores! I need help – which means when one course finishes I need to find another – or a mentor – or a writing group.
Is there something that you really want to do but have been putting off due to an excuse (fear, money, time) masquerading as indecision? Would you be a master right now if you had just done it?
Not making a decision is making a decision – it’s a soft no which keeps clogging up our minds, not allowing us to move on properly.
Regardless of what we do – time is going to keep on moving and it’s not a given that there’ll be a tomorrow.
I remember listening to an audiobook some years ago by Les Brown and I had to rewind this quote and listen to it again:
“The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry our their dream.”
It’s easy to forget things that strike chord with you and it’s not always so easy to get back on your path but it can happen.
You just have to make that decision.
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