“Beware the ides of March, for your deadline doth approacheth, and if it shall pass without the completion of your task, then woe be unto you and all of yours and be branded for all of eternity as a failure.” Clarence Shakespeare (no relation)
I have a self imposed deadline of March 15th for completion of the first draft of the screenplay. I set this deadline with my friend Brad, who is also writing a screenplay. We gave ourselves this date as a deadline. A completely arbitrary date. Why this date? Who knows? At the time (three weeks ago) it felt like a reasonable date to complete a script. But things change. Life happens. Other side trips are taken. And here I am, four days away from the deadline, and I am in trouble.
I have written 71 pages so far. Brad gleefully mentioned a few days ago that he was on page 79 (stupid overachiever). The average screenplay is roughly 90-100 pages, so by conventional logic, I have about 25 pages to write this week. But of more importance than the page count, I have to actually finish the script. And here’s my scary secret:
I have no idea how this movie ends.
I have a good idea of what might happen. I have been making discoveries along the way that are exciting and surprising, even to the author of the script. The other day a character revealed something that was a big plot twist, and even I didn’t see it coming.
But that doesn’t change the fact that I don’t have a concrete ending. And the clock is ending.
So what? It’s an arbitrary deadline. Why don’t I go sit on the beach, launch my computer into the surf, and laugh heartily at rewriting my own destiny. This isn’t a paid writing assignment. No producer is breathing down my neck for this script. My manager isn’t politely but firmly inquiring as to when it will be done. No one is gathering outside my apartment, watching for white smoke to spew from the chimney. This deadline is for me (and now Brad, that stupid overachiever). And without self-imposed deadlines, I may never finish this script.
I could go on, but I should really be writing something else other than this blog right now, don’t you think?
See you on Friday.