If you're like me, you've spent the last week refreshing Twitter and ignoring texts from all your exes. As much as I want good news to fill my inbox, the only fun I've had recently is FaceTiming with my group thread.
Writing used to be my refuge, but it's so hard to get into the zone to produce pages when it feels like the world is quite literally dying.
A quick Google of my symptoms has given me the self-diagnosis of anxiety, depression, and a whole boatload of stress.
So yeah, it's fucking hard to write now.
But see—the thing is, writing is what pays my bills. It's what allows me to give cash to the warlords who supply the toilet paper and the credit cards/student loans that suck my finances dry as I try to make it in a shutdown Hollywood.
Anyway...I have to write. Not just for this site, but because I believe in my future as a writer.
So, let's look at some things that work for me, that I hope might also work for you.
Because the world is going to need stories after all this passes, and I want you to be the ones who tell them.
How to Channel Your Stress and Anxiety into Ideation?
Coming up with a movie idea is not easy. I usually tell people to follow what they're most interested in and what they want to deal with in everyday life. but right now, we're all dealing with the same thing.
I am sure Hollywood comes out of this situation with a ton of specs about the coronavirus.
I would do everything in my power to differentiate myself.
So where can I get a new idea?
Here are 5 ways...
5 Ways to Beat Anxiety with Script Ideation
The only way any of these steps are easily done is if you put your phone down, turn off your Wi-Fi for a little bit, get in your comfiest chair, and tune the world out.
One of my favorite things to do is meditate. I really like Thich Nhat Hanh. He does an amazing guided meditation for free on YouTube. Even if you can't get down with the chanting, there is a peaceful quality that helps center me.
And then I dive into these tips.
1. One Location Inspiration
You've been stuck in one location for a bit now, think about how other characters would handle that. Again, no one wants to read a disease script, but maybe you can do something like Buried, or The Wall, or My Dinner with Andre.
Think about your isolation story.
What do you want to say about humanity confined?
2. Turn Your Phone Off and Open a Book
This one is hard but crucial. Throw your phone across the room and grab a book. Maybe even one from the public domain. What can you do to update Tom Sawyer or Treasure Island? We've seen a new Little Women, David Copperfield, and Emma this year.
There's a lot to say inside books.
And it doesn't just have to be a novel.
What about one of your kids' picture books?
Could the pictures inspire your own story?
3. What Does Your Favorite Movie Look Like with Different Characters?
One of my favorite exercises is to take a movie I really love and figure out my version of it. Last year I watched Scream a bunch, then I sold my own slasher movie.
What movies have you been going back to in this crazy time?
Have any of them changed your perspective on what makes them great?
How can you apply those lessons to your own writing?
4. Classic Movie, Current Times
What does a Citizen Kane look like in today's world? Or a modern Casablanca? Start with a classic film's logline and plot, then work in your own version of the story.
There are plenty of great older movies that have been redone this way, like The Big Sleep becoming The Big Lebowski and even Joker's obvious homages to King of Comedy and Taxi Driver.
I want to see your new riffs on the old.
5. Tell the Story Behind the Wall Art
Use it to set up something fun and wonderful, or as a brilliant closure.
Maybe the title of the painting can help you along.
I am obsessed with "Christina's World" by Andrew Wyeth.
Even Van Gough's ugliest painting has meaning.
What work of art inspires you?
Find that shred of hope and turn it into a story—not just for us, but for all mankind.
What's next? Write a screenplay or a pilot!
You have the time and energy. Now get to work putting your best ideas out onto the paper.
I can't wait to read what you come up with!