We all know the feeling we get sometimes—instead of just sitting down and writing, we'll start rearranging our desk, or do a load of laundry, or call a friend, or walk the dog. Anything but stare at that blank page. But what if that is part of your unique process, and not necessarily a problem?

Tamika Lamison is an actor, writer, director, and producer, and also an AFI Alum of the Directing Workshop for Women. Check out this interview from Film Courage where she talks about screenwriting! 

Hardest Part

At the start of the interview, Lamison is confronted with the question, “Is there anything about the screenwriting process that you hate?”

To which she immediately responds, “Yes, the beginning.”

Her screenwriting process looks a little different than most writers’. She explores the challenging task to simply begin.

“I come up with the title first,” says Lamison. “And I don’t know anyone else who does that.”

Her first successful script was like an outline. She describes it as a stream of consciousness rather than a proper script. Lamison praises those who write from an outline—her version of an outline is “about 2-3 pages of story concepts and character breakdowns.”

She points out that a lot of artists are perfectionists, which makes them procrastinators. Her backward way of starting allows her to avoid those early speedbumps.

The “Right and Wrong” of Screenwriting

Lamison may not play by the rules, but that hasn’t stopped her from being successful at her craft. She expresses struggling with having the discipline to sit down and just write. But she doesn’t necessarily think that having that discipline is the only thing that can bring creativity, it just seems to work well for other writers. It’s also (for the most part) industry standard to give a studio a script written from an outline.

While she was in the Walt Disney Fellowship, Lamison worked in the screenwriting branch of the program. She successfully pitched an idea for a TV script, but quickly realized in order for it to be approved as a script, it had to be an outline first. Because of her unique way of writing, she wrote the outline based on the screenplay that was already written. Once she got notes on the outline, she went back to her script and made the edits according to where they were in her outline. A little unorthodox, but hey, you can’t put rules on creativity. 

According to Lamison, This formality of needing an outline to write a script didn’t make sense to her creative process. While she understands why a lot of writers take this approach to screenwriting, Lamison claims it doesn’t align with her style. She even goes as far as to say it’s a waste of time for her to outline.

Escaping the “Start” Process

Lamison has shown us that people really aren’t as different from us as they seem—we’re all procrastinators. As humans, we are prone to doing everything in our power to avoid what we should be doing. In this case, Lamison is expressing her contempt for beginning the writing process. But once you start, the rest falls into place.

In Lamison’s words, procrastination is part of the process. And while we procrastinate, our minds and bodies are still gearing up to start writing. The wind-up process may take longer for some writers, but the ones who are passionate always find their way back to the blank page.

And this goes to show that you don't have to follow what screenwriting books or executives tell you to be creative and get work. You just have to find the process that works for you.

What's your unique process? Do you outline? Let us know in the comments.

Source: Film Courage