Whew... I spent the past couple weeks pushing to get a new draft of my screenplay Scattering Jake written. And I did it! But I'm exhausted.
I did a page one rewrite. For those of you who aren't sure what that means, I wrote a full draft of this script last year (which was a quarterfinalist in the Academy Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowships). Upon reflection and re-reading, I knew it had some big problems that I wanted to fix, and I thought I would embrace the challenge of completely rewriting the script from the very beginning. No copy/paste. No tweaking existing scenes. I wrote every single page as though I was writing it for the first time.
Sounds great, right? What a good exercise! I probably cracked it open and wrote a killer new draft! Wrong. I finished it, and I knew almost immediately that it wasn't working. In trying to make it more realistic and grounded, I lost the comedy and more importantly, the fun. It just wasn't working.
Now, the first draft wasn't perfect, but this new draft was definitely worse. Sure, there were some things I improved on. Some characters I made richer and more interesting. A few scenes I made more effective. But overall, this big rewriting exercise ended up being a way for me to prove to myself that the first draft was pretty good.
I made this somewhat frustrating revelation exactly two weeks before a final deadline I really wanted to hit for a big contest. I spent those two weeks "Frankenstein-ing" the different drafts, pulling the better scenes from each of them, writing some entirely new scenes, adding a brand new character into the mix. And somehow, I made the deadline.
As I've posted about in the past, writing is hard. It seriously sucks. It's miserable. But getting through it and being on the other side with a finished draft in hand is an awesome experience.
I don't ever want to write again. I quit forever. It's too much work and way too hard. But I can't wait to improve this script and start working on my next one. So I guess I'm stuck... Back to work!