I used to call myself a ‘prolific’ writer. I still do, sometimes, but I waver about how true it is nowadays.
See, I still produce a LOT of content. Thanks to the various methods I’ve honed and stuck to over the years, my words-on-page-per-day count is still pretty goddamn high (especially considering that there are an awful lot of other factors at play in my life). The thing that’s changed is the percentage of those words making it out into the public in one form or another.
For example, I started writing a book about screenwriting a couple of years ago. I genuinely intended to get the book written and out in a few months. I used to be pretty proficient at getting something produced, getting it ‘good enough’ and getting it out into the marketplace. Somehow, though, my screenwriting book still needs a good sort and a polish. Three years after I started writing it, it’s been seen by precisely nobody.
This would have destroyed the ‘me’ of 20 years ago. He’d seen too many promising careers lost to procrastination and perfectionism. People who’d let ‘perfect’ become the enemy of ‘good enough’ and had somehow gone from decade to decade without letting their projects grow up and leave home. People who’d lost the ability to finish something and move the hell on.
I don’t think that’s me, even now. I’m pretty sure that the screenwriting book will find its way out to the public sooner rather than later, and that its delay is just down to the fact that I’ve got so many other damn projects at varying stages of completion. That’s what I think. What I hope.
We’re going to lock The House on the Witchpit in the next few weeks, closing the lid on a movie that I’ve been shooting on and off for five years now, and which has already been publicly premiered twice despite the fact that the latest scenes for it were shot just last month. Maybe Witchpit has let a sickness into my bones: permission not to finish things.
If that’s the case, I’m revoking that permission. I’m reclaiming my ability to see things through to completion. Reclaiming the title of being the guy who actually finishes the damn things, gets them out to the public and moves on. Because being prolific is a good trick, but it’s not a good enough trick.
It’s not just the words you make, it’s making sure that they reach their destination.