Someone, I don’t remember who, once likened the writing process to the work of a sculpter. In this view, the writer isn’t so much creating as attempting to free their vision imprisoned within. Somewhere in that hunk of stone, or deep inside the mind of the writer, exists the perfect version of what has been imagined. How close one gets to achieving that version is entirely dependent on the skill of said artist. In other words, there are no impossible ideas; simply a variation in the ability to execute them. A talented sculpter, for instance, will know where to chip away and how much to remove in order to liberate that trapped masterpiece. Similarly, a writer strives to attain that faultless script by finding innovative solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems and, most importantly, by not settling. In other words, they don’t rely on coincidence or contrivance to fix narrative shortcomings. There is always a better way to tell that story.
In truth, no work is flawless. There is never enough time achieve that ideal. An artist, however, owes it to their audience to try to get as close as possible.
I bring this up because, today, I had a breakthrough on a pilot idea that had me stymied for weeks. It’s a challenging premise and there were times I wanted to give up but, instead, whenever I grew frustrated, I merely set the pilot aside for a while and redirected focus to other matters. And then, this afternoon, finally, that hitherto elusive piece of the puzzle snapped into place and a key part of the script took form. As I knew it would. Eventually. It’s just a matter of putting yourself in the proper frame of mind to tap the answer. It’s there, in your head, somewhere.
I can’t tell you how many times, while I was working on Stargate, I’d hit an impasse on a story at the outline stage. Rather than worry about it, I’d assure myself that, when the time came, the solution would present itself. And it always did. Surprisingly (or maybe not that surprisingly), when all was said and done, those latent ideas would prove the script’s most memorable moments.
And so I return to the pilot-in-progress, confident I can make it work. It’s a long way from being finished, an even longer way from being perfect, but it’s a small step in the right direction.