Done Good


I often have to remind myself that ‘done’ is better than ‘good’. It’s not that I like having a low standard for my work, but rather that if I’m not careful I can get so bogged down in making a project perfect that it never gets finished. Deadlines help, but when I’m working on a spec project or a personal project it is easy to lose momentum.
So I recently finished a draft of another script. It’s rough, but it’s done. It was a project that I thought for sure was going to end up on the slag heap of unfinished work: I wrote the first twenty pages in about a week, and then buried it under a mountain of other tasks. It sat there, untouched, for weeks. In my head I started to doubt the concept- was it really any good or was it just a surge of enthusiasm? Would it be worth finishing our should I just let it wither on the vine? 

At last, I guilted myself into finishing it: I’d set out to write a half hour comedy pilot and I already had two thirds of it finished, I might as well write the other ten pages and get ‘er done. If it sucked then I could chuck it in a drawer and be glad that I’d gotten all the mistakes out of my system for the next project. 

I volunteered to share it at my writer’s group to give myself a deadline: now I had to get the pages written because now I had people waiting to read them. Done is better than good. Last week I submitted the first twenty pages and was a bundle of nerves when it came time for notes- the first twenty had been easy, what if they didn’t like them and now I had to slog through ten more pages of something no one wanted to read anyway? 

To my surprise and delight, the notes came back very positive: everybody wanted to read more. The relief was palpable. Now all I had to do was finish it. This proved to be more difficult than I expected: I knew what the remaining scenes had to accomplish, but that didn’t mean I had an ear for how the ‘music’ should go. If I hadn’t had a deadline, I would have let it ‘percolate’ and never put a word to paper until the muses began to sing again. But I had to get it done. So I ground out the pages and finished the draft. Now all I can do is wait with ‘bated breath to learn whether it is working. 

Having a writer’s group has made all the difference for me. Having regular readers who can respond to the unfolding story has helped me more than once to solve problems that otherwise stumped me. I’m not too proud to admit that my work gets better when other people help me. I think that’s one of the myths of Hollywood: that certain writer’s are ‘geniuses’ or ‘auteurs’ because of their singular visions. And as much as I would LOVE to be considered a genius and/or auteur, I find both titles to be highly suspect. No one can possibly have all the good ideas all by themselves all the time; anybody who claims otherwise isn’t a genius, they’re just hogging all the credit. 

So I’m starting to get good at getting things done. 

That’s good. 

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on July 20, 2017.

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