Friday, February 29, 2008

Shadow Stabbing #4: Write Another Day?

"Controlling the destiny of James Bond is not a bad way to earn a living," he says. No, he is not talking about M's job, i.e., head of MI6. (In that sense, Bond, of course, controls his own destiny.) He is talking about the enviable job of writer for the James Bond film franchise.

In the extra-material to the Die Another Day DVD edition, we get a brief glimpse into the working day of a script writer. Do notice that Neal Purvis and Robert Wade are co-authors, so their process tells us something about how to write collaboratively as well. But I think their individual writing processes are also in many ways exemplary.

The absolutely crucial thing to notice is that the process is divided into distinct activities and they are able to straightforwardly account for them. That is, they can tell you how they get the writing done. They don't shroud their process in mystery: writing a script is about being in specific places at specific times and doing specific things. So, of course, is writing an academic paper.

They plan the structure of the film in meetings with the producers, they "do their work" at separate cafés, and they then talk about the work they have done. (That they do this on the phone is worth thinking about. It may be a more effective way of doing it than a physical meeting.) Finally, they go to the pub to unwind ("calm down"); that is, the day comes to an end.

The whole process, understood as a psychological and biological one, even a material and spiritual one, is "scientific". It is a program, a routine. My recommendation is to make sure that your own writing process has some of these elements of individual and social work. But I also recommend the lightness, if you will, of their writing process.

There is no shame in thinking of the café, the park (in which to go for a walk), and the pub (at the end of the day's work) as integral parts of the writing process. Perfectly non-exotic locations. Find some combination of locations that works for you. Keep searching for them. And keep writing.

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