I played football in high school and the coaches would always say “Leave it all on the field”.
They meant: put all your emotion and physical stamina into the game. When you walk off you should have nothing left. Leave it all out there.
I can compare this to writing. After an emotional day of writing, I tend to take the emotions with me — after I leave my desk.
This can hurt. Sometimes I tend to dramatize life. As screenwriters we have to put our characters into the worst possible situations to create drama on the page. Our imaginations have to carry us into a situation where ANYTHING can happen.
This can really affect our “reality”. I sometimes sit there and imagine every situation taking a sudden turn for the worst. My imagination runs away. I’m horribly neurotic. Sometimes this is when I come up with my best ideas…
I have to look back and take the lesson from my coaches.
When I leave my desk, those emotions, those characters should remain there. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ALWAYS BE WRITING — but be able to realize that you’re not living in one of your movies.
If you put all that emotion on the page, the writing will show. You’ll create a better screenplay and hopefully a future film.
Always be writing. Everyday.