Internet- the enemy of ‘actual’ scriptwriting?

Does internet really harm the productivity of a writer rather than improve it? It’s a question with which I have been struggling for more than a year. Definitely it’s a time sucker- rather a time drinker. It takes away valuable time that can be used for writing. But the real question is whether for the writer the advantages of net are more than the disadvantages.

So what are the perceived advantages of the internet for the writer?

Inspiration and resources or  swimming on sand
But how much inspiration do you require? To write script for 1 hour do you need to read script articles for 3 hours? Some times search for inspiration is a ploy to procrastinate. Searching for resources is sometimes a bigger trap.

Writers especially scriptwriters have the tendency to become highly specialised swimmers who have never touched water. There is a whole lot of literature available out there. But when should one stop? When do we become knowledge-able enough to write the script? I think it should be when you have read one scriptwriting book completely. Your education need not end there. But your writing should definitely start there. After that, reading something scriptrelated in the net in the name of ‘education’ should be at least in the ratio of 1:20 in favour of writing. Because the greatest education is writing scripts. And believe me, there is no site or book or article that is going to give you the perfect key to write good screenplays.

Trap of immediate gratification
Writing a script takes around 3-6 months. That too there is no guarantee that some one relevant enough would even read your script. Naturally writing a blog or commenting on random posts is better. You get immediate feedback. Feedback, even negative feedback gives a feeling of fulfillment. A fulfillment of being paid attention to. That too without much effort. In that sense writers are delusional. They sit writing something sacrificing their Saturday nights, losing precious time to be with family, friends and jeopardising their work. All this, believing in something that could turn out to be utter crap. You never know what is going to come out.

So what keeps them going? Its because writer writes due to enjoyment in the primary process of writing. Every thing else comes later. Your script becoming a movie, it actually getting released, and then it becoming successful… All that is secondary. That’s the attitude one should be having. If you are result oriented in terms of money, power, attention you are going to stop earlier. Because believe me, if you really weigh the material benefits, comfort and longetivity of life, your current job is better.

The work of networking
Actually this is the most valid reason according to me for a script writer to use the net. Net has definitely helped me in networking. But again one has to weigh what one has attained and what one has lost. What kind of contacts do one develop through the net? And what is the use of contacts, if one of your contacts asks for scripts and you don’t have more than one or two? How can you sustain your contacts if you cant fire off 10-12 really worthwhile pitches back to back before a word hits the ground? For that you need to work. You need to polish your ideas. Again for that you need to find time. That’s where surfing can become an enemy.

Information about opportunities
This is a strictly theoretical argument for the internet. What are the kind of opportunities that internet provides? I have seen most of our scriptwriting competitions disappearing into thin air after announcement. It may not be a rule. And again the reason may be the lack of good scripts.

 But how many scriptwriters in the film industry right now have come through writing competitions or through similar channels? Our film industry is not currently a place where opportunities get posted on bulletin boards. Writers in our industry comes through only one path- contacts and friendships. Even the script most probably is of second priority. I see a lot of requests for scripts and also offers of them in social networking sites. It would be interesting to follow through with them. My best guess is that even the person posting on the bulletin board loses enthusiasm after a week.

So the obvious question is why am I blogging?

I blog because I think its better than nothing in terms of networking. Writing 2 posts per week has given me remarkable amount of exposure (in terms of networking) considering the meagre amount of time I spent on this. But internet is still a devil that I am learning to harness. Because time available is not infinite. A clock is ticking somewhere. The golden hour of ambition is slowly marching on.


6 thoughts on “Internet- the enemy of ‘actual’ scriptwriting?

  1. Scriptlarva, that was really very thoughtful. It’s difficult for me to not to agree with anything you wrote. No doubt that the only thing which can keep writers/filmmakers going is the love of writing and telling stories. Everything else- fame, money, success- either comes after that or is just a reaction of the world to your art. Just to borrow from what Kubrick said,
    “writers or painters or filmmakers dont do what they do because they have something particular to say. Instead, they have something that they feel. And they like the art form; they like words , smell of paint, photographic images or just working with actors. ” I dont think that any genuine artist has ever been oriented by some didactic point of view, even if he thought he was ”
    I wrote about Norman Keagen’s book on Kubrick on my blog sometime back.

    Again I agree that one has to put a stop somewhere rather than trying to learn all the swimming before putting a foot in the water. I more or less agree with you that one should start writing after reading one book on scriptwriting..though I would prefer that one does that after reading an appropriate book/attending a decent workshop rather than any book available.
    In terms of blogging, again one has to maintain a balance, as you also mentioned. For instance, I met few filmmakers/writers/ serious film enthsiasts through blogging, so Iam not complaining anymore. Iam trying to be more disciplined in my blogging since last month or so to maximize my time spent on blogging. The only thing which bothers me is how can I use my free time on net to read the best on internet in terms of some free ebooks on film directors, scriptwriting , short stories etc.. I say that because in my job, there are days when I dont have much to do, but I still cannot leave the office or even listen to ipod. So, I can use my time well by reading the best rather than just wandering on net. Ofcourse I know online resources, but would love to hear some suggestions from you too.

    1. Dev,
      The quote by Kubrick was nice. It did ring a bell.

      Yes, picking a good book is important. I didn’t say so because I was afraid of inducing an obsession in some one reading this blog regarding choosing the ‘right’ book.

      Regarding on line resources, if you are talking about blogs and articles, these are some of the ones that I have found useful.
      Argosy media screenwriting news
      E books in the net, I dont have much idea.

      And regarding the free office time, I have a better suggestion to make. Just write.

  2. Thanks a lot for these suggestions. I checked these sites and they look good. Btw, I didnt get what you meant by of them, I figured out.
    Yes, you are right regarding trying to use the time to write, but with so much disturbance around me- noise, people walking in my office, phone calls etc- it’s much easier for me to read rather than to write. But, still I agree that I could atleast bounce some ideas in my head. In any case, for me writing comes in the end..I first outline everything in my head/random notes and only when some skeleton structure is in my head, I start penning down the scenes and the dialogues.

  3. So true.
    Screenwriting blogs are addictive and so frequently updated that it’s easy to get lost in all the stuff floating around. I am a victim of this obsession too.

    Networking, in fact, is not really that awesome. A writers’ club, or film school is a much better option for networking imo. On the net, There’s just too much accessibility out there, for everyone– good or bad. And, I don’t think that anyone relevant in India will advertise looking for scripts. We have an organised system for films (like hollywood… lekin jab scripts ki baad aati hai… toh not organised at all.) No freely available scripts, no readers, no nothing. Rejection is also good. Like you said.

    And, @Dev: On Writing by Stephen King is available on the net. But, it’s warez. As in pirated stuff. I downloaded and read it a year back.

    Plus, there’s Poetics by Aristotle, and a few more very old books on Project Gutenburg about writing stories. Nothing worthwhile on screenwriting in particular has hit me, though.

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