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Sometimes it's okay to quit


Sometimes it’s okay to quit.

I had to write a ten minute play - deadline for competition looming.

I had just finished the draft of a screenplay and needed a short break from it. And I was over whatever the hell that mini flu thing was. It was time to get to work on this competition entry. I had playlets I wanted to develop and this was my chance to make something of one of them and get my work out there.

I selected a favourite. Four characters. Desperate business men and very old hookers. Yeah. I love these characters. I knew what they were about and I knew how this would end …

And it just wouldn’t flow. I felt like I didn’t know what I was writing or why. Except I did know. I knew what the characters wanted, what they would do to get it …

It just wasn’t flowing. As much as I love these characters … This wasn’t right. I just didn’t care enough.

I stopped.

I picked another playlet. It’s the day of the deadline, I literally have one day. It’s worth a shot. It’s always worth a shot. And I still need to see if I can write a ten minute play. Half of it’s already done for crying out loud. It’s two characters I’ve known for a long time. I’ve been meaning to write their craziness for ages. It was great putting them in this playlet. How they came to life. How funny I found them. And as I enlarged on their situation, how tragic they were, how self knowing and self sabotaging they were and unable to stop it -

It flowed. The characters came to a natural place, ten pages in. Perfect.

I was pleasantly surprised by what I’d done.

So I started to write a blog about it and bam - I know how to fix my business men and hookers. Maybe it’ll be ten pages, maybe not. Maybe it’ll be better as a short rather than a play. What’s important is I know how to get back into that story.

I quit my first effort - but not the competition. And if that flu thing had persisted maybe I would have quit the competition too - and I now would have known not to have beaten myself up about it. Things happen.

Do you quit for the wrong reasons? Do you keep going for the wrong reasons? Trust your instincts. Be honest with yourself. Sometimes it’s timing, sometimes you may just be wrong about what you’re trying to achieve. Walking away can be the right thing to do. For my businessmen and hookers, their next moment happens to come a little later, that’s all. And that’s so fitting for those characters - always having to wait. It’s meant to be. I also think it’s maybe meant to be a film, not a play. I may have been trying to put a peg in the wrong hole (again, that sounds like something one of the business men would say …)

And I guess it’s time for my two crazy characters. Regardless of what happens with the competition, I know they live and their time is now. Ish. Because I do need to finish the scripts I’m already working on first.

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London, UK

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