It’s 5AM, And Your Brain Would Like To Speak With You
Rewind two hours to five o’clock in the morning.
My eyes bolt open.
It’s dark. I can hear the whisper of snow outside.
And my brain starts telling me things.
No, no, not weird, vile things (“Assassinate the postal clerk, take a shit in the salad bar at the local diner, run naked in the blizzard to purify your Wendigo soul”) — creative things. Things about a project. Story stuff.
See, right now, we’re gritting our teeth and buckling down and trying to get our uber-revised film script for HiM up and running. To do that, we first have to pore through the notes we brought home from the Screenwriters Lab. We go through them, item by item, and dissect each idea and see if the core of each note is really what we want.
Thus, I have a head full of story craziness.
Well, at five o’clock in the morning, my brain decided to start talking to me in the dark. “Hey. Hey! Psst. I want to talk about some things. Do I have some shit for you, buddy! This is good, this is real good. In this scene, the scene in the first act, I think you should –“
I won’t spoil it.
Point is, it gave me the work-through for a few niggling ideas that had been troubling me. And it further identified another question, a question of logic and cinematic awesomeness (that question, more directly, is “How do we make this work so it’s both cool-looking and makes sense in the context of our story and storyworld?”).
What I’ve done in the past is, when my brain starts talking to me, I nod, and I smile, and I pat the brain on his — erm, head? That’s weird — and I go back to sleep.
That is the wrong move.
It’s a bad call, Ripley. A bad call.
Much as it sucks, much as you want sleep, what you do is wake the fuck up. You wake up and you go to the computer and you write that shit down.
And that’s what I did, and that’s why this morning I saw… well, not a sunrise, but rather the slow illumination of the blizzard outside my window, from black to gray to white.
Don’t think you can’t help your brain along. You can actually invoke this phenomenon. The day and night before, literally load your brain with some questions about your creative endeavor that’s troubling you. It’s like a slow-cooker. Stick it in there, turn on your unconscious mind, and walk away. Just walk away. Stop thinking about it, and go to bed.
Your brain will heat those ideas up. It’ll break down the connective tissue and soften the whole problem up so it pulls apart with a fork.
Of course, you might awaken at five o’clock in the morning with fork-tender thought-meats, and now you have to do something with it before the food spoils. But that is what I like to think of as a “good problem to have.”
Now, now I need coffee.
You may now return to your regularly scheduled Snowpocalypse, Snowmagaddon, the Reveblizzation of St. John.