The above is what you look like when writing is a job.
Actually it’s what you look like when acting is a job or at the very least you’re selling the moment.
Most writers start out writing because it’s a compulsion. Where you go with that can be anywhere. Maybe you just like to tell stories, be it to your kids at bedtime, round the campfire or around the water cooler at work. The satisfaction of doing a small thing well is enough and besides it’s fun and I suppose it is. Others take it a step further with letters to the editor or a blog or zine. You do it as a mental exercise and you don’t do it for money, that might somehow cheapen things.
Then there’s those of us who do do it for money, “Filthy lucre,” to paraphrase the Sex Pistols. Just like all those other writers we start with the idea of, “Wouldn’t it be funny if…” The difference being we work very hard to turn that idea into a monetary return. For a screenwriter there’s the added bonus of seeing your name in foot high letters on a screen in a dark theater or turning on the TV and seeing your film being played. Which are both experiences so cool you momentarily forget the bullshit you went through to get that credit or what it took out of you to make that film. How the director didn’t want to know how he was mucking up the scene or the producer who was a back biting bastard every step of the way through production.
For those brief moments of watching something you had a hand in creating, none of that shit matters.
For me the metaphor is this. When you write for fun, you’re a biplane in a big blue sky of possibilities. You can loop, you can dive or climb and you are alone in a that sky and nothing can hurt you. When you write as a job and that job is being a screenwriter, you are the furthest point from production. No big blue sky for you friend. No. You are the last bomber in the third wave going in on a heavily defended target. They’re really pissed off and they know you’re coming and everybody (and their dog) is going to have a go at you and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Which all sounds pretty bleak and some days it can be but on those days where it clicks together, it’s pretty cool.
Right now I’m just about finished my outline slash treatment for the new film project. I’ll be signing the contract in the next week or so and then it’ll be time to muck into the guts of the script proper. And while writing for fun is… well… fun, what it isn’t always is motivated. One of the things I do like about the job is at the end of the day everybody has an opinion. Some will agree with you, others will not and others will not get it at all but out of all that will be some very good ideas that you can implement and then claim as your own. When the script is delivered and real actors are speaking your lines in front of a camera and muffing and improvising those lines, gold will be gleaned from that too (and you can steal that credit as well). Even the editing if it makes the writing shine can only help. Of course this is if the production team is firing on all cylinders.
I could write for fun I suppose, but really I prefer to write for money. Because once you’ve been paid for it, there’s really no other way is there.