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Creativity block/short screenplay competition part I

Updated: Sep 11, 2020

Photo by Sydney Alexandria

In the ending months of 2018, I had been feeling pretty low.

I was unmotivated, lethargic, and had the most insane creativity block. I couldn't write anything. Either nothing was coming to me, or everything came to me all at once and I had no idea where to start. Should this be a song? A play? Or would this be better as a poem? Maybe a feature film. A novel? A...

As a seasoned perfectionist, I'm very familiar with how it can be extremely hindering to the creative process to constantly think of what the final product should be instead of just... writing, but it still happens. It's a habit that I'm still actively reversing, and I wanted to find ways to destroy this block permanently.

That's exactly when I discovered a sponsored ad on Instagram for a short screenplay competition...

(...Because our phones and social media spy on us, but that's for another day.)

Anyway, I found an ad sponsored by NYC Midnight. Their explanation on how the challenge works from their website is as follows;

"The Short Screenplay Challenge is a competition that challenges writers around the world to create short screenplays (5 pages max.) based on genre, location, and object assignments. Each writer will participate in at least 2 writing challenges and as many as 4 depending on how well they place in each challenge.  When the competition begins, writers are placed in groups where they will be judged against other writers within their same group.  Each group receives its own unique genre, location, and object assignments.  After 2 challenges, the top 5 writers that score the highest advance to the next challenge.  In Challenge #3, writers are placed in new groups and given a new genre, location, and object assignment.  The top 5 writers from each of the groups in Challenge #3 advance to the fourth and final challenge of the competition where they are given the final genre, location, and object assignment and compete for thousands in cash and prizes."

What a perfect way to get the creative juices flowing, right? I enter the competition on a whim just a few hours before the deadline, because I'm truly fed up with feeling incompetent. I'm finally going to write something and finish it. It's happening. Here goes challenge #1!...

Genre: Political Satire

Location: A Fashion Show

Object: A Pancake

Oh hell no. I took a double take. Political Satire? I... lawd.

I dwelled for a good 15 minutes on why I couldn't be in the group that received Romantic Comedy. After that, I got my shit together because champions adjust, and I only had 48 hours to make this compelling. I wasn't feeling my ideas at first, but they eventually came together and began to make more and more sense as I brainstormed and made an outline. Honestly, I surprised myself! It felt great to struggle and succeed in one sitting. It's true what "they" say - being uncomfortable is the best way to grow. Or whatever. I don't know what the actual quote is.

In Challenge #1, I placed 15 out of 28 people around the world, which is the last possible number to place. I was a bit discouraged, because I had hoped to place in a better standing, but then I remembered my struggle and the fact that I overcame it. Even if I did only receive one point, I grew as an artist and reminded myself that despite difficulties, I'm capable of finishing anything that I start. I also received positive and helpful feedback on my script from the judges! Overall, it was a great experience and I recommend everyone who writes or would like to write, to try this competition or any of the other competitions that NYC Midnight offers. They also have a Short Story Challenge, Screenwriting Challenge, and a Flash Fiction Challenge.

Challenge #2 just passed last week. I will update the site with results as they're announced. Hopefully I'm able to move on to the next round!

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