Alex Epstein on Pushing the Envelope:
When I have a screenplay in my head, I sort of “feel” it. I don’t think in terms of beats, though beats are what I write down. I think in terms of story structures. In other words I don’t see a beginning, a middle, and an end; I see a beginning-middle-and-end that all go together. If you’re doing it right, the end has its seeds in the beginning, and the beginning defines the end, so you can hold it all in your head more easily than if you’re doing it wrong.
He also discusses the need for effortful study in any particular craft: Most people learn how to do something well enough, and then stop learning. You’re not really trying to learn to drive better every time you sit down at the wheel; you’re just trying to avoid another fender bender. Your mind is not really engaged.
This is so true of writing. In the crush of a deadline, or when faced with the daily grind, it is easy to succumb to the idea that perfecting a sentence does not matter, that pushing beyond one’s limits is unnecessary because the story is “good enough.” And without proper discipline, drive, and passion, it is more than easy to let this become habit, to forget the dangers of complacency, laziness, or lack of vision. Play outside your comfort zone! Don’t be afraid of engaging yourself in new kinds of writing! Don’t sleepwalk through your work (or life).
And no, I’m not advocating perfectionism or illusions of grandeur. As if. Just that, from a practical standpoint, settling for what you’ve got, telling yourself that this is as good as you’ll ever be, does not offer many opportunities beyond the ones dangling in front of your nose. Which is fun in the short-term, but not if you want to make a run for the long-haul. I’d rather train for the promise of a cross-country wilderness shoot-em-up marathon than settle for sprints around an indoor windowless gym track for the rest of my life. That’s just boring.