I made some progress on my spec script last night. I sat down and figured out my A-, B-, and C-plots, and actually wrote them down so they wouldn't slip away into the night (which tends to happen). I don't have the endings planned yet, but I'm still immensely relieved. This is the part of the writing process that I'm worst at--I believe they call it "plot." I'm a voice and character girl. I'm good with interpretation. I can mimic other writers. I do finishing touches. It's this making something out of nothing that kills me. It's perpetually like standing on the edge of something very steep and very dark, looking down into a voidy void of voidiness, and thinking I can't turn around, so I have to step out into the nothing. The silence and blankness that overtakes my brain in these moments--anytime I ask myself, "what happens?"--is kind of impressive.
The weird part is that ideas do come, and I believe that I'll never be able to explain how. My mind is completely blank--I picture it as a white room, like in The Matrix, when Neo meets Laurence Fishburne--and then, suddenly, it isn't. I don't know, and then....I know. And I haven't done anything differently, and nothing's changed except that I have an idea. It's always surprising, and always a moment of great relief.
Now that I have ideas worked out, it's time to start outlining. I'm writing 30 Rock--against the common wisdom, since most people don't spec shows in their first season--and I've been making info sheets about the episodes I have saved on my Tivo. I'm looking at act structure, scene structure, timing, act breaks, number of plots per episode, number of scenes per plot, who's in which episodes and how many scenes they appear in, guest characters, overlapping plots...everything I can think of to make my spec as technically similar to the produced show as I can. Now I can start putting that collected knowledge to work in a practical outline. I still need to figure out what happens, exactly, but I think the two sort of go together. I have until April 30 for a WGA-sponsored contest I'm entering (not for a job, but for a cash prize and exposure to agents). It's a little nerve-wracking, but it's amazing how it all comes when I need it, so I'm trying not to worry.