I recently had a student ask me a pretty interesting question: "What do you do when you realize that even though you think you're writing all these different projects, you're really just writing the same script over and over again?"
And this made me think about a couple of different questions facing writers as they move into their professional careers.
The first is an artistic question: What do you do when you're following the same cycle again and again and again? What do you do when all your scripts seem to be converging around the same idea or the same themes?
The second is a question about branding: How do you brand yourself as a writer? How do you figure out what box to put yourself in? How do you figure out whether you should write a script that's very different from the ones you've written before, or whether you should build a brand around scripts that are similar?
So I want to talk about what happens when you realize you are ripping yourself off. When you realize you are writing the same movie again, and again, and again.
There are a couple of possibilities as to why this happens. Some of them are good, and some of them are bad.
Sometimes, there are themes that we just have not finished dealing with, themes that we still have to get out of ourselves. And sometimes those themes actually occupy more than one screenplay worth of writing.
All writing is really just looking inside and wrestling with the stuff that we have going on inside. And, if we're doing it right, we're wrestling with the stuff we don't totally understand yet, or we wouldn't need to wrestle with it in the first place.