when he was directing E.T., one of my favorite movies ever.
Spielberg writes that Melissa Mathison, the screenwriter,
“put every day’s work on cards. She put the entire script of that day, not the whole week, on little three by five cards. She included the dialogue and the stage directions. These cards gave me amazing confidence.”
“Rather than going through the unwieldly script (120 pp-kk) which is full of notes, I had these little cards and I was kind of liberated and unencumbered. I could walk around with these cards in my pocket, pull them out and say, okay, this is what I’m shooting right now. The cards somehow gave me the freedom to go to the kids and say, ‘We’ll do these lines, but let’s make it up at the same time. What would you say if this really happened to you?'”
The moment I read this comment, I have limited what I plan to do each day to the thing(s) I know I CAN do that day, not look at this huge list of many different things, which distracts me from what I AM doing at this moment. I do my best NOT to think about what’s next, but what I am doing now. That’s after limiting what I will focus on each day to begin with.
I think I do better work and enjoy it more. Because I’ve allowed myself to focus on it, and not everything else on the list.
In case it helps you…voila.
P.S. Spielberg notes that no other screenwriter he’s worked with had done that before – or since.