Ken Lyen's Home
Ken's Links
London Revisited 2000
Letter from London 2006
Singapore Musical Theatre
Making the Grade
Writing Musicals
Musicals from Movies
Fred Ebb
The Story of Chess
Mama Mia
Bad Vibrations
Chestnuts 2003
Chestnuts 2004
Chestnuts 2005
Incubating New Musicals
List of Musicals on Film
Is Musical Theatre Dead?
Is Classical Music Dead?
Is Poetry Dead?
Why Read Poetry?
New Words
Nothing's Wrong
Hippie Dictionary
Singlish Dictionary
Blog Dictionary
Best of the Best
English Spoke
Reading in Decline
Too Many Books
Magic of Reading
Pablo Neruda
Graphic Novels
Writers Bar
Lost For Words
Encyclopedia Wars
Library in Cyberspace
The Bridge
Growing A Film Industry
Great Levellers
Rote Rites and Rongs
Beautiful Minds
Create Talented Individuals?
Rise of the Creative Class
Perchance to Dream
Children's EQ
Gifted Education
Gifted Children
Mozart Effect
Confucius and Multiple Intelligences
Predicting Your Future
Mistyping Personality
Messy Homes
Does Age Matter?
Too Young for Philosophy?
Philosopher for Hire
Deconstructing Derrida
University Quotas
Ranking Universities
University Ranking Continued
The Future of Universities
If Thine Eye Offends Thee
If It Ain't Broke
New Exams for Old!
Too Many Test
The Sincerest Form of Flattery
Childhood Memories
Signs of Success
Follow Your Dreams
First Impressions
Handphone Etiquette
Handphones Silenced
Apple Of My i
Sex and the Media
The Greeks
Geographic Clangers
Domino Theory
Hello Kitty
Heels on Wheels
What a Racket!
Potty Training
Skip to the Loo
Corporal Punishment
Is Modern Art Rubbish?
Mona Lisa Grins
Sunday in the Park
Vision and Art
Spam Glorious Spam!
Humble Pie
Sour Grapes?
Murphy's Law Calculator
Perfect Search
False Logic
Noah's Ark
Who Discovered America?
Palaces of Dictators
Joys of Stress
Games Academics Play
Virtual Reality Treatmemt
Autistic Underconnectivity
Asperger Syndrome
Pay Attention!
Attention Deficit
Speech Delay
Almost Normal
Prozac Nation
Gilles de la Tourette
Singapore Medicine
Virtual Dissection
War Against Malaria
Into the Frying Pan
Back to Methuselah
Poetic Medicine
Far Eastern Economic Review
History of the Singapore Musical
My Research
Singapore Idle
Best Countries
Brain Drain
Greatest Happiness
Remaking Singapore
Singapore Nobel Prize
Singapore MRT Map
National Day
Caste System
Doctors' Fees
Leadership and Teambuilding
Doctor Do-Much
Play it Again, Doc
A Dose of Music
Prescription for the Heart
Multiple Personality
Fly By Night
Rape of Nanking
Iris Chang
Anne Frank
Angela's Ashes
The Notebook
Hollywood Insider
Fahrenheit 9/11 Pirates
The Front
The Barbarian Invasions
Les Choristes
The Return
Road Home
Farewell My Concubine
So You Want to be a Nurse
School House Rockz
Makan Place
e-mail me

Joys of Stress


The Joys of Stress

by Kenneth Lyen

Writers have the most stressful job in the world. Pardon? Oh, very well. Comedians and writers have the most stressful job in the world.

How so? Well, I’m very good at procrastination. I can always find an excuse to put off doing today what can be done tomorrow. The problem is that sometimes tomorrow can be forever.

Not unnaturally I suddenly find myself facing a deadline that was once several months away, surreptitiously sneak up behind me and pow!!!! The deadline jumps up in front of you, and it’s tomorrow.

"Yes sir, I know tomorrow’s the deadline. No extension? No problem. I will have it ready for you by tomorrow." So I have this 100 page screenplay to finish by tomorrow. And I have only written the first 50 pages. So what do I do? Simple. I panic!

I do what I’ve always been doing since time immemorial. I waste more time. I’m a past master at this. I can make myself a cup of coffee, read the newspaper, surf the net and read all the bulletin boards, SMS friends, answer my e-mail, write my blog, and voila! I have wasted an entire morning.

Comes lunchtime. I still haven’t written anything. I panic again. Never mind. I’m hungry. I go to the hawker stall and order some Szechuan red chilli chicken, Hakka tofu, mixed vegetables and rice.

After lunch I go to the bookshop and buy a book on time management. Yes, there’s a chapter on how not to procrastinate, which will undoubtedly be most useful. Except I’ve already bought a book on the same subject last year.

The second cup of coffee fails to keep me awake. So I fall asleep sitting at the computer. Suddenly it is 4 pm. I still have 50 more pages to write. Damn!

I watch a bit of CNN and BBC news. Surely that must have something inspiring. Nope. It’s all about the Butler report and how Tony Blair gets off scott free. I thought to myself, "intelligence in the hands of the unintelligent degrades itself into stupidity."

Okay. Dinner time already. It’s seafood. Some steamed fish, prawns, and healthy green vegetables.

Back to the computer. Shit! My brain remains constipated. I watch a bit of Discovery Channel. Back to work. Yes. I’m starting to write. After a while, I take a break. Have some unhealthy crisps. Back to the computer. I type some more.

Bloody hell. I’ve only written up to 66 pages. How on earth can I write another 34 pages?

Okay, I say to myself. Maybe I can use a larger sized font. Maybe double the spacing between each scene. Maybe narrow the margins of each page. Add a few more transition instructions, like "cut to", "dissolve", etc.

Well, that got me an extra 4 pages. So I’m up to page 70. Perhaps I could tell my producer that my writing was very compact and that my one page was equivalent to more than one minute of screen time. Much more. So perhaps if I handed in less pages, would it be all right?

You can see I’m really desperate now.

I cheat. I add in a prologue and epilogue. Not absolutely necessary, but it does buff it up a bit more. I insert 6 essential (= unnecessary) scenes. Great. I’m now up to page 73. I further reduce the margins of my script, and increase the font size even more. Yes, this is working. I’m now on page 75. Damn. What more can I do to pump up my script?

I get another call from my producer. "Yes, yes, yes, I’ve finished my script. Just tidying up the formatting. Yes, I shall e-mail it to you. When? As soon as I finish formatting. Now? Give me 5 minutes." I write a furious 5 more pages.

Oh dear, only 80 pages. I just have to write some excuse why I couldn’t quite reach 100 pages. Hell and damnation. I shall just have to grit my teeth when I receive a phone call from my producer, pointing out the obvious shortcomings of my script.

Anyway, nothing I can do now. Too bad. The 80 pages are e-mailed. I must remind myself to buy a book on how to write good excuses.

I glance at this week’s Time Magazine. There’s an article on stress. It says "Not all stresses are created equal. A new study finds that some may even be good for you."

Great! Thank goodness for that study! I can now be thankful for the joys of stress!