Andrew Ngin
6 min readMay 20

A tale of perseverance, persistence, and luck

I recently directed a short film I wrote. Here are some stats.

Duration of short — 12 mins.

Number of days it took to shoot — 2.

Number of days to write and develop the story — 1460.

Or 4 years.

As Flaubert once said, art is a long patience.

Here’s why it took so long.

The Writing Process

Every piece of writing begins with an idea. Ideas can come from everywhere. A snippet of gossip. A chance to meet with a real-life personality. In my case, it was a headline in a local newspaper. A short paragraph about a man who refused to buy a hospital bed for his Alzheimer-stricken wife because it would have meant not sleeping by her side.

Any writer worth his salt should never wait for someone to give a writing assignment before he writes. You must find ways to keep your engine craft humming every day. The only way to do so is to scour for ideas, find one you like, and begin the laborious process of turning that idea into an adequately structured three-act story. Having the discipline to repeat that process is the only way to improve your craft.

The story idea of a man who refused to buy a hospital bed for his wife stuck with me for weeks. For writers, when an idea outstays its welcome and refuses to leave the premises of their consciousness, that is when the writer should take note.

I took note.

I wrote a script for a three-minute film. I wanted to take baby steps. I thought I would only make a few errors if I did only 3 minutes. All I had was an incident in the story. A man refuses to buy a hospital bed. I had to invent the characters. Weave and keep re-weaving the cloth from a few threads. The husband’s character changed from a reformed gangster to a furniture maker and ex-gangster to finally a restorer of second-hand furniture. I liked the idea…

Andrew Ngin

Man In The Arena . Once a lecturer. Written television, films, short stories. Older. Singaporean. Still writing. Always with love