Thursday, March 23, 2023

Amid ‘Lovecraft Country’ and Lockdown, Misha Green’s Writing Process Leveled Up

For the past decade, writer and executive producer Misha Green has been on the move a lot because the series she worked on, from “Spartacus” to “Underground” to the now Emmy-nominated “Lovecraft Country,” filmed far outside her home base of Los Angeles. When the COVID-19 pandemic put a pause on traveling, she found herself getting really well acquainted with her one-bedroom apartment in Southern California. In doing so, she shares that she developed a more formal writing process for the first time, even if she didn’t set up a designated office space. “It was just, let me chill on the couch and write, let me sit at the table and write, let me stare out the window and write,” she says. “What do I need to write? Nothing. A computer? I don’t even need that. I was doing a lot of writing in a notebook, which I do anyway: I pre-write before I type things up. Time, that’s what I need, and I had that this time around. When I don’t leave my house, I get a ton of writing done.”

Misha Green Writers Room Shoes

Just for Kicks
Green’s process now includes walking for 30 minutes every morning and every afternoon, and sitting down to write immediately after each exercise session is done. She spends this hour a day doing laps around her house. (“There’s a circle that is created through my bedroom, through the bathroom and through my living room, so I would just walk in the circle the entire time,” she says.) It’s less repetitive than being on a treadmill while still allowing her to “zone out and think” and it did not require her to go outside during the height of the pandemic. And she sticks to the specific time frame no matter what. “Twenty minutes in, if I come up with an amazing idea, I spend the next 10 minutes thinking about that idea,” she says. That time to think about her writing also allows it to flow faster when she does sit down to work.

Misha Green Writers Room Mario Cart

Some Fun and Games
Another way Green breaks up her days of writing is by doing a lap or two on Mario Kart on her Nintendo Switch. It’s a way to “give your brain a little break,” she notes, but this is one habit she started well before last year. “Back on ‘Spartacus,’ Steven DeKnight was a big Halo fan and he got everyone into Halo and that’s where it started — connecting video games to writing,” she recalls. “It’s nice to write, then clear your brain and kill a bunch of 13-year-olds online, then go back to writing. It’s all motor memory. That’s why Mario Kart is a nice one too.” Green picked up the Switch during production on “Lovecraft Country” and it is one of the rare items she actually unpacked from the boxes she brought home when those offices shut down in spring 2020.

Misha Green Writers Room Whiskey

New Nightcap
Green says she is a “gin girl,” but for some reason at the start of the pandemic she started drinking whiskey. This came up in conversation with J.J. Abrams, who also executive produced “Lovecraft Country,” and who excitedly told her he had to send her a bottle of an “amazing” whiskey. When she learned it was called Writers’ Tears, she admits she thought he only liked it for its name, but he promised her it was good. Sure enough, she’s now a fan. Pouring some at the end of a long day of writing is a way for her to “chill” and say, “You did it,” she notes; it’s not saved for celebrating finishing a script. (“The way I used to celebrate finishing a script was going to the mall and buying something, like a pair of shoes,” she says, adding that the tradition stopped because of the pandemic.)

Misha Green Writers Room Music

Put That Record On
Green wanted to use a lot of found audio for “Lovecraft Country,” so she spent time researching old albums — especially albums of speeches — online. She ended up ordering a stack of vinyl records, including Malcolm X’s “No Sell Out,” because most of what she was looking for did not exist in any other format. “In the show, the character of Montrose has a Frankenstein Victrola, so it was nice to get into that 1950s vibe,” she says. Usually, Green writes with music playing in the background — “any music,” she says, noting she’s not a writer who needs something specific for inspiration, but rather just likes to have the noise while she works. Lately she has been listening to the Billionaires Club on Spotify, which has introduced her to a lot of new songs and also made her think more deeply about how one reaches 1 billion streams in the first place. “Apparently Post Malone is big,” she says.


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