|Your spec, your time, your freedom.|
All of that sets boundaries, frames that are hopefully clear to everyone. I love these frames. The best collaborations happen when everyone's on the same page. Every screenwriter is bound to fuck up the script in any of a gazillion wrong directions if the path isn't clear to begin with. Nothing worse than a producer looking at you, first draft in hand and saying, "this isn't what I thought we had agreed on." ... but while all of that hopefully effective collaboration allows for a great deal of creativity, you are bound.
Freedom ... I had almost forgotten what that was. Freedom is the spec script. Freedom is you and the blank page and no one but the characters talking to you about the story and where it wants to go. A good writer, of course, will do what he'd do when hired - even on a spec, you define your theme, you get to know your characters inside out, you commit to clear frames of world, story - you even commit to deadlines. The big difference is, you're not hired, it's just you, purely your own choice, every single turn, every single word, your choice ... Freedom.
If you've been lucky like me to get assignment after assignment - don't forget to take an occasional break for a spec. Don't pitch it, don't place it before you write it - just do it for yourself. My experience has been out of this world - utterly invigorating. Pure joy. But if you're a fresh writer, never been hired, then trust me when I tell you that, right at this very moment as a slave through your spec script, you are living screenwriting at its purest. Hard as it may feel, maddening as it may seem - make the most of this current freedom - enjoy it!
And then sometimes, sometimes, that spec script resonates with others. Best of all worlds. In my case, turns out that my agency likes the script and will start pitching it ... but whatever comes from this, I've had a few months of pure gold, in a world of my creation, in the company of imaginary friends who felt, and feel, as real as air I breathe. Bliss.