Writers: Pep talk time.
‘Return of the Sporadic blogger!’ I know. I know. Autographs after the post.
Why blog if you have nothing to say, and better yet, why blog when you should be writing? Which is exactly what I’ve been doing.
The reason for this post is, I spent some time analysing prolific writers and their lifestyles (not stalking, 'analysing'), and comparing them to innovative thinkers and people who brilliant in their fields.
Interestingly, these ‘successful’ people share a group of qualities. And one quality trumps the others.Some writers are night owls, others write in the day, some are methodical and slow, and some can type up a decent draft within a few days (Kevin Williamson, Scream 1).
What’s this got to do with being a brilliant writer?
Know thy self. Know what time works for you, know the place, the mood, even the mental state you have to be in, in order to write. With me for example, no matter what room I’m in, the door HAS to be shut and the blinds must be closed.
I need total isolation. Whatever works for you, do it. Do it without apology. If people don’t get it, screw them, because their opinion isn’t going to spend endless hours typing at the computer. No. That will be all you.
So grant yourself and your talent enough kindness to write on your terms. They mock you now but someday they’ll regret it... (evil laughter, anyone?)
Write what you love. This is a tangent from the infamous ‘Do what you love’. When a writer writes what they love, it shows. Everything in these scripts is somehow real, vibrant and human. The writer gives their best because they adore the characters they’re writing, or perhaps they want to explore a topic and do so, via the characters.
What I find with me is, there’s a hunger to finish the story. A race. Of course, if you’re not careful the project goes stagnant and you lose the race per se. But this never happens if you’re writing something you love. You experience a pull when you’re not writing, you gravitate back to Final Draft without reluctance, boredom and general apathy. It’s like magic.
So all you folks, if you’re writing something that costs you time, then please, write what you love. The end result will be far better than writing anything else. Passion is contagious.
Your script is similar to going to the park to play with your friends. You want to wake up in the morning saying ‘Hell yeah, I can’t wait to see them again!’
But if you’re waking up in the morning and saying, ‘urg, not again.’ That’s a bad sign. Unfortunately this seems to be a common occurrence amongst fellow writers, and in answer to that I’d say, give it a break until you remember why you loved it in the first place.
Trust your judgement.
This is a tricky one, because it’s about moderation. I’ve often been given advice from people I trust with my projects, and I’ve made rapid changes to the script. The second I hang up on those people and look at my script, it’s a stranger looking back at me. This is very bad. It shouldn’t happen. I’ve learned to wean out those who help you chisel at the clay of the script to enhance what you’re trying to express with it, versus those who instead impinge their message/style/version of your script on you.
Caring too much about what others think during early stages of the script, is dangerous.
What were you thinking when you started writing the script? What were you feeling? Where was it going? Go back to that. Always go back to the start if you’re afraid you’ve wondered off into the woods with no way out.
No one knows what you’re trying to say as intricately and as particularly as you do.
The trick is, choosing your friends & confidants wisely, and trusting their knowledge base, knowing their strengths and weaknesses and allowing them to know yours as a writer.
Also, let’s not forget, those words on the page are you. Those words, that style, that voice and that universe is all from your fantastic mind. And very often, the small quirks in a story and the thematic elements are what makes you the writer you are. Writing is essentially selling yourself/your product. It’s holding a mirror up to you. Why you? Why is your script different? What are you as an individual bringing to the table?
This is why, ultimately, you must trust your own judgement and stay true to what serves the story best. A good reader will call you on it, when you’re missing the mark. The same way going back to your script with fresh eyes and then comparing it to the logline you have will help.
‘Did I say what I set out to say?’
And then there's the most important quality...
Trust your potential.
This sentence is THE make it or break it one for me. It's so easy to lose faith, get tired, get dragged down into the mundane day-by-day reality, but when that happens, have heart. Trust your potential. If you don't have faith in yourself and your craft, how can anyone else?
If you're smart enough to create an entire world by rearranging a few words on paper, then you better be brave enough to see it through the best you can.
Successful people (by which I really mean people I admire, such as Steve Jobs, Seth Godin, Walt Disney, Henry Ford and many more) knew themselves, did what they loved without apology, and trusted their own potential.
Writers are barely acknowledged in the industry. It’s almost embarrassing. The only people who can change that are the writers of today and tomorrow.
I'd hate to get all deep, but...Give the industry a reason to love us. Like BRILLIANT scripts, and exception, transcendent tales of human struggle, victory and loss etc.
My current rules are:
Have a presence. Don’t be an asshole. Have big plans. Makes changes now and never forget how much you love what you do.
It’s a long and winding road to being a brilliant writer, I’m not even half-way there. But the key is to start by making changes. Let your actions reveal who you are, let your work speak for you and let everyone else stand in awe...or vote to have you put into an asylum.
No, I will not include a poll for you guys to vote.
Thank you for reading. I hope this motivated some, and perhaps even nudged a few of you to consider making small changes that will benefit your careers as writers.