Posted by: steveonfilm | July 13, 2011

Don’t Write What You Don’t Like

I’ve got a guy at work who’s expressed interest in writing his first screenplay. Talks started about a year ago. And since then I’ve encouraged him to check out Syd Field and Blake Snyder to get somewhat of an introduction to screenwriting, and I’d help him out with any questions he might have as much as I can.

We were talking today about how his writing has been coming along, which is to say it hasn’t. I heard a lot of the same excuses we’ve all heard before (hell, some of us have used them ourselves) about why he hasn’t started a draft yet. But one thing he said really stood out to me:

“I’m just not really into the story I’m trying to write.”

When he said that I stopped him and asked:

“Then why the hell are you trying to write it?”

One of the best things about being an amateur screenwriter, and probably the only time it’s better than being a professional, is that we don’t have to write what we don’t want to. If you’ve started with a story and decide you’re not into it, stop and find something else. We don’t HAVE to write anything.

It astounds me how many times I’ve talked with people who were writing something they didn’t enjoy. Why bother? You’re not getting paid. You’re not going to put in the effort you should. Nothing will be different if you walk away and work on something else. You’re still going to take away some sort of a learning experience from what you did.

This is supposed to be our dream job. Something that we aspire to do. It is not a chore. It is not something we have to do. It is something we choose to do. You have to do your day job. You don’t have to do your dream job. There’s a huge difference here.

Screenwriting Tip #600 is:

“Remember when you were a kid and movies were beautiful, frightening and transformative? Forget the rest of the world and write for that kid.”

That tip is no joke. That’s what you should be writing. The shit you want to see. Not what you think people want you to write. Wait for your manager or agent to tell you that. Until then, write what you love. Only when you’re doing that will you put in the effort and time to truly grow and learn as a writer.

This is not a chore.

This is a dream.

Make it happen.

Until next time, keep writing!
-Steve

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Responses

  1. I had this problem for a long time, way back in high school. Being able to say “This would be a good story” isn’t a bad thing, but what you really want to be able to say if you’re writing a screenplay is “I’d see this.”

    • Exactly. A good story doesn’t equate to the story you want to tell. I hear about things all the time that I think would be good, but aren’t things I personally want to write. Or would enjoy writing for that matter.


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