I had a new idea for next quarter’s feature screenwriting class. It sort of just came to me.
Is that how it works now?
Truth is, it never worked this way as long as I could remember. I had to actively think about what story to write, or to use my past experience. However, being a writer, you have only this much of life experience — ever enough. If you were that experienced, you wouldn’t have time for writing, would you, Bear Grylls? (No, I don’t mean hiring ghostwriters, thank you.)
I have been told since I came here that “To write what you know” is a piece of shit advice that anyone can give to a writer. How do you expand beyond writing your own roman à clef?
Here are some of my lessons learned (aka. lightning-struck-me moments) over the past two quarters at the program.
#1 A good idea can go south if you don’t have good execution or good structure.
#2 A ‘Meh’ idea can surprise you if you think outside the box.
#3 Sometimes fresh characters visit you in your desperation.
#4 No one is responsible to make your story better than yourself.
Stop complaining you get shitty comments or uncorporative cohort.
The two points below are wisdom from a beloved sage professor —
#5 Always take meetings whenever you’re given one. It’s not a waste of time. You need practice in meetings.
What else more imporant that you need to do, darling?
#6 It’s not all about who you know, but more importantly, who knows you.
Being a nobody in the industry, you need to expose yourself.
The next time you wonder why X Y Z happens to that lucky bastard, it should occur to you that the bastard is always out there — busting off his arse to get hit by the lightning.
Back to my point at the beginning — So, I had an idea about a new screenplay. Were I not in the program, wouldn’t I be thinking “what’s next?” as constantly as I do now? Nope.
Because I put myself into the Lightning Zone.
Before you know it, miracle/inspiration/idea might really strike you, hard.
And oh, lastly —
#7 Be patient with thyself.
You can’t rush art.
*I’ve tried. And I failed, like the others.