For screen writers, it can become an overwhelming task to create a new, invigorating idea. Pressure is on all the time to make the next big thing. What’s more, often directors and producers tell you new isn’t what people want, but the same old story told another way. To be truly creative and still be competitive in the world of script writing can seem an insurmountable task.
There is a solution, however. There are three major steps that I rely on to form the solution to this issue:
Writing for you
At the end of the day, the work I make is my story. It draws from my experiences, my interests, my personal research. Yes, I may be writing for an employer, making scripts or text copy according to the parameters they provide, but I have come to accept and admit that my personal flavor of writing is why I am the only one qualified to tell it the way I do. Accepting the art as just that: my art. On my own writing journey, once I allowed myself to love my work, I found it easier to roll with the punches of writing.
With the script for the feature film, NAVIGATOR, this is exactly what I did. The team gave me a large amount of creative license on this project. I worked with Drew, the DP on shots, design, and overall style for the film, but after that I ran with it and made something I was proud of. Yes, there were edits. But that didn’t bother me at all because by that point, I had grown to love the work as it was, and accepted the fact that it was a group effort in the end. No writing project will ever be just you; if you want your work to make it to the screen, you need to know that others will have input too.
Letting your imagination run wild
When I set my imagination free from the popular concept of “adulthood,” my writing became free as well. It seems too frequently we allow ourselves to think we’ve outgrown the need for imagination. We think that being imaginative is childish or foolish. People will tell you you’re not living in the real world if you imagine. This is not true. Imagination is the life blood of existence. It is key to success in every part of life, including a well-written story. This means, as well, that, when the story starts moving forward, I have to allow it to go the direction the work wants me to go. Once I’ve conceptualized the story in its infant form, it begins to take on life of its own. If I allow my expectation of the stories outcome to control my writing, I have learned that it won’t feel authentic when the work is done.
This happens all the time in writing novels and scripts. If you plan out every aspect of the story beforehand, I often paint myself into a corner. It’s better for me to have the general idea of where to begin, and where it’s going, then the story will take on its own life as it goes and become what it’s meant to be.
Allowing yourself to make mistakes
Mistakes are how we learn. Ever heard the old adage: “Edison didn’t find one way to make a light bulb, he found a thousand ways not to?” Well, Edison didn’t invent the lightbulb anyway (#TeslaRules) but you get the point. Our mistakes show us what worked and what didn’t and provide us with the steps we need to create our best output. I have learned to allow myself to take the idea I have, run with it, and if in the end it isn’t what I or my employer was looking for, I take their advice and guidance, adjust, and make it work.
Ridley Scott’s Alien went through several reworks in the script, costumes, and art direction before it was settled. Every great story takes lots of love, imagination, and change from everyone involved. As I mentioned before, NAVIGATOR had to go through many edits and changes of direction before the final product was decided on. It helps to be patient with yourself through the process.
I struggled with getting myself into a place where I feel comfortable with my work. The real secret to making a great story for me has been to start doing it for me, letting my imagination free, and being willing to make mistakes. As I have done this, I have found myself prepared for anything the writing world has thrown at me, and you can too.