Follow your Bliss

In this post a person (who curiously has not sold a screenplay) offers some advice for aspiring screenwriters. I am not a professional screenwriter nor do I consider myself an expert on the subject, but I differ with several of these assertions.

On the mechanics of becoming a better screenwriter, the author says "If your writing group doesn't leave you on the verge of tears on a regular basis, you should find a better writing group". At first blush this sounds like the perversion of Nietzsche that bullies use to justify their bullying. Or perhaps it is some form of paying one's dues. Either way, my reading on human psychology and personal experience both tell me that the best teaching, coaching, and mentoring do not involve bringing you to the verge of tears. Of course it can be difficult to accept criticism of one's work. But constructive criticism from an authentically helpful person will not bring you to the verge of tears on a regular basis.

On the motivation for becoming a better screenwriter, the author says "If you aren't serious about writing enough to move [to Los Angeles], you aren't serious enough to be a professional". This highlights a critical, fundamental problem: he is opining on screenwriting as a job, not as an art. He comments that "quite a few people [in film school] (less than half, but still a significant percentage) don't seem to know why they're there" and "several of my classmates don't seem to be all that interested in writing". Final Draft works just as well in Des Moines as it does in Los Angeles. There is nothing wrong with screenwriting as a job or wanting to build one's professional skills as a screenwriter. But why bother if you do not love writing? Why be brought to the verge of tears on a regular basis and move across the country for just a job?

This post displays a venality that saddens me. I write because I must. The stories are packed inside me, bursting to get out. If I do not write, I live less well. I do not write for a paycheck. I would gladly accept money for my writing. But if no one pays me for it, I will still write. While it might be nice to get paid to write, it might also be miserable to have my writing stop being art and start being product.

Do what you love whatever your day job may be. They can have forty of your hours per week but never let them have your passion.

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