In Part 1, we looked back at the Past, what we had accomplished as writers in 2012.
In Part 2, we considered the Present, assessing where we are now.
Today we direct our self-reflection toward the Future. Not 2013, but beyond. Five years from now. Ten years. Twenty. We consider the question: Where do you want to go as a writer?
Of course, we can’t know the answer. Indeed we can’t even assume we’ll make any money in the creative arts. As I wrote in this TBOS column is: “Movies don’t owe anybody a living.” Swap out any kind of writing for ‘movies,’ it’s the same thing.
But while we must keep our feet firmly planted on the ground, understanding the odds against financial success, there is no good reason why we can’t put our head in the clouds, indeed poke above them to catch a glimpse of our possible bright future. In fact, it’s important to envision what a successful career in the entertainment field would look like because when you break into the business, one of the earliest conversations you will have with your agents and/or manager is around this question: What do you want to do?
During this part of your reflection process, if your mind wanders off into images of a home in the Hollywood Hills, a new sports car, walking the red carpet at a movie premiere, Spielberg on the phone to ask you to salvage a troubled script, your Academy Award acceptance speech, I have no problem with that. We all deserve and need fantasies such as those to kick-start our motivation from time to time.
But the focus here is specific: You and your writing. Where do you want to be with it in a decade or longer? What would be the most fulfilling use of your creativity as a writer?
Again if you haven’t joined in with our collective ruminations in this series of posts yet, now is a perfect opportunity. First off, there’s zero negativity involved in this mental exercise today, rather it’s all about a positive sense of your future (i.e., fun stuff). Second whether you subscribe to the theory of creative visualization or not, having a specific image of yourself as a writer in the future at least provides you with a point of focus for your efforts in the present.
Today: Where Do You Want To Go As A Writer
Here are some questions you may ask yourself:
* Do you want just to write movies?
* Do you want just to write TV?
* Do you want to write both?
* Do you want to write and direct?
* Do you want to write and produce?
* Do you want to bounce between writing big commercial movies and character-driven indie films?
* Do you want to write screenplays and novels?
* Do you want to carve out a niche writing specific types of movies or write across multiple genres?
I’m sure you have other questions to add to the list. Whatever you ask yourself, the important thing is to project into the future and imagine where you want your writing to take you.
As part of this series, I promised to share my own process. And at this point in my life, I find this to be a really interesting question. When I lived in L.A. and wrote nearly 30 movie and TV projects in 15 years for every major studio and broadcast network, this was an easy question to answer: I wanted to continue doing what I was doing. But I have charted an unusual path during my creative adventure. In a way, my choice to leave L.A. and go work for an independent production company represents a radical departure akin to when I left Yale to take a year off in order to explore what possibilities my interest in music would generate. In the case of the latter, it led me to screenwriting. In the case of the former, I have been unsettled as to where this path is leading. But the mist may be clearing just a bit.
I don’t have a fixed sense of what that future might look like as I’m not sure there are any paradigms out there for me to follow. As indicated yesterday, I have two strong interests with my writing: To write stories and to write about Story. There is a third component which has to figure into the mix: I want to teach.
I don’t know how to explain this desire. I just have an instinct for teaching. It is as much a part of my core essence as writing is. To demonstrate how much, when I sat down with myself this weekend, I considered this question: “If I wrote a spec script and sold it for one million dollars, would I quit teaching?” I barely had to think about it. The answer was definite: No, I would not. In fact, if I was working full-time as a screenwriter again, I’d probably still maintain this blog if only to keep up an educational outlet.
Why? Part of it is, as I suggested yesterday, I believe teaching is in my DNA. But there’s another component. When Universal Pictures bought the spec script K-9 for three-quarters of a million dollars in 1987, I was a complete and total outsider to Hollywood. And ever since that very first year of transitioning into the business of screenwriting, I have felt a powerful commitment to make myself available to aspiring writers. I think a major reason for this is I always root for underdogs. Case in point, being a military brat and moving around the country as I did, I could choose any Major League Baseball team to root for. I chose the New York Mets. This is back in 1964 when they really sucked. But that’s precisely what appealed to me about them. I love underdogs. And once I understood how long the odds were against success as a writer in Hollywood, I found a brave new world of underdogs: Every writer outside the system.
I suspect at least some of you are thinking, “This guy is full of shit” or “Myers is feeding us a total line.” I get it. I mean, why would anybody in their right mind feel such a connection to and commitment on behalf of other writers?
Here is my rejoinder: GITS. Why the hell would I have started this site and written over 10,000 posts in the 50 months I’ve been hosting it? It sure ain’t the money as I haven’t made one thin dime from my efforts as a blogger.
The truth goes deeper. I love movies. I love screenwriting. I want to do whatever I can to help writers find their voice, tap into their passion, fuel their motivation, inform them about the ins and outs of Hollywood, prepare them for the possibility of breaking into the business, and in a perfect world engender their ability — and by ‘their,’ I mean your — to write a great script worthy of becoming a great movie.
Believe that or not… but I swear that’s the truth.
So where do I want to go as a writer?
I want to write stories. I want to write original screenplays. I want to write novels. I have multiple story concepts I want to bring to life on the page.
I want to write about Story. I want to pull together my theories about screenwriting as books. I want to publish what I think are exciting, new and distinctive ideas about how to approach crafting a story, offering a different voice to the conversation about the craft.
I want to teach writing. University? Screenwriting Master Class? GITS? All of them? Some of them? Something else? The other two aspects — writing stories and writing about Story — lay out pretty clearly in my mind. Teaching? Still a work in progress.
In any event, I have formulated a set of goals for 2013 that will move me forward on all fronts: writing stories, writing about Story, teaching writing. I’m excited by the prospect I will be doing that for next 10 years… and maybe beyond.
How about you? Do you have a clear sense of what you want to be doing in five or ten years? Or is your vision of the future an amorphous one? Stop by Comments, won’t you, and share your thoughts.
Tomorrow we focus on practical matters. Remember what we’re trying to do here is be S.M.A.R.T. about our choices when it comes to Writing Goals: 2013.
S = Smart
M = Measurable
A = Achievable
R = Realistic
T = Timely
After spending time with our head in the clouds, tomorrow we focus on keeping our feet on the ground.
See you in Comments!