Over the course of the 24 weeks I am working with the writers in The Quest, each will write a weekly dispatch to share with the GITS community. There are several reasons for doing this, the main one educational: Hopefully you will learn something of value for your own understanding of the craft from the experiences of the Questers. I should also add they are a great group of people, so I expect you will enjoy getting to know them.
Today: Paul Wie gets in touch with his inner Woody Allen in discussing the discipline of writing:
I’ve learned a great deal about building characters over the past few months. In terms of my screenplay, I’ve spent a significant amount of time getting to know my characters on a deeper level, more so than I’ve ever done on a script — reading bios, writing bios, answering a myriad of character questions, creating character-defining scenes, and doing various exercises to make these people real, relatable, and alive. This week’s exercises focused on character functions and archetypes, which have helped me see my characters more clearly. So every week, I’m discovering new insights and facets about my characters, every week I’m moving towards the final destination of telling my story in its simplest, most effective form.
But writing is never just a journey on the page. Working on this script has taught me things about life as well. My lesson of the week, a lesson I’m having to re-learn all the time, is self-discipline. I’ve realized that self-discipline is everything when it comes to writing. When I’m focused and productive, when I force myself to work no matter what, when I put in the hours writing, I always feel good at the end of the day. But if I put off my work, if I take it easy, if I choose to ‘research’ rather than write, then I end my day feeling guilty and unproductive. So I’ve learned that no matter what, for my own happiness, I need to make writing an infallible habit in my life.
So I write this here to be accountable to myself, to my fellow Questers, and to all writers — let’s write everyday. Let’s form the discipline and habits to be great. Let’s be like Woody Allen, the most prolific screenwriter/director in the world, who says:
“I think that the biggest life lesson I learned as a boy that has helped me and is still with me is that you really have to discipline yourself to do the work. When I want to write, you get up in the morning, go in and close the door and write. Everything in life turns out to be a distraction from the real thing you want to do. There are a million distractions and when I was a kid, I was very disciplined. I knew that the other kids weren’t. I was the one able to do the thing, not because I had more talent, maybe less, but because they simply weren’t applying themselves. People used to always say to me they wanted to write a play, they wanted to write a movie, they wanted to write a novel, and the couple of people that did it were 80 percent of the way to having something happen… so once you do it, if you actually write your film script, or write your novel, you are more than half way toward something good happening. So that I would say is my biggest life lesson that has worked. All others have failed me.”
Or the short version attributed to writer-director Oliver Stone: “Writing equals butt on chair.”
Tomorrow: Another Dispatch From The Quest.
About Paul: Director + Writer. Loves Spielberg, Truffaut, Abrams, Kurosawa, Attack the Block, cinematic stories beautifully told. @paulhwie.