A guest post from screenwriter Tom Benedek (Cocoon) and co-founder of Screenwriting Master Class:
I have always said that my writing practice keeps me sane. Now I know it is true because I read it in the New York Times. There’s a catch though. And it’s a good one.
The concept is based on the idea that we all have a personal narrative that shapes our view of the world and ourselves. But sometimes our inner voice doesn’t get it completely right. Some researchers believe that by writing and then editing our own stories, we can change our perceptions of ourselves and identify obstacles that stand in the way of better health.
The catch — you have to write something that is personal to you. And you have to reflect on it, revise it.
We often hear that managers, agents, producers seek out unique voices in scripts. Who doesn’t? We are all striving to “bring it” every time we sit down to write. Verve Agent Tanya Cohen recently spoke about this in Variety. She fervently believes “the cream will rise to the top” as it always has, so long as there’s truth and passion involved. Agent Cohen: “I think, at the end of the day, writers should write what they know — what they emotionally know.”
• Every story we write, every script idea we pursue is personal to us, like it or not.
• We may be writing a genre piece about something completely remote from our personal experience but it still needs to have some meaning for the writer.
• Again — all writing is personal.
With every spec script, there may be an external goal – a sale, a career, making the film, winning a contest, glory in festivals, etc.. however the act of writing, the creative work itself is a means to interpret and express ourselves, explain the world, reflect on life, expand and explore our own lives. This benefit of writing is always there for us. (That is what keeps me writing — even if I have my eye on the prize outside myself, in what we like to think of as the “real world.”)
Here is where the science intersects with screenwriting: By surrendering our selves, our sensibilities to our characters, plots, script structures, we may write more fully realized scripts AND become more fully realized individuals.
I have a Prep Class starting on February 9 at Screenwritingmasterclass.com. It’s a 6 week script outline writing workshop. As an add-on, there will be some stimulating material about the creative process to play with for those who are interested.
The First 15 Pages one-week workshop also starts on February 9. Learn ways to stimulate your creative approaches to crafting those first pages. Class members may post their own first 15 pages for class discussion and instructor Tom Benedek’s feedback in a Skype teleconference.
For more information on the Prep workshop, go here.
To learn more about the First 15 Pages workshop, go here.