Tuesday, May 20, 2008

10 Things To Do When You're Not Writing...

...but you still want to learn.

1. Read. Read books on writing. I've read Mamet's 3 Uses of the Knife, and while I disagreed with about half of what I understood, it got me thinking. Read stories that inspire you. Today I was reminded of Ted Chiang's "Story of Your Life," a Nebula short story winner. That story is brilliant - it gets a visceral emotional response out of you - I love it so much I once read it aloud to a friend. When you hear a story that's inspiring, it makes you want to share inspiration with someone else.

2. Review. Join Zoetrope or Triggerstreet. In the past two weeks I've read five features and one hour TV spec and written subsequent reviews. As you notice what works and what doesn't, you start to make mental notes for your own scripts. Keep a copy of all your reviews. Read all sorts of different genres - I just read a thriller and found out a know a whole lot more about that genre than I thought I knew. The trick here is to retain and implement what you apparently subconsciously know about other people's scripts into your own writing.

3. Network. There was actually a discussion about this going on over at Wordplayer last week. You don't want to just network - you want to actually make friends in the industry. It's more fun. So speak up on a couple of forums. Create a website, a blog, or go "old school" with MySpace. Comment on your favourite blogs and check out the other people who comment too. You might run across another great blog.

4. Watch movies. See above points. Pretty simple.

5. Listen to podcasts. Creative Screenwriting has an awesome collection of interviews with screenwriters and other filmmakers. More lessons to learn and advice to soak up. I think the most meaningful ones I've listened to are the ones with Zach Helm and Diablo Cody. Helm makes a great point about writing a personal manifesto, especially in the face of the disrespect writers get in the industry (and not writing when you don't want to). When Diablo talks about her breaking in experience, she mentions how great it was that she didn't know any of the "screenwriting rules" (and about not writing when you don't want to). I think it's really easy to get into a certain "struggling, desperate writer" mindset. Good interviews with professional writers helps put things in perspective again.

...and therefore have lots of time.

6. Learn how to drive. I went driving legally for the first time the other day. I rocked it out - in the empty parking lot at the back of the mall.

7. Redecorate your room. Tomorrow we strip off the wall paper and paint. Did you know Ralph Lauren has paint? For all those New England yuppies for who their Ralph Lauren polos and SUVs are not enough. My dad and I spent several minutes trying to figure out how RL's special painting techniques worked. I watched the little instructional video twice, then decided it wasn't worth it for this room. Maybe for my first ocean-view one bedroom apartment in LA.

8. Be thrilled Indiana Jones is getting pretty good reviews from the important places.

9. Bake. Last week I warmed up with chocolate chip cookies. Today I whipped up a chocolate cake with mint frosting and a melted chocolate layer on top of that. Later this week I think I'm going to try sugar cookies with a chocolate raspberry drizzle (we have chocolate raspberry chips, so it's sorta cheating), and then I'm going to master German chocolate cake.

...and finally

10. Get over it and get back to writing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i loved it, as i usually do. i wish i could write entries like this, but then i wouldn't be very original. i guess i'm fated to be the drama, angst writer :P

how are you these days?