WRITING: You Will Write Crap, and You Will Grow
July 8, 2012
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If you’re just starting out writing, you are going to write a lot of not very good work. It really doesn’t matter how naturally talented you are, because talent is only one of the elements determining the quality of your work. Myself, I believe it’s a combination light on talent and weighted heavily to practice and maturity/experience. Working hard, and having a rich life and knowledge of the world to draw from, are the most important things for developing the ability to write really well.
This means that you’ll start with a lot of work that isn’t very good – and the fact is, everyone does. My first pilot was awful. My second was terrible, but had hints of worth. My third showed promise, but was terribly messy and boring. Even my better pilots are still breaking out of that stage: my most-praised one still lacks a strong forward drive for the first half, despite having a lot of things people enjoyed. Seven years into scriptwriting, I’m still yet to produce a work without significant flaws.
But I don’t let it get me down, because as much as I can see the flaws, I also see the improvement. Every script isn’t necessarily better than the last, but each one demonstrates and enables creative growth. I can compare my 2007 pilot to my 2009 and 2012 ones and see precisely where I grew, where my voice became sharper, where I used to emulate masters I loved rather than my own perspective. I can see a tighter grasp of plot and pacing, a more distinctive and purposeful sense of humour, stronger characters.
And when you start seeing improvement – and for the first good long while, it feels like you can’t, because it takes so long to carve out your unique voice from your influences – it’s a reminder that there’s hope. That if you’ve progressed from awful to okay, from childish to unremarkable, then you can keep going until you hit astonishing.
You just need to work hard. Learn from life. And keep writing.