Peggy Bechko: We writers have a lot on our minds…

by Peggy Bechko

shootfootWe writers have a lot on our minds and sometimes some of it might be better left behind. I mean sometimes we think and plan so much we can end up sabotaging ourselves or doing it all wrong.

Think about it, if you, as a writer are pondering how to be the next (fill in the blank with superstar script writer or author), then you’re on the wrong track. If all you’re doing is imitating or mimicking and not breaking out to be the writer YOU are then may I suggest a change in course.

Another thing many of us writers are guilty of is being obsessed with discovering what the ‘rules’ are and then following them. Now, when they apply to things like what a producer requests to make his or her life easier and get to the reading of your script or what an editor requests in the way of setting up your manuscript, the rules are to be followed. But when it comes to your actual writing, give it up, don’t be so knotted up about it and find your inner guide to tell you what your real story telling direction is. Who knows, breaking rules may equal creating new ones.

Then there are those writers among us who have egos so tender they can’t stand criticism in any form. You can’t be a wilting flower and survive as a writer. Really, grow an alligator skin. I know I’ve said that before in other posts, but it’s true. Only the strong survive isn’t just some quote pulled out of thin air. Critiques or editorial comments can hurt. A lot. You can think they’re all wrong. You can rail at them, but you better listen to them before you just toss them aside. You might find a kernel in there that will make your writing better.

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Then there’s the opposite writer from the paragraph above. Those who believe anything, positive or negative said about their writing or story. Someone says it’s wonderful. Another says the ending is beautiful. A third may tell you it’s a full bore stinkfest. Hmmm. Listen to them? Yes and no. Hear what’s said, then make up your own mind on how and if to change what you’ve written. You’re the writer.
I’ll toss this one in again as well. Many writers don’t think they’re really writers unless they’ve ‘sold’ something; unless something has been published or produced. Or if you’re published, a celebrity endorsement, a blurb on your back jacket. A writer is a writer. A writer writes. Let it spill forth and see where it takes you. And yes, you are a writer.

But, here’s another thing. You’ll find as you write that you’re going to hit tough spots in that story. You’re going to question where you’ll take it from there. It’ll frustrate you and you’re going to start casting about for a bright new idea, one you can really take through to the end. We forget sometimes that we have to work through it. That it’s imperative that we take what we’ve begun through to the end. That we write the end of that story, even if it’s tough. If you look back and discover you’re starting ten or twenty stories but only actually taking one or two to completion, then you need to think about what you’re doing, how you’re writing and how you can encourage yourself to finish all or most of the writing you begin. Unfinished stories won’t gain you fame and fortune. They won’t even gain you satisfaction or readers.

Oh, if you’re only writing a book or a script so you can sell it for big bucks, gain fame and fortune and retire to that lovely cabin in the woods (aka the mansion on the hill) then you’re really up a creek. None of that will improve your writing and storytelling ability enough to actually make that possible.

Don’t sabotage yourself. Write, improve, focus on your writing, not all the side issues and blossom.

One thought on “Peggy Bechko: We writers have a lot on our minds…

  1. But Sanford, who has been in this business for half a century, has already solved this! Remember?
    “You must write to “TELL A STORY”, and not ‘SELL A STORY!” Problem solved! Now get to work! gs

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