The Psychological Benefits of Writing Regularly

Because God knows how difficult it is to suck financial benefits out of what we write, especially at the beginning of our careers:

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by Gregory Ciotti

When you attempt to envision a writer, I imagine many of you see a quirky recluse, hunched over a desk in some cabin, crumpled paper strewn about as they obsessively work on the next great American novel.

But writing is so much more. Prose is thought put to page, which makes all of us writers—even if we don’t have the chops to tangle with Faulkner. In most cases, writing is most useful as a tool for thinking, expression, and creativity; cabin-dwelling novelists be damned.

Let’s look at some of the benefits of making writing a regular habit.

Writing and happiness

Much of the research on writing and happiness deals with “expressive writing,” or jotting down what you think and how you feel. Even blogging “undoubtedly affords similar benefits” to private expressive writing in terms of therapeutic value.

Expressive writing has also been linked to improved mood, well-being, and reduced stress levels for those who do it regularly, says Adam Grant:

Research by Laura King shows that writing about achieving future goals and dreams can make people happier and healthier… And Jane Dutton and Ifound that when people doing stressful fundraising jobs kept a journal for a few days about how their work made a difference, they increased their hourly effort by 29% over the next two weeks.”

Writing and communicating clearly

Laziness with words creates difficulty in describing feelings, sharing experiences, and communicating with others. Being able to flesh out thoughts in your mind only to have them come stumbling out when you speak is supremely frustrating. Fortunately, regular writing seems to offer some reprieve.

In both emotional intelligence and in hard sciences like mathematics, writing has been shown to help people communicate highly complex ideas more effectively. Writing helps eliminate “it sounded good in my head” by forcing your hand; brains forgive fuzzy abstractions, prose does not.

Writing and handling hard times

In one study that followed recently fired engineers, the researchers found that those engineers who consistently engaged with expressive writing were able to find another job faster….

Read it all at Help Scout

LB’s Poetry: “The Love I Know”

NOTE FROM LB: I started my showbiz life in the music business, as a drummer, and played in bands of every genre that existed at the time. The most difficult music for me to play was what then was called Country and Western, because the rhythm sounded like rock but wasn’t quite, and while the lyrics sounded like truth…

The Love I Know
by Larry Brody

Country music gives us the verities:

Love,

Betrayal,

And Death.

I live it all everyday, yet still I listen, as

Betrayal becomes the most beautiful

Possible reward, courtesy of a backbeat

And a mournful slide guitar, and

Death grows more desirable than

The most perfect lifetime, drowning

Betrayer and betrayed in a torrent of

Fiddles that could overpower any tide.

But country love pales beside the

Love I

Know.

No voice, no instrument,

No sequined yoke dress or hand painted

Pair of boots

Has ever been touched as I have,

By a woman whose truth makes

The certainties of Nashville and Branson

As false as an ember from Garth’s

Or Reba’s

Ceramic campfire log.


Larry Brody is the head dood at TVWriter™. Although the book whose cover you see above is for sale on Kindle, he is posting at least one poem a week here at TVWriter™ because, “As the Navajo Dog herself once pointed out to me, ‘Art has to be free. If you create it for money, you compromise your artistic vision by trying to please those who are paying. If you don’t accept money, you can be yourself. Like your art, you too are free.'”

Who is the Navajo Dog? Keep coming back and you’ll see.

Writers Guild Foundation – Breaking In At Any Age

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by Kelly Jo Brick

The Writers Guild Foundation recently partnered with the Academy Education and Nicholl Fellowship Programs for a special event on how to break into the industry as a writer of any age.

Panelists including Ronald Bass (RAIN MAN, ENTRAPMENT), Douglas Jung (STAR TREK BEYOND, CONFIDENCE), Peter Landesman (CONCUSSION, KILL THE MESSENGER), Meg LeFauve (INSIDE OUT, THE GOOD DINOSAUR) and Linda Woolverton (ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, MALEFICENT) shared their breaking in experiences and discussed the challenges up and coming writers are facing.

BREAKING IN

At the very beginning, there’s no pathway to this stuff. There’s no permission slip. It’s about understanding when an opportunity strikes and a door slithers open and really just not hearing no for an answer. — Peter Landesman

You just never know where it’s going to come from. It can be out of your hands in a certain way. I think that’s actually a good thing. — Douglas Jung

Do you want to write or do you want to be a writer? If writing is what you do and you’re excited about it, you get up early in the morning and you just lay it out there and you get to write, then you really got a shot. It will see you through it so many bad times, so many insults, so much failure, because you get to do it. If you hate doing it, but you just think you can make a good living doing it or get to hang out with actresses, have people know who I am or whatever, do something else. You’re doomed. — Ronald Bass

BUILDING YOUR SKILLS AS A WRITER

One thing that I got from film school that continues to help me still today is the idea of how to take criticism and how to give criticism. It seems like an easy thing to do. To have the skill set, to be able to do that and to separate your emotions and the natural defenses you have. That was really big. — Douglas Jung

How are you going to learn? You go and get 50,000 scripts of films you’ve seen and writers you admire. You read them and you steal them. You steal the ideas, the techniques, the decisions they made. That’s how you learn, because then you’re teaching yourself. — Ronald Bass

I think the best way to learn to write is to write as much as possible. Write eight scripts and write five, six, seven, re-writes of each of those eight, because by the sixth re-write you’re going to be like, “Oh, this is what I’m doing.” It’s going to take that many rewrites to even know what you’re doing. And read as many scripts as possible. That is the ground zero of learning to be a writer, doing it and writing and reading as many scripts as you can. — Meg LeFauve

TAKING MEETINGS

It’s really important to be curious about the world and to have a hunger. What’s in this room that’s drawing your attention; that makes your brain light up? That makes me think that you’re more than just this particular story you’re telling me right now because you’re trying to impress me. Is this a person who has a fluid mind? Are you hungry and want to know more about the world and tell a story about it? That person I want to be around, I want to share the energy of that human being. — Linda Woolverton

The best thing as a writer is if you can engage that executive in a conversation. You have to stay open in that meeting and not just walk in and be, “I’m pitching my story,” because it will flow and move around. They’re going to ask you questions. If you stay open and be honest about what you’re interested in and passionate about, you’ll find someone like-minded. — Meg LeFauve

PITCHING

It’s an absolute skill we should be teaching in classes, because you have to feel the room, you have to feel your audience. I did a lot of performing for kids. The performances for kids really helped me with the pitch, because I can feel, with kids, they don’t care. I have to keep them, I have to lower my voice, get them to lean forward. All that stuff I use when I go out to pitch. — Linda Woolverton

You have to be genuinely enthusiastic with the story you’re telling. You have to find the part of it that you love and the part of the performance that you love. You have to say it a million times to yourself so that you can say it in a very relaxed, conversational way, but you know, like a performer, where the notes are, you know where you want to hit it and really make them believe you love it, because you do love it. If you don’t love that story, don’t go in and pitch it. — Ronald Bass

A pitch is like a song and it’s gotta be musical. Leave your notes at home, I beg you. Here’s the thing, you have a few different versions of the song in your head. If it’s a warm room, you do the opera. If you gotta get the hell out of there because it’s bad, you do the one minute ditty. — Peter Landesman

WRITING AT ANY AGE

If you’re older, the bar is really high in terms of your work. It has to be really, really good, because it’s a young industry. They like young voices. They want freshness, but if the work is great, they don’t care. — Meg LeFauve

Screenwriter is my fourth career, directing is my fifth. And I found that I just rattle less easily about little things. I get nervous less. I have children and perspective and I’ve seen death and I traveled all over the world professionally before I became a screenwriter. I think it’s like anything else, it’s perspective and context. Everybody in the industry wants to feel safe, meaning they’re safe in your hands, you know you’re safe in their hands, they’re safe with story, they feel safe because they think you know what you’re doing. I think that level of maturity is an exponential additive to that. — Peter Landesman

CREATING A STRONG NARRATIVE DRIVE IN YOUR SCRIPT

What does character want and what is the hurt that is driving it?  What are in the obstacles in the way of it? What are they going to learn about themselves in the process that’s going to move us as an audience that we can relate to? — Linda Woolverton

The most important thing a writer needs to do is understand what their story is. What they’re dying to say about their world, their life, about living. If you can find that, then that will inject whatever you write with the kind of energy that is musical and infectious and good. — Peter Landesman

What are you afraid of? Push into the script where you feel the most resistance, because there might be amazing juice under there. — Meg LeFauve

RE-WRITING

You have to expect that the story that’s in you is going to take ten drafts, so get going. You’ve got ten drafts to write before it starts to really get good and gel. — Meg LeFauve

There’s an internal clock that tells you when you’re not really changing it in a way that’s improving the script for you and it’s kind of where you want it to be. Keep writing new scripts also. If you write several different things, you will learn, you will have more ideas, more things to sell, more confidence as a writer. Too many people stop at the first thing or the first two things and don’t keep generating new ideas. — Ronald Bass


The Writers Guild Foundation regularly hosts events that celebrate the craft and voices of film and television writers. To find out more about upcoming events, go to wgfoundation.org.

TVWriter™ Don’t-Miss Posts of the Week – July 25th

In case you’ve missed what’s happening at TVWriter™, the most popular blog posts during the week ending yesterday were:

Diana Vacc sees OUTLANDER Ep. 13 “Dragonfly in Amber”

LB’s Poetry: “Kid Hollywood”

Looking for TV Pilot Scripts?

LB: Where Did THE FALL GUY Live?

Larry Brody: 10 Things That Help Me Keep on Keeping On

And our most visited permanent resource pages were:

Writing the Dreaded Outline

THE PEOPLE’S PILOT

The Logline

THE PEOPLE’S PILOT: About

The Teleplay

Major thanks to everyone for making this such a great week. Don’t forget to click above and read what you missed. re-read what you loved, and, most importantly, come back for more soon

Peggy Bechko’s World: “Writers, save your readers from ‘boring'”

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by Peggy Bechko

Throw your hero off a cliff.

Yep, that’s the ticket. Think about it. Are you boring your reading audience with wonderful Mr. Nice Guy who may be a bit shy, but so darn good looking he’s irresistible?

Okay, he can be all that, but does he spend his days at the lake faithfully with his one true love and have nothing more exciting than crossing against a light to spice up his day?

Uh…. Boring.

Readers don’t want to follow a perfect hero or heroine as he or she goes about her day and everyone is subjected to every boring detail from tooth brushing to hailing a cab.

Really, if that’s your character you might sit down and have a talk with yourself about why that is.

So how about this. Your hero remains your hero but you toss in the woman he meets and falls in love with, a kick-ass martial arts champ, crack shot markswoman with a questionable past and a sarcastic wit. Now we’re talkin’! How would they work out their differences? How would he react to her, aside from loving her? What about her past, is that about to come back and bite them both?  I don’t know, do you have a clue?

A few elements like this and the reader doesn’t know from one page/moment to the next if the hero is going to have to jump off a cliff to save himself/her/ or out of total frustration.

Now that I’d like to read. Done well it would be a great page-turner or possibly the plot of a hit movie.

So, are you thinking like that, writing like that? No? Why not? We all have pasts and wounds we can draw on that we can present to our characters and really identify with.

If not, why not?

It’s scary out there for writers. They really need to plumb the depths and dig deep.

Unless…wait, there is no unless. It’s what a writer needs to do in order to hook readers. Sure, the fictional people are, well, fiction, but we put a little of ourselves into every character we create. Heroes, villains, it doesn’t matter.

Sinister? Painful? Dark? Yep, and we can throw in some sunshine and lollipops, but it originates within us. And we can’t make readers or movie goers feel if we can’t feel. Open up to yourself, admit your flaws and dark corners.

Dig deep, raise the bar for yourself and don’t stop exploring every emotion we all possess. Your readers will thank you and admire you for it.


Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her HERE. This post originally appeared on her sensationally helpful blog. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available onKindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page

munchman: One-Sentence Reviews of July’s Premiering Series

dalek premiere

by munchman

Yer Friendly Neighborhood munchman promised LB he would review all the Summer 2016 shows – and then missed most of the June shows. (Or, rather, was sulking in my wi-fi challenged tent at a location I can’t divulge and didn’t get to see them. Don’t know how many I really “missed.”) But ole muncho is here now, so let’s get this over with started:

POWER

Power’s back and still nowhere near as enjoyable as the much more badly written Empire, proving that going over the top is always more fun.

BALLERS

Friends tell me I’d love this, but I’ve never been able to even give it a try cuz…Ballers?

VICE PRINCIPALS

Vice Principals tries like hell to give its characters all the energy, stupidity, and bad judgement of 8 year-olds and, unfortunately, succeeds.

DIFFICULT PEOPLE

Sorry, but I stopped watching this show halfway through the first season because it seems to me that if people are going to put on a show about my life I oughta get to at least star in it – or get paid…something!

SUITS

Suits is my ex’s favorite show, so ’nuff said, right?

MR. ROBOT

More of the same greatness we got last year featuring a protagonist I consider a kindred spirit except I smile less.

TYRANT

OMG!, it’s another series I just can’t get started on because I already deal with way too many tyrants for reals, kids, and definitely don’t need to put up with that shit when it’s just me, my VPN, and my iPad.

MARCO POLO

In the words of the Talking Heads, “same as it ever was,” even duller, dumber, and more historically inaccurate than DaVinci’s Demons (except I lurves DaVinci because…demons – and, hey, sex too).

DARK MATTER

Luvin’ on how well Dark Matter hides its low budget, but it screws up now and then by actually giving a character a positive worldview, for a few minutes anyway.

KILLJOYS

Killjoys is the same show as Dark Matter (I’ll bet there’s a point where we discover they share the same universe as well as the same night on Syfy), but it sometimes shows a genuine sense of humor that appeals to my smirkier side. (I said I don’t smile much, a few shows up. Didn’t say I don’t smirk.)

BOJACK HORSEMAN

This show is possibly my favorite TV series of all time because not only does it portray Hollywood perfectly, its hero has what really counts in showbiz – a genuine horse cock (even though we never get to see it). Oh, and because it’s my fave, I’m giving it a second sentence. Actually, this is for my ex to read but as long as you’re here, I’m cool with you sticking around: Sweetie, I’m sorry you hated my favorite show, but do you have to keep telling all your friends I’m just like Bojack except a whole lot – erm – smaller?

More to come in August – mehopes!

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