The title might exaggerate, but the following single piece of advice I am about to give, I wish I had received at school. If I had, maybe I would have discovered my talent for writing Screenplays a lot earlier.
Writing is imagination written down!
That’s it. And guess what? We all have an imagination. Some of us don’t exercise it quite as often as others, but like any muscle in the body, the more you use it, the stronger it gets. I’ve been using it rather effectively for about ten years, and I continue to see improvement in each screenplay I write.
This advice may seem obvious to the many that have little trouble writing imaginative screenplays and fiction novels, but after recognizing every story told was a literal imagination dump, I felt inspired. I knew I had an imagination, therefor I knew I could write. A door was opened, and I walked through it.
However, there were a few things I had to overcome to actually be good at writing: Imagination after all won’t correct your spelling or help you overcome the crisis of confidence you have every time you think about telling the world what’s inside your head.
1. I had to care less what others thought of my imagination.
Overcoming this obstacle can take a lot of effort and courage. It’s a little like trying to thread a baguette through a fine needle head. The baguette is your imagination of-course and the needle represents the filter, or the external world whom your trying to please. If you continue to write by other peoples standards, your writing will lack the essence of your true potential and your story will be (bread) crumbs!
To overcome this particular obstacle, I did three things. Firstly, I set boundaries that were acceptable to my own morals and ethics. I don’t write outside these boundaries, regardless of whether I have a really good idea in the neverworld (I know, that’s a made up word, but aren’t they all??) Secondly, I repeat to myself, I don’t care what others think. Ten years later, and I only occasionally need to remind myself of this. Lastly, I choose who to show my work to. Strangers are my favorite, because they literally don’t know me, and any critique will be less biased.
I embrace criticism, even if it’s harsh.
2. I had to brush up on my writing skills
As a kid, I ran away from reading, and writing, and I wasn’t the biggest talker either. I went to speech therapy, learn and support, and maintained a strong position at the bottom of the class for pretty much every academic subject. Well, until high school whereby I magically climbed the ladder to the top groups. My point being, English was never my strongest subject. Correct grammar and spelling flew over my head like the guy that flew over the cuckoos nest. But love or hate Bill Gates, at the age of twelve, I discovered Microsoft Word and the magic of automatic correction.
I like to give people a pass on spelling and grammar. So long as it is readable, a good story is a good story! But I’m not the majority.
So besides practice, practice and practice some more, get yourself a good piece of software to pick up the slack.
3. I had to Know my Audience
I went onto university to study Product Design (I wanted to be an inventor). It was at university I started to write better as a requisite of report writing. I would often grade highest in my class for my reports. I had a secret though. One which I partially discovered at the beginning of high school. It turned into a personal mantra. And without it, I may not have progressed to uni.
Understand the question. Write your answer
In primary school, I would read a question, and immediately believed I understood it, until the big red cross told me otherwise. In my mind I was intelligent, but I wasn’t getting the grade. So before starting high school, I decided to read every question three times. I made sure to understand what was being asked before I answered. This resulted immediately in more correct answers. I wasn’t satisfied with only understanding the question though. I wanted to know my audience. This way, my answer could be personalized to the readership. This is what got me top grades at university. I didn’t only understand the often very ambiguous questions, I accommodated my lecturers expectations into my writing. When my whole class failed a particular assignment, I passed with a merit. My mantra changed to;
Understand the question. Know your audience. Write your answer
Your imagination can literally take you to places you’ve never traveled (Google earth helps us out there!), but if you want to progress, you must understand your self-worth as an imaginative individual while also understanding who your intended audience is.
Please feel free to connect with me.