I never would have considered writing. Of any kind. I knew I wanted to study film, but I wanted to be a director, and if not a producer. I’m not that person who knew they wanted to write since they were 6 years old. I’m actually surprised every time I catch myself trying to so determinedly learn the craft. I’ve read writing books, listen to writing podcasts on the way to school, watch interviews, had internships reading scripts, etc. I just hope that my endeavors don’t leave me poor and unemployed once I’m out of school.
About two years ago I took an intermediate screenwriting course. Towards the end of the semester the professor asked for a show of hands of the people who would not consider writing for TV. I was one of those ignorant people (to be quite frank) who raised their hand. I guess at that time I considered feature writing to be way above in class of TV writing. A year passed and, I’m not exactly sure why, but I changed my mind – I think it might have been during the time I was rewatching The Office and when I got into the Dyke Van Dyke Show (two of my favorites). Generally, anyone who knows about TV writing will tell you that there are more jobs/opportunities at the moment in TV. It’s also a relatively more stable occupation than writing films. I will always be interested in films, but I’m focused on learning about TV for now. This semester I’m taking a TV writing course, in which I hope to write a spec and maybe a pilot.
John August has a series on his blog called “First Person”, where writers share experiences from their writing journeys. This is how I came across Kiyong and his blog. He’s finishing his writing fellowship at Nickelodeon, and he documents his experience on his blog – also includes interviews with other fellows. The reason I bring him up is because of a quote he shared with me as a reply to a comment I made on one of his posts . In delaying actual writing, like many others, I’ve been searching for something to connect with me. Something that gives me some kind of hint that there is someone out there that went through what I’m going through now, and after all the struggle, was eventually able to breakthrough and succeed. The quote – the reason why I was motivated to write this post – is from Ira Glass and it essentially sums up what I’m going through at the moment.
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have.
We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” -Ira Glass
I’m not one to boast, but I’m confident I have good taste. Now it’s just a matter of coming to terms with the fact that the first thing I write won’t be great, no matter how badly I want it to be. There are mistakes to be made. Mistakes which will hopefully lead to greatness. It’s tough to accept you’re material will be crap. There is not much appeal to knowing your efforts will produce bad results. However, there is some comfort in realizing that these bad results are sacrifices for future success.
So, for the two or three people that might stumble upon this post, I encourage you to check out John August’s page and Kiyong’s blog, and to just keep going at it. And leave a comment. It’s always comforting to know we’re not going at this alone.