“What I don’t know about writing are way more interesting, to me, than the things I do!”
One of the reasons I resisted writing a book about screenwriting for years was because I distrust anyone who sets themselves up as an expert on writing.I got round my reservations by sharing my experience, my work practices, and examples of how I use the techniques I was sharing… basically, I went “this is what I do, this is how my pages look when I do this, if it’s useful, use it.”
What’s missing from the book is how I learned the things I do know. About 8%, I learned from existing books on craft, about 20% I learned from friends in the industry… the rest I learned by messing up in truly spectacular manners, again, and again, and again… and again.This means, 28% of my learning is what most people mean when they talk about “the craft” of screenwriting. The rest, 72%, was learned through experimentation and consistent failure. This is what I call “the practice” of screenwriting.
I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that with writing it’s the practice and not the craft that matters. And, yes, I know this is a controversial statement.
In fact, I have already had my ears chewed off by someone on twitter for merely suggesting that writing maybe a practice and not a craft. My ideas about this aren’t fully formed, yet. But, these are the three things I’m looking at, at the moment.
- A practice is something we do to improve ourselves as performers, it focuses on being better rather than on the end product (or performance)
- Practice is the regular, focused, daily effort to eliminate weaknesses from our discipline
- In practice, we can afford to experiment and take risks that we wouldn’t do in performance… and that this is how craft evolves
For more techniques to improve your screenwriting Clive has written a ground-breaking book called The Process of Screenwriting.