Writing is a Practice. It’s Not Just a Craft

“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.

  1. A practice is something we do to improve ourselves as performers, it focuses on being better rather than on the end product (or performance)
  2. Practice is the regular, focused, daily effort to eliminate weaknesses from our discipline
  3. In practice, we can afford to experiment and take risks that we wouldn’t do in performance… and that this is how craft evolves
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For more techniques to improve your screenwriting Clive has written a ground-breaking book called The Process of Screenwriting.

There is a free sample and other useful handouts here.

For details of future workshops and screenwriting related opportunities

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