Your Motives For Writing

As a screenwriter you're not only the creator of your screenplay, but your choice of material will either make the experience an exciting adventure or an agonizing voyage. This chapter deals with the most important element in the writing process—YOU, the writer.

It's important to look at your motives for wanting to write, because if they aren't strong enough you probably won't finish your screenplay. Writing is just too difficult a craft to learn ifyou aren't serious about it. So before you begin your writing journey it's necessary for you to answer the following questions:

• Do you want to get recognition?

• Do you want to entertain others?

• Do you want only to be known as a writer without writing?

If these are your only reasons for wanting to become a writer give it up now, because they're all the wrong reasons. However, you may feel you have something important to say and want to share it with others. Perhaps you want to tell people about your strong feelings and beliefs through the written word. Or maybe you have a burning desire to tell your personal story. If deep down inside you feel you must write, that you can't live without writing, then writing is for you.

The famous writer Rainer Maria Rilke gave the following advice to an aspiring writer in his book Letters to a Young Poet:

This above all—ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night: 'Must I write?' And if this should be affirmative, if you may meet this earnest question with a strong and simple 'I must,' then build your life according to this necessity: your life even into its most indifferent and slightest hour must be a sign of this urge and a testimony to it.

Do you feel the same way he described? If the answer for you is "I must," then writing a screenplay is what you should do.

In my writing classes I have students answer the question: "WHY I WRITE" The following is an excerpt from this exercise by one of my writing students:

Writing is a wonderful tool for me to dig out buried feelings that I always try to hide from everyone. But on the page I can let them flow. I can release my pent-up pain, my passion, my hurts, my joys and my fears. When I see what I've written in black and white, the words bear witness to me and validate who I am. Writing awakens my dormant selves and gives voice to them on the page. Writing cuts my spirit free. The words free me from my pain, shame, and blame. What's the point of writing without telling the truth? What's the point of being afraid to expose and to reveal myself on the page? At least when I write I can be free to be the who I want to be, something I don't do in my life. The words are my lifeline for healing myself. I am finally ready to face my fears through my writing and find my true self. I'll write about my story and not another person's story. I am ready to take the journey to meet my true self and my spirit through writing.

As you can see, writing is absolutely meaningful and necessary in this person's life. She is a talented writer who has just finished her second screenplay about discovering her real self through writing. In her screenplay her main character transforms from low self-esteem to feeling confident about herself. It is a wonderful, uplifting coming of age script. It's personal and yet professionally written from the heart.

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