“All of our days are numbered. We cannot afford to be idle. To act on a bad idea is better than to not act at all, because the worth of the idea never becomes apparent until you do it. Sometimes this idea could be the smallest thing in the world, a little flame that you hunch over and cup with your hand, and pray will not be extinguished by all the storms that house about it. If you can hold on to that flame great things can be constructed around it that are massive and powerful and world-changing, all held up by the tiniest of ideas.”
Here’s our member Antoine Wilson demonstrating how to write a novel. Watch and learn.
“When people give these kinds of speeches, they usually tell you all kinds of wise and heartfelt things. They have wisdom to impart. They have lessons to share. They tell you: Follow your dreams. Listen to your spirit. Change the world. Make your mark. Find your inner voice and make it sing. Embrace failure. Dream. Dream and dream big. As a matter of fact, dream and don’t stop dreaming until all of your dreams come true.
I think that’s crap.
I think a lot of people dream. And while they are busy dreaming, the really happy people, the really successful people, the really interesting, engaged, powerful people, are busy doing.
The dreamers. They stare at the sky and they make plans and they hope and they talk about it endlessly. And they start a lot of sentences with “I want to be …” or “I wish.”
“I want to be a writer.” “I wish I could travel around the world.”
And they dream of it. The buttoned-up ones meet for cocktails and they brag about their dreams, and the hippie ones have vision boards and they meditate about their dreams. Maybe you write in journals about your dreams or discuss it endlessly with your best friend or your girlfriend or your mother. And it feels really good. You’re talking about it, and you’re planning it. Kind of. You are blue-skying your life. And that is what everyone says you should be doing. Right? I mean, that’s what Oprah and Bill Gates did to get successful, right?
Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral, pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.
So, Lesson One, I guess is: Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer. Maybe you know exactly what it is you dream of being, or maybe you’re paralyzed because you have no idea what your passion is. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to know. You just have to keep moving forward. You just have to keep doing something, seizing the next opportunity, staying open to trying something new. It doesn’t have to fit your vision of the perfect job or the perfect life. Perfect is boring and dreams are not real. Just … do. So you think, “I wish I could travel.” Great. Sell your crappy car, buy a ticket to Bangkok, and go. Right now. I’m serious.
You want to be a writer? A writer is someone who writes every day, so start writing. You don’t have a job? Get one. Any job. Don’t sit at home waiting for the magical opportunity. Who are you? Prince William? No. Get a job. Go to work. Do something until you can do something else.”
Watch the whole thing here.
I am often told that I am fearless, that I am brave, because I write, openly and unabashedly, about race and gender, sexuality, popular culture, sexual violence, the body, identity.
In truth, I am not fearless. I am terrified but I write anyway. I pretend no one is going to read my words and I try to make sense of this world that is so breathtaking and beautiful and complicated and hideous.
I allow myself to believe my perspective, how I choose to narrate the world, is as valuable as anyone else who chooses to do so. I allow myself to believe my life experiences have relevance. I allow myself to believe my voice matters in a world where as a woman, as a black woman, as a Haitian American woman, as a bisexual woman, I am told to remain silent in so many harmful ways.
Those who disagree with me, often on Twitter, call this arrogance and I am absolutely fine with that.
I refuse to accept that inequality or violence and suffering are things we must accept as facts of life as if we do not dare to want for better, for more. I see this world as it is but I refuse to accept this world as it is. In my writing, there is no room for complacency.
I write this way because I am, by luck of birth, afforded the freedom of expression as an inalienable right. There is often a lot of muddled talk about this freedom because far too many people do not realize that the freedom of expression does not exist in a vacuum. We have this freedom to write, to speak, to express ourselves as we choose, but we are never free from consequences. With such a powerful right comes a powerful responsibility to express ourselves carefully, thoughtfully, and to consider the reach and repercussions of what we say and do in the name of freedom.
As a writer, I take this responsibility as seriously as I embrace my right to express myself as I want. Sometimes I fall short but always, I try to live up to this responsibility. I try not to take the freedom of writing for granted.
I thank PEN USA for finding me worthy of this honor. This is a most unexpected and gratifying award. I will continue to write. I will continue to be terrified yet brave because these are not incompatible emotions. I thank my parents for instilling in me the confidence to believe my ideas matter. I thank the editors who help shape my words, artfully and especially Maya Ziv, who edited Bad Feminist and Amy Hundley who edited An Untamed State. Last but never least, I thank my partner in crime who is the shelter in the storm and the person who makes it possible for me to be brave by seeing me as I really am and not looking away.
Scott Myers runs the screenwriting blog Go Into The Story. It’s an incredible asset for screenwriters. Probably the best out there.
The blog gives off the impression that Scott genuinely loves what he does and is a master on the subject of screenwriting and film.
His twitter is chock-full of funsize bits of encouragement and wisdom, and we’ve compiled a few of the best ones here. Take a look!
When a scene answers a story question, raise a different one by scene end. This will create curiosity and compel the reader forward.
— Scott Myers (@GoIntoTheStory) October 23, 2015
If your characters suddenly veer away from your outline, follow them. They may surprise you… which is a good thing.
— Scott Myers (@GoIntoTheStory) October 22, 2015
No matter the ups and downs… you’re hot, you’re cold… there’s one thing no one can take away: Your writing. You. Can. Always. Write.
— Scott Myers (@GoIntoTheStory) October 15, 2015
It’s ALWAYS Act Two that kicks your ass. The only solution? Kick ITS ass.
— Scott Myers (@GoIntoTheStory) October 13, 2015
A first draft is a journey of discovery. Don’t worry about page count. Better to have more, then cut… than less, then pad.
— Scott Myers (@GoIntoTheStory) October 7, 2015
Old Hollywood axiom: You are only allowed one coincidence per script. Otherwise your story feels like too much ‘writer’s convenience’.
— Scott Myers (@GoIntoTheStory) September 30, 2015
If you’re having trouble getting started with your script, pick scenes from your story you WANT to write — any scenes — and write them.
— Scott Myers (@GoIntoTheStory) September 27, 2015
The Whammo theory of screenwriting. Every 10 pages, something has to go “whammo”. Good rule of thumb for plotting.
— Scott Myers (@GoIntoTheStory) September 21, 2015
Plot answers the question: What is the story about? Theme answers the question: What does the story mean?
— Scott Myers (@GoIntoTheStory) September 20, 2015