I try not to give advice in the main, partly because the Internet is awash with bad advice, partly because I think people should figure things out for themselves; but mostly because I think you”d have to be fucking mental to listen to anything I have to say.
Having said that, this post is advice.
I think it’s important advice because it will help you become not only a better writer but also a better person.
Well, maybe not.
Let’s just say I think it’s important, you may not.
Motivation, will power and confidence – three things which are essential for a script writer to possess.
Obviously you also need talent, skill, an understanding of structure, time something to write with or on … and, you know, lots of other shit … but let”s not get picky.
Motivation, will power and confidence – the ability to start writing when you don’t want to, the ability to stick at it when there are better things to do and the ability to sell yourself and your work when it’s done. Three essential things which have one thing in common – they don’t fucking exist.
Seriously, there are no such things. These aren’t physical attributes. You can”t measure them. There are no units of confidence. You can’t say he’s got three Beckleys of motivation or she’s got five Arnopps of will power. They aren’t innate abilities, something you’re either born with or not – they’re states of mind and, like most states of mind, you can simply choose to have them.
A confident person is someone who thinks she’s confident. A motivated person is someone who believes he’s motivated. Will power? It’s just telling yourself ‘no’. There’s no physical reason why one person is better at or has more of these qualities – it’s all in your mind.
Okay, so confidence can be eroded by other people. Sure, I get that. I’ve been there – at 13 I burst into tears and hid in a box in the storeroom of my mother’s shop rather than conduct a three-question survey. That feeling has never left me, I’m terrified of social situations and would rather be struck dead than engage a stranger in conversation.
And yet, despite that, I recently walked into a house full (and I mean FULL) of strangers and interviewed them all for two hours as research for a TV project.
Simple, I just pretend I’m an incredibly motivated, strong-willed, confident guy.
And do you know what the difference is between someone pretending to be these things and someone who isn’t?
If you’re reading this blog then you’re probably a writer. In which case you’re used to pretending to be other people (or acting, if you prefer). The only way to write a script is to pretend to be each character on every page. We act out every role so we know what that person would do next. We pretend to be hundreds of other people in our career … so why not in real life as the need arises?
When I want to be better at Kung Fu, I pretend I’m Bruce Lee. When I want to be better on the guitar, I pretend to be my mate Mark Allen (who is just fabulous). When I want to be the kind of person who can confidently walk into a room, I pretend to be someone who can walk confidently into the room. Which, embarrassingly, I’ve recently discovered is Jon Pertwee’s Doctor.
Why? I don’t know.
Does it work? Yes.
It’s that simple, really.
Now some of you reading this won’t believe it. You’ve tried giving up smoking or drinking or chocolate biscuits and you couldn’t. Possibly because you *tried*.
Tried. What the fuck does that mean?
Did you sit there with a biscuit in front of you, wrestling with your own arm as it moved of its own free will?
“I tried giving up smoking” You either give up or you don’t. There is no try as Yoda famously said – and he should know, because he had Frank Oz’s hand up his arse and a face like a gangrenous scrotum.
You want to give up smoking? Pretend you’re someone who doesn’t smoke – then there’s nothing to give up because you DON’T smoke.
You want to be more confident? Just fucking pretend you are and you will be.
Okay, okay, so I did read some research once which said the bit of your brain which produces saliva is larger in extroverts than in introverts. There is a physical difference and in theory you can measure that at birth and determine what kind of person the baby will be.
And maybe that’s true.
Or maybe the saliva-producing part of your brain merely enlarges to cope with demand because extroverts talk more and need more saliva?
Is it nature or nurture? I don’t know. And you know what? I don’t want to know. Because if it’s nature, then I’m fucked – I will never be anything more than a terrified teenager hiding in a storeroom. If there’s a choice (and there is) and you can believe in one thing or another – believe in the one you can control.
Motivation, will power and confidence – how much of each you have is totally up to you.
Just like believing this post.