I do it to discover. At first it was because I wanted to be a wise man sitting behind a desk, in front of a crowded bookshelf, dishing out wisdom. In college I felt so clueless about life. Writers on TV seemed to say such deep things. I thought, “Hell, writers are the ones that know the secret to life.”
But over the years I’ve been humbled to understand writers are not always that wise. Maybe their work expresses wisdom but it’s not because the writer feels all knowing all the time. In fact, most of the time the writer is filled with doubt. So trying to be and feel wise was not a good goal. I realized the part I like about writing is the same reason that I’d want to try a new hiking trail. To discover.
Writing something — a short film, TV show, or screenplay— starts with an impulse, a bit of dialogue, a scene from something that happened to me, a strong feeling from being dumped, or falling in love. I then delve into the story everyday. Right now, it’s one hour every morning. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I’ll discover some wisdom in the story. But it’s never the intention. If I don’t feel like I’m exploring and discovering something new, the story loses its vitality. I’ve seen that happen with a well calculated outline. When I was rewriting But She Wasn’t Perfect for PixL, the executive and I would have long discussions and I’d develop an outline. Then I’d sit down to write and the thing would have no life. Then again, you can’t just sit down and start writing a screenplay, because it does need to have a goal and place to go. But, it also needs to have space for adventure and discovery. And that’s why I write.