My writing journey has been a long one. I’ve seen little of my output in the public eye. Am I a slow learner? No, but I’ve made many a wrong step. I was reminded of my writing missteps when I read Writing Tips: 31 Most Invaluable Pieces of Writing Advice From Famous Authors, an excellent article published in The Huffington Post. To have known and heeded this advice years back might have helped me avoid some of my blunders.
Decades ago, I became a member of Upwords, a screenwriters’ critique group, based in Vancouver. A goodly number have had their scripts produced, quite a few have gone on to teach at the Vancouver Film School, and at least one has had his books published. During my time with them, I wrote three screenplays and secured an agent both in Toronto and Vancouver. I got as far as Jody Foster’s agent, who liked one of them, and passed it on to Ms. Foster for her consideration. She unfortunately passed.
My three screenplays, though garnering some interest from other producers, now lie on my bookshelf. One of the film producers wanted to take it to the Banff World Media Festival to see if he could get any further interest, but because he didn’t offer any money for his option (to produce), I didn’t take him seriously. Was that a misstep? Who knows.
I think the major error I made was to listen to all the criticism in each rejection letter or meeting and take each suggestion for improvement to heart. I never thought the critic could be wrong. That might’ve been okay, if I had balanced that with all the positive feedback I got. What I should’ve done was continue to pitch (and find that perfect match). Instead, I worked and reworked my script for about ten years until I had wrung all the juice out of it. And then, spent another five or so years rewriting it as a novel (now sitting in my desk drawer). I not only ruined a good script but the time I spent rewriting could’ve been used to create fresh new works.
The other misstep, although this one I would not change, was my focus on family.
My family has always come first. As famous authors say, you need to carve out time and space for your work. Now, that my family is grown, and my grandchildren seem to be on their way, I have more time to indulge in my passion. Up until a few years back, it’s been hard juggling family demands and staying focused on my craft. Writing is hardly a part-time occupation. It’s a personal choice how you manage those external demands and I admire those who can manage it all. This is one area though where I have no regrets.
I highly recommend these writing tips from famous authors. They know firsthand how to write gems, the ones that get readers asking for more.
Do you have any thoughts about this? Any missteps you’d like to share?