When asked as a child what it was I wanted to become when I grew up, my answers always varied depending on my mood on that given day--sometimes an artist, other times a pop star, even a forensic anthropologist (yeah, I know that's quite a stretch from the first two, but a girl's gotta have options, am I right?). But as I grew older, I just became more lost and confused, as most do at the time of adolescence. It was in writing, the effortless stringing of words one after the other, that brought a newfound clarity. As if seeing the sentences in a loopy handwritten cursive mounting to a fragmented chicken-scratch, I came to a realization (sort of, maybe?) The countless pages of ink on paper alongside the occasional doodle were no longer figments of my imagination, but real proof that what I was thinking could be transformed into something more, something tangible.
I was starting to realize that words have the power to move and to impact more than just the mind, but the heart as well.
Here are a few things I've picked up on attempting to master my craft:
1. Becoming a team player and essentially a more confident individual.
I must admit, working alone was what I initially found appealing in becoming a screenwriter. As an introvert by nature, let's just say during my freshman year, I was definitely on the struggle bus. I had to take part in discussions, give thoughtful feedback and do so whilst pretending like I wasn't having a panic attack. Because I was. Each time I had to speak, my anxiety skyrocketed. It was like my own personal hell. Now, months away from graduating, I like to think I've improved to some degree. I actually feel more at ease when I speak. I feel more confident in myself, in the words that are being spoken. Tbh, it feels pretty darn fantastic.
2. Proactive decision making.
When constructing a narrative, it is imperative that the wants and needs of the protagonist(s) and antagonist(s) are established. As writers, no matter how much we want to avoid it, a little piece of ourselves--whether it be a personality trait, quirk, or habit--surfaces on the page. We create people and situations in a manner in which we want to be seen. Our characters essentially act out our truest and deepest desires (in some cases, depending on the plot). Once I get into that mindset of breaking down the life of the individual, it makes me think about my own life and the decisions that I have made so far. In evaluating what I have done, what I want to do and what it is yet to be done, I have learned to take a leap even if it scares me.
3. Gain different perspectives and appreciate them.
By developing these worlds and characters, it is in the nature of the writer to approach the story from various angles, eventually deciding which works best. In doing so, it is also encouraged to deconstruct each moment or plot point from the perspectives of different characters and not just the protagonist's view. Though in actuality we can only witness what we personally experience, storytelling embodies that oldie but goodie idiom: "step into someone else's shoes," and seriously takes it to heart. For the reasons behind a person's action can, at times, be complex, and it may take that extra step (that lil' nudge) to reach an overall understanding/acceptance.
4. Instilled passion and hard work ethic.
As an outlet, as a confidant writing has been a constant in my life. But, like most things it's a complicated, love-hate kind of thing, y'know? I couldn't, cannot and will not imagine my life without the possibility of being able to craft a sentence let alone a whole universe. Here's the tricky part: getting there in which everything, everyone and every moment is in their proper place, is hard. Like painstakingly-panic- attacks-and-restless-nights kind of hard. I've fastened my seat belt aboard a never-ending roller coaster of stress, doubts, thrills and breakthroughs. But, to be perfectly honest? It's totally, 150 percent worth it. Satisfaction on another level. To know that I went to hell and back to create a piece of work that I am proud of, it's priceless.