I used to obsess about what kinds of screenplays and books were “hot.” Back in the day, when I got out of film school, it was feature scripts. There was a huge spec script market and people I knew were making millions. Of course, I jumped right in with both feet!
A screenplay about a girl obsessed with true crime, a comedy about a woman who sells her soul to the devil, the story of a novitiate who falls in love with a priest who looks exactly like Brad Pitt…
Let’s just say that no millions were made.
Then came the serial killer craze. SILENCE OF THE LAMBS! Books by James Ellroy, Michael Connelly and other crime writers flew off the racks. Yes, there were racks back then.
Here I come, serial killers!
Then it was rom coms, and then war movies (FULL METAL JACKET, PLATOON, anyone?) I dutifully tried to keep up with all the new genres as they moved in and out of vogue, only to find myself sweating badly and very confused.
Why couldn’t I concentrate on my projects? Why didn’t I care anymore?
Then, I figured it out. I wish I could say that a bolt of lightening hit me and that I just knew. But it was much more gradual than that. And my growing understanding came primarily from writing smaller projects that were quirky and mine.
Yes, mine. That was a word which I had completely lost touch with. I’d become so expert at trying to second guess what everyone else was after, that I’d forgotten what I liked.
These small projects made me smile again.
So. Here’s what you should be writing, right now….
Something you love. Even if it’s totally weird and you think no one will understand it.
Something you’ve been waiting for. Write the book that you want to read, and that no one else has written yet.
The truth. The embarrassing, painful, totally real and horrifying truth.
Something that leaves the planet a better place. Think about where you are taking the reader or viewer. Is it somewhere so dark that no light is possible? Or does this place have the power to heal?
Something that comes straight from your heart.
Something that, on your death bed, if you haven’t written it, will kill you all over again.
It’s that simple. Find your jam. Hang out there. This will not only showcase your unique voice, but will help your script or book stand out from the many generic projects that litter the desks of agents, publishers and producers everywhere.
Take action! If you’re feeling bored or uninspired, write something you care about, that you would love to read or watch. Write something that reveals a truth about the human condition, and leaves the world a better place. What’s that story you’re dying to tell?
Watch as other writers chase trends down a rabbit hole and end up wondering why they’ve lost their spark.
Use your own unique voice to break through the copy-cat clutter. Create the movies and books that ONLY YOU can write.
You’re a snowflake baby.
That’s your superpower.
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