by Marla White
It’s Thanksgiving and everyone is thinking of things to be grateful for – food, friends, and the freedom to stuff ourselves silly and then watch football. (Did you like that alliteration? Wasn’t even trying!)
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great to be appreciative of all the good things in life, large and small. I also think for writers it’s important to be grateful for those times we’ve faced challenges, because how else do we create interesting, complex characters if we haven’t experienced both good and bad things in our lives?
Those mean girls in high school who made fun of your hair? Thank them for helping you understand that behind every bully is a scared person who isn’t necessarily evil, maybe even redeemable. The antagonist in your next script will be vivid because of it.
The friends who abandoned you in your time of need or grief? Knowing for sure that everyone is flawed and struggles with what to do in awkward situations can provide fuel for your next comedy.
The dog next door who howls all night long? Pretty sure Arthur Conan Doyle must have had a neighbor like that as inspiration for “The Hound of the Baskervilles”
I used to have a boss who would say that life is like a quilt – without the dark patches to contrast with the light it would be pretty boring. The same is true of any script or character – without the lows there would be no highs. Or as Edgar Allan Poe put it, “Never to suffer would never to have been blessed.” Granted, that might not have worked out so well for him, but you get the idea.
Most people have heard the quote from German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche - “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” I would suggest altering it a little – that which does not kill us, will give us richer, deeper, more interesting characters to write about.”
I’d love to hear from you – what mean person or difficult situation contributed to your writing?
Challenges are one thing, but if you are feeling a little too in touch with your inner-Poe, talk to someone. According to the website everyday HEALTH writers have depression or manic-depression more often than non-writers, so be aware of the difference between sadness and depression and get the help you need.
Coaching writers who are ready to bring their pitch or script to the next level.