Day 6 06/02/2016 # Write What You Know

– 2 min –

Famous words from Mr. McKee. I forget if it’s something he wrote in his book ‘Story’ or whether I heard it at his Story Seminar, which I was able to attend in the spring of 2014. Attend doesn’t cover it though. Oh no. Robert McKee’s Story Seminar is like saying to your brain: ‘ok, clear out as much memory as you can, empty out all cache, because for the next 32 hours in 4 days, you will have to cramp in about 4 years of college, concerning storytelling and screenwriting’. If I hadn’t read his book ‘Story’ first, I think my head would’ve exploded. Seriously. And then he says to you, after the seminar, ‘now go write’. And you’re all like ‘I will’. And you mean it. Because sitting in that Story Seminar, it all makes sense, you have found the factory that produces your fibres, sending chills down your spine, this is what you’re made of. Storytelling is in your DNA. And doing it right, the only way you want to, the greatest thing. And the hardest too. But you’re game!

And then of course life sort of throws in all kinds of interruptions again for a while. And many doubts creep in again too.

As I am flipping through some of the pages of his book again, I am glad to discover that in fact not all is lost and I haven’t forgotten everything. On the contrary, it simply was stored away in my brain at a safe place, waiting to be used again… ‘and it’s all coming back to me now’ (thanks Celine Dion).

The quote ‘write what you know’ came to me again after the ‘homework’ of the previous days. Bring the characters closer to home, what emotions and feelings can you relate to and you know are pretty universal too. And what circumstances can you relate to. It will be so much easier, because instead of having to make them up, you just pick them from your own ‘experience library’, it’s certainly big enough. Makes sense. Energy efficient too. So, I started to implement some of those and sure enough you feel like the train is slowly starting to move again.

I also ran into this little gem in the book:

‘The premise, the idea that inspires the writer’s desire to create a story…awakens what waits within, the visions or convictions nascent in the writer…(but)…a premise is not precious. As long as it contributes to the growth of story, keep it, but should the telling take a left turn, abandon the original inspiration to follow the evolving story. The problem is not to start writing, but to keep writing and renewing inspiration. We rarely know where we’re going; writing is a discovery’.

Man, did I need that! So, basically he’s saying, don’t worry if the story is going into a whole different direction while writing, you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) stick to the original idea you had in your head or even had written out some already.

Thank you, Mr. McKee. We’ll keep you close again.

Back to writing. Back to the discovery.



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