This Just In: I’m a Chicken


The last blog I wrote talked about my goals for the summer. One of the big ones is writing my first screenplay. This is in anticipation of teaching a class this fall entitled “Drama Writing.”

I figured that I would start by reading one of my textbooks and visualizing how I would write my chosen story in the new format. And as I read the book I will be sharing with students this fall, and started trying to decide how I would structure the script, I suddenly got scared.

I have written lots of novels: almost 20 at last count. I can talk about it and almost write one in my sleep. In other words, I have the format down.

Writing a screenplay is another matter.

It’s ironic after spending a semester talking to students about “embracing the fear” and “going to that place deep inside that borders on embarrassment,” and “getting out of your comfort zone,” I find that I am reluctant to leave mine. I could blame it on the fact that I am several decades older than them, but the reality is simply that I am very comfortable doing what I have always done. And that’s where the majority of people live.

I know deep down that broadening my horizons is good for me. And even if the screenplay is a piece of junk, I know I will learn something in the process. Finally, and most importantly, doing this validates me in the eyes of my students. I refuse to ask–require them–to do something that I can’t and won’t do.

And so I know I’ll be spending a few mornings sitting at my computer, staring at a blank screen, wondering what I do next. But that in itself is commiseration with the student experience.

And as I tell those in my classroom, if you are serious about being a writer, you never stop being a student.

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2 thoughts on “This Just In: I’m a Chicken

  1. Hi Glen,

    Great post. I can relate. I’ve been writing creative non-fiction (journalism and memoir) for a long time, and I’m about to embark on a screenplay. I seek change in every other area of my life, but I’m plain afraid of writing in a new genre. I think you’re right: It’ll be hard, and then it’ll be great.

    Best,

    Natalie

  2. I have to say that it is encouraging when someone that has already published and is a very accomplished writer says they still have things to learn. Leaving your comfort zone is one of the scariest things to do. . . ever! Our conversations in class about fear really came back to me while reading your post. For me, every time I sit down and add to my novel I am honestly petrified. It’s still something new for me. I’ve never truly written a novel and it is frightening, I can not even imagine what writing a screen play would be like!! *shudders* But keep at it, even if it is junk I agree that I hope you learn something from it. That is the beauty of writing you learn something every time you pick up your pen. You’ll have to keep us up-to-date on how it goes.

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