Scripts, novels, short stories, poems, scripts, non-fiction essays – which is the right medium for you?
I have seen writers struggle in a particular medium when it’s just not best matched to their strong suit. Most notably, novelists who try to write screenplays. Of all the mediums you can write in, screenwriting is probably one of the most challenging since it uses a format and a language that is quite distinct: images written verbally. Every image. Not some. Every image.
Look – all writing is something that people under-estimate. I want to write! I’m going to just write a novel! I read a novel I liked – therefore I’m going to write also! I saw a movie and I’m going to write a movie! You have NO idea how many times I have heard that and worse, seen non-writers try to write and then get upset and mystified as to why it’s not good writing.
You know you are a writer if:
-Writing is more of a compulsion than a past time. You MUST write. You journal, you write long emails, you think things through as you write. It’s a lifeline.
-You are never satisfied with your writing. It can always be better.
-When you read good stuff you pick it apart a little bit and wonder how the writer did that.
-Alternatively, sometimes when you read you go into a kind of joyful reverie. You underline words and phrases, you cuddle your books.
-You know you’re a writer if you have the compulsion to do it yet you are terrified of doing it. You’ll make up any excuse not to write but when you’re writing, you’re happiest.
So the question becomes, what are your strengths as a writer? Is a novel really for you?
In the past, a novelist or playwright were the two only truly respected types of writers. This was the apex of writing respect. Gore Vidal, Tennessee Williams, Henry James, Edith Wharton, Salmaan Rushdie – you know – the important types.
But these days there are people who make entire careers out of writing non-fiction (David Sedaris and Anne Lamott are two prime examples) or entire, respected careers out of writing films.