Think You Have Nothing To Say?

I’m teaching again at the UCLA Extension school, after a stint there last year. This class is about developing your own story. We started our adventure together with an exercise. I invited the students to introduce themselves – first one on one and then in the larger group. For each intro, I allotted 2 minutes. An interesting thing kept happening.

Some of the students stopped well before the two minute mark saying “I don’t have anything else to say.” They felt daunted by the notion of telling their story in that time frame and were certain they’d run out of steam. When I wouldn’t let them stop, they each continued and the majority of them came up with MAJOR things to say (life events, juicy tidbits) that eluded them previously.

Writing is like that. Sometimes we think we’ve reached the end – and we’re only half-way through. Is that some kind of ego-block? Is it an insistence that anything beyond what we originally prescribed isn’t possible? I believe many of us are so consumed with fear about running out of steam that we may, in fact, forecast the moment we’ve “used it all up”.

The exercise allowed us to see that the juicy bits may be just around the corner – even after we think we’ve hit a wall.

There’s value in continuing.
There’s value in following the thread, blindly, even if your eyes see the end is at hand.

This isn’t to say I believe writers should push themselves. I don’t think it takes muscle. I think surrender is in order. Let go and lean into a deeper truth, another level.

I also love the fact that my personal story is the secret sauce that enlivens any other story I’m telling. So, I believe, how I tell the story of ME and how I tell any other story is related.

The same is true of you.

There are secret corners of your personality, private lessons learned that can make anything you write unique and sparkly. Please don’t leave that stuff unwritten.

On some level – yes, we can choose to outline, plan, suss it all out. On another level, we can detach from our cognitive selves. If you think you have nothing to say – stop thinking. Let the writing lead you and enjoy the ride.

Try that this week. And let me know how it goes.

By | 2017-12-01T18:09:12+00:00 April 6th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

About the Author:

Steve Harper
STEVE HARPER is a writer, producer and actor. He was on the writing staff of the Emmy Award winning ABC show American Crime (created by John Ridley) and spent two seasons writing for the USA Network show Covert Affairs. Steve's original web series SEND ME, about time traveling black people (writer, actor and Executive Producer) was nominated for a 2016 Emmy. As a playwright he has written more than 20 works that have been produced across the country. Through, Steve has been working with artists of all kinds since 2008, helping them achieve clarity and focus in their creative careers. His specialty is working with artists as they write dramatic scripts. Steve has run workshops in New York, L.A. and in between. Through live events, online seminars, and his channels on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, he’s helped thousands of writers and artists. Steve taught for The Harvardwood Writers Group, Young Playwrights and The Creative Gym. He’s been an instructor at the UCLA Extension School and a guest artist at Interlochen School for the Arts, Drexel University’s summer program in L.A. and USC’s Annenberg School. A graduate of Yale, The A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard and the playwriting program at Juilliard, he was certified by the Creativity Coaching Association in 2013.