Write. Don’t Tell.

This happens all the time: I’m out somewhere and I meet a new person who is excited to hear that I’m a writer and a writing coach. The person claims she is “not yet” a writer, but has “great ideas”. Then she proceeds to tell me her great ideas. I listen. She pauses – asking me to evaluate her pitch. “Isn’t that great?”

Well –

It may, in fact, be intriguing. But, to me, that’s not the point.

There are a million ways to drain the energy from one’s writing life. There’s procrastination, and self-doubt, self-sabotage, and self-judgment. If you’re a busy person, you could use that as an excuse for not showing up at the page (or REALLY showing up at the page). Dedication is key. And dedication can be difficult.

Another way to drain the energy is TELLING SOMEONE YOUR STORY IDEA. For me, ideas are delicate and personal. If I expose them too early, they die of over-exposure. (Ok, that’s a bit dramatic.) Here’s what I mean: Part of every writer thrills at the notion of audience appreciation. It feels good to have people who dig what you’re up to in your screenplays, plays and tele-plays. Part of what we usually want is to get the affirmation that the work is good. (We, of course, can’t get this from everyone, because not everyone will like what we do.) If the thrill of being affirmed is part of what we’re after, that thrill can be dissipated. If we TELL our ideas in search of that rush – and we GET that rush from the telling – why bother writing at all? We’re already getting a chunk of what we’re after. In the face of that, who wants to put in hours and hours of sweat and creative energy on the same story?

Give your story a chance to live.

I have a firm policy not to share my ideas until I have something written. I set a boundary until I have a script and then I may ask someone to read it, rather than give the juicy story away verbally. I invite you to do the same.

At the end of the day, you’re a writer. Shouldn’t you be getting your ideas down rather than just telling them to people?
If the answer is yes: Go! Write!

And if you need help along the way, you know where to find me.


By | 2017-12-01T18:09:09+00:00 October 20th, 2017|Creative Survival, The Writer's Life|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 yourcreativelife.com, 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.