I wrote a post recently about doing the next right thing.
Since that’s my version of a New Year’s Resolution, I’ve been thinking about it quite a lot.
I also went to go see Frozen 2 over the weekend with my younger sisters. In case you were wondering, it was fabulous. I loved it. But it was also about doing the next right thing. And it started me wondering.
What is the next right thing when you’re a professional writer?
Sometimes, that can be a pretty difficult question. Especially because it varies person to person and day to day. Sometimes the next right thing is to write a page, read a new book, or spend an hour or so journaling with your characters. Other times it can be completely different: spending some time away from your computer, going for a walk, or setting up a social media page to connect with other writers and potential readers.
Unfortunately, there is no formula. Everyone is on their own journey, and no one can simply snap their fingers and say, “This is what you need to do today to take a step forward in your journey.”
If only life were that simple.
However, sometimes it really is so, so hard to know what the next right thing is supposed to be—especially when you’re a writer. Getting a book published or finding a job in your industry can seem impossibly hard, and sometimes it feels as though, instead of a long road to walk, there’s a gaping chasm that you have to (somehow) jump over. It becomes a leap of all or nothing, right now, instead of a journey with definable steps.
Writer, I promise that isn’t true.
Since it can be so hard sometimes to know what the next right things are, I’m going to devote a series on this blog to look at some of the next right things that have gotten me where I am today.
Starting with Save The Cat.
Before I started working as a full-time scriptwriter, I hadn’t read very many books on structure or style or anything else. Let’s be honest, there are about a million different books out there, everyone has their opinion on how story works. Some are great and some are not so great.
I could never figure out which was which.
But when I started my job, my manager had some very defined tasks for me to develop my writing skills. One of those tasks was to read Save The Cat, by Blake Snyder.
I still have that book on my desk. As well as the two followup books.
And yes, I still pick them up when I’m stuck and need inspiration, instruction, and a direction for my scattered thoughts.
It is a detailed, understandable guide to structure and story, written by a screenwriter who worked in Hollywood for many years and made more money in this industry than I will ever manage. His writing is clear and concise, and his advice is solid good sense.
So when I’m stuck, and I don’t know what the next right thing could possibly be, I reach for Save The Cat, and give my understanding of structure a boost, because I know that will do nothing but move me forward.
What is one thing you do for your writing when you’re not sure how to move forward? Tell me about it in the comments!