Push Boundaries and Make No Excuses

Posted by Linda Seger on

As a script consultant, Dr. Linda Seger has worked with more than 2000 scripts, from 'The Neverending Story II' to 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.' Linda has also extensively studied the creative process, working with writers to jump-start their brains and emotions. Her most recent book 'Making a Good Writer Great' (available at The Writers Store along with Linda's previous books) focuses on creativity and how to awaken it. From her office in Venice, California, Linda offers the following words of advice to fellow writers:

In so many scripts I read, nobody feels anything. No one reacts to what is going on around them. If a person is not reacting, either they're emotionally dead, or you, as a writer, have not been putting yourself into situations that are forcing an emotional reaction from you. So some of the exercises in 'Making a Good Writer Great' say push your boundaries, and keep a journal and write about what you feel. What will happen is that you'll find that your writing has become very lively because it's very immediate and connected to the present -- to your gut and your heart. I've tried it many times myself.

Great writers are not afraid to put themselves on the line. Writing is scary. It's the full range of emotions. What I have discovered through writing these six books -- and I'm almost done with the seventh -- is that there's always a period when I'm writing that I get petrified. Sometimes it lasts for three or four months, or sometimes it lasts a weekend, or it comes and goes every three weeks. What I've learned is that you can write when you're petrified. A lot of excuses people use for not writing is that they're scared. Well, of course! People who write are scared. And the people who would like to write are scared. The difference is people who write are scared, and they write anyway. Being petrified has nothing to do with your ability to write.

When you're not writing, you're also doing something. You're feeding yourself. One way to train your brain is you do creative exercises the same way you do your physical exercises. One of the creative exercises is to simply practice visualizing. By practicing it, what you'll probably notice is that some things are easier to do than others, while some are more difficult. It's easier for me to change colors in my mind. If you said imagine a red rose, a yellow rose, a rose that was half-red, half-yellow, see it dissolve, see it grow, see it bloom, that is real easy for me to do. The harder thing for me is to put things in motion. Seeing a car driving, a horse galloping any of those motion things. So I just started practicing them. You watch motion, you go out to the curb and watch a car drive past and then close your eyes and imagine the car driving past. And if you keep doing that, your ability to imagine motion will get a lot better, and then you can start practicing metaphors. You can say to yourself, what would justice look like? What would feeling oppressed look like? Could I create an image to do that? Then your mind is beginning to think in cinematic metaphors.

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