Writing For Actors by Scott Edward Smith
Scott Edward Smith, the writer and creator of Intimate Fame audio dramas, talks
about the challenges of putting the word down on the page– the “fear” factor in
Most creative people – actors, writers, painters, musicians, etc. – experience what
they often refer to as “fear” when creating, and ultimately presenting, their work. I
hear this a lot from novice writers who have something to say, but aren’t really sure
how to begin to say it. In my Writing For Actors series I spoke with actress Melissa
Jobe about that fear of putting the word down on the page.
The first and probably the most important thing, and actually the only thing I need to
say, is that it’s not “fear.” It is the profession that you have chosen, and you have to
embrace that. It doesn’t matter if you’re a writer, a musician, or an actor…anything,
especially in the creative world. You want to call it “fear,” but you can’t because it’s
just a genetic part of you that’s going to be there in the issues of self-doubt and
expectations. It’s not fear. It’s your DNA.
You will spend so much time absorbing in the fear part of it, when it’s really just part
of your makeup and who you are, and you’ve got to make peace with that and move
on from it. Because it doesn’t matter. You can be opening in a Broadway show. You
can be opening in a big movie. You can have written or directed the project. Fear is
still there on opening night, even when you are already successful. So it’s just there,
and you have to find peace with it.
In my experience as a playwright, screenwriter, story developer and producer, I think
there are two main ways to make peace with it: one is practical and the other is
psychological. The practical part is using tools to get organized like note cards or
screenwriting software. I prefer the old school method of note cards, which I talk
about in the video. However, screenwriting software is a very practical way of forcing
you to get the words down. It’s a great tool that will force you to get characters and
scenes down by answering basic questions step by step. While it won’t write the
script for you, it can certainly get you started.
The other is that bigger element – psychological – of just making peace with the fact
that fear is part of your life and it always will be. The nature of this business is
isolation. You’ve got to let go of the pressure to perform as a writer and have a clean
slate about it. Focus on just the writing – the words – which is what writers are
supposed to be doing.