The art of reading
The screenwriting litterature is abundant in saying all screenwriters should hone their craft by reading and writing.
And this of course, every single day of a somehow strange life.
Write every day for sure. Read every day : fiction books, newspaper, scripts, good and bad, more books from classicals to contemporary, read all formats, train your reading muscles.
But the biggest skill of all, and this one I never see underlined in these books, is to read what you write.
If you think I try to play it smart, you’re about to acknowledge a very simple fact.
We can perfectly evaluate any writing, except ours, because we are not taught to.
It’s not natural, we never in normal life take a huge amount of time to read what we write. We vaguely reread a card we send, a mail, more thoroughly a professionnel memo, a recipe, very rarely a thesis.
So how could we imagine we would naturally be good at doing something we spent so little time at, even as adults ? Only writers reread what they write daily and intensely.
This skill is gained therefore only by experience and repetition.
What about the amateurs ? The aspiring writers ? Many errors are induced by misreguarding this precise skill, many time wasted and lots of frustration.
Editing is under evaluated by them, sometimes regarded as the enemy of creativiy, as it’s repeated everywhere that editing should come after creative writing.
The truth is that our brain processes billions of informations in nanoseconds.
All mixed together after discrete operations involving each of our sensorial circuits. Complex operations called neural maps, reassembled and reorganised by the higher levels of ou brains. And we are aware of nothing.
So let’s trust our brain.
Reading what you write is a skill you can immediately gain by focus and intensity in considering words on the page as if they were strangers to you, then feeling what they express and convey, compare with your intention, edit, write again and go on.
Writing is day, reading is night, both faces of the same coin, and that coin is you.
On your writer’s clock you have the ability to decide each second if it’s night or day.
This way, you gain years of experience, simply by being able to maintain an absolute mental clarity and cold blooded editing, switching modes in a blink, or even marry them in the same impulse.
This last one is the grace of flow, the perfect connection between your inner world and the page.
It is not a bliss that we should cherish for its rarity.
It ‘s a state we must be convinced that should be normal, is indeed normal.
Join all your knowledge, logic and emotional subtelty as a demanding and well trained reader. And apply it to your writing.
When you do that easily, well ok read the rest.
But when you do that easily, you are too busy producing quickly and abundantly your best writing that you’ll just have to make the effort to invest time in reading.
My best moment is when I go to sleep.
I never spend a night without a line.