Where Writers Go Wrong – Alan Watt [Founder of L.A. Writers' Lab]

Where Writers Go Wrong - Alan Watt [Founder of L.A. Writers' Lab]



Film Courage: Do you think that teaching screenwriting
or these books or whatever is selling false hope? This has been one criticism of what we’ve
seen [comments in videos and our channel] and I don’t see why this would be selling
false hope? If [writing] is something someone enjoys and
they love the process of creating? Al Watt, Author, Screenwriter and Founder
of L.A. Writers' Lab: Okay I love this! I believe that my job as a writing teacher
is to facilitate writers in finding the story that lives within them and stay out of the
result. In other words when you get into the result
that’s when you get tripped up. That’s when you don’t really write from
your heart. That’s when you don’t write something
that’s actually going to be meaningful to other people and so I always think of writing
as a two-tiered process. The first tier is you have to write if for
yourself and then the second tier is once you’ve written it for yourself, once you’ve
written that stuff where you’re like “Oh my gosh, I can’t show this to anybody. It’s way too personal.” Even if it’s fiction, especially if it’s
fiction, you’ve got to have some skin in the game. You’ve got to be invested in this thing
that you are writing. You’ve got to let go of this idea that “Is
it going to sell?” You can’t…I remember when I wrote my first
novel. I woke up one day and I was like I’ve been
writing for a long time. I was making a living as a stand-up comic. But I’d been writing for a long time and
I hadn’t sold anything and I thought well you know let me do the math here. Clearly I must be a mediocre writer if I’ve
been writing for this long and I haven’t sold anything. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to
stop writing for the marketplace (whatever that is) and I’m going to write something
for myself. I’m going to write something that really
means something to me and I wrote a story that I wrote really quick. I wrote a novel called Diamond Dogs and got
it through this lawyer friend of mine and got it to an agent. She auctioned it a week later for a ridiculous
amount of money and then it becomes a best-seller and it won a bunch of awards and it was the
first time I realized that don’t know anything. And when I try and … you know I always say
my idea or my story is never the whole story…my idea who is going to like this or who is going
to like that is…I can’t control the result. None of us have any control over the result. But what we do have control over is understanding
that we’re all unique, we all have something valuable to say and I really believe that
as a writer and a writing teacher. So I want to help writers. I can’t predict…some of my students have
gone on to become best-selling authors, show runners, A-list screenwriters. I didn’t know who they were going to be. But the ingredient that I think is most valuable
isn’t talent whatever that is. It’s a willingness to learn, it’s a humility,
it’s a willingness to be curious about the story that lives within you. It’s the humility to put it on the page
while staying out of the result. That’s really hard for people. That’s the really challenging test. Being a writer is a marathon, it’s not a
sprint. And if you expect immediate results, you might
not stay in the game long enough to experience the fruits of your labor.

26 Comments

  • QualityVideoService says:

    I've had plenty of pitch meeting, had my scripts read by Agents at top agencies, SVP's and creative executives at major networks. I haven't sold anything, but just having these people read my scripts is an accomplishment. I enjoy writing, it's an ever learning process.

  • WalterLiddy says:

    I like this guy, but I think a lot of advice/teaching that's out there is basically a scam. People selling obvious tips you can find free online, etc. But the bigger problem isn't that there are bad teachers out there. It's that a lot of aspiring writers use taking these classes and reading these books as a way of actually avoiding getting down to the process of writing. They accumulate a trophy shelf of advice books rather than doing the work, and it ends up being a way to procrastinate.

  • Jimmy Balantyne says:

    This guy talks so much sense. More than most, in my humble opinion anyway.

  • Adrian Daniel Botnariu says:

    Hi Filmcourage! Where do I find the long form version of Alan Watt? I'd be interested in everything he had to say.

    All the best!
    Adrian

  • star seed says:

    I have about 14 stories that reside with me at the moment…..it’s a marathon not a sprint ❤️👍

  • star seed says:

    This is amazing advice…thank you so much

  • Kari Short says:

    This is such great advice 💗

  • Luqman - says:

    The art and originality is often forgotten. Alan Watts is right because if you follow the market by the time you finish the market has moved on.

  • uknow who says:

    His observations observations line up with my experience quite well. I wondered for way too long why I wasn't getting my desired results in writing class. It wasn't until I realized that all of the noise from classmates and even from the teacher were distracting me from getting to know what the story truly was. For me, getting consultation and feedback after I at least have a first draft is a much more valuable process.

  • Maurio Coles says:

    I write from my point of view of the world around me and almost in general just for fun.

  • Amelia Pc says:

    Companies should hire the Film Courage's interviewer as a consultant. Have you noticed she ask the best and smartest questions? And, you know, who asks a good question, finds the best solution.
    About the question. To me, you buy books to study different techniques and get better, if someone is buying hope is another story. I agree with him about writing what you want and I think, but not totally sure, he's not talking about sloppy writing on a diary, but it's about writing for people with the same mindset as yours. If you write something you don't want, what's the point of being a writer? There are many job positions which are safer, pay better and don't require that thick skin.

  • The Feel Button says:

    People always want the truth not the stories we tell ourselves to alter truth.

  • Howard Koor says:

    Great stuff

  • Malice Burgoyne says:

    There’s no such thing as ”writing for yourself” or writing for your own self edification. That type of writing is put in a diary. So yeah, terrible advice.

    I’d love for aspiring writers to take unpaid internship positions at their nearest literary journal. They’ll start you off on the slushpile, and my will you learn to hate aspiring writers quickly; especially once they start daily office calls or catch you at home after your name is run through Intelius’ info engine…

    90% of aspiring writers are atrocious. 9% are average but boring. 1% are publishable with several rounds of editing. MFA’s, Ivy League degrees—meaningless. I rejected dozens of manuscripts from professors and people possessed of the finest educations money could buy since diapers.

    Storytelling was around long before writing was. Those in a tribe or society skilled in this were rare, often prized above the warrior. Storytelling is genetic—a conceptual skill. Writing is teachable—a technical skill. In between both develops your style.

    What screws most talented artists are people without any talent. How much it’s damaged society the hell knows. These bums clog Amazon with their slushpile rejections, destroy Goodreads with fake reviews, carpet bomb screen agents with submissions and build social media platforms for their junk. They steal eyeballs, time, money and opportunity from those in the proposition that deserve it.

    There’s no leapfrogging the hierarchy of art, ok wannabes? Doesn’t matter if you have an MFA from Harvard or a cover-letter with gold foil. Stop the hubris, stop the clutter. Please stop writing. M’kay? Do society a favor and quit. You can’t write dialogue worth a shit, you have no sub-text, your pacing is off, characters not memorable, use of english forgettable, you love cliches more than rappers, write with no authority, have no style, no control, no structure, no story, no future.

    Quit loser. Find a new dream and something you’re good at. Don’t like it, defile a national landmark by throwing yourself off it. You won’t be missed and even then your junk won’t be read. We always worried about an angry author we rejected coming in and blasting the place. Well let me tell you, the concern should’ve really been the other way around. Pieces of shit.

    “Hello?”
    “Hi this is Mary Forsythe from Palm Springs.” Then a pause. Was I was supposed to know who this was? Maybe ask how the weather is down there? I’d have to place them on hold just to rid myself of the homicidal urge. Piece of shit. Yeah, come to think of it I do know who are Mary. You’re the Mary that wrote “Basement Surprise”, ignored all the submission guidelines and had trouble spelling Mediterranean no? I had this deadlock switchblade when I was a kid…

    Stop suppressing talent with your “hard work” which counts for nothing in art. An artist never cared about money enough to work for it. Art is not work to the artist.

  • Mickaël Dorvidal says:

    It’s been a month since I first subscribed to this channel.

    And I am amazed to see how much quality content there is and how much relevant it is.

    I don’t know who’s behind the curtain, or how many people there are, one or more: but thank you.

  • Meet Movie Maker says:

    Great stories always want to come outside, than yeah, a voice from within resists and I start thinking, people will really like this kinda weird stuff ?
    I always look within for stories that resonates, end up thinking these stories might not resonate with the audience…than I start searching outside..or start reading true stories that resonates with both me and the audience.
    Is it right ?
    Any constructive advice ?

  • AK M says:

    Thank you. 🙏

  • gnarth d'arkanen says:

    "Great" stories???

    I have no idea how many… Probably not nearly as many as there are mountains of stories. Maybe the trick is to just write the stories that seem to mean so much at the moment. Take THOSE journeys for yourself. Get the keys pounded and make the sentiments TANGIBLE…

    Then get these books and charts, diagrams and schematics that ostentatiously offer the "Industry Standard" everyone's so sure is such a thing. Study a few at a time and then test the functions on your original journey(s)… See what works. See how well you can still make the story come through, while the "Industry Standard" of which ever school of thought and production is "at work"…
    It's a process of refinements. SO there's a lot of repetition. Sometimes the process moves forward, but not always… SO don't be afraid to stop and crumple your face a bit, "That's a terrible idea"… AND go back.

    Sooner or later, you can find the stuff that works. I remarked (not too long ago TODAY) to someone else, that the most often requisite skill in research and development of anything is "sifting through bullshit"… to be blunt. SO as you sift, take up the stuff that "works" for you, and leave behind the "bullshit"… Chances are good there's going to be mountains of "bullshit" before you find even a handful of "gems"… BUT hold onto that hope that you CAN get lucky. Someone does.

    …and be sure to tune in next week, when I recount a FASCINATING tale about planting a potato! ;o)

  • Diego Arrechea says:

    I felt this.

  • Mohit Das says:

    I write to write like I wash to wash not to clean.

  • Malcolm Watt says:

    I was told and it has been enforced I can write to my heart's content, but to be published you have to be picked and that will never happen to me come hell or high water. BTW all my stories were written in Britain at Oxford University which is why they cannot and will not ever, ever be published. The reason? I have been deemed an empty vessel and the arcane knowledge that governs this fair land revealed that all that I have supplied in this comment is the truth so help them, god. Isn't that just ducky? Oh well, too bad I don't have webbed feet. It's all about controlling the message except those worthys forget the message has to be fit the times, and theirs is based in fraud and Freud. All they can say is, " on with the war this is it"! I say go for it, you're going to lose everything. The Furies they have unleashed will not be tamed or obedient to their lust for full spectrum control. I think I'll write their obituary.

  • Reading with Janae Marie says:

    Wow! As a writer this was a powerful message.

  • Rodolfo Suarez says:

    They go wrong when they decide they want to write 😛

  • Exist N Nature Media says:

    I've been writing for myself and helped a few comedians set up jokes. Good info.

  • Mac Bizzo says:

    The question the interviewer is actually asking is this: 99% of all screenplays fail before page 10. Therefore six sigma standards are not applied to the craft and trade. Therefore the "books" that teach ( for example ) outlines for a story, they DO SELL FALSE HOPE. They prey on a desperate psyche of weak minded writers. The man in the video is also correct, but he did dance around the actual question.

  • Frank Appiah says:

    another great interview.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *