Whether writing a novel or a TV series, the creative process can involve a multitude of ideas and concepts that evolve over time. What we see on the page or on the screen often differs a lot from what the creator initially had in mind when they set out to create their story.
Below is a clip from a Television Academy Foundation interview with writer David Lee who co-created Wings and Frasier with David Angell and Peter Casey. Listen to how the concept of Wings and its characters evolved from an idea, to initial script, to the final pilot.
Do you have story ideas that you feel need to evolve and change to make your writing stronger and more compelling? Don’t be afraid to take risks and make the necessary changes to get your story to work!
As consumers of entertainment, we have become accustomed to seeing the best version of what is being presented to us. Whether it’s a novel, a movie, a TV series, or a play, we are witnessing this project at its highest level of completeness and – for lack of a better word – perfection.
You may read a novel and think to yourself, I could never write something that good. Maybe you’ve come out of a movie thinking, I don’t think I could create a screenplay that great. This is the big mental block that can invade the minds of creative people in any medium. We see what has been produced, printed, or staged and our minds begin to doubt our own creativity.
We wonder if we can ever be that good at what we do.
Consider this: Every film we see, every novel we read, every play we watch started as a draft at some point. Whoever wrote it had to start just like you: with an idea. They had to cultivate it in their mind, then begin jotting down ideas that bloomed into a rough outline that was then filled with things crossed-out and put in that were better.
We often forget that prolific authors like Stephen King or Judy Blume deal with creative highs and lows while they are crafting a story. And everyone has to tackle a rough draft at some point in order to get to the next step of revision and editing. Yes, even the greats have to go through the same process every time they write.
It’s easy to get hung up on what has been published or produced and be intimidated. But you have to remember that even people who are well-versed in their craft often struggle the same way all creative people do. It’s just how the creativity game is played.
Creating is hard work for anyone. We look at artists we admire and think that it comes easy to them. It really doesn’t. They, too, put in hundreds of hours to create what we are watching, reading, or listening to. With that perspective in mind, it’s easier to realize that we also have the ability to do great works; as long as we are willing to invest the time, effort, and creative energy to do so.
So, the next time you finish reading a novel or watching a movie and begin to wonder how you could ever write something as good, remember that at one point that brilliant work began as a rough draft that evolved into what you just read or saw.
You, too, can begin at the draft phase and watch it evolve into something greater. You just have to take the first step and begin writing and creating.
You can do it!
The video below is a snippet of an interview with Wings and Frasier co-creator David Lee discussing the evolution of the Wings pilot into what it eventually became. A perfect example of how even those we revere as talented creative types often have to work hard to create something that works. Enjoy!