Some teachers make screenwriters feel like they need psycho-analysis before they can write anything worthwhile.
I used to agree. Now I’m confused. In any case, claiming that no quality writing can happen without deep introspection seems wrong.
It was Joss Whedon who got me thinking about this. During his talk at the Sydney Opera House earlier this year, he explained how for most of his stellar career, he had no idea why he was writing. He had never reflected on the question where all his creative energy came from and why the characters he creates are who and what they are.
Here is one of the most successful and respected screenwriters of our generation, who has deeply touched millions of movie and TV viewers all over the world. He created screen characters that have not only been tremendously successful: they have shaped the culture and the lives of many of their viewers.
Never had Joss questioned where his inspiration came from nor why he would continue to create characters with similar traits. Yet his inspiration kept flowing.
Clearly there was no need for him to be aware of his own psychological need to tell stories in order to be successful. His characters speak directly to countless fans all over the world.
So, if anyone makes you feel as if you should first go through a thorough self-analysis before you can be worthy of creating quality and you feel uncomfortable about this, think about Whedon. Feel free to ignore any pressure to go self-analyzing and just focus on your writing.
Go into the minds of your characters and explore those. Most writers really don’t need to go into their own to deliver the goods.
Writing is one thing. Self-analysis is another. As a matter of fact, self-analysis seems to me awfully close to something called therapy. Perhaps those claiming you need this in order to write, are in need of it themselves.
So what do you think? Do you need therapy to unlock your muse?
Karel Segers wrote his first produced screenplay at age 17. Today he is a story analyst with experience in acquisition, development and production. He has trained students worldwide, and worked with half a dozen Academy Award nominees. Karel speaks more European languages than you have fingers on your left hand, which he is still trying to find a use for in his hometown of Sydney, Australia. The languages, not the fingers.