Katie, you are quite right, we don’t grow as writers in a vacuum. There is some subtext to the original question: The subject of screenwriting ‘gurus’ and professional screenwriters. The former can present themselves and their respective approaches as THE way to write a screenplay, if not asserted directly, inferred by their sales pitch. The latter, generally speaking, do not like ‘gurus’ for any number of reasons, not the least of which is the emergence of formulaic scripts based on various paradigms floating around. Then many pros do subscribe to some variation of the adage, “Learn the craft on your own”.
My point is there is no right way to write and by extension no right way to LEARN to write. I’ve lived too long, worked in the business for over three decades, and met, listened to, read about, or interviewed too many pro writers to put much stock in either position: You MUST do this… You should NEVER do that. There are any number of ways to learn the craft.
IMHO working with a knowledgeable and skilled mentor, or enrolling in an educational program — a really good one where the educators have professional and teaching backgrounds, the content is both theory and practical, and the teaching is a priority — can be a huge boost to a writer’s learning curve. But that’s not for everyone.
Ultimately I subscribe to Joseph Campbell’s idea that if you follow your bliss, doors will open for you… and that includes learning opportunities. Same with writing. If writing is your bliss and you pursue it with diligence and passion, you will meet the people and find the resources you need to get to where you need to get as a creative.
Thanks for your comments!