Writing and the Creative Life: 18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently

  • They ask the big questions: I have always pondered big questions, even as a child. That’s one of the reasons I was drawn to the study of religion and spirituality. But while at Yale that last year, my 7th consecutive year of higher education, I would constantly ask myself: “Is this what I want to be doing? Will I be happy as an academic? Will I be satisfied with my life if I do not pursue my music? What am I supposed to do with my life?”
  • They get out of their own heads: I have a powerful instinct to live in the conceptual realm. I sometimes joke, “I like the concept of people more than people.” And yet, my instinct toward songwriting and performing on stage pulled me out of theoretical living, and into direct contact with actual people. The experience of singing original material for an audience, the self-belief and trust required to do that, felt more real in a way than spending all day dissecting 3rd century theological treatises.
  • They view all of life as an opportunity for self-expression: I was quite good at academic studies. Indeed, I graduated from Yale cum laude and likely could have gotten into any of the top doctoral programs in the United States. But at the time, I concluded that research and analysis did not satisfy me emotionally, spiritually and existentially as did writing songs, then stand-up comedy routines and eventually screenplays.
  • They follow their true passions: Fortunately as I was struggling that last year at Yale to make what would be one of the most fateful choices of my entire life, I had professors and good friends who listened to me, assuring me of one fact: I was passionate about my creative aspirations. Buttressing those affirmations were the words of a scholar I had studied as an undergraduate: Joseph Campbell. He said the central message of the Hero’s Journey is this: “Follow your bliss.” If I was truly passionate about my creative interests, then that had to be an expression of my authentic self, an expression of my bliss. That pointed me toward a different life path than the one I was on pursuing academics.
  • They take risks: So I left Yale and academics behind, and took off West with little more than a guitar, my songs, and my dreams. In hindsight, that was a huge risk, turning my back on a secure future for something completely unknown. However at the time, it was the only choice I could make.
  • They lose track of the time: I spent nearly a decade wandering around following my creativity. Music, then comedy, then screenwriting. Unlike many young turks who break into Hollywood fresh out of college or film school, early to mid-20s, I was 33 years old when I sold my first spec script, halfway to Old Fart status by Hollywood standards. I try to gaze back through the haze of my past at those 10 years and wonder what happened? I guess that was my time in the wilderness, preparing me for what was to come.
  • They connect the dots: During that decade, I kept on asking the Big Questions, but when through utter serendipity I discovered screenwriting, that was it: I connected the dots in a huge way. This particular form of narrative expression was everything I ever wanted or needed creatively, and dovetailed directly into my lifelong love of movies.
  • They surround themselves with beauty: So it was when I sold K-9, I was shepherded around town, the proverbial flavor-of-the-week, but the reality was I knew very little about the craft of screenwriting. So I immersed myself in the world of cinema. I read every script. I watched every movie. I did dozens and dozens of scene-by-scene breakdowns. Attended every presentation by filmmakers I could find. Picked the brains of screenwriters, producers, executives, even script readers to learn everything possible. Certainly that process fed my intellectual understanding of how to write a screenplay, but more important, those several years of intensive exposure to stories fed my soul in a way only movies can. That experience of the beauty of movies took my avocational affection for cinema and transformed it into vocare: A calling.
  • They seek out new experiences: As a writer, I worked with one partner. Then another. Then solo. I wrote comedy, action, drama, family, thriller. Movies. TV. And then — again something arising from a gut instinct — I started to teach screenwriting. Through that, I found I had in an odd way come full circle: Being forced to communicate how I went about writing pulled me back to my academic roots. Not just Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung, but looking at all aspects of the craft — Plot, Character, Concept, Style, Scene, Dialogue, Theme, Time, Subplot, Conflict — and applying a kind of scholarly diligence to it. To this day, I continue to learn new things about the craft, both in how I write and how I teach.
  • They constantly shake things up: During the strange sojourn of my life, I found myself working as a producer for a TV production company. Nothing wrong with that… except it didn’t involve movies. So I asked myself: What can I do to give me a way to connect with my passion for movies? And that led to this humble blog. I had no idea how that choice would shake up my life, but it has. And it continues to do so on an almost daily basis through the creative opportunities that arise from it and most of all through the connections I have with thousands of fellow writers in the online community of creative souls. In other words… you!

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Scott Myers

Scott Myers

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