Is It Writer's Block or Time to Find Your Format?


Are you feeling creatively stuck? Sometimes finding your purpose is less about writer's block and more about finding your format.

That's what I'm tackling in today's brand new episode of "Skip to Action TV!" Watch the video now or read the transcript below, and let me know what you think.

My name is Annie Franceschi and I'm a failed screenwriter. 

Yep, I'm totally a failed screenwriter.

I used to write screenplays when I was in high school. That was like my thing. I wrote four feature-length screenplays by the time I was in college and thought, that is what I'm going to do with my life. I'm going to write movies that tell great stories. And then something happened to me along the way.

When I actually started working in the film industry, maybe you can relate to this, you know, if you've worked in a corporate world or kind of seen behind the curtain a little bit, but having written some feature-length screenplays and then going to work for film studios, I started to write but I would stop myself. I would start to write and then say, "Oh that's not marketable,” or “I can't have a female heroine because that's not marketable,” “No one is going to like this,” or “It's not going to work,” or “It's not as good or too similar to this other project that is in development." It's almost like I knew too much about how the sausage gets made or whatever the case may be. And I stopped being able to live as a writer in the fictional world. 

So why do I share that with you? And today, what I want to talk to you about is the notion of "finding your format". Finding your format. This is so important. I mean, how many people do we know, a great example is writing, and that's why I'm sharing the example with you today.

How many people do you know that say, "I'm a writer" but they haven't written anything?

Right? Like they have all the stuff, they won't show it to you, or I'm constantly working on something. I get that. I was there myself. And I think that you have to find your format.

For me, my format has become writing for other people. Where I was getting stuck, very often, was that blank page that we all can't stand. But when I work with people, clients through Greatest Story, it's really about starting from their story. They are sharing something with me and I'm not starting with a blank page. And I've learned that that's a better format for me. I've learned that I'm better at shorter-term writing than longer-term writing. Screenplays can be 90 - 120 pages. And that's too long for me. Because I like variety and I like learning new stories and constantly moving from project to project. And I'm better at that. And for me that was about, screenwriting wasn't the format for me. As much as I really wanted to write movies. This was my way. This is my format.

And so, with writing, for example, there's more than just writing a novel or writing a screenplay. There's technical writing, there's copywriting, there's writing for academia, there's all kinds of shades of writing. There's short stories, there's blogging, there's formats and platforms and things that maybe you haven't even heard of. 

And so I share this with you whether you're a writer or it comes down to other skillsets that you have that you feel like, "but I'm supposed to be interested in this. But I want to be a writer."

I am a writer, but I'm not a screenwriter. And that's OK.

I think we try to fit ourselves into a societal bucket of "well I'm interested in law, so I have to be a lawyer." Do you? Could you write about the law for example? Could you be a consultant about the law? Maybe. There's lots of creative ways to spin these things. And what I recommend to you, is that if you're coming up against a wall and you're saying you're a writer, for lack of a better example, but you haven't written anything, because you can't get that novel started, try writing a short-story. Try writing for an app. Try writing little character descriptions. Writing for an Instagram feed.

Trying out different platforms and formats will give you an opportunity to break free of that block. To break free of the expectations you're placing on yourself. If I was still kicking myself that I wasn't writing screenplays and feeling the guilt of that, then I wouldn't be creating new things and I wouldn't be writing. So I think that that is the key - no matter how. Writing is the larger example here, but it could be anything. That if you feel like it's just not working for you and you need to be honest with yourself about that.

And there's lots to do. We live in a great universe now of all kinds of free, online tools and opportunities and classes that we can take to try out different formats. So, if it's not working for you, don't worry about it, it might just be time to find your format.