Greg White (“The Egg,” “The Picnic”) on Writing, Ideas, and Getting Started

Greg White—who you will know from some of my previous Cast and Crew–tagged posts and the story credits of “The Egg” and “The Picnic”—has written a little autobiographical letter as advice and encouragement for people who want to get started in the field.

A friend back in Queens asked me how I focus on an idea and how I write that I idea once I get it. Aside from the fact that I have to write and pitch things in order to pay my rent (it’s a creative job, but it’s still a job), I thought this small part of my reply might be useful to someone reading this site.

It was hard for me writing back in NJ in my parents’ house when I was unemployed after college for a few months because I was writing in a real vacuum. Not the vacuum I impose on myself now, but an actual one because I didn’t have agents or managers or people I could go talk to my ideas about in a professional setting. But I knew that one day I might be in a position to do something like that, and I wanted to have a bunch of good stuff to show when that time came. So that was pretty motivating, that faith. Knowing what you want to do with something is helpful, but only if you stop that train of thought at the appropriate station. Like, you can’t write something because you want to win an award. But you should write something because you want to tell a particular story and have people read it and maybe even use that to get paid to write. I feel like that’s about as far as you can go when you’re thinking of why you want to write something. Whenever I’ve started to write something because I felt like I SHOULD WRITE THAT KIND OF THING or because THAT’S WHAT YOU DO IF YOU WANT TO BE A REAL WRITER (like the time I wanted to write a sci-fi drama despite the fact that I had no real creative interest in making that kind of thing), it always ends up feeling like someone else should be writing it. So I guess that’s my best advice really: write stuff that feels a part of you. Like, the stuff I write might not be good to anyone ever, but the things I like, I really don’t care if anyone likes, because I like it a lot and it was meaningful and helpful to me to write. I get a cathartic release off writing my favorite things, and once I’m done doing that, I really don’t care what happens.

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