As this posts, I’m stretching my writing muscles. Doing something I’ve never attempted before. Writing a screenplay for a contest.
It’s not something I’d ever put thought into. After all, I’m a non-fiction author, although my work is story-rich. But I do have these fascinating plot thoughts that simply won’t go away. So what’s a writer to do with them?
According to a Hollywood screenwriter I met at a recent conference, “Enter a contest and have fun.”
And the timing is right. I just finished writing a book I’m very passionate about called Getting Through What You Can’t Get Over, releasing through Barbour Publishing in April, 2015. I’m totally jazzed about Getting Through, but I’m also drained. It takes a lot to wade into soul-deep true stories of people who’ve experienced unwanted tragedy — many of them my own.
And as I prepare to work on my next non-fiction project, another soul-wrenching work speaking life into hurting people, I need a mental boost. So I’m challenging myself in an out-of-the-box way. I’m screenwriting for seven days in the 168 Film Project, Write of Passage contest.
But right before I started, something very interesting happened. And I wondered if God had hinted at all of this in the past, although I’d forgotten.
It was October, 2010, and I was in South Carolina on the cusp of discovering a life-changing secret about my identity. Though DNA tests wouldn’t confirm it for several days, I would soon learn my dad isn’t my biological father. At forty-six, the news blindsided me from left field.
On this particular day, I was getting ready to visit my dad (the only father I’d ever known), and as I neared his house, I thought my heart might explode from its pounding. I needed to catch my breath before I faced my fears.
It was Sunday evening, and I pulled into a plaza parking lot only two blocks from my dad’s house. The place was deserted, except for one vehicle.
I glanced up and the license plate immediately caught my eye. I have no good explanation as to why, but I took a picture. I thought the personalized plate was curious, and remember wondering if God was telling me something. But at the time, I hadn’t even signed with my literary agent, much less sold a book.
Besides, I had bigger things on my mind, so I saved the digital photo in a file, and promptly forgot about it. Until recently.
A few weeks ago, I ran across the picture while looking for something else. Then I realized I was getting ready to enter my first screenwriting contest. And I wondered….
Does it mean anything? Probably not. Could God have hinted to me all those years ago? Possibly so. Is it fun to consider? Absolutely yes.
Whether anything comes from screenwriting or not, this is what I’ve realized. In order to infuse your writing with fresh wind, sometimes you need to do something totally off the wall, very different from what you’ve gotten used to. For a short time.
So I’m not working on a screenplay because I hope to invent the next Hollywood blockbuster, I’m screenwriting for fun and energy. That way, when this contest is over, I’ll have new fodder to make my next book even better than the ones before. And maybe that’s what God had in mind all along.
How do you stimulate your writing in creative new ways?
Anita Fresh Faith