October 1995, The Seattle Mariners were in the playoffs for the first time in their history and playing the New York Yankees. The Mariners had fought off early elimination and forced a decisive Game 5. I was there. I may have been two rows from the top, unable to hear the loudspeakers and unable to see half the field, but I was there. Little did I know I was about to witness the greatest hit in Mariner history, and recent baseball history, as Edgar Martinez would double in Ken Griffey Jr. from first and snatch a series victory from the jaws of defeat (Seriously, google Edgar Martinez double). It is one of the most electric and indelible memories of my life. Why do I bring this up on a writing blog? Well, The Kingdome held around 50,000 fans, but if you listen to all the people who claim they were there you would think it held 200,000. It is much the same with writing.
I cannot begin to count the number of people who, when they find out I am a screenwriter, begin to gush about their "great idea" or how they are going to finally sit down and write their screenplay. I applaud them. I hope it works out. Sadly, the fact of it is that most of these people will never get around to writing that screenplay. I remember when I had finished my first screenplay and my writing mentor looked at me and said "Congratulations. You are now ahead of 90% of everyone who says they are going to be writers." And that's the trick of it all. There are many things you need to do to be a successful writer. You need to read other writer's screenplays to see how a professional works. You need to watch movies to see what works (and what doesn't). You need to study and attend classes to improve your skills. The list goes on and on. Different things work for different people, but there is one constant for all of us, and I'll go back to my mentor since he is the one who ground it in to me:
If you want to be a writer, start writing,
That's it. That's all it comes down to. That's the big secret. No matter how much you study, how much you prepare and outline, there is only one thing that will make you a screenwriter. Sit down and write that first screenplay. And when you do finish that screenplay make sure to email me and I will be the first to congratulate you.*
*By email me I mean to brag about how you finished, not the actual script.