Isolation. It is what many might assume a writer needs. Time, a quiet space, focused attitude, no distractions, etc. Sure, those things are necessary when we are ready to write something down. But do we rely solely on our imagination and our keyboard keys? I would say not.
It has been said that “write what you know” is some of the worst advice to give to a novice screenwriter like myself. I completely understand this argument, to an extent. A writer must have imagination to create a fictional realm that will intrigue and inspire an audience. But here’s the thing: From where do we draw imaginative ideas? Are these truly from scratch? Not quite.
Our imagination is rooted in personal experience. Shonda Rhimes, a writer I look up to a great deal, spent time in hospital rooms and was fascinated by the atmosphere and dynamics. Thus, she imagined her own hospital. 12.5 years later, Season 14 will premiere on ABC. The same can be said for all of my fellow writers. Our imagination is an extension of what we learn when we spend quality time. Quality time absorbing the imperfections of humanity. I was celebrating the 4th of July earlier this week with a group of family and friends. So many conversations, emotions, stories, experiences, challenges, and triumphs were shared. It was a simple set up, but such rich conversation. This quality time is what inspires us to write.
Quality time is what inspires us to tell stories that connect with an audience. To remain isolated is to remain inexperienced in the struggle that is every day relationships with strangers and loved ones. We must value the lessons we learn from quality time and use them to impact an audience. After all, everyone’s got a story.