“Before you write anything, you have to notice something.” – John Irving
When I joined the Navy the thought of moving to Hollywood hadn’t crossed my mind. I was focused on passing my qualifications, not messing anything up, and getting a few hours of sleep a night. When it came time to figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up (after the Navy), I could have ran a nuclear power plant and made a lot of money. But that wasn’t challenging enough so I decided to become a screenwriter.
John Irving’s quote really strikes a chord because idea generation does not come easy for me and I constantly kick myself for not keeping a journal or being more observant during my pre-Hollywood life. I can barely remember my mother’s phone number let alone something cool that happened six years ago. I vaguely remember details from wild stories I’ve heard or sound bytes from larger than life co-workers. I can only imagine how much story and character fodder I’d have if I’d been keeping track of all my experiences. All I have are fuzzy memories, and while I can build upon those, it’s harder to piece it all together.
In 2016 I resolve to take John Irving’s advice to heart. Pay attention to the way people talk and their personalities. Read voraciously. Meet new people, travel to new places, and try new things. Document experiences and never have the regret of forgetting the details.
Go out into the world with an open mind and a blank page. You never know what you might find.
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