Making Lemonade from Those Writing Lemons

By Milli Thornton

Source: Johanna Goodyear

Johanna Goodyear,

BACK WHEN I WAS writing my first screenplay (a time travel adventure set in New Mexico), I attended a tele-class about asking carefully targeted questions to structure the genre of your script.

I’m a believer in asking questions to help explore my characters and their dilemmas—and the tele-class was being taught by a respected screenwriting teacher—so I was looking forward to learning some insider secrets. But I was not able to last the distance.

What this call (re)confirmed for me is that these kinds of writing systems are too cerebral for me. I know they work for others . . . but I am not those others. I have to know what’s right for ME.

The Silver Lining

Even though I knew in my heart I could not adopt this teacher’s writing system, I did not consider my time wasted. Sometimes, learning what’s not right for us can be just as valuable as finding where we fit.

It’s the same thing, if you get right down to it. The secret is to avoid using situations such as this one to make judgments about ourselves.

I could just as easily have said, “This part of it goes right over my head! I’ll never be good enough as a screenwriter!”

But not only is that not true (I can pick it up easily when it’s presented in a style that resonates with who I am), that kind of self-talk can be cruelly self-perpetuating.

Recognizing I didn’t belong in that tele-class not only freed up my time to get back to my screenplay, it even led (in a round-about way) to more self-acceptance for my writing. Not to mention some deeper thinking about ‘style’ that led to more self-expression as a writer.

Sometimes, it pays to be in the wrong place at the right time.


Milli Thornton, writing coach and author of Fear of Writing

Milli Thornton

MILLI THORNTON (aka Milliver) is the author of Fear of Writing. She is owner of the Fear of Writing Online Course and Unleash Your Writing!, where her mission is to put the fun back into writing. Milli blogs at Milliver’s Travels and Screenwriting in the Boonies and coaches at Writer’s Muse Coaching Service.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS with us below! Choose how you'd like to comment:

6 thoughts on “Making Lemonade from Those Writing Lemons

  1. Patti Stafford

    I love the statement, “Sometimes, it pays to be in the wrong place at the right time.” It truly does. I’ve done a lot of things online trying to see what fits me. Some may think I’ve bounced around or even {gasp} failed at all these things. I haven’t. I’ve learned many things, but the most important thing I’ve learned is what doesn’t fit me.

    I always come back to working with fiction. Maybe it’s time I just start sticking with it, eh?

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I too have taken programs that didn’t resonate with me. I’m sure they were valuable to those they did resonate with, but I’ve felt let down a few times…until I realized I did learn what doesn’t work for me. 😉

    1. Milli Thornton

      Hi Patti!

      I totally hear you. Sounds like we’ve had similar experiences, probably just with different programs. And, yeah, we always come back to what’s truest. Fiction will always be there for us, no matter how many other sparkly objects we seize upon along the way.

  2. Leigh

    Honoring our own process is really the crux of it. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, so this was a great post to read. I get bent at all the advice out there that one must do it this way, or that way, and if you don’t, forget it! You’ll never succeed. The creative process is an organic, juicy, boundless beast that is definitely not “one size fits all.” Thank you for reminding me that we don’t have to fit into someone else’s modality, and not fitting in does not diminish our own.

    1. Milli Thornton

      I’m glad this touched a chord with you, Leigh. You’ve expressed yourself so passionately here. I especially loved “The creative process is an organic, juicy, boundless beast.” Yeah!!

  3. Charlotte Rains Dixon

    I love this, Milli! I, too, tend to shy away from programs that are too structured. (Funny, I’m always attracted to them–as if they have all the answers!) And though it sometimes takes quite a while, learning to discern what is right for us as writers is the best path to take.

    1. Milli Thornton

      I’ve noticed those programs are often good at the “7 Secrets to . . .” type of marketing. It’s easy to reel people in that way, but maybe the program might not ‘stick’ with everybody. I like it when they give you a way to evaluate first for free.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *