Sunday, May 2, 2010

To read a screenwriting book or to go out and play some ice hockey?

If you didn't already know, the guy in the picture is David E. Kelley, quite possibly the best television writer ever.

Looks like he's about to play some ice hockey right there. In fact, he even used to be a professional hockey player before he became a ten-time Emmy award winning screenwriter.

But why do I show you this picture of him as a hockey player?

Well, I show it because for years I've had this idea that playing ice hockey or other team sports is a great way to experience drama and that playing them (or even watching) will make you a better writer.

Because when you watch or play the game, don't you feel emotions that are totally different from what you're used to? You're excited, your heart keeps beating, you sweat, you hold your breath. I mean, you simply feel alive.

I think that's what watching good entertainment on tv should be too. It should mesmerize you and take your breath away.

That's why I think that in the end a hockey player and a (great) writer aren't that much apart from each other.

Because as a player you need to make quick decision. You have to be able to read your opponents - just like you have to be able to read your characters and the situations when you write.

You need to have a clear vision of the game, you need to get 'the big picture' - just like in good drama or comedy you have to know what it is all about.

When you play team sports, you will quickly learn the consequences of wrong and right decisions. Just like in good comedy or drama which are basically all about making big decisions and then dealing with the consequences.

I guess there's this flow thing too. If you're a hockey player, you know what I'm talking about. Because writing is about flow.

And being constantly creative.

So if I had to make a decision between like reading a screenwriting book or playing hockey, the decision would be pretty easy. I'd go play hockey - just like David Kelley did.

Not that there's anything wrong with reading screenwriting books...