How Does A Writer Know They Are Good Enough? by UCLA Professor Richard Walter



so does that deferring and delaying and awkwardness show the mark of a professional yes yes absolutely that's absolutely when is a writer show me a writer who says she's satisfied with what she did and it went well I'll show you an amateur so in the beginning it's like a dating it's a honeymoon phase everybody looks perfect well the dating is better I mean the stating works out you eventually you get on well with with that person but you never get on well with writing that never changes again maybe God willing you are able to make money at it and actually support yourself at it but it's always always painful always a struggle and again it's about feeling that's what it's about so it sort of makes sense that it that it should be feeling full when does a writer know it's time to abandon a character you never really know and I'm asked that all the time about I'm asked two kinds of questions like that what I call the macro version and the micro version the micro version it should I you've read this script you've read several versions of it am i beating a dead horse here should I just move on I sure don't know I've seen people rewrite scripts into oblivion where they that should have gotten rid of in my view and I've also seen conversely scripts that look pretty hopeless that suddenly broke through who – say I can't tell you that it's a easy for me to say but you've got it you've got to do all the work on that that's the micro version should I stick with this script or should I give it up I'll also say what is very useful is is to put a script aside and write something else and then come back to it and and you'll have a new perspective on it the macro version of that is and I get this all the time should I do I have what it takes to be a writer am I good enough at this and my answer is I don't know that's a for me to say that's for you know should I continue to do this actually I use my answer that usually is no don't continue to do this why not because you had to ask me whether or not you should do it if you need to ask somebody about whether or not you should be righter than you should not be a writer you should be a writer because you can't help yourself there's nothing else you can do you just can't stop yourself you got it you have to write not because it's fun but because you have to do just like you have to breathe you know the we're as I said we are in the midst of our admissions process here at UCLA the take rate that is to say the number of people who are admitted to our program who actually enter the program is very high and it's almost 90 percent that almost hundred percent that's over 90 percent that is to say anybody who gets admitted the program comes into the program for the most part it's extremely unusual that somebody's admitted to the program and then has doubts about whether or not they want to enter the program and yet I met with somebody the other day who had been admitted to the program and now told me that he was wondering whether or not he really will enter the program and he wanted to ask me some question about that you know and I said to him look like you're asking me should you into this program well he was the way he put it was is this like a reasonable intelligent thing to do and I told him no no is it reasonable and intelligent to think that you can create characters and stories and make up dialogue that they speak and that people will line up in bad weather to pay over 14 or 16 dollars you know for a ticket whatever request to go to the movies these days to sit in a movie theater and and you know watch this this thing that you created I mean imagine a somebody stops you in the stream and says I gotta tell you about this dream that I had I had this dream I this dream I gotta tell you about it so let's say you were generous and a humane person you say well okay let's hear it and imagine that the person I mean you've had the experience where you've wanted to tell a dream that you had to somebody and there are people who've surely said to you oh I had to crazy you got to the stream ahead what about just before they tell you the dream they say oh before I do this I you have to meet two conditions one is you got to be ready to sit there for two hours it's going to give me two hours to tell you this dream and the other thing is I mean that that would stop me right there but that's not the end of it it's just the beginning at the end of it is I also want 15 dollars or whatever a ticket cause I mean it's crazy and I said to this person no don't do it if you are wondering about it if you have to ask about it then you shouldn't you shouldn't do it I'm not about to say to somebody Oh give us a chance please you know please be a writer and boy that's nothing in it for the writer for me to tell her that yeah and the same thing with as I say on a narrower basis on whether or not they going to write a story you know whether or not this is something that somebody should really write about I was at a I go to a lot of writers conferences I am an academic but I don't go to too many scholarly conferences but I do go to bunches of writers conferences and I was at one recently in Northern California and there were a lot of agents there on panels and so on and I was chatting with them I was a presenter as they were and I remember them complaining to me the agents that writers are coming up to them at the conference and saying what should I write about what's hot now what are you looking for imagine asking somebody else what to write about I mean if you don't have if the writer doesn't care about what she's writing about why would the agent care why would the producer care why would audiences care so again you have to you really really can't look to anybody else other than is itself in this enterprise you

30 thoughts on “How Does A Writer Know They Are Good Enough? by UCLA Professor Richard Walter

  1. This sounds like those stories of students who seek out the guru. The guru teaches them and they eventually ask if they've reached Nirvana. If you have to ask…..then you're not there yet.

  2. I don't have plans to write a screenplay, but I will consider the book I thought of turning a couple of my books into screenplays at one time, but have since buried myself in other writing endeavors. I like to learn, though, so it will be a good addition to my library for future use.
    These are excellent videos. I have enjoyed watching them, particularly Professor Walters's interview. I will be doing a presentation next month on continuing self-education through @YouTube videos and single online classes, and I will provide links to some of these. I hope to watch more in the future.

  3. John Grit is a writer, who has done well enough to put cash in the bank and retire very young. Hundreds of good reviews on Amazon.

  4. I find this man to be completely Adorable. h'es has such a nice personality , totally brilliant, seems like a really great professor. I like his personality. Down to earth!!

  5. The video doesn’t answer the question it asks. The closest you’ll get to whether you should be a writer is @1:59 Mr. Walter says, “I don’t know.”. It’s the answer he gives throughout.

  6. For one thing, one elementary thing, they don't make simple grammatical mistakes: "How does a writer know they're good enough?"

  7. Iz busy guy; but, not too buzy'ta write. See dem hot women folk; get all inspired-muse me somethin' serious.

  8. Well, Stephenie Meyer and her Twilight of shit was crap and it sold very well. You actually never know if what you’re writing will be successful or not ‘cause I’m pretty sure there’s writers out there cracking their head on a story only to be rejected and if published to be unsuccessful at all.

  9. My advice is if you can do anything else besides writing scripts, DO it. Forget about writing for a living, save yourself a lifetime of misery and heartache and do the other thing.

  10. Some of this is good advice, like the statement,(paraphrasing) "You write because you have to write…you don't have a choice," but when these guys claim they don't know what good writing is they're not being honest, at all. They know, and so does everyone else.

  11. This video should have been 15 seconds long. Q: How Does a writer know hes good enough? A: Just write something. Have some people read it and when they say " I love this." You know that are good enough! If you dont believe it get my self confidence for writers hypnosis CD and YOU WILL BE GOOD ENOUGH!

  12. 2:35 this is why i write haha, didn't think i'd be getting such spot on words of encouragement from watching this, incredible!

  13. When I see this guy I can't help but hear " DunDun Durant-Dun Dunnananana…." followed by the sound of saxophone.

  14. This is so encouraging. I often have doubt (always) that anything I write will amount to something beyond a draft in my drawer, but that’s not the point. If I could make a living out of writing that would be fantastic, but I don’t write to be published, I write because I have to. I get what he means when he says if you have to ask you shouldn’t be writing. If it’s in your soul it’s not something that goes away because someone tells you shouldn’t do it. I’ve been writing since I was 13 years old simply as a hobby. I have a “language based learning difference” (similar to a low level form of dyslexia) that has always made me believe I could never do writing as a career, but I just can’t stop. Jobs, interests, and other hobbies come and go, but since my teenage years there has never been an moment when I don’t have a story in progress. Basically, if you have a passion for writing, you should be writing. If you don’t think you’re good enough, make sure you’re reading as much as you can, and your writing will get better with practice. Well, that was long winded. My apologies. Great interview, and thanks for the upload!

  15. "I'm not going to say, oh pleease be a writer! There's nothing in it FOR THE WRITER for me to tell him that." Beautiful, non-egotistical words.

  16. Title should be "How Does a Writer Know He is Good Enough?" or "How Does a Writer Know She is Good Enough?" No matter what the lazy anti-establishment professors tell you, "they" is not a singular pronoun! Lol. (My prescriptive-grammar rant for the day. OK, for the hour.)

  17. I’m only fifteen, but I have to confess that I love writing. My grandparent’s are reporters, really famous, and I just feel it in my blood. I WANT to write, but I always wonder if I’m good enough. The statistics depress me, the books that get popular even more so. But then I think that I will never be good enough, and that I’m not ever gonna be somebody.

    I cry about it and get over it. Truthfully, I don’t know what I want out of life. I’m unmotivated and am living in this moment I know won’t last forever. It’s just stuck at “Get good grades”, “Go to a good college”, and “Be yourself”. But beyond that, what am I to do. I’m trying to convey that feeling into writing, but writing is hard and I often feel frustrated and I just want to give up.

    Let me tell you that no one’s going to make you good. Audience praise is nothing, and if I could be what I wanted, I would. But I don’t think I ever will be, and that’s okay. Because pleasing others should not be my top priority, and I should write to write. I’m working up to that right now, but I hope that I can continue to write for the rest of my life. I have no idea who I am or what I want beyond high school, but I do know that writing will always be an integral part of me.

  18. It would not be unreasonable for an agent to say, if capable of more than shooting the breeze, in the hope of acquiring anything to act for, as an agent, to say: As an agent, I act for writers who are able to write comedy or action or sci-fi, etc. An agent does not have to be deliberately obtuse, and go ¯_(ツ)_/¯

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