5 Reasons Why Screenwriters Should Be Traveling

by ScreenCraft on February 23, 2016

Lindsey Addawoo is an emerging screenwriter and producer from Toronto, ON, Canada. Her sci-fi drama pilot, Diagnosis, was selected for the Bahamas International Film Festival Screenwriters Residency Program and is in the process of being developed.

At the Toronto Screenwriting Conference last year one of the main speakers at the conference was none other than writer, producer, and director David Goyer.

Goyer — notable for his work on Batman Begins, Man of Steel, and the Blade trilogy — broke down some of the simple methods he used when creating the world of myth. One of the most valuable lessons he shared with his bewitched audience was that almost all stories — on any visual medium — pay homage to source material, and that since life does not exist in a vacuum, sometimes that means that you’ve got to go out and find it.

Writers sometimes forget that though one is typically defined by his or her occupation, writers actually aren’t writers first — they are human beings who write.

Stories, in all capacities, are loosely based off of some element of real life experience. At their core, writers are experiential learners who crave drama, learn from their mistakes, and think deeply about the way the world works.

We’ve been telling stories since the Stone Ages. Now, as modern-day content creators, the stories are told through visual mediums, be it animation, photography, film, or television. When it comes to writing for television and film specifically, screenwriters must especially keep in mind that in order for art to imitate life, life must first be lived. And sometimes this means getting out of your box. Literally.

Here are 5 reasons why screenwriters should get out of their comfort zone and start travelling.

1. Develop Your Vision


One obvious reason for travel is to enrich your script’s visual descriptions. For writers, detail is of the utmost importance when describing a visual landscape. It becomes much easier when you actually have a visual representation of what a scene might look like. Even if your genre is supernatural mystery — you’d be surprised at what earthly landmarks are strikingly similar to the visuals you thought only existed in the deep recesses of your mind.

2. Broaden Your Perspective


Goyer pointed out that through much of the Batman series — and in the original source material — Bruce Wayne often traveled to the East. In some of the earlier comics, his training took him all over the world, heightening his sense of eastern philosophy. From Hercules to the Knights of the Round Table, we’ve seen the hero’s journey time and time again, as our protagonist ventures to a far off land, overcomes hurdles, learns new philosophy, and brings it back home. Likewise with writers, it benefits them to deepen the understanding of the world. Sometimes the only way to learn is through exposure to something different.

3. Learn From a Different Culture


There are reasons why most full-time jobs recommend a vacation once a year.

Immersing yourself in a different culture flips your understanding of the way you interpret the world. Think of how groundbreaking it is when you meet someone of an entirely different background with a fresh perspective. That experience is multiplied when we come into contact with an entirely different culture with its own set of rules, mentality, ideologies, taboos, values, and traditions. The world is rich with culture — both ancient and modern — so there’s no reason why writers shouldn’t be venturing out and exploring what makes them so sustainable.

4. Hear Cross-Cultural Similarities (and Differences)


Mythologist Joseph Campbell stated in his interview, the Power of Myth, how beautiful and complex it is that so many indigenous cultures share similar creation stories. It’s amazing how writers often feel alone and trapped in their own little worlds. Little do they know that somewhere, someone out there might have experienced something similar. No matter what genre you write for, how obscure the character, or how extreme the content, there will always be someone your story speaks to. Writers are “connectors” — those who find the common threads that stitch the human experience together.

5. Appeal to the Human Condition


Good writing should be saying something about real life. What is your message? What does it reflect? How can your audience relate to it on an intellectual, visceral, emotional or even primal level?

Writers have a responsibility to interpret, recreate, and communicate the human experience to the world. As responsible writers, the goal is to identify with others and engage in honesty. For myth writers especially, this means being able to find deep-rooted seeds of connection that are both universal and unconsciously embedded in the way we think.

If you think about it, it’s almost necessary to escape your industry from time to time and connect with your heart.

As the Latin saying goes, ars longa, vita brevis (art is forever, life is short). So lead a life worth living.

If your travels take you to interesting places and spark an idea for any adventure or travel shows, enter them into ScreenCraft's Adventure & Travel TV Pitch Contest

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