Successful Writers Force Confrontations

advice, drama

Confrontations create your success.

You confront someone you want to be in business with — you pitch them your idea — they spark to it or they don’t — and you move forward. Emotionally. Because you’ve stretched. You’ve sent yourself the message that you stand your ground. You’re not the kind who backs down from a fight.

You confront yourself every time you sit down to write. Confront everything you don’t like inside you. You’ve got the balls to sit there with it, stay there, dredge it up and display it for the world.

You confront the possibility of your own failure, every time you hesitate. Every time you don’t know what to say or how to say it.

You force your characters to confront each other. Conflict is confrontation — whether your character confronts another or confronts himself. These confrontations are the gears that grip and pull us through the wheels of drama. Or — you build a story around a character avoiding a confrontation. We anticipate the character confronting herself — or being confronted.

You confront loved ones — friends and family and significant others — and let them know where you start and they stop. You confront them to let them know how much space you need, and unstructured time, and uncluttered thinking to be able to produce. You have a duty to protect your instrument. No matter how much they need you, you need you — to refill the well, to nourish the senses, to spark, to feel alive. Sometimes this looks like being lazy, being selfish, jerking off, staring into space. If you don’t do these things — and if you don’t confront the people who want to soak up your time and keep you from doing them — your creative life dies — and that’s when confronting yourself at the keyboard becomes so difficult. It’s not difficult because you’re a bad writer or because you’re not brave: it’s difficult because you failed at this earlier confrontation — guarding your creative space. Or confronting the emotional truth inside you. If you’re uncomfortable with your emotional junk, that’s a confrontation you’re avoiding, and it’s standing in the way of your writing. It will show up in your writing as cliche, flatness, dullness — and it will show up as resistance to writing at all. Because the keyboard will feel like a confrontation with yourself.

Confrontations are positive, not negative. Confrontations are how we find out what’s going on. We force subtext into text. We clarify our situation and act more efficiently and productively once we have all the information at hand. We ask questions, of ourselves and others, then we reevaluate and move forward. Without confrontation — in our writing and in our lives — we remain stuck and frozen and distanced. Confrontation connects us.

  • david Gould

    This one SLAYS IT.

    I read this in hour 7 of an all day writing session and I’ve come back to it to read it tonight.

    I am so grateful that I’ve come across your site.

    You’re speaking to me.

    Not to the writer in me who has an assignment, a deadline, some scenes to blast.

    But the writer in me who had to write and still needs to. Because it’s what I do.

    Your posts have been reminding me of this. And I thank you for it.


    • juliebush

      Just what I needed to hear DG. I was just lying here on my sofa with my laptop in my lap, trying to motivate to work. Thinking “why do my eyes hurt so much? Why is this screen so fucking shiny? It’s like a conspiracy to keep me from writing. I should google ‘computer eye strain’ but I just don’t feel like it. I just want to complain more about how strained my eyes are, so I don’t have to leave the computer which I’ve been in front of fro the past 13 hours … blah blah complain complain … ” and then your vivid comment came through and shook me up and made me feel glad to be a part of all this.

      What are you working on? I’m working on two pilots at the moment — a silly sitcom and a very serious drama.

  • Caissie

    Saw your Tweet about this post. Thanks for sharing it with us. Next time I sit down to write, I’ll be thinking about confrontation and letting it happen. Cheers!

    • juliebush

      Thanks so much Caissie. I’m glad you liked it.

  • david Gould

    Two drama pilots – One 1/2 hour and one hour. Spent the last week on a feature rewrite.

    I’ve been wrestling with it this year. Getting it done, sitting in it, finishing. And honestly — totally fucking hating writing.

    Which is why your posts have struck such a chord with me.

    I don’t hate writing.

    I hate what I’ve been writing.

    My intention had devolved into “Can I sell it? Can I staff with it? Can I fit in?”

    And the truth is I can’t fit in. I don’t want to.

    It’s not what or why I write.

    So thanks again for kicking me in the ass.

    • juliebush


      –and you speak to me. There have been many times when I’ve hated writing. And looking back, I realize, that’s a sign that something is wrong — that you’re trying to force a story that’s not working, or you’re writing something because you feel like you should or because it could be great. But we should be writing because we love the story, because it speaks to us, because it’s intuitive and makes sense and jumps out of us. Writing should be easy, and if it’s not, it’s because we’re telling the wrong story.

      Totally know what you mean with the questions about can I sell it, can I staff with it, can I fit in? I ask myself those questions — everyone does. But I’m operating from an intuitive place now, and I’m becoming more and more convinced that it’s our job to draw the market to us. We lead, we do not follow. Because our stories are personal and profound, they don’t take that long to write, so we have the luxury of producing remarkable work very quickly and then moving on to the next thing. Because they jump out of us. That’s what happens when you get real and get confident — you no longer spend months writing the wrong thing and just spend weeks writing the right thing. Then you move on. And because you’re light on your feet and sure, you’re not so dependent on any one thing to move you forward. None of it matters so much. Which allows us to be even more confident, even more certain, even more free. And the market — looking for anything to believe in — reads our certainty and follows, by buying or staffing or what have you.

  • SimAlex2000

    great post. definitely agree.

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