I’ve always wanted to be one of those Renaissance people. You know, the ones who can climb Everest, while simultaneously being CEO of a company and being a top photographer. Screenwriting-wise, I was no different. Of course I can write a thriller/family film/comedy/horror. Or maybe an action movie, if I ever had an idea…
Thing is, I’m not so sure about this Renaissance thing anymore. Is it a good idea to try to excel at many things, or even at many things within a field? Or does this dilute your efforts? Should you concentrate on the thing that comes naturally to you?
I’ve been thinking about this recently because it dawned on me why I was having such trouble writing a horror. Actually, rewriting it for the millionth time. And it struck me: I don’t primarily watch horror movies. I’ll watch one if it’s on TV, but I won’t usually buy a ticket for one – unless Sam Raimi’s directing it. I do watch thrillers, though. And action adventures, and comedies – and they’re the scripts I really enjoy watching too. Fact is, my horror film is mainly a comedy with some horrifying bits in it.
So should I accept that I am a writer of thrillers and family films and nothing else? And a screenwriter, not a novelist/journalist/comic book writer or anything else that’s not a screenwriter? Should I have a niche?
Steve Martin wrote about the benefits of concentrating on one thing in his autobiography. His point was that he turned down loads of gigs that didn’t correspond with his ultimate goal – to be a great comedian. With time pressures and loads of things competing for your attention, maybe Steve had it right. Do one thing – and do it well.