Why I Shut Up and Listen to Criticism

The screenwriter Danny Strong explains how listening to critical feedback is essential to the creative process. 

Why I Shut Up and Listen to Criticism

If you want to be a writer who has complete control over your own material then you should write books or you should write plays.  Because that doesn’t exist in the world of screenwriting.  Film is ultimately considered a director’s medium. The director has the vision of the piece.  


Who knows what the director’s going to do with you. He might replace you. Sometimes multiple writers come on to a project.  That’s a reality you have to accept if that’s what you want to do for a living, and no one is saying you have to be a screenwriter for a living. 

In television, the writers are much more in charge but until you’re a show runner - the overall creative force behind a show - you don’t have any of control, either.  The show runner can rewrite your show.  Other writers on staff can rewrite it if the show runner wants them to rewrite it.  You’re constantly dealing with studio notes all the time. 

I have found that being antagonistic to your producers or to your studio notes is not beneficial from a business standpoint or from a creative standpoint.  These are people that are finding problems in a script. As opposed to being defensive about criticism, you need to take it in and think "Okay, maybe there’s a problem here.  Maybe I can come up with something better than what I had before."  

The journey of writing a script is a constant journey of notes, feedback, and then rewrites.  It’s a rewriting process and I like to think that when I rewrite a script it gets better every time because I’m taking input.  

I’m not always following other peoples' solutions. A lot of times they don’t have solutions. But I’m still able to pinpoint problems based on what people are saying.  I’m happy to take a good idea from anywhere it comes.  It’s that process that makes a project better and better and better the more you work on it.

I think people that are antagonistic to that process do not succeed as screenwriters because their own insecurities about themselves get in the way of what can make their story better.  

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Live on Thursday: Learn innovation with 3-star Michelin chef Dominique Crenn

Dominique Crenn, the only female chef in America with three Michelin stars, joins Big Think Live this Thursday at 1pm ET.

Big Think LIVE

Add event to your calendar

AppleGoogleOffice 365OutlookOutlook.comYahoo


Keep reading Show less

The world's watersheds, mapped in gorgeous detail

Hungarian cartographer travels the world while mapping its treasures.

Strange Maps
  • Simple idea, stunning result: the world's watersheds in glorious colors.
  • The maps are the work of Hungarian cartographer Robert Szucs.
  • His job: to travel and map the world, one good cause at a time.
Keep reading Show less

New Hubble images add to the dark matter puzzle

The images and our best computer models don't agree.

Surprising Science
  • Scientists can detect the gravitational effects of invisible dark matter.
  • Dark matter causes visual distortions of what's behind it.
  • The greater the distortion, the greater the amount of dark matter. Maybe.
  • Keep reading Show less

    Did our early ancestors boil their food in hot springs?

    Scientists have found evidence of hot springs near sites where ancient hominids settled, long before the control of fire.

    Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
    Culture & Religion
    Some of the oldest remains of early human ancestors have been unearthed in Olduvai Gorge, a rift valley setting in northern Tanzania where anthropologists have discovered fossils of hominids that existed 1.8 million years ago.
    Keep reading Show less
    Videos

    Personal finance: How to save, spend, and think rationally about money

    Finances can be a stressor, regardless of tax bracket. Here are tips for making better money decisions.

    Scroll down to load more…
    Quantcast