Welcome new Writers’ Program instructor, Kristine Huntley! She is one of three instructors teaching one-day workshop this Winter, Winning a TV Writing Fellowship to Jumpstart Your Career, and sat down with us to offer some insight into creative life and her upcoming course.
What sparks your creativity?
This might sound pat but anything and everything. I constantly get ideas from just moving through life, from conversations I have, to things I’m watching or listening to, to glimpses of interactions between people I pass by. For example, if I’m on a hike and I spot a hole in the ground, I wonder if it was created by a small animal, or could be a portal to another world? (I’m a genre writer, so everyday things that could be something else entirely are my bread and butter.) An offbeat conversation can also spark an idea. Watching an amazing television show or movie, or reading an incredible book always gets me fired up about writing, too.
What do you rely on for those times it’s difficult to find the time, energy, motivation and/or inspiration to write?
I think the act of making yourself sit down in front of the computer can’t be undervalued. Maybe you’re worn out or stressed or just don’t feel you’ve got it in you at the moment, but chances are if you’re in front of an open Final Draft file, you’ll write something. And I almost always feel better after I do that. But it’s also important to not beat yourself up if you do have to miss some writing days because of things going on in life; the harder you are on yourself about it, the harder it will be to get back to writing once you’re ready. Try to be as kind to yourself as you would be to a friend who comes to you and says, “I feel terrible. I haven’t written at all this week.” Whatever you would say to encourage them to get back to it, say that to yourself.
What’s your favorite book and/or movie?
I read a ton of books (I’m a freelancer for a book review magazine) so it would be way too hard to pick just one. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens is in my top five and really influenced me as a writer–there’s so much of Dickens’ soul in that book. It’s funny, it’s heartbreaking, it’s full of life. My favorite movie is probably Defending Your Life. It’s a master class in world building, it’s a perfect romantic comedy, and it’s hilarious.
What’s your favorite quote about writing?
This isn’t a quote so much as a saying I find useful: “kill your darlings.” Sometimes your favorite scenes or bits of dialogue are the ones that just have to go. It’s so hard but I can’t count the number of times I’ve improved a script by getting rid of something that formerly had been a favorite part of it.
Who do you wish you could write like (or: Whose writing discipline do you wish you had)?
I think Joss Whedon and Shonda Rhimes are masters of dialogue and character. Their writing is so piercing and insightful that sometimes it’s like a gut punch. That’s what I aspire to–those moments that just take your breath away because they’re an amazing culmination of subtle groundwork, in plot or character development or both, that’s been laid over the course of time.
What excites you most about teaching for the Writers’ Program?
There’s nothing more exciting than hearing fresh ideas and being able to help shape them and make them stronger. Specifically, the course I’m teaching in the winter is geared towards introducing students to the television writing fellowships, so I’m looking forward to sharing my knowledge from my application to and time in the Disney ABC Writing Program.
What do you hope your students get from your course?
I hope they see that applying to (fellowship) programs isn’t an overwhelming process–it just takes some planning and preparation. I hope to also give them a “big picture” overview of life during and after a program. There’s a lot of information I wish I’d known going in that I’m excited to pass on.