Welcome new Writers’ Program instructor Tonya Cannon! Tonya is teaching a section of Feature Film I (Reg# 382795) in our Remote Instruction format, with live Zoom class meetings on Tuesdays at 7pm PT this Fall. She sat down with us to offer some insight into creative life and her upcoming course.

What do you rely on for those times it’s difficult to find the time, energy, motivation and/or inspiration to write?
Unless you have a writing partner or team, writing is primarily a solitary endeavor. Binge watching a series about the topic on which I’m writing is a good motivator. This can also be a means of sparking ideas for additional stories to be told. I can generally press forward from there by setting smaller goals for myself like completing one scene…there’s no law that says you have to write the scenes in order. Write them as the inspiration hits you. I keep note pads in every room in my house to make sure I can jot down an idea when it comes to me.

What’s your favorite book and/or movie?
I think understanding your own interests can only benefit you as a writer as oftentimes, you’ll be relying on personal experiences in order to tell a compelling story. I don’t know that I can name just one author. I’m a huge fan of Suzanne Brockmann (Troubleshooters series), Lynsay Sands (Argeneau series), and Alexandra Ivy (Guardians of Eternity series) and would love to turn some of their respective series into screenplays. My favorite genre of book is a toss-up between paranormal romance and military romance/thriller.

Who do you wish you could write like (or: Whose writing discipline do you wish you had)?
I happen to like my own writing style (I don’t think that makes me a narcissist, does it?). But, in all seriousness, getting the comedic timing of a joke that lands well in addition creating gritty and compelling dramatic stories are two areas in which I continue to hone my craft. My writing idols are from television actually. I greatly admire the work of Chuck Lorre from a comedy perspective and Dick Wolf for drama. As a female writer, which there aren’t enough of, I want to give a nod to Kari Lizer who created and wrote “The New Adventures of Old Christine.”

What excites you most about teaching for the Writers’ Program?
What excites me most about teaching for the Writers’ Program is the opportunity to offer my insights into the world of Hollywood. Having been an executive producer, writer, and actress, I think I bring a unique perspective to the writers coming into the program in terms of offering insights on industry standards and then what it’s really like in reality.

What do you hope your students get from your course(s)?
I’ve taken courses in the past where I felt as if that was a whole period in time that I’ll never get back. I hope my students are more prepared to pursue their career in writing with a more realistic approach to the craft. I want them to understand the creative process and how that plays out in the wonderful world of filmmaking. I want them to know the industry ins and outs and to really be as prepared as possible for this journey.

Thank you to Tonya for taking time to share with us. Look for more instructor interviews coming soon!

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