posted by victor @ 10:00 am November 3, 2010 in film,writing

Harsh. That’s what I always think when I hear the old saw, “Those who can’t do, teach.” It sounds so mean, I have a hard time saying it out loud. Now John August, whose blog I thoroughly love and appreciate (along with his writing) has weighed in on the idea, using this guy’s rant as a starting point for a more measured take. To be fair, the main target is script consultants, but August goes on to paint all “how-to” folk (book writers, script consultants, seminar-givers) with a broad brush:

“I don’t endorse any of them. I haven’t found any I’d recommend to readers.”

I’m a little shocked that of all the screenwriting books out there — and there are plenty — John is unable to find even one he can recommend (I have found many to be helpful in simply providing an alternate POV on the work, a useful exercise whether I agree with the author’s conclusions/assertions or not). But then August comes right back with his reasonable awesomeness with something I can whole-heartedly agree with:

“I think you can learn from people who have spent a long time analyzing a craft, even if they’re not particularly good at practicing it.”

This is what has always bothered me about “Those who can’t do, teach.” There can be great insight gained from methodical analysis of any technique… Even writing. But sadly, not everyone who gains insights into how something is done  is actually cut out to do the thing themselves! We all know the gap between what we can appreciate and what we can pull off; that maddening gap that keeps us working and striving so that one day, if we are fortunate, we might create something that closes it.


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