Here’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you about for a while, something a bit special I reckon. It’s a link to a site where you can download a transcript of a discussion between three storytellers at the top of their game as they’re putting together the ideas that will become one of my favourite stories ever: the storytellers are Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan, and they’re kicking ideas around for Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The link will take you to a blog called Mystery Man on Film. Whoever the mystery man is, he’s done a terrific job of extracting ten major takeaway points from what’s a pretty long (125 pages) transcript. If you don’t have time to read the whole thing, just those ten points are a masterclass in fast, thrilling storytelling.

But for you, reading this now, I’m going to boil it down to one.

Books and stories are not written by wizards or aliens or geniuses: they’re written by people who sit in rooms and make stuff up – it’s as simple, and as difficult, as that. “Where do you get your ideas from?” is a question that writers are asked all the time, and the answer is you work for them. Look at this transcript. The ideas don’t arrive in a flash of inspiration. They’re not trumpeted in by choirs of angels, or beamed down from space. Spielberg, Lucas and Kasdan put in the hours – in this case, nine hours a day for five days straight – and they hammered the story out. And the ideas didn’t magically come out right first time, either – if they had (for example) the central character’s name would be Indiana Smith. ;p

A big part of the reason why I visit as many schools as I can is that I remember authors visiting my school – and the effect that seeing that they were just PEOPLE had on me. Suddenly everything seemed possible. And it’s true: if you want it enough, and you’re prepared to put in the work and do what it takes to make it happen, IT IS.

Best of luck to you.

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