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My Fellow Writers,

I continually learn about writing. But one of my most recent lessons has come from a surprising place - the editing room.

Back when I was an executive, I did my share of development notes on "rough cuts" - the director's first pass at putting a movie together after shooting. But it was nothing in comparison to my experience this year.

Over the past four months, I've spent a decent amount of time helping to edit a half-dozen episodes. But unlike my executive days, this time, I watched every minute of the "dailies" and was present right there with the editor in every choice. And that's where the lesson came through clearly.

The process of editing is grueling, repetitive, perfectionistic, frustrating, and, ultimately, often very satisfying. I've always respected editors, but sitting in there and watching them work has raised my awareness of just how important the job is. Most importantly, watching the editors create specific moments and scenes out of raw footage taught me how important it is to be clear and precise when it comes to what I want in the story.

In the past, I've written with a certain level of trial and error -- writing a scene until I knew that it was good, but without a clear blueprint as to where I was headed (until I got there). The more I learn about writing, the more I plan my stories and scripts. And watching the editing process only served to reinforce those lessons. Every beat, every line, every scene - they have to be there on purpose, not just because they're filling time or providing a convenient transition. Because creative laziness really becomes clear in the editing, when you're putting together the final version and coming up with gold or garbage.

This is one of the reasons I recommended that everyone shoot a film, as soon as possible. Even if it's a very short film, you'll get the idea of how to create the moments you're looking for.

Though I've learned many, many things in my time on this series this year, the surprising lessons of the editing room will probably stick with me the longest.

Rough cutting,



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