Sarah Polley is one of my favorite filmmakers. Her movies are personal, attacking preconceived notions we have about characters, documentaries, and even the nature of again and love.

She's worked in Hollywood for a long time, starting acting young and rising in the ranks. Recently, she's taken her writing to a different medium, personal essays. And while the subjects she tackles still intimately reflect who she is, the writing and process are very different.

She recently sat down with Vanity Fair to talk about her upcoming feature, her essays, and how writing for the screen is different than writing on the page.  

Polley talked about how different kinds of writing open up who you are, and what you're trying to accomplish.

"When you're writing a screenplay, you're really writing a blueprint for something that’s a jumping off point. The way I make films, I'm not a single vision person. I'm very dependent on intense collaboration so a script is a place to begin in terms of conversations with others. To create a document that is the only element there is incredibly intimidating when you're used to having many other layers of the [creation] process on top of it. I think writing a book is much more challenging and far more exhilarating. I loved every second of writing, even when it was excruciating, but in the final year I was writing it, I realized that I'd be happy to do only this for the rest of my life. I love making films, and I'll hopefully make more. I treasure that process. But I would be completely fulfilled with writing books, and doing nothing else."

This is something I try to communicate with screenwriting students and people interested in screenwriting. At the end of the day, a script is about supporting the vision of creation, a blueprint for something else. The debate over whether or not screenplays are literary artifacts will rage on, but their use is specific. Other kinds of writing, especially personal essays, are complete in their form. They should transport and entertain, but they're finished products. A screenplay is just the start of something else. 

Another thing I admire about Polley is her ability to work away from film but keep her craft sharp by just writing in different mediums, getting her brain working.

"I've always been writing, poetry or essays or short stories. That's always been the place I felt most myself. It's been really strange having this other career because, you know, I love making films. It feels like this enormous privilege. It really is truly the luckiest job in the world to be able to create a world with enormously talented people, but I've always been happiest with the writing part of the process because it's felt the closest to what my instincts have always taken me towards, which is wanting to be writing. It just feels like my most fully realized self is sitting alone writing somewhere."

I think it's incredibly useful to get out of the filmmaking bubble and explore other mediums. It does not have to be professional, it can just be a hobby. You want to give yourself time to explore. Make that other part of your artistic brain go on a journey. Challenge it so it becomes even stronger when you go back to film.

Let me know what you think in the comments.