The 2019 Toronto Screenwriting Conference held many treasures this year. The tenth annual TSC hosted over 400 screenwriters, producers, showrunners, and creative executives working in television, film, and digital media. Over the past decade, the TSC has become a well-established conference for “working creative talent to come, hone their craft, network with fellow writers and producers, and get noticed through our awards, mentorships, and bursaries which serve to nurture emerging to mid-career talent.” It is a wonderful resource for young writers looking to learn more about the industry, the craft, and their passion.
The event is small enough that you can easily network during the social events and meet with other writers like yourself as well as writers who have experience to share and even mentorship opportunities to offer.
The TSC features a full lineup of panel sessions and speakers like Charles Randolph (The Big Short), Christopher Cantwell (Halt and Catch Fire), and many others from various shows as the writer or showrunner as well as directors and pitching coaches so that the weekend is full of talented people who you can learn so much from!
This year there was one talk that stood out from the rest: Monsters Courting Insanity by Christopher Cantwell. In the talk, Cantwell spoke about “the (often stereotypical) link between writers and mental health issues continues to pervade the social consciousness.” ‘Monsters Courting Insanity’ is from a Franz Kafka quote in which the 20th-century writers wrote, “A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.” In light of this, Cantwell went on to discuss how writing can be a form of therapy.
Mental health should never be taken lightly and the fact that the TSC had an entire talk devoted to it and addressing the reality of it should be applauded. Mental health, all too often, falls under the radar, especially in creative, professional environments that are stressful, performance based, and put the writer or other creative individual in a position where they feel their work displays their value.
As you hone your craft, whether it be writing, another form of creativity, or whatever profession you have chosen to pursue, make sure that your mental health is your first priority and your career, education, or vocation is secondary. So often in the pursuit of our goals and dreams we lose ourselves in the process. Cantwell’s talk is a reminder to, as you work on your craft, work on yourself. Though writing can indeed be a form of therapy, it should never be your only therapy. Make sure you’re getting the help you need first, and then channel your mental strength into creating works that change the world!