A Hitchhiker’s Guide To Scriptwriting

by Diana Voxerbrant

The Story Desk business cards


My beautiful new business cards have arrived. 

Aren’t they colourful little nuggets of inspiration?

For some people self promotion comes easy. Personally, I’m the kind of writer who has a compulsion to accompany every mention of my achievements with a self-deprecating joke. Marta – The Story Desk’s Mastermind – is good at taking leaps of faith. When she invited me to join the ride I was all like “But I’m not ready!”, to which she replied – “If you’re going to wait until the day you feel ready, you will never get anything done”.

Of course she was right.

I used to believe in destiny. When I was 18 years old, I had less confidence in myself, but more confidence in life. I sincerely believed that if you were talented, hardworking, and had the necessary courage, karma would reward you and, after a battle or two, you would reach the stars. Just like in the movies. In my case, the stars meant becoming a filmmaker. Marta, who was already studying at the coveted Polish National Film School, was my ticket to that destiny. Back then, we were both still living in Poland, in the same city, our doors just a short walk away from each other. So when, on a fine May day some seventeen years ago, she showed up to invite me on a hitchhiking adventure with no proper destination or even a map, there was only one answer I could give her. All we ever needed was sleeping bags, straw hats and some cardboard to write on.

It’s strange how fast we change. Nowadays I can barely leave the house without a reliable 3G connection and a huge handbag full of crap essentials.

That hitchhiking journey became one of our shared personal legends. A story we would retell over and again, as we grew older and became filmmakers for real. On that trip we were truly free, stumbling through Europe with the grace of drunken penguins. We spent most of our non-existent budget on vodka, slept in a roadside ditch where I accidentally showed my naked arse to a bunch of speeding truck drivers. I don’t regret a single thing. The adventures I embark on are what shape my knowledge of life, they are part of what makes me unique as a writer too.

I know now that life is not like in the movies. There are no plot points where the main character’s moral progress and/or tenacity gets automatically rewarded by getting what they need the most to thrive. But I have been lucky. I’ve met inspiring mentors, loyal friends and fierce collaborators. Their support has helped me to be brave. Taking leaps of faith is the only way you can lead a fulfilling life. Without brave people doing adventurous or even foolish acts throughout history, humanity would still be a bunch of monkeys in the jungle. That’s why, just like I followed Marta that time, I’m getting on this journey today.

In many ways hitchhiking is just like scriptwriting. You put yourself out there. You get rejected, laughed at and sometimes even almost run over. But if you hang in there, keep your spirits up, and make sure your companions are loyal, funny, and brave, someone will stop eventually. Each ride takes you closer to your goal, and the company you provide in return is just as important as the distance you cover.

So yeah, I am a kickass scriptwriter.

Or at least, that’s what it says on my business cards.


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