I just finished listening to my friend, Paul E. Cooley's (of ShadowPublications.com) first con panel from ConJour, "Why Aren't Horror Movies Scary Anymore?" and I had some thoughts, not just on horror or movies but on writing and creating in general. In fact, the lessons I take away from this would probably apply to just about any form of creative endeavor.
1. Get an education in your chosen medium. Learn the history and immerse yourself in what has already been done. Figure out what you like and don't like and most importantly, why.
2. Get an education in art in general. No particular medium exists in a vacuum. Inspiration and points of reference are everywhere.
3. Have something to say. If you don't know what you are trying to express, how will you know if or when you have said it? Once you have figured out what you want to say, don't pussyfoot around; express your point of view and defend it if you have to. Then, be willing to listen to people's opinions and maybe learn from them. Art is a conversation.
4. Keep it simple. And, often, less is more. You may have a lot of things you want to express, a lot of things you want to try. That's fine, but if you try to do too much in one piece you will most likely confuse your audience or lose them entirely. Do one or two things, and do them well. Save the next couple of things for your next piece.
I have never been a huge fan of horror in the past so my personal knowledge of this genre is very limited. I am thankful that my friends have different passions and preferences from mine as interacting with them broadens my horizons. So, thank you, Paul, for the insight you and your fellow pannelists provided. Job well done.
Step outside your comfort zone. Read, listen to, watch, or experience something you usually wouldn't; make yourself think. Who knows, you just might enjoy it...