An advice from the great Paul Schrader (I am reading one of those screenwriting books that compile wisdom from Hollywood insiders) is not to compete with what’s out there but rather to ask “what do I have that no one else has, but other people can understand and identify with?”  If you ask that question you will be only in competition with yourself. 

Great advice but difficult to execute.  Going into our own lives and psyche requires some mysterious mechanism to be able identify what’s unique in us.   That mysterious mechanism, usually called talent, does not automatically appear when we gaze inward.  In fact it is quite rare.  Obviously. 

The key element in Schrader’s thought is knowing what’s unusual in us but this perspective to many of us is simply unachievable.  Many a time when reading scripts by beginners I wished they did not stick so closely to their lives.   I know what I am talking about: several of my early writing attempts also painfully suffered from being too close to home.  (I am not saying that what I write now is great, it is just devoid of the early pitfalls - I am sure from a broader perspective the stuff I work on right now will reveal its flaws).   

Usually we slide on the surface of our existence perceiving common events as unique (they are unique to us since they have not happened to us before) and erroneously assume others will find the externality of those events interesting.  Very few can go deep enough to write about motives and reactions and sensitivities that others would be too blind to notice or too scary to acknowledge. 

Why are we so deaf to ourselves?