Looking 200 feet ahead: Anchor recalls perspective-altering conversation with novelist Elmore Leonard

‘It just felt like somebody had lit the runway for me,’ Devin Scillian says

Author Elmore Leonard poses during a portrait session prior to a reading and signing of his novel "Up In Honey's Room" on May 24, 2007.
Author Elmore Leonard poses during a portrait session prior to a reading and signing of his novel "Up In Honey's Room" on May 24, 2007. (2007 Getty Images)

If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by the writing process -- or overwhelmed by anything, for that matter, legendary novelist Elmore Leonard has some advice for you.

Although Leonard died in 2013, TV anchor Devin Scillian, from our news partner, WDIV-TV in Detroit, remembers vividly a conversation he had with the writer -- and the insight will forever stay with him.

“It just felt like somebody had lit the runway for me,” Scillian said in a recent episode of the podcast “The Best Advice Show.”

Scillian, who’s also a songwriter and a children’s book author, spoke to Leonard about how he felt intimidated, in a way, by the process of writing a novel.

It’s so intricately woven and connected, said Scillian, adding that he was overwhelmed at the thought of creating all these threads that have to somehow come together at the end.

“(Leonard) said, ‘Just remember -- you can drive from New York to Los Angeles at night, only by seeing the 200 feet or so that are given to you by your headlights. You can make it … 200 feet at a time, if that's all the light that's on your path.’ That is fantastic advice for so many different things. You know, you don’t have to have the whole thing figured out.”

And that’s kind of how Leonard wrote. He trusted his instincts as a storyteller.


About the Author: