Motivational Movies for Writers, Part One

Last week, I watched the new release Authors Anonymous, in which a writer’s group copes with the overnight success of one of its members. Only a bookworm and writer would connect with the writing communities, workshops, rejection, insecurities, agents, self-publishing, and writer’s block themes. The movie might have been dumb as hell, but it motivated me to pick at a short story after the credits—and that’s really all that matters, people.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1SleAnaByU&w=560&h=315]

The experience reminded me films about writers motivate writers like Rocky motivates athletes. Need some summer writing inspiration? Check out these movies for a shot in the arm. The best part is they’re cases in point of the power of what we do: stories.

Anonymous

Synopsis: This film explores the true authorship of the plays and sonnets credited to William Shakespeare.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PaliLAQT8k&w=560&h=315]

Live vicariously: Hear a crowd chant “Playwright” after the performance of one of our plays.

Quotes:

  • “Ten thousand souls all listening to the writings of one man, the ideas of one man—that’s power.”
  • “Only when I put their words, their voices to parchment are they cast loose free. Only then is my mind quieted…I would go mad if I didn’t write down the voices.”
  • “You, your family, even I, even Queen Elizabeth herself will be remembered solely because we had the honor to live whilst [he] put ink to paper.”

Themes: intellectual property, censorship, the political power of literature, the passion of writing, the timelessness of good literature (and apparently crowd surfing), and, you know, Shakespeare.

Capote

Synopsis: While writing his true-crime novel In Cold Blood, Truman Capote develops a relationship with one of the killers.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rWX7AFoOyI&w=560&h=315]

Live vicariously: Be famous; have fans; type on a typewriter; participate in a mass reading.

Quotes:

  • “Researching this work has changed my life. It’s altered my point of view about almost everything. And I think those who read it will be similarly affected.”
  • “Sometimes when I think about how good my book can be, I can hardly breathe.”

Themes: storytelling, fame, open minds, research, nonfiction, and commitment to a project.

Finding Forrester

Synopsis: A gifted, inner-city teenager is mentored by a reclusive author and transfers to a prestigious private high school.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziT9MlQjDjM&w=560&h=455]

Live vicariously: Write in notebooks and on typewriters; be a legend; have our books completely checked out more than fifty years later.

Quotes:

  • “I know what [my book] is. The last thing I need is another person telling me what they think it is.”
  • “The first key to writing is to write—not to think.”
  • “Do you know what the absolute best moment is? It’s when you finish your first draft. You read it by yourself—before these assholes take something that they couldn’t do in a lifetime and tear it down in a single day.”

Themes: writing, reading, grammar, style, literature, and mentorship.

The Hours

Synopsis: This movie follows Virginia Woolf and two other women and how they’re connected by Woolf’s last book, Mrs. Dalloway.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbc7jtmuOJM&w=560&h=455]

Live vicariously: Be a legend; write a masterpiece in an office with stacks of papers and manuscripts; receive awards; write with a quill.

Quote:

  • “She has two lives. She has the life she’s leading and also the book she’s writing.”

Themes: the writing process, connecting with all generations, a writer’s solitude, and depression.

Julie & Julia

Synopsis: The movie follows two stories: 1) Julia Childs begins her cooking career late in life and publishes her first cookbook. 2) Julie Powell, thirty and trapped in a mundane job, blogs about cooking through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year. She later publishes the book Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously (see—blogs can actually turn into books, which can turn into movies).

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozRK7VXQl-k&w=560&h=315]

Live vicariously: Grow a readership; receive samples from fans; interest agents and publishers.

Quotes:

  • “But I’ll probably need a deadline… Because otherwise it’ll be like everything else I do. Let’s face it: I never finish anything.”
  • “[Blogging]’s sort of like being in AA…It gives you something you have to do every day, one day at a time.”

Themes: late bloomers, discouragement, publishing challenges, commitment to a project, blogging, establishing a readership, reviews, and achieving goals.

Saving Mr. Banks

Synopsis: Walt Disney struggles to secure the rights to Mary Poppins, but cantankerous author Pamela Travers proves a hard nut to crack and demands complete production approval.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5kYmrjongg&w=560&h=315]

Live vicariously: Be courted by a giant corporation for our books; control how our books are represented onscreen; attend our first movie première (“This is your night. None of this would be possible without you.”).

Quote:

  • “I know what he’s going to do to her. She’ll be cavorting and twinkling and careering toward a happy ending like a kamikaze.”

Themes: intellectual property, rights-selling, book-to-movie adaptations, collaborative brainstorming, scriptwriting, craft attachment, agents, and the cathartic nature of art.

Want more? Calm down. This is only part one.

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Comments

  1. Pingback: Motivational Movies for Writers, Part Three | The Poetics Project

  2. Pingback: Motivational Movies for Writers, Part Two | The Poetics Project

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