Monday, January 30, 2012

Francis Ford Coppola Does It

OK, I did it again. I got another Fresh Air podcast inspiration.

But this time I was listening to Francis Ford Coppola talking about his film career and being a writer. I mean, sure. It's screenwriting. But he had the greatest advice.

I was kind of already doing it (bet some of you were, too), so in truth, it was the greatest affirmation.

He said, "When you're writing, just keep writing."

OK, that's not exactly what he said.

The gist of what he said was that young writers don't trust themselves. They go back and read those first five pages right after they've written them, and lots of times, they tear them up.

Along with some potentially good ideas or inspiration.

(Historical Note: FFC's old, children. Back in the day, writers used to write stuff on paper. Which they cold tear. His point is sort of the equivalent of deleting it all today.)

Back to Frank! He said to write, write, write. (Just keep swimming.) Then put it away for a day or so (Stephen King says a month, doesn't he?), and then go back and read it.

Give yourself a chance to forget it, and then read it with fresh eyes.

It's something I tell my editing clients all the time. Take a break. Let it rest a few days to a week. You'll be amazed how different it'll look.

He also admitted that he copied all his favorite screenwriters and directors.

He confessed that his movie The Conversation was based on some movie he loved and wanted to copy.

And then he said the most important point: But that's impossible!

Which I interpreted this way: It's okay to emulate, to strive to write something like that book you love so much.

(The one that made you almost give up on writing because you'd never in a million years be able to ever write anything that good. Ever.)

I'm not talking about plagerism, as I've said before. I'm talking about being inspired. Being challenged. Being ticked off (or depressed) by other writers.

And then getting in there and trying to beat them, depending on your personality.

I'm a bit competitive, so after I get over the wallowing and the "Oh, I'll never write as good as Jessica Bell!" I get up, dust myself off, and then get ready to kick her tushie. (*wink*)

Yes?

OK, so here's the link to that podcast (link). And now hit it! I want to see some drills. Jumping jacks. Drop and give me 20K (words, that is)!

Have a great week, reader- and writer-friends! I'm planning to get some of my own revisions done this week. More soon~ <3

49 comments:

Miranda Hardy said...

This is some of the best advice out there. Writers should read this and learn from it.

Pat Hatt said...

Yeah that's the best way, just keep on going and then come back to it later, may not want to tear it up so much..haha

Laura Pauling said...

Especially when I tend to want to write what I love to read - of course in a way I'm emulating my favorite books and writers. But before I write I figure out how I can make it totally different plot and character wise!

Sarah said...

Lovely post! I may not be able to manage 20k today ... how about 6? I write only on certain days of the week, and usually I have a specific amount I have to do in order to stay on schedule, so "just keep writing" is how it happens (of course, I always start out a writing session by reading over several recently-written pages ...)

Theresa Milstein said...

Thanks for starting my Monday off with a little inspiration. I doubt myself too much.

SA Larsenッ said...

Such fabulous advice, and so easy!! Why do I choose to ignore it on occasion? That's it. Decision made. After this weekend--EEK!!--I'm hankering down, editing my YA and moving forward with my other YA and MG. Done! Thanks L. You rawk!!

Old Kitty said...

Awwwww yay for FFC!! And yay for paper to write on tear up!! Nothing as cathartic as listening to paper rip!

Thank for the amazing advice from FFC summarised here nicely, LTM!!!

Take care
x

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Brilliant points! I especially love the part about letting other writers you love challenge your writing. You should never plagiarize, but their writing can be a source of inspiration, which you combined with works of other writers you admire. The outcome will be your own stunning piece of writing (or a complete mess, depending on how you approach it, I guess).

Jennifer Shirk said...

I love that. Nothing better than reading great writing to get you motivated to achieve more and better yourself. :)

vic caswell (aspiring-x) said...

*fist pumps*
inspired you make me. :)

Matthew MacNish said...

I believe it's gist, but otherwise, great post!

Stephen Tremp said...

Learn from the best. Thanks for sharing. Just keep swimming is my motto!

Clarissa Draper said...

Great advice and since his movies are amazing, we know it comes from the best. Thanks for this post and have a great week!

Meredith said...

What awesome inspiration! And taking a break is one of my best tools--it really does make all the difference when you come back to your writing with fresh eyes.

Carolyn Abiad said...

Awesome reminder! Not so sure I can get you 20K right now, but if you hit me up during NaNo....maybe. ;)

LTM said...

@Laura--good call. I'm the same way with trying to write what I love to read. Aren't we all? I also sometimes combine that with what I like to watch. Just for fun~ :o) <3

Colene Murphy said...

It took me a long time to stop rereading my first few pages to death until I gave up. YEARS! But it's definitely the only way to get anything done, not reading.

RaShelle Workman said...

Hey Leigh - Great advice (again). You're awesome!

amo said...

That's exactly what NaNoWriMo did for me: it made me get in there and writewritewritewrite. The peer pressure of having to get it done kept me from going back and "fixing" it, and whaddaya know, now I've got a manuscript!

Janet Johnson said...

Totally laughing at the paper explanation. You crack me up, NTM.

I needed this advice, because I do look back too soon. I need to not look back and just go for it.

Elle Strauss said...

Thanks for the cheer! I'm in the take a (short) break and read mode. Also squeezing in some housework :0

DEZMOND said...

it's all OK until people use "being inspired" as the cover for plagiarism.

Margo Kelly said...

Thanks for the smart advice! :)

Jolene Perry said...

I've gotten inspiration from movies and books LOADS of times.

Night Sky, which just sold, was inspired to what would happen to a nice guy like Duckie after the friend he loves runs off with some other guy??

Another book that just sold was done off a topic after reading a few YA books about abusive relationships that I despised, I thought I'd write one the way I thought it would happen.
So, yeah - I love the places inspiration comes from.

ALSO - I have FINALLY learned that I really need to set my ms aside, and I've finally learned not to hit delete until I've found somewhere else for those words to be saved...

Michelle Merrill said...

Awesome advice! If for nothing else, keep writing just because you like to write. Without fail, you'll learn something along the way :)

Have a great week!

Lynda R Young said...

Fabulous advice. I often think I've written complete rubbish and when I wait before going back and deleting everything, I realise it's not complete rubbish after all. It's not great, but it is something I can work on and improve.

DL Hammons said...

That's sure a way to make some writerly friends!

"James Patterson...I'm gonna kick your ass!"

:)

Dawn Ius said...

Great post! Funny...sometimes I say "I'll never write as great as Jessica Bell" too :-P

Amy L. Sonnichsen said...

Thank you for this great advice. I'm tackling my own revisions, too, so this was important to hear. Confidence, confidence, confidence! :)

Jessica Bell said...

OMG! Are you kidding me??? I hope you're kidding me. You're an awesome writer, and not to mention, skilled in a TOTALLY different genre. LOL. Sometimes I wish I could write like you and Dawn. Whey can't I come up with commercial genius like you guys? See, we ALL inspire each other. You and Dawn inspire me to implement more plot. And I tried to too with my second novel. SEE ... YOU inspire ME! Love you lots. xoxo

Kelly Polark said...

I think FFC directed The OUtsiders. :)

I think it's great to emulate favorite and friend authors. Also, no one can tell a story exactly the same. How many Cinderella books/movies has there been?

Tracy Jo said...

Guilty!!! I am that person that writes, reads, deletes. This is very good advice. Thank you for passing it on!

Julie Musil said...

I have to say, the advice to just keep writing was huge for me. Now I never look back when I'm writing a first draft. At all. As a matter of fact, I just opened up a first draft today, one that I'd written a few months ago. I dreaded it, fearing it would be horrible. Yes, some parts were bad, and I for sure need to re-write the entire beginning, but it wasn't THAT bad. And now I have a whole novel to work with! Thanks for this awesome post!

Kari Marie White said...

But, but, but...I have so many good ideas to change what I already wrote! GAH.

This is THE BEST advice I ever took to heart. I have to remind myself of that everyday too. ;p

Just Keep Swimming.

Murugi Njehia said...

Awesome advice, the tearing up the ideas i can relate to. Great post, I am a new follower and on twitter too.:)

Stopping by from HER WORLD -
http://muruginjehia.blogspot.com/

Tracy said...

I think the biggest problem some new writers have is understand the difference between emulating writers you look up to vs writing a carbon copy of their ideas while tweaking some minor details.

Hey chicky! Felt like I haven't seen (talked) to you in forever. Go on with your tushy-kicking self!

lbdiamond said...

LOVE this post!

Melissa Sugar said...

This is a great post. I totally agree, "we just don't trust ourselves." If I can force myself to just keep writing when I am really in to it rather than having to go back and revisit what I just wrote, I find my work to be much more creative and passionate.

LTM said...

@Laura--thanks, girl! Just passing it along~ :o) <3

Lindsay N. Currie said...

Always good to look for inspiration anywhere one can find it! Lovely post, my dear:)

Talli Roland said...

That's the way to do it! Just keep going; keep moving forward!

Pk Hrezo said...

After all we all find inspiration in stories we love. Nothing wrong with that. I've def learned to take a long break from a story... sometimes months before figuring out what needs to be done.

Sage advice!

M Pax said...

lol Like how you told us about what paper is.

I'd heard somewhere else that copying those you admire can help.

Happy weekend, Leigh!

LTM said...

@Lindsay--Thanks, girl! Yeah, I'm inspired by the weirdest stuff, too. Like sometimes a commercial will send me off... :D

@PK--That break makes all the difference. Take it from me--just came off a revision of a MS I finished Spring 2010. Crazy. Me = I wrote this? Wow. :D <3

Ella said...

I love this inspiring post! We have to do the work. Runners run ;D
artists create, writers write...
<3 555 ;D

Amy Jarecki said...

Excellent article! I completely agree - get the whole thing down before you start cutting. I rewrote the beginning of KOICTO about ten times, but it never changed the story much.

Love your use of bold and color!

Write on!

Amy

Nick said...

Couldn't agree more about taking a break from writing and then going back to it. Amazing how you can suddenly see a new/better way to rephrase.

Jennie Bailey said...

20K coming right up this week! And I'm even going to throw in some jumping jacks because I'm feeling well enough to do that! So you're saying we can plagarize, right? Because that's what I'm walking away with...just kidding! I have a stack of books written by authors that inspire me - books that push me to write better, books with language delicious enough to eat!

LTM said...

@Amy--Thanks, and you know. I've done the same thing with other MSs. Rewrote certain parts over and over. But it's good to get it all out there. And then you can revise revise revise. :o) <3

@Nick--it makes a HUGE difference. It's almost like a new book. You're so right~ :o)