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Old 06-11-2012, 08:30 PM   #1
lawn59
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Default Inspirational Books?

Just wondering what people read when they need some much needed inspiration. For instance, I found "101 Habits of Highly Successful Screenwriters" to be very helpful, mostly because it included personal tales of screenwriters having to overcome adversity when they were just starting out (which is pretty much what I'm going through right now). I also found that reading biographies of a favorite artist, writer or musician always seems to jump start the will to write. Anyone have any others they'd like to share?
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Old 06-12-2012, 02:18 AM   #2
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Default Re: Inspirational Books?

War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Not so much about screenwriting in particular, but about the creative life in general.

Blake Snyder's third book is great, too. Because he gets away from his beat sheet and talks more about macro issues that face screenwriters. It's his best book, in my opinion.

Writing Movies for Fun and Profit by Garant and Lennon. Studio guys who understand the studio game, if that's your thing. Hilarious read!

Final Cut by Steven Bach. Written in the 1985 about the disastrous Heaven's Gate. A cautionary tale about ego run amok.

Writing the Romantic Comedy by Billy Mernit. A heartfelt love letter to the genre. I've read it many times and it's prompted me to watch movies from the '30s-'60s I would have never seen otherwise. Now one of my favorite rom coms of all time is The Awful Truth - 1937. It doesn't feel that old.
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Old 06-12-2012, 04:13 AM   #3
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Smile Re: Inspirational Books?

If you liked 101 Habits..., you'll probably like this one:

http://theworkingscreenwriter.blogsp...ow-e-book.html
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Old 06-12-2012, 06:46 AM   #4
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Default Re: Inspirational Books?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lostfootage View Post
War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Not so much about screenwriting in particular, but about the creative life in general.
+1

Didn't think I was going to enjoy it as much as I did but it's great.
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Old 06-12-2012, 10:22 AM   #5
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Default Re: Inspirational Books?

"Writing From the Inside Out," Dennis Palumbo. He's a shrink and many of his clients are writers.

Awesome. Brings home the incredibly helpful message that writing is painful and scary no matter how accomplished you are. For me, reading/understanding that these pros (Palumbo's clients) who intimidate the pants off of me are just as beset by self-doubt and anxiety as I am was most illuminating. I really recommend this book.

Two related food-for-thoughts. I went to a Writer's Guild series here in LA, hosted by Winnie Holzman and Robin Schiff (IMDB them). At the last series event they spoke at length about their processes. Winnie said that the "first thing I do is make a big mess," and then goes from there. I loved hearing that, because I make a mess too, yet I'm always comparing myself to some hypothetical writer (who I'm beginning to suspect does not exist) who is a master of cleverness and competence and efficiency, who goes about writing "the right way," whereas I am a hapless and chaotic fool who has no learning curve and "is not improving." (Let the self-flagellation begin!)

Winnie also mentioned how that voice of self-doubt nags at her all along the way, and that she's often sitting there, sort of thunderstruck, realizing that she doesn't know what she's doing. And that it's still there with each draft, and she gets mad at herself "for still not knowing what I'm doing at this draft."

It was such a relief to hear someone that talented and that successful say that, because that's my internal narrative/critic, to a T.

Takeaway for today's morning rant: If Winnie Holzman is beset by that kind of self-doubt then I (we!) are in good company. Now get back on that horse!
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Old 06-12-2012, 11:25 AM   #6
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Default Re: Inspirational Books?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sixridgeroad View Post
"Writing From the Inside Out," Dennis Palumbo. He's a shrink and many of his clients are writers.

Awesome. Brings home the incredibly helpful message that writing is painful and scary no matter how accomplished you are. For me, reading/understanding that these pros (Palumbo's clients) who intimidate the pants off of me are just as beset by self-doubt and anxiety as I am was most illuminating. I really recommend this book.

Two related food-for-thoughts. I went to a Writer's Guild series here in LA, hosted by Winnie Holzman and Robin Schiff (IMDB them). At the last series event they spoke at length about their processes. Winnie said that the "first thing I do is make a big mess," and then goes from there. I loved hearing that, because I make a mess too, yet I'm always comparing myself to some hypothetical writer (who I'm beginning to suspect does not exist) who is a master of cleverness and competence and efficiency, who goes about writing "the right way," whereas I am a hapless and chaotic fool who has no learning curve and "is not improving." (Let the self-flagellation begin!)

Winnie also mentioned how that voice of self-doubt nags at her all along the way, and that she's often sitting there, sort of thunderstruck, realizing that she doesn't know what she's doing. And that it's still there with each draft, and she gets mad at herself "for still not knowing what I'm doing at this draft."

It was such a relief to hear someone that talented and that successful say that, because that's my internal narrative/critic, to a T.

Takeaway for today's morning rant: If Winnie Holzman is beset by that kind of self-doubt then I (we!) are in good company. Now get back on that horse!
I also make a big mess, so that's comforting, did you get to speak to Winnie, that would have been interesting? I understand that artists, as in painters, are happy to make a mess too, spread a base layer over the canvas, splash it on, or apply it hastily, and build up in layers, sometimes scrape paint off, or grab the green instead of the blue and realize that it looks better, I believe that it was Picasso that did that. The happy accidents in art. I had an art grad friend who used to say, we get encouraged to makes mistakes, I was studying law, I said we don't, we kind of get punished for not getting it. His course taught me things about my course.
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Old 06-12-2012, 04:03 PM   #7
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Default Re: Inspirational Books?

RW:

No, I didn't get a chance to speak to Winnie 1-on-1 but nonetheless, I adore her as a person, she came across as very genuine. Great smile, too. And I owe her and Robin a great debt because they basically said what I needed to hear -- I was in the right place at the right time, I guess -- and it allowed me to make peace with the fact that my writing process is all about exploring dead ends and blind alleys until I find the story's truest, best pathway forward. Now, rather than chastising myself for having explored dead end #360000, I just accept it as that's what's needs to happen. The dead ends are all part of the finished product, in a way. Make sense? So, coincidentally, right after I heard them speak I began breaking a one-hour pilot idea. I started on May 1 and beat my head against the wall until May 19, when I wrote all morning, then went for a run, came back and showered and got back to work -- and gave up. I said "this isn't working, so let's try something new." And what made this such a seminal moment for me was the fact that I didn't flay myself for having gone down what was ultimately a 19-day dead end. That acceptance was a priceless breakthrough in and of itself. (And I'm happy to report that the story idea that emerged from those ashes is intriguing the hell out of me.)
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Old 06-12-2012, 04:46 PM   #8
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Default Re: Inspirational Books?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sixridgeroad View Post
RW:

No, I didn't get a chance to speak to Winnie 1-on-1 but nonetheless, I adore her as a person, she came across as very genuine. Great smile, too. And I owe her and Robin a great debt because they basically said what I needed to hear -- I was in the right place at the right time, I guess -- and it allowed me to make peace with the fact that my writing process is all about exploring dead ends and blind alleys until I find the story's truest, best pathway forward. Now, rather than chastising myself for having explored dead end #360000, I just accept it as that's what's needs to happen. The dead ends are all part of the finished product, in a way. Make sense? So, coincidentally, right after I heard them speak I began breaking a one-hour pilot idea. I started on May 1 and beat my head against the wall until May 19, when I wrote all morning, then went for a run, came back and showered and got back to work -- and gave up. I said "this isn't working, so let's try something new." And what made this such a seminal moment for me was the fact that I didn't flay myself for having gone down what was ultimately a 19-day dead end. That acceptance was a priceless breakthrough in and of itself. (And I'm happy to report that the story idea that emerged from those ashes is intriguing the hell out of me.)

Understanding you perfectly, sounds healthy!

I've read an example of a screenwriter producing multiple drafts of a screenplay but each was from from the point of view of a different character as an attempt to discover whose story it was. The angle to write it from to make it work. I have the anecdote in a book buried and duty here somewhere, a few screenwriters were interviewed and I forget exactly who it was.

There was an interview with a novelist on the radio recently and she said she would write 20,000 words or so as a way of going after whatever it was she was looking for, which worked for her like a hunch does for a detective, no guarantee of finding it I presume, but when she had found what she was looking for, she tossed those initial pages. And would begin again. I like anecdotes like those as they make sense to me.
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Old 06-13-2012, 09:57 AM   #9
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Default Re: Inspirational Books?

Rich Dad/Poor Dad. Though the author has been under severe fire for his business advice I found his philosophy towards life, money and the fear that drives people to be eye opening and liberating.
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Old 06-14-2012, 09:33 AM   #10
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Default Re: Inspirational Books?

On Writing - Stephen King. Possibly the best book he's written.
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