Writing 101: 5 Movies All Writers Should Watch

Yes, I am aware that the title sounds weird. Writing and movies, as any novel reader will tell you, rarely go well together. Adaptations have a way of disappointing all readers. But these 5 films aren't necessarily adaptations. They're movies about writers and writing, and they actually get it pretty right. Watch these films, and learn several valuable lessons about being a writer.

Jade's Top 5

Writers write a lot about writing. Heck, even I do it. I have actually advised against using this as a story element. In almost all cases, stories about writers are boring. You and I both know there is nothing exciting about writing. You're just sitting there typing. Sometimes, I might get up to pace around a very small area like a mad tiger, but this is really more maddening than fascinating. But in these 5 films, writing is something that's worth watching.

  • Finding Forrester: Sean Connery as reclusive, bestselling novelist living in the inner city? I'm there. This is the story of two great writers. One is at the end of his career, while the other is at the beginning. Connery, the famous author, only wrote one book (how Margaret Mitchell of him) because everyone else kept telling him what his book meant. You can relate, right? Watch the film.
  • Misery: This movie is practically a how-to manual for writers. It illustrates several important lessons. First, back up your work. That's important. Second, don't broadcast the intimate details of your routine and your writing process. Keep some mystery. And thirdly, and this inmost important, don't $&!# with Kathy Bates.
  • Stranger Than Fiction: The plot of a writer’s book coming to life is certainly nothing new, but it’s never been done like this before. Will Ferrell is amazingly charming as the hapless tragic hero who will soon be killed by the worst of all weapons: the pen. Emma Thompson is amazing as an eccentric writer struggling through writer’s block. Anyone who’s been driven half-crazy by a book can relate to this film.
  • Young Adult: Charlize Theron is a writer who has spent way too much time in her fantasy world. She has interesting methods of finding inspiration, and she finds a way to work through her real problems the best way a writer can: by writing it out. This is really a great movie about writing, and how it can start to control you. To really succeed, you have to be in control of it.
  • Almost Famous: A 14-year-old boy lands a gig writing an important piece for"Rolling Stone." Sounds like BS, until you discover that this story is actually based on the real experiences of writer Cameron Crowe. It's a story about finding your voice as a writer, and that's something all writers have to do.

It's easy for writers to become isolated. Sometimes, it's good to remind yourself that you aren't alone. There are lots of other writers out there, and they struggle with the same story issues as you. These 5 films do a good job of reminding you of that, and reminding you that it possible to get the darned book finished anyway. So take a break, watch a movie, and then get back to writing.

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