“Breakthroughs come from putting an inordinate amount of pressure on yourself and seeing what you can take and hoping that you grow some new muscles. It’s not really this mystical – it’s like repeated practice over and over and over again, and suddenly you become something you had no idea you could really be… .”
In this video produced by The Atlantic, acclaimed writer and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates provides an insight into his early struggles as a writer and shares the best advice he received in his early career.
“There are no distractions; in the end all that stands between me and writing the book I wish to write is my own mediocrity and complete lack of talent.”
Bruny Island is located off the south-east coast of Tasmania, which itself is an island off the south-east coast of mainland Australia. It’s home to around 600 people, an iconic lighthouse, an oyster farm, an endangered species of Pardalote birds and, for at least part of the year, one internationally bestselling author.
Michael Arndt is the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Little Miss Sunshine. He wrote the first draft of this, his debut script, in just three days (but went on to do around 100 revisions before the film was finally made). His second script was Toy Story 3, for which he also received an Academy Award nomination.
In the following short film Arndt shares how a close examination of Toy Story 1, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles, and a better understanding of how the early stages of these scripts set up their characters, helped his own writing process.
Fellow screenwriter John August (Go, Big Fish, Charlie’s Angels) contacted Arndt about the insights he shares. Arndt explained:
I’m aware the model I set up here applies imperfectly to Toy Story 3 itself. (It applies much more cleanly [for example] to Tootsie, which I consider one of the best comedy first acts of all time.) The broader point is that the emotional fuel for your first act break is largely set up in your inciting incident — and that is something that does apply to Toy Story 3.
“Literature deserves its prestige for one reason above all others: because it’s a tool to help us live and die with a little more wisdom, goodness and sanity.”
As writers and book lovers, we know everyone should be reading literature. But there are people who view it as frivolous and who question the value of reading novels and poems when there are so many real problems and issues happening in world. In this video The School of Life, founded by philosopher Alain de Botton and curator Sophie Howarth, explains why we should all be reading literature – and even why we should prescribe it as a cure for life’s many ailments.
Many people will simply recognise John Hodgman as the face of PC in the ‘Get a Mac’ commercials that aired on television between 2006 and 2009. But Hodgman is also a former literary agent and a very talented comedy writer. His work has appeared in The Paris Review, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern and Wired, and he is the author of three books including The Areas of My Expertise, described as “a lavish compendium of handy reference tables, fascinating trivia, and sage wisdom – all of it completely unresearched, completely undocumented and (presumably) completely untrue, fabricated by the illuminating, prodigious imagination of John Hodgman, certifiable genius.”
In this video recorded for Radical Media’s THNKR, Hodgman shares his tips on how to make it as a writer.