Film,  Writing

Movies that Make Me Want to Write

So it’s probably no surprise to hear I love movies. We own a whole bunch of them, and we watch them quite frequently. And so, it’s probably also not surprising that I sometimes find movies great sources of writerly inspiration.

Today, I decided to share some of the films that have a way of making me want to write. This list is definitely not exhaustive, and if you share your own titles in the comments, I’m sure I’ll see tons more that also inspire me! I’m also not including any t.v. here, although that does make me want to write, too (remember my writing fascination with Darkplace?)

Here are a few of those movies that make me long to start writing (oh, and spoilers, I guess, if you haven’t seen these!): 

Harriet the Spy – First off, let me acknowledge that this is, of course, a book. You’ll see that a few times on this list, but for now I speak only of the film version. And second, I should probably disclose that as a kid, this movie did not make me want to be a writer…it made me want to be a spy. Funny how things can change, eh?

Harriet is always writing. All the time. She writes what she sees, and isn’t making up stories as she goes (well, not intentionally…she does end up creating worlds for all of the characters she glimpses on her spy routes). But it’s the obsessive need for her to always grab a notebook and document the world around her that makes me itch to grab a notebook of my own. I love how for Harriet, writing is not a hobby…it’s simply a part of who she is. 

Dead Poet’s Society – Well, can you blame me for being inspired by this one? Honestly, I can’t get too deep about my reasons here…the boys read poetry in a cave, authors are mentioned all over the place, and the whole theme of the film is to seize the day. What more do you need to feel inspired? Also, I love the set-in-the-past boys’ prep school setting. It’s so scholarly…that always makes me want to give into my own inner scholar, and writing seems to be a good way for me to do that.

St. Elmo’s Fire – This is probably the weirdest one on my list! Granted, one of the characters is an aspiring writer/journalist, but I don’t think that’s what does it for me. I love this film, but don’t quite know why…every time I watch it I complain about how super-dramatic everything in these young adults’ lives are, and it kind of drives me crazy that no one can manage to just be a little more chill.

But, I keep coming back to it, I think maybe because they are college grads thinking about careers and marriage and what to do now that they’re adults. I have a career and a family now, but all of that has only come in the last few years, and many of my high school friends still aren’t there. So on some level, I think I relate to these characters, and seeing their struggles to get themselves started in their adult lives makes me want to “get started” with my writing life, especially now that those other aspects are more in place for me now than they ever have been before.

The Secret Garden– Another great movie based on a great book. This one is all about the setting. I probably watch this movie more often than…anything else? It’s a comfort movie for me, and one that spans the seasons, so I can easily put it on at any time of the year. I love the music, I can say the lines along with the characters, and I often watch this in the background when I’m doing other things. It’s a peaceful movie, and it’s a story I admire. So, when it’s on, I definitely find it a relaxing backdrop for my writing.

Misery – Okay, this is another given. Stephen King quite often writes about writers (imagine that!) and while Misery is not my all-time favourite story of his in book or film form (although it is amazing), this is the writer tale of his that inspires me. Now, I don’t want to get into a car accident and be nursed back to health by a lunatic fan or anything, but there are a couple of things about this movie that speak to me as a writer.

There’s the beginning, when Paul is finishing up a novel at the lodge he always writes in, a cozy writer’s tradition that makes me long to have such a tradition myself. And then there’s the process of Paul having to burn his story. I can imagine how painful it would be to be forced into destroying the only copy of a manuscript. It would be brutal, and I get Paul’s suffering there, even though it’s not an incident of physical suffering.

And of course, his being forced back into Misery’s world, writing a character he’s already killed off with no intention of bringing back, and then slowly learning to appreciate the world again, giving into the characters and ultimately connecting with the work very deeply. This is, no doubt, a horror story, but there is some great depth in Paul’s relationship with writing in this movie, and that always makes me want to write as well.

So there’s a glimpse into what makes me want to write when I watch film. Do you have any movies that inspire you in this way?


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