Need some inspiration to get you started on your next piece?
When I’m writing, trying to write, or stuck not being able to write, I often need some inspiration. This inspiration can often come from reading my own writing or the work of my favorite authors, but for me reading is a time-consuming endeavor. I like to sit down and read for as long as possible, which can often engulf hours of my time. But, when I need to get some writing done, nothing keeps me “in the mood” like movies or television shows about writers writing, that I can play or binge watch and simply zone out while I get some work done. Sometimes the writing can play a small part, sometimes it’s the major plot point, while other times there is no writing at all, but a writer struggling with their own demons that compel them to write or are derived from their writing.
In the grand scheme of things, there are A LOT of movies and shows about writers, but (at least for me) only certain ones give me that “I’m ready to become a prolific (or struggling) author like that guy,” feeling. Here is a list, in no particular order, detailing some of the most inspiring television shows and movies about writers and their writing that inspire the hell out of me.
- A Fantastic Fear of Everything
- Simon Pegg stars as a troubled crime novelist who has become a paranoid agoraphobic after his extensive research into Victorian era serial killers. It’s funny and clever, and it’s Simon Pegg. Enjoy.
- Author’s Anonymous
- Kaley Cuoco and Chris Klein star opposite one another in a tale about the varying “types” of writers (who’ve formed a weekly writer’s group), all with different motivations and commitment, but all with the same dream. What this story does best is show that not all writers are the same and exposes how inspiration and dedication to the craft can often go unrecognized due to societal expectations and industry bias.
- The Words
- A star-studded cast features Dennis Quaid entertaining an audience with his fictional tale about a young author (Bradley Cooper), who finally finds success in his writing after finding and publishing an aged manuscript that wasn’t his own. Could Dennis Quaid’s character be regaling us with a piece of fiction with autobiographical roots….?
- Bag of Bones
- Following the death of his wife, a published author (Pierce Brosnan) retreats to his cabin in a small lake-town, where he soon receives paranormal visitations, is drawn into a strange custody battle, and must learn a secret about his own bloodline that will haunt him forever. A lesser known Stephen King adaptation.
- The Secret Window
- Another Stephen King classic about a writer (Johnny Depp) dealing with presumably false claims of copyright infringement by a deranged and violent psychopath who stalks him wherever he goes.
- One of the most recognized of Stephen King’s adaptations, Misery follows the story of a renowned children’s author (James Caan) who is rescued from a car crash only to find himself held hostage by a psychotic super-fan (Kathy Bates) who’s not afraid to get a little rough to keep him around.
- Stranger Than Fiction
- Stranger Than Fiction was a tale I thought I would hate because of my rash assumption that anything serious Will Ferrell stars in must be garbage. I was pleasantly surprised by the quirky narrative about a man who hears a woman narrating his everyday life, revealing how the simple act of resetting his trusty watch would result in his imminent death.
- Midnight in Paris
- Another tale I thought would be ruined by the actor playing the protagonist, Midnight in Paris follows Owen Wilson as a screenwriter who, upon visiting Paris, finds himself mysteriously transported to the 1920’s and is even given the opportunity to meet with some of the most prolific author’s from that time.
- After a serial killer recreates a murder from one of his novels, the author (played by Nathan Fillion, one of my favorite actors) is allowed to tag along on the investigation, resulting in a semi-serious crime series like Law & Order, but with a light, literary feel.
- One of my all-time favorite stories about a writer, Californication follows author Hank Moody after the success of his first novel, who must work on his follow-up while dealing with fatherhood, vindictive relationships with the love of his life and other various women, and a critical need to indulge in sex, drugs, and rock and roll. All of which usually get in the way of his writing and being a good father.
- Hector and the Search for Happiness
- Another Simon Pegg tale about a psychiatrist who finds himself in the strange place of telling others how to be happy, when he himself far from it. His life isn’t a bad one, just a bit mundane. On a whim, and at the risk of losing his job, his wife, and life as he knows it, makes the decision to travel the world to discover what makes people happy, hoping to find out what will bring himself happiness. While the plot is predictable, his journey is interesting, awe inspiring, and motivating enough to embark on your own search for happiness.
- Generation Kill
- An odd addition to the list, but Generation Kill is an enthralling HBO series following a reporter for Rolling Stone Magazine as he is embedded with a platoon of 1st Recon Marines over in Iraq during the 2003 assault on Baghdad. This is by far one of the most intriguing tales simply because of its splendid melding of fleshed out characters, the seriousness of war and the toll it takes on soldiers, and the hilarity of those soldiers simply doing their best to cope with the shitty situations they often find themselves in. Stay Frosty.
In this respect, an honorable mention is a movie or series based on a book, but doesn’t have to be about writing. Those types of fiction inspire me because I find myself analyzing each line and scene, asking myself “How would they have written that?” and “How would I have written that?” Here’s a few of the endless honorable mentions:
- Fight Club
- The Shawshank Redemption
- The Lord of the Rings Series
- The Harry Potter Series
- The Shining
- Game of Thrones
- Full Metal Jacket
- Sherlock (BBC)
Now, go out there, get inspired, and write something damnit!