Movies about writers – Finding Forrester

Finding Forrester was good, heart warming and inspirational just as it was supposed to be. Not very many surprises. I don’t want to talk about the plot though, I want to talk about the writing aspect of the film.

Sean Connery’s William Forrester endorses the organic shitty first draft, says you must write the first draft with your heart and when you go in to draft it again you use your head. In fact it’s depicted as the only way to write something. Now, I may be an organic shitty first draft fanatic but it’s clearly not the *only* way to get stuff written! Still, I suppose it’s the most romantic view of writers: dictated to by the muse and the universe, and much more interesting visually than showing someone doing screeds of research and meticulous planning.

The whole thing where he tells the kid to ‘don’t think, just write’ was neat. I’ve done this exercise myself a bunch of times and in fact, I believe I have to stop myself thinking when I’m writing the first draft of things. Otherwise the internal editor gets in the way and you start to doubt yourself. I think it’s appropriate that they showed just how hard this is to achieve as well. Jamal sits and stares at the typewriter for hours, unable to write a single thing. This is painfully accurate for how writing can be.

Editing and feedback is shown as being crucial to the growth of a writer. I liked that too, since if you’ve been following my writing posts you’ll know how much I get out of good constructive feedback. The simple fact of the matter is that you cannot view your own work with the requisite distance that the best editors have. You have to be brave enough to give your work to someone else and hear what they think about it. Now, if we could all have literary geniuses living up the street with nothing better to do that go through our work with a red pen this whole writing game would be a lot easier. Alas.

The other thing this movie addresses is the idea of a writing prodigy. I’m not really sure how I feel about this concept. I want to believe that my writing is excellent, but I don’t claim to be a prodigy. Does this mean I should give it up? Move over and let the super talented people take the publishing contracts? That doesn’t seem right to me. But then maybe this is another choice the movie makers made to make the film pacier and more interesting. You don’t want to see someone failing and failing to do well.

Overall an enjoyable movie and one I will watch again some day.