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Notes from Charlie Kaufman

Get Into The Story has a great transcript of a Charlie Kaufmann speech from 2011.

As you might expect from such an intelligent man there are many, many quotable thoughts, especially on the nature and mentality of writers and writing.

For now, here are some abridged excerpts:

I’m a person who does this [screenwriting] and I struggle with it. I think it was Thomas Mann who said, ‘A writer is someone for whom writing is harder than it is for other people,’ which I thought was pretty cool. I think that’s sort of it – if you take it seriously it’s a struggle.

People all over the world spend countless hours of their lives every week being fed entertainment in the form of movies, TV shows, newspapers, YouTube videos and the internet. And it’s ludicrous to believe that this stuff doesn’t alter our brains… …the world is built on this now.Politics and government are built on this, corporations are built on this.

What can be done?

Say who you are, really say it in your life and in your work. Tell someone out there who is lost, someone not yet born, someone who won’t be born for 500 years. Your writing will be a record of your time. It can’t help but be that. But more importantly, if you’re honest about who you are, you’ll help that person be less lonely in their world because that person will recognise him or herself in you and that will give them hope. It’s done so for me and I have to keep rediscovering it. It has profound importance in my life.

Give that to the world, rather than selling something to the world. Don’t allow yourself to be tricked into thinking that the way things are is the way the world must work and that in the end selling is what everyone must do. Try not to.

His note about how people’s perceptions of existence are being altered by media creep into our lives is very appropriate to a project I’m working on. Further rumination is required…

The entire transcript is also available as a single PDF.