Friday, November 13, 2009

Linguistic Empowerment

The day-to-day grind for a creative person - illustrator, writer, filmmaker - can be a lonely one. Because of this, I'm convinced that people in this field are far more likely than others to be on the lookout for things that inspire and motivate them.

For me, I've always found there to be a great deal of power in the spoken word. One of my favorite pastimes happens to be the discovery (and subsequent hoarding of) quotations and advice from strong, knowledgeable and very often successful people. For me, the only thing more fun than collecting these words of wisdom is sharing them. So, in the spirit of collective creativity, I've elected to list here a few of my favorites . . .

On Inspiration:

You can't wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.
– Jack London

Inspiration; could be called inhaling the memory of an act never experienced.

On the Importance of Imagination:

Dreams come in a size too big so we can grow into them.

Imagination grows by exercise, and contrary to common belief, is more powerful in the mature than in the young.
– W. Somerset Maugham

The Imagination is the workshop of the soul where all the plans for individual achievement are shaped.

Imagination does not mean making things up. It is a form of seeing.
-Xaphania the angel from Philip Pullman's THE AMBER SPYGLASS

When you cease to dream, you cease to live.
-Malcolm Forbes

Nothing happens unless first we dream
-Carl Sandburg

Fairy Tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.
-G.K. Chesterton

Imagination is more important than knowledge.
-Albert Einstein

On the Value of Brevity:

The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.
– Thomas Jefferson

The act of writing a screenplay is exactly like the act of seeing a movie; there must be no more written on the page than what you see or hear on the screen.

-Alvin Sargent

On the Craft:

Writing, like film directing, is a matter of making endless decisions. Every word, every sentence, the order of the paragraphs--everything is a decision. There are an infinite number of possibilities in putting something together as you write. Because of that, if a person is not decisive, he will never write anything.
-Lawrence Kasdan

Myth must be kept alive. The people who can keep it alive are artists of one kind or another. The function of the artist is the mythologization of the environment and the world.
-Joseph Campbell

Screenwriting is a fantastic job but it is the toughest and most demanding thing I’ve done in my life. I discovered it requires an enormous amount of discipline and commitment. It’s a job. It is work.
-Philippa Boyens

Moliere once said that writing is like prostitution: first you do it for love, then for a few close friends, and then for money.

In this (the Entertainment) industry, there's only one resource more valuable than people. Talent.

The Art of Storytelling:

Story is Metaphor for Life.
-Robert Mckee

I honestly feel the heart of our organization is the story department.
-Walt Disney

And when you pitch, you’re pitching story. Because story is the foundation of the screenplay. Character and action may be the glue that holds everything together, but it all starts within the context of story.
-Syd Field

Stories are Equipment for Living.
-Kenneth Burke

If the story is good the picture may be good, but if the story is weak, good color, music and animation cannot save it.
-Walt Disney

Master storytellers never explain. They do the hard, painfully creative thing-they dramatize.
-Robert Mckee

. . . today who reads Hegel or Kant without an exam to pass? Science, once the great explicator, garbles life with complexity and perplexity. Who can listen without cynicism to economists, sociologists, politicians? Religion, for many, has become an empty ritual that masks hypocrisy. As our faith in traditional ideologies diminishes, we turn to the source we still believe in: the art of story.
-Robert McKee

Story talent: the creative conversion of life itself to a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience . . .the material of literary talent is words; the material of story talent is life itself.
-Robert McKee

On Being Truthful:

All the writer is responsible for--and this is enough--is to tell the truth. There has never been a case in history--in any culture--where it's people have been hurt by getting too much truth.
-Robert McKee

If you go deep into somebody’s mind or heart, then you’re going to interest people, make them a little uncomfortable. Make them as uncomfortable and as curious as possible with the truth.
-Alvin Sargent

Truth is always exciting. Speak it, then; life is dull without it.
-Pearl S. Buck

On Structure:

In traditional 3-act structure, you want everything to be falling apart at the end of the second act-and that's exactly what's going on. (In Empire) Luke has lost his hand, and Han is frozen. Everything's gone to hell . . .
-Lawrence Kasdan

On Character:

Humor is easiest to achieve; the heart is always the toughest, because you can’t tell people to feel a certain way – they have to discover it for themselves. In the five films we’ve done, character growth is the big thing. That character growth, for us, is where a lot of emotion comes from. Unlike humor, emotion stays with an audience longer. But to get to that emotional heart takes time, you have to set things up in order to take people to a place where they’re devastated or sad. There’s no formula.
-John Lasseter, executive producer

Invest in the human soul. Who knows, it might be a diamond in the rough.
-Mary McLeod Bethune

WHAT plus WHY equals WHO.
-Joshua James

The character that lasts is an ordinary guy with extraordinary qualities.
-Raymond Chandler

On Technique:

There are so many different kinds of writing and so many ways to work that the only rule is this: do what works. Almost everything has been tried and found to succeed for somebody. The methods, even the ideas of successful writers, contradict each other in a most heartening way, and the only element I find common to all successful writers is persistence -- an overwhelming determination to succeed.
– Sophy Burnham

The creative side of filmmaking has nothing to do with the medium in which you're shooting the film. Things haven't changed that much since silent films - you're telling a story and you're creating images. you learn your craft, and you learn the system you're creating your images on, but it's the images that count, not how you got there.
-George Lucas

On Motivation and Never Giving Up:

Aspiration is the seed of life.
-Joan Chittister

Don't sit down and wait for the opportunities to come; you have to get up and make them. -Madame C.J. Walker

What a lovely surprise to discover how unlonely being alone can be.
-Ellen Burstyn

Fear and Uncertainty inhibit success.

The next time someone is really critical of your work, just remember that even steel must be hammered before it is allowed to harden.

In Hollywood people don't fail, they quit.
-Jack Sowards (1929-2007)

To those who need encouragement, remember this: Beware of quitting too soon. Dr. Seuss’ first children’s book was rejected by 23 publishers. The 24th publisher sold 6 million copies.

Press on. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unrewarded talent. Education alone will not: the world is full of educated failures. Persistence alone is omnipotent.
-Calvin Coolidge

Obstacles cannot crush me. Every obstacle yields to stern resolve. He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind.
-Leonardo da Vinci, painter, sculpter, writer

It is never too late to be what you might have been.
-George Eliot

A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit.
-Richard Bach

Fall down seven times, stand up eight.
-Japanese proverb

Just don't give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don't think you can go wrong.
-Ella Fitzgerald

On Living:

Line from a William Blake poem: Think in the morning, act in the noon, read in the evening, and sleep at night.

. . . what's most important above all in a world that is unpredictable, in a world that is changing so much there seems to be nothing you can own, is that there are two things you can own: You can own your story - so you better live a good one - and you can own the love you have for the people who really love you and who you love back. And, that is all there is . . everything else is secondary.
-Baz Luhrmann

If you truly love something, you never question the time it takes to nurture it - be it marriage, hobby, pet, sports, religion, whatever.
-Walt Stanchfield

Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow talent to the dark place where it leads.
-Erica Jong

Hollywood is the only place where you can die from encouragement
-Dorothy Parker

Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.
-Henry Van Dyke, clergyman, writer


Blogger Kitty said...

Excellent and inspiring post, Roch, bookmarked it!

8:31 PM  
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