David Cronenberg (born in 1943) is one of the finest directors of his generation, the creator of such classic films as The Dead Zone, The Fly, Dead Ringers, and A History of Violence.
Here are three of his fantastic quotes to give you some inspiration today!
1. Everybody’s a mad scientist, and life is their lab. We’re all trying to experiment to find a way to live, to solve problems, to fend off madness and chaos.
I love this quote from David Cronenberg. Of course it makes me think of his superior horror film The Fly, my favorite movie of his. But it also makes me think about how writing and creativity essentially allow me to fend off all the madness and chaos of real life. I think it was Ray Bradbury who said to stay creative so that real life never crushes you, and such is the case with Cronenberg’s quote here, too.
We all have our problems. We all have issues to work through. And I don’t know how non-creative people are able to deal with all of life’s craziness. When I’m hurting, when I’m suffering, I turn to the blank page and write. I create characters and tell stories. I can’t tell you how often writing has been a life saver for me. How often it’s been therapeutic! Fiction or non-fiction, doesn’t matter. If we’re all mad scientists and our lives are our labs, use writing to experiment to find a way to live as often as you can!
2. Re-writing is different from writing. Original writing is very difficult.
So simple and so true. Re-writing I find more enjoyable than original writing, in the long run, because there are already words on the page. That’s the main reason, of course. Sitting down to already see words on the page fills me with joy, not potential dread! But another reason I love to re-write is that when I’m re-writing my latest novel, whether I’m on draft two or four or six or whatever, I have a better understanding of my story, my characters, my world.
When you’re writing the first draft of a story or novel, you’re trying to walk through a giant forest of trees late at night. You can’t really see very far in front of you, and sometimes you have to make up your turns and movements as you go along. There’s certainly joy in the first draft of any new writing project because of two reasons: it’s fresh, and it’s no big deal if you make mistakes. But Cronenberg is right: it is very difficult, and I’m always happier when I’m at work on a re-write, rather than the first draft of something. Try to find something great about each step of the process, but push past the difficult part as fast as you can so you can get to the part that truly matters.
3. But when you’re writing a script — for me anyway — you have to sort of create an enforced innocence. You have to divest yourself of worrying about a lot of stuff like what movies are hot, what movies are not hot, what the budget of this movie might be.
Cronenberg here is talking specifically about screenplays, but his thought can easily be translated to short stories and novels. It’s so hard to get outside your head, especially when you’re writing the first draft of something, but it’s simply critical that you focus on your story and characters, that you create an enforced innocence so that you can concentrate on your work and not be fixated on matters that don’t really have anything to do with your latest project.
When you’re writing fiction, you might feel compelled to think about what stories and novels in the genre you’re working in are currently hot, or currently not popular, or what an agent might say about your work-in-progress or what an editor might say or what your mom might say, and so on and so forth. It’s why it’s key that you always write the first draft of something for yourself, and no one else. Tell yourself the story. Write the piece that speaks to you, that comes from your heart, that no one else in the world can write. Maintain that enforced innocence when it comes to the writing process as often as possible, and amazing things can happen!