Clint Eastwood (born in 1930) is one of the most acclaimed film actors and directors still working today. His many great films include Unforgiven, Mystic River, and Million Dollar Baby.
Here are four amazing quotes he has shared over the years that will inspire your storytelling!
1. I’ve never met a genius. A genius to me is someone who does well at something he hates. Anybody can do well at something he loves — it’s just a question of finding the subject.
It’s hard as a writer not to look around at other more successful writers and think there’s something wrong with you. That you’re less than. That you’re a failure of some kind.
Sometimes, at least for me, when I look at the really successful writers who have one blockbuster book after another and millions of adoring fans, I start to believe maybe those writers are geniuses, that they are at a level of talent I’ll never be able to achieve even if I lived to be 1,000 years old.
The truth, though, is that some writers are just at the right place with the right idea at the right time. Some people work really, really hard and make it, while some people work really, really hard and struggle for years.
Just because a writer is super successful doesn’t make that writer a genius. And you know what? It’s okay that you’re not a genius either.
All that matters is that you go after what you love and do your best every day. Many people never find that subject they love. Many people go through their days just sort of drifting, not really feeling passionate about anything.
If you’ve found that subject you love, whether it’s writing or something else, then you’re already ahead of the game.
It might take you longer to find success in the field you’re passionate about, but as long as you stick with it, and as long as you take joy from it always, you’ll reach that dream eventually.
2. You have to feel confident. If you don’t, then you’re going to be hesitant and defensive, and there’ll be a lot of things working against you.
It’s really easy to feel a lot of self doubt as a writer. To stare at a blank page on the screen and think you have nothing to offer, nothing to write down that will be any good. I have days like that. Every time I start a new novel, I’m absolutely terrified.
The trick is to feel confident anyway, and to remember that you don’t need to get it right the first time, only get the thing finished. You have to believe in the story you’re telling, believe in your characters, and just do your best.
Don’t be hesitant. Don’t be defensive. Don’t stay on the side of negativity and self destruction. You might have worked a year or a longer on a novel that didn’t go anywhere. So what? I’ve had tons of novel failures. I never let it get me down. I just wrote another one, and another one after that.
So should you. As long as you give it another try, you have another chance at success.
Believe in yourself. Believe that you’re already successful, if that helps you. Sometimes that helps me. I sit down at the computer assuming there are millions of readers excited to read my latest work, even though I know very few people would care if I ever put another word down.
This is all on you. You have to respect yourself, and you have to try to be confident when you write. Stick with the writing long enough, and who knows what you might be able to achieve.
3. I keep working because I learn something new all the time.
One thing that always amazes me about Clint Eastwood is how he just keeps working year after year, decade after decade. The man is turning 90 years old next year, and he has another new movie opening soon. He could have retired fifteen years ago and taken his place as a Hollywood legend.
But no. He keeps acting, keeps directing. I believe he told a reporter once that he hopes to be directing films until he’s 101. And you know what? If he stays healthy, it wouldn’t surprise me if a decade from now he was directing yet another movie.
He keeps going because he learns something new all the time. That’s the nature of stories, whether it’s a novel or a film or whatever. Every new project you take on you learn something, good or bad or both.
I’ve written twenty novels in ten years, and I always learn something new on each one, I always take a little piece of that story with me even if it ultimately fails and few people ever read it.
One of the great things about the creative life is that it’s not a 9–5 job you can’t wait to be done with, that you hope to retire from one day. I don’t see myself ever not writing, even if in another five years still nothing has happened with my novels.
I just love it so much. I love creating new stories, new characters. I love immersing myself in a new world I’ve never inhabited before.
So as long as you keep loving the writing, and as long as you keep learning something, there’s no need to ever stop. Stay creative for life, I’m telling you!
4. I’m a mentor to anybody who’s interested.
One other thing I love about writing is that once you’ve been doing it long enough, eventually you’ll have a few things (or a lot of things!) to pass along to other writers, ones who might be younger or who might not have as much experience as you.
It’s the foremost reason why I love what I do here at Medium. No, I don’t have a traditionally published novel in the world yet. And very few people know who I am. But I have written a ton of novels, I have received an MFA in Creative Writing and an MA in English, and I have a lot of insight into the writing process.
It’s such a gift for me to be able to share my experiences and what I’ve learned with all of you. The same way that Clint Eastwood is a mentor to anybody who is interested, I’m happily a mentor to any aspiring writer who wants to learn more about the process. Who wants to know how to create compelling stories, three-dimensional characters, riveting prose, high stakes. Who wants to discover various ways to succeed.
There’s so much I still want to learn about writing. And there’s a lot as well I’m able to pass down to other writers. No matter what stage of the writing process you’re in, you should always think of yourself as a potential mentor who might be able to share a few things with others that might help, inform, inspire.
It’s what I love to do for other writers here on Medium. And it’s something you can always share as well.
Just keep writing, keep learning, keep discovering always. Clint Eastwood has been acting in films since the 1950s and directing films since the 1970s and it doesn’t look like he’s slowing down anytime soon.
You shouldn’t slow down either. Write your heart out every single day, and amazing things can happen.