Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Francis Ford Coppola on writing

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: The question I wanted to ask is, actually, if you could talk about your writing process, your habit, sort of what's a daily writing day like for you.

COPPOLA: Well, the thing about writing is if you really try, if you do it every day, and you put in your time, you get better. I don't know if there's a - I think with acting that's possible, too, but writing is something that if you really plug away at it, you can get better.

The important thing is: A, choose the time that's good for you. For me, it's early morning because I wake up, and I'm fresh, and I sit in my place. I look out the window, and I have coffee, and no one's gotten up yet or called me or hurt my feelings.


COPPOLA: It's very important that your feelings are very, sort of, just stable. You know, you don't want to have a heartache when you're trying to go fly on some adventure of writing. At any rate, it's very important for the young writer to, when you finish the six, seven, eight pages, to turn them over and don't look at them again, because I believe there is a hormone that is injected in the blood of the young writer that makes him hate everything he has just written.

And so just don't read it. And then when you finally have done it over the, you know, 30 days or how many days so that your stack of pages is in the 80s or something, then - and you feel you have it at some completion, then sit down and read it, and you'll find that your reaction will be very different because you will have a little distance.

And you realize that the first 10 pages that you would have just torn up and rewritten, which is to say never go back. If you don't read it, you're not going back and rewriting anything at first, because you don't know yet. And maybe you're just going to cut those 10 pages out, and they're not even going to be in it. So you would have been rewriting something that's not even in the piece.

So give yourself that chance to put together the, you know, 80, 90 pages of a draft and then read it very, at a - you know, in a nice little ceremony, where you're comfortable, and you read it and make good notes on it, what you liked, what touched you, what moved you, what's a possible way, and then you go about on a rewrite.

And I'll rewrite a script a trillion times. So rewriting is just the middle name of writing.

[Note: Coppola wrote the script for Patton, for which he won an Oscar, when he was 24 years old.]


Anonymous said...

What great advice!

undine said...

I thought so, too, profacero. I've been thinking about this since I heard it.