Literary Birthday – 19 November – Charlie Kaufman


Happy Birthday, Charlie Kaufman, born 19 November 1958

Quotes

  1. You are what you love. Not what loves you.
  2. Failure is a badge of honour. It means you risked failure. And if you don’t risk failure, you’re never going to do anything that’s different from what you’ve already done or what somebody else has done.
  3. The way I work is not the way that you work, and the whole point of any creative act is that.
  4. A screenplay is an exploration, a step into the abyss, a secret, even from you. There’s no template.
  5. The world needs you. It doesn’t need you at a party having read a book about how to appear smart at parties – these books exist, and they’re tempting – but resist falling into that trap. The world needs you at the party starting real conversations, saying, ‘I don’t know,’ and being kind.
  6. Your writing will be a record of your time. It can’t help but be that.
  7. When I’m writing a script, before I can write dialogue or anything, I have two or three hundred pages of notes, which takes me a year. So, it’s not like ‘what happens next’. I’ve got things that I’m thinking about but I don’t settle on them. And if I try to write dialogue before then, I can’t. It’s just garbage.
  8. I’m in my mind a lot. I live there.
  9. When I’m writing, I’m trying to immerse myself in the chaos of an emotional experience, rather than separate myself from it and look back at it from a distance with clarity and tell it as a story. Because that’s how life is lived, you know?
  10. Writing is a journey into the unknown.
  11. Storytelling is inherently dangerous. Consider a traumatic event in your life. Think about how you experienced it. Now think about how you told it to someone a year later. Now think about how you told it for the hundredth time. It’s not the same thing. Most people think perspective is a good thing: you can figure out characters’ arcs, you can apply a moral, you can tell it with understanding and context. But this perspective is a misrepresentation: it’s a reconstruction with meaning, and as such bears little resemblance to the event.
  12. The end is built into the beginning.
  13. The world needs you. It doesn’t need you at a party having read a book about how to appear smart at parties – these books exist, and they’re tempting – but resist falling into that trap. The world needs you at the party starting real conversations, saying, ‘I don’t know,’ and being kind.
  14. Everything I’ve written is personal – it’s the only way I know how to write.

Charlie Kaufman is an American screenwriter, producer, director, and lyricist. He wrote the films Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Kaufman has been nominated for four Academy Awards and three of his scripts appear in the Writers Guild of America’s list of the 101 greatest movie screenplays ever written.

Source for screenshot

 by Amanda Patterson

If you enjoy our resources, please consider this:

Become A Writers Write Patron

If you’re inspired, educated, or entertained by our posts, please support us with a small monthly (or once-off) donation. You can help us keep Writers Write about writing – and free of clutter and advertising.