About a year ago BAFTA invited Charlie Kaufman to speak on screenwriting. It’s one of the finest and most honest talks I have heard in a long time. Rather than presenting a simplified “how-to”, Mr. Kaufman digs deep into the motivation of the artist, and the associated feelings. It’s a beautiful and inspiring talk, and I recommend you listen to the full hour. I have noted down one of my favorite sections below, as it relates to how Mr. Kaufman approaches his work, his reasons to create, honesty, and the way in which our creative output can truly leave the world a better place. Mr. Kaufman is a writer, but this goes just the same for musicians, visual artists, and anyone that applies their creativity to solve problems.
“Say who you are, really say it in your life and in your work. Tell someone out there who is lost, someone not yet born, someone who won’t be born for 500 years. Your writing will be a record of your time. It can’t help but be that. But more importantly, if you’re honest about who you are, you’ll help that person be less lonely in their world because that person will recognize him or herself in you and that will give them hope. It’s done so for me and I have to keep rediscovering it. It has profound importance in my life. Give that to the world, rather than selling something to the world. Don’t allow yourself to be tricked into thinking that the way things are is the way the world must work and that in the end selling is what everyone must do. Try not to.
I [...] believe you have a wound. I [...] believe it is both specific to you and common to everyone. I ]…] believe it is the thing about you that must be hidden and protected, it is the thing that must be tap danced over five shows a day, it is the thing that won’t be interesting to other people if revealed. It is the thing that makes you weak and pathetic. It is the thing that truly, truly, truly makes loving you impossible. It is your secret, even from yourself. But it is the thing that wants to live. It is the thing from which your art, your painting, your dance, your composition, your philosophical treatise, your screenplay is born.”