March 1, 2011

Notes from Francis Ford Coppola

From an interview with Francis Ford Coppola, filmmaker:
What’s the biggest barrier to being an artist?
Self-confidence always. The artist always battles his own/her own feeling of inadequacy. . . .  I believe the writer, the young writer, has a hormone that makes them hate what they’ve written. And yet, the next morning, when you look at it, you say, “Oh that’s not bad.” But the first second you hate it.  (From the 99% blog)

This is beyond true--"a hormone that makes them hate what they've written."

I hate everything I write.  Hemingway used to say that every first draft was a bunch of crock (I'm paraphrasing--he used a swearword).  When I teach my English students to draft, I mention Hemingway and how the students need to just keep going, keep writing, then let it rest.  The next day--amazing--it doesn't look so bad.

I need to remember this for myself, in my own writing.


This is the first post for the Slice of Life Story Challenge, hosted by the Two Writing Teachers.  Head over there to learn all about it, to join in.


  1. That's a great way to encourage your students to keep writing. I will have to mention to my students about what Hemingway said. I also like the quote you included from Francis Coppola. Sometimes reading my first drafts can be painful...

  2. Sometimes all of my drafts are painful but I get so much pleasure from writing, I have learned to ignore the pain. I do think that setting the writing aside and revisiting later is a great idea. I use the same tactic when I play golf. If I am in a slump, I stay away from the course for a couple days. When I return, I always play better.

  3. To paraphrase Scarlett O'Hara - I'll re-read my writing tomorrow - always a good decision.

  4. Let it rest is great advice.

  5. Perfect for the first post of the challenge. I'm glad you're joining again. Looking forward to "catching up" this March.

  6. Thank you for your welcome to this challenge. I hadn't heard the Hemingway quote, but it's so apt for everyone-when it's our words, it's difficult to see the 'good' in them.