Whenever I watch a good movie or documentary about a subject that interests me, it really gets my juices flowing and makes me want to act on my interests (I suddenly realized that this might sound like a request for porn recommendations. It is not.)

I'm having a hard time getting anything written at the moment (well, most of the time, really), so I'm wondering if anyone has any good recommendations on movies that can help me remind me why I love writing, and make want to go BICHOK (for abbreviation explanation, listen to this wonderful episode of Writing Excuses)

  • It struck me that a lot of DVD releases of movies have bonus features that sometimes include comments or documentaries about the writing process. The extended version of The Lord of the Rings have some nice features about the script.
    – erikric
    Oct 20, 2011 at 13:51
  • "Adaptation" is by far the best and most inspirational movie about writing I have seen so far
    – erikric
    Oct 11, 2012 at 21:44
  • Finding Forrester is a great one starring Sean Connery. It really inspires you to write.
    – user4431
    Dec 3, 2012 at 2:00
  • The Magic of Belle Isle is primarily a love story, but it also deals with writing and inspiration.
    – Joe
    Aug 6, 2013 at 19:47

7 Answers 7


The BBC did a great documentary series a while ago called "In Their Own Words", which consisted of great interview footage with a number of famous British authors, including Huxley, Tolkein, Woolf, W Somerset Maugham, Zadie Smith, and a host of others. Some of the interview footage is available at the BBC Archive. I'm not sure if this is available to non-UK residents, but you may be able to find it on YouTube, or perhaps somewhere else.

The BBC have done some great documentaries on writing genres as well, such as looking at Scandinavian crime fiction in the programme "Nordic Noir".


The only one I can think of was a movie called Freedom Writers, which is about a high school writing class. Each character has to find their own voice and they learn about writing in history as well.

  • This movie contained the biggest violation of Tjekovs gun I have ever witnessed: the pearl necklace. Would not recommend this film, unless you want to learn how not to do things (movie script-wise).
    – erikric
    Nov 23, 2011 at 11:11


ETA Allow me to explain my facetiousness. Misery is a Stephen King story about Paul, a writer of a popular series set in Victorian times starring Misery Chastain. Paul finally gets tired of the character and kills her off in what he believes to be the final book of the series.

He gets into a car accident in a snowstorm and is rescued by Annie, who's a nurse, and a fan of Misery, and also rather out of her mind. Annie reads the new book, is devastated that Misery is dead, and ties Paul up (among other abuses) and forces him to write a new story — with no tricks — bringing Misery back. The novel features a typewriter which slowly disintegrates a key at a time until Paul, feverishly caught up in his own story, has to resort to longhand to finish it.

I mention the story for two reasons: one (jokingly), that when you get really devoted fans, you don't ever want to piss them off. But more seriously is a quote from Annie which I still remember.

Misery is dead and buried at the end of the "last" book. When the writer resurrects her without explanation, Annie is furious. She screams at him that he's cheating, the way the filmmakers of the Saturday-morning serial movies used to reset the cliffhanger endings to allow the hero to get out of the impossible scrape by making it not impossible at the beginning of the new film.

"Misery's in the grave. You'll have to start from there," she tells him.

That line forces Paul to be creative, to really think, in ways he had allowed himself to stop doing out of laziness. It's a challenge. If you're looking for a writing prompt, that's a good one.

While I'm adding to my answer, I'll also mention the films Dead Poets Society (both for its love of language and the general goad to Seize the Day) and Shakespeare in Love, to watch the process of a play (a story) being built one familiar couplet at a time.

  • Can you expand on this answer to counter the possibility that your link goes dead?
    – justkt
    Oct 18, 2011 at 1:24
  • 3
    done, voluminously. Oct 18, 2011 at 11:08

Check out The Quills. That will get your blood pumping.

Also, if you're a fan of Robert E. Howard, check out The Whole Wide World. Too much major studio sap, and the score is melodramatic, and his big relationship is overblown. Otherwise, an inspiring biography about an inspired writer.

Following those two, I guess I'd recommend The Shining (grin).


If it's documentaries or similar you want then why not check out some of the many, many website out there dedicated to screenwriting or writing and watch some of the interviews or panel discussions they post. A lot of them are at an hour long, some even longer, and they will inform, encourage, inspire and educate in equal measure.

Start with http://cinephilearchive.tumblr.com and the try http://filmmakeriq.com or just search YouTube for either 'writing' or 'screenwriting' and see what comes up.


I haven't actually seen any movies specifically about writing that are particularly inspirational. Writing is not the most movie-friendly of activities.

I find the movies that give me inspiration are the movies that are mostly bad, but have a couple of good ideas contained within them. This tends to get me thinking in a direction of "fixing" the bad movie, or even inventing a new story with the same objectives, or about the same themes, that doesn't suck so bad.

Generally speaking tightly constructed and well made movies are enjoyable but they already exist as they are so I don't get any inspiration from them.

I wish I could give specific examples but usually any end product influenced by something comes out unrecognisable. I have a lot of time for the concepts surrounding the physiology and nature of angels in "The Prophecy" but nothing I have ever written is an attempt to "fix" that movie as much as it just lifts the good concepts out of the surrounding problematic structure.

Television series often have loads of great unused ideas because the writers leave avenues open for taking the stories in one direction or another that, in the end, they fail to develop. I feel free to take these "redundant plot concepts" as well. Again, I could not point to anything specific.


Born Into This- Charles Bukowski's documentary. It is more inspirational than you can imagine- Just avoid adopting his drinking habits.

  • Welcome to Writers! Would you be willing to tell us more about this? Mar 9, 2013 at 1:27

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