Shows and Movies to Inspire Writers

Need some inspiration to get you started on your next piece?


When I’m writing, trying to write, or stuck not being able to write, I often need some inspiration. This inspiration can often come from reading my own writing or the work of my favorite authors, but for me reading is a time-consuming endeavor. I like to sit down and read for as long as possible, which can often engulf hours of my time. But, when I need to get some writing done, nothing keeps me “in the mood” like movies or television shows about writers writing, that I can play or binge watch and simply zone out while I get some work done. Sometimes the writing can play a small part, sometimes it’s the major plot point, while other times there is no writing at all, but a writer struggling with their own demons that compel them to write or are derived from their writing.

In the grand scheme of things, there are A LOT of movies and shows about writers, but (at least for me) only certain ones give me that “I’m ready to become a prolific (or struggling) author like that guy,” feeling. Here is a list, in no particular order, detailing some of the most inspiring television shows and movies about writers and their writing that inspire the hell out of me.


  1. A Fantastic Fear of Everything mv5bmtyznju3ntawof5bml5banbnxkftztgwnti5mdy5mde-_v1_sy1000_cr006781000_al_
    1. Simon Pegg stars as a troubled crime novelist who has become a paranoid agoraphobic after his extensive research into Victorian era serial killers. It’s funny and clever, and it’s Simon Pegg. Enjoy.
  2. Author’s Anonymous
    1. Kaley Cuoco and Chris Klein star opposite one another in a tale about the varying “types” of writers (who’ve formed a weekly writer’s group), all with different motivations and commitment, but all with the same dream. What this story does best is show that not all writers are the same and exposes how inspiration and dedication to the craft can often go unrecognized due to societal expectations and industry bias.
  3. The Words
    1. A star-studded cast features Dennis Quaid entertaining an audience with his fictional tale about a young author (Bradley Cooper), who finally finds success in his writing after finding and publishing an aged manuscript that wasn’t his own. Could Dennis Quaid’s character be regaling us with a piece of fiction with autobiographical roots….?
  4. Bag of Bonesbag_of_bones_miniseries
    1. Following the death of his wife, a published author (Pierce Brosnan) retreats to his cabin in a small lake-town, where he soon receives paranormal visitations, is drawn into a strange custody battle, and must learn a secret about his own bloodline that will haunt him forever. A lesser known Stephen King adaptation.
  5. The Secret Window
    1. Another Stephen King classic about a writer (Johnny Depp) dealing with presumably false claims of copyright infringement by a deranged and violent psychopath who stalks him wherever he goes.
  6. Misery
    1. One of the most recognized of Stephen King’s adaptations, Misery follows the story of a renowned children’s author (James Caan) who is rescued from a car crash only to find himself held hostage by a psychotic super-fan (Kathy Bates) who’s not afraid to get a little rough to keep him around.
  7. Stranger Than Fiction
    1. Stranger Than Fiction was a tale I thought I would hate because of my rash assumption that anything serious Will Ferrell stars in must be garbage. I was pleasantly surprised by the quirky narrative about a man who hears a woman narrating his everyday life, revealing how the simple act of resetting his trusty watch would result in his imminent death.
  8. Midnight in Paris
    1. Another tale I thought would be ruined by the actor playing the protagonist, Midnight in Paris follows Owen Wilson as a screenwriter who, upon visiting Paris, finds himself mysteriously transported to the 1920’s and is even given the opportunity to meet with some of the most prolific author’s from that time.
  9. Castle
    1. After a serial killer recreates a murder from one of his novels, the author (played by Nathan Fillion, one of my favorite actors) is allowed to tag along on the investigation, resulting in a semi-serious crime series like Law & Order, but with a light, literary feel.
  10. CalifornicationCA_S1_GI113915SC_V2_HR
    1. One of my all-time favorite stories about a writer, Californication follows author Hank Moody after the success of his first novel, who must work on his follow-up while dealing with fatherhood, vindictive relationships with the love of his life and other various women, and a critical need to indulge in sex, drugs, and rock and roll. All of which usually get in the way of his writing and being a good father.
  11. Hector and the Search for Happiness
    1. Another Simon Pegg tale about a psychiatrist who finds himself in the strange place of telling others how to be happy, when he himself far from it. His life isn’t a bad one, just a bit mundane. On a whim, and at the risk of losing his job, his wife, and life as he knows it, makes the decision to travel the world to discover what makes people happy, hoping to find out what will bring himself happiness. While the plot is predictable, his journey is interesting, awe inspiring, and motivating enough to embark on your own search for happiness.
  12. Generation Kill919burer6kl-_ac_ul320_sr228320_
    1. An odd addition to the list, but Generation Kill is an enthralling HBO series following a reporter for Rolling Stone Magazine as he is embedded with a platoon of 1st Recon Marines over in Iraq during the 2003 assault on Baghdad. This is by far one of the most intriguing tales simply because of its splendid melding of fleshed out characters, the seriousness of war and the toll it takes on soldiers, and the hilarity of those soldiers simply doing their best to cope with the shitty situations they often find themselves in. Stay Frosty.

Honorable Mentions:

In this respect, an honorable mention is a movie or series based on a book, but doesn’t have to be about writing. Those types of fiction inspire me because I find myself analyzing each line and scene, asking myself “How would they have written that?” and “How would I have written that?” Here’s a few of the endless honorable mentions:

  1. Fight Club
  2. The Shawshank Redemption 
  3. Goodfellas
  4. The Lord of the Rings Series
  5. The Harry Potter Series
  6. The Shining 
  7. Dexter
  8. Game of Thrones
  9. Full Metal Jacket
  10. Sherlock (BBC)

 

Now, go out there, get inspired, and write something damnit!

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To Episode One…and Beyond!


From my experience, and that of other published writer’s I know, one of the most common questions readers, friends, and family ask is: “When’s your next book coming out?” While this question is inherently harmless, sometimes it can feel like your work has been cheapened. But it can also do something else, it can also be motivating. While I’d prefer people ask me about my current work, thinking about what I’ll be writing in the future is an exciting prospect. “What’s next?” is a question I ask myself every day, which can be disheartening when you simply don’t know the answer.

That point is one of the numerous reasons why I wanted to do an episodic series. I’ve had a few people ask me: “Why do short stories instead of another novel?” Well, the answer to that is simple. I’m not. I’m doing short stories, or a series of short stories while I’m working on my next novel. For some writers, they need to focus on one project and see it through until the end. That’s an admirable way to ensure your work is of the highest quality before you move forward. At the same time, I’ve seen that take a very long time to complete a project. Me personally, I have a bit of writer’s ADD. I’ve been experiencing and telling stories my entire life; I can read books quickly (when I sit down to do something other than writing and actually focus), I binge watch seasons and movies in quick succession, and I’m a multi-screen-tasker.

What all that means is that, for me, working on my next novel (that could potentially take a very long time to finish) is all well and good, but I need something for when my attention shifts, when my mind gets bored of staring at the same page for hours while editing, or for when I get so frustrated at my writer’s block that I want to hurl my laptop through the living room window. But, I think we all know that wouldn’t solve my problem, would it? So, I divert that pent-up energy. I shift my focus to something completely different to stir the creative pot and get the metaphorical gears spinning again. I have to do this. I want to do this. But that might raise issues of quality vs. quantity. I can pump out a lot more content than a few other writers I know, but how do I know that I am not sacrificing quality by doing so?

“The first draft of anything is shit.”

~Ernest Hemingway

Simply put, I don’t. To be entirely honest, when I power through a project, I do so to get a first draft done as quickly as possible. I need those bare bones, that foundation to build upon, and when I go back and re-read it, it’s usually riddled with poor grammar, misspelled words, and ridiculously obvious plot holes and inconsistencies. But that’s just the first draft, you all (the readers) don’t get to read that pile of garbage. I spend, in my own opinion, way too long rewriting and editing even the shortest stories before I even consider it something worth publishing. As you can imagine, with “full-length” novels, that takes a God-awful amount of time to do. I have been working on a science fiction novel since before the release of The Drive Home and I’m somewhere in the eight draft and I’m still scraping off all the worthless bits. It’s a long process and if you’re not careful, you could put something out that casts a grim assumption over your future work.

Which finally brings my back to my actual point and the question…well, in question. Why work on an episodic series while I work on my next novel? I’ve put together a collection of answers covering some of the most prominent reasons:

  • First and foremost, as I mentioned, it keeps me focused and keeps me writing. With each piece I write I am thinking ahead, planning for potential release plans, thinking about where it fits around the novel I’m working on. And that gets me back to wanting to work on that big novel project. Which lets me provide something for readers to enjoy while I make headway on that forthcoming novel.
  • Secondly, it allows me to play with form and presentation. It keeps me guessing and experimenting, even when I think I know what the hell I’m doing. A novel can be a one-off project, or, it can be a series of epic novels. Short stories are similar, in that one can stand on its own or it can be part of something bigger. But episodic, that’s something different. You have to further the over-arching story with each episode and further the character arcs while leaving enough out to intrigue readers to pick up the next episode. All in a small number of pages. It’s a delicate process. You have to think ahead, not just to the next episode, but to every episode, including multiple seasons, if you’re so inclined.
  • I’m a new and, hopefully, rising author. Why should someone pick up my full priced novel if they’ve never heard of me before? Or never read anything I’ve written? With any episodic series I pursue, I’ve chosen to make the first episode absolutely FREE. Like with my current series, For a Ghost-Free Time, Call, the first episode introduces readers to my characters, my story, and my writing at no risk to them. This gives readers the opportunity to experience the story and decide for themselves if it is something they would enjoy. This also provides me with the opportunity to hook the reader and convince them to pick up the next episode. If I’m not convincing you to pick up episode two when it gets released, I’m not doing something right and that gives me the chance to improve my writing for the next one. It’s a learning process.
  • Working on an episodic series also helps improve my abilities as a publisher. I’m improving my knowledge of the process through Smashwords and Kindle Direct Publishing. For each new episode, I’ve decided that I would like to make a fresh, yet simplistic cover to assist with convincing readers to continue with the series. By deciding this, I’ve been able to improve my abilities as a digital artist with Photoshop. I would love to be able to assist fellow writer’s with the publishing process, cover creation, or any aspect of creating written works. Hell, that’s what Emerald Inkwell is all about. That’s why we’ve chosen to brand ourselves as a “PNW Publishing Community.” We want to help independent writers get their work out there just like we’re doing for ourselves. So, if I can improve my skills with Photoshop and help a friend throw together a unique cover for their work, that motivates me. What can I say, I’m a “helper.” With For a Ghost-Free Time, Call’s first episode cover (pictured below) I wanted a simple cover that got the point across and related to the content in the writing. Much like you might see for some of Stephen King’s books (also pictured below). But since that first cover design I’ve been working on my abilities and I look at my W.I.P., sample covers for episode two and three, I find them much more visually intriguing than the first episode cover. Which gives me ideas for a future “updated” cover for that first episode. I’m learning. And that excites  and motivates me further.
  • The final thing I’ll touch on that I find great about the episodic format is that it is inexpensive for the reader and allows me to work on something that is “full-length” over time. So far, the episodes of “Ghost-Free Time are around 45 pages each, give or take. Once each season is finished, I look forward to offering a full season collection or a series collection, depending on the longevity of the IP. And if each episode is approximately 45 pages a single season collection could range from 275 to 400 pages. That’s a lengthy novel right there. So, while currently writing in a short story format, each episode is the catalyst for something larger.

So, if you were to ask me again: “Why work on an episodic series instead of a full-length novel?” I would kindly direct you to read the above, but I would simply respond by saying two things. 1: Because I can and I enjoy it (that counts as one, calm down). And 2: I’m not only working on an episodic series. I’m actually working on that “full-length” novel you’re asking for while providing you with a steady stream of content to keep readers entertained and to keep myself writing. And, in the end, when all is said and done, that’s all I really want out of all this. To keep readers entertained and to keep myself writing. And that sounds damn good to me.


Episode Two is on the way soon! Pick up Episode One to catch up before it drops!

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Salt piles, iron fire pokers, and Ghosts tend to go hand in hand!