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Sunday, 12 July 2009

If in doubt, ask Aaron Sorkin.

I threw a question to possibly the world's greatest screenwriter, Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men, The American President, Creator and Writer of The West Wing and Studio 60)

Kid: There's this voice in my head; and he says "Hey man, you suck! This script wouldn't interest a small woodpigeon, let alone large audiences!" I have no idea who this voice is. I feel it may be my inner critic but he promised to cut down on the bad reviews.

Do you have any advice for conquering this voice? I find there's a thin line between "you suck!" and "well, this needs reworking" - how do you tell which voice is the self-loathing-critic and which one knows what he's talking about? To be honest, I'd like this voice gone altogether so I could write what's in my heart, even if it was a 200 page script about waste disposal.

Aaron Sorkin: I'm afraid you're going to have to get used to that, Front Row. Every time I finish something I think I'm never going to be able to write anything else. And every time I start something I think that this is the one where I'm going to get found out as a fraud. Every time I read a bad review it bothers me not because I think the critic is wrong but because secretly I think they're right. "How did the lady from the Bergen County Shopper's Guide get it right but not the guy from the New York Times."

There's a great line from the movie Arthur. Dudley Moore says "Not every drunk is a poet. Some of us drink because we're not poets." You asked for advice so here it is: Don't be an alcoholic. And try to remember that nothing you write, no matter how good, is going to make everyone in the world like you. Good luck and let me know how it's going.

Care to share?


  1. What an awesome answer to that question.

  2. Very true. Somehow it's comforting to know even great writers like Aaron Sorkin deal with the same insecurities as the rest of us.