Are you cackling yet? Movies for writers.

Are you cackling yet?

In Terry Pratchett’s book, Wintersmith, it talks about how witches meet in order to keep an

Wintersmith — the importance of covens

eye on each other–to make sure they aren’t starting to cackle, as it were. That was the purpose of covens.

“‘Cackling’ to a witch didn’t just mean nasty laughter. It meant your mind drifting away from its anchor. It meant you losing your grip. It meant loneliness and hard work and responsibility and other people’s problems driving you crazy a little bit at a time, each bit so small that you’d hardly notice it, until you thought it was normal to stop working and wear a kettle on your head. It meant you thinking that the fact you knew more than anyone else in your village made you better than them. It meant thinking that right and wrong were negotiable. And, in the end, it meant you ‘going to the dark’ as the witches said. That was a bad road. At the end of the road were poisoned spinning wheels and gingerbread cottages. What stopped this was the habit of visiting. Partly because witches love gossip, especially if it’s more exciting than truthful. But mostly it was to keep an eye on one another.” (Wintersmith, pg. 19-20)

Don’t let your mind drift from its anchor

I’m thinking maybe writers should have covens too. I mean, think about it. Solitary profession that involves making stuff up–seems ripe for cackling, don’t you think? Mind drifting from its anchor, loneliness, hard work, other people’s problems — dang, that’s writers! How long does it take before your characters start telling you what to say and do? How long before you start arguing with your characters? Yup, I see some of you nodding your head. You know what I’m talking about. You need a coven–code name, writing group. Do not delay. Do not pass go. FInd yourself a writing group as soon as possible.

If you still don’t believe me (or Terry Pratchett), you should check out some movies about

Long hard trek high above the pit of despair

or with writers in them. They seem to fall pretty much into 2 categories–inspiration (as in, it will be a long hard slog so don’t give up) or warning (that’s the cackling part).

Maybe these movies should be required viewing for anyone considering becoming a writer. You know, as a sort of “look what could happen to you if you follow this path.” They can also serve in lieu of a cov–I mean, writing group. If you start to see yourself in any of these movies, maybe you need to take a break from writing, and, you know, go to the beach or grocery store or a therapy appointment or something.

Christina Katz has a list of 260 movies about writers and the writing life. Check it out here.

Here’s Geekweek’s list of the 20 greatest movies about writers.

IMDb has a list of movies about writers–I like that it gives a brief synopsis–and another list that includes writers and writing.

And then there is Wikipedia’s page with 140 films about writers. Again, I like that it gives descriptions.

So how many of these movies have you watched? Recognize yourself? Does that worry you–or should I say, should that worry you?




Revision – Ways To Hear Your Writing Differently


Where I’m at in the writing process determines if I love revision or hate it. When I’m in the midst of revision–like I am now–I often hate it. Still, I’ve found a couple of things that help me gain a new “ear” for my writing, and therefore make it easier for me to know what needs to change.


1. My writing group.

Reading my story out loud helps me catch awkward sentences, repetitive language, lack

Hear Differently

of transitions, and other problems. But for some reason, when I read my writing out loud to my writing group, I hear it differently, and catch even more. Of course, another added bonus to reading to my writing group is that my group members (I really do have the best writing group ever) catch the stuff I don’t. In our group, everyone has a copy of the piece of writing. The author reads it out loud and then sits back and lets the other members discuss the piece. The chance to be the fly on the wall is a huge benefit to me as a writer. Did they get what I was trying to say? Did they get something totally different? Where were they confused? Where did they laugh? What did they like? Not only does my group help me know if my writing is “working”, but they inspire me to keep going.

2. Recording my writing

Audio Edito

Life gets pretty crazy, and though I want to write every day, I don’t always get the chance. The biggest drawback to this lack of daily writing is that the story gets too far away. Maybe those who write shorter pieces don’t have this problem, but trying to remember what happened three chapters ago in my novel when I haven’t written for a week or two, gets really difficult. One of the ways I deal with this is by recording my story and listening to it as I drive to and from work. Even better, I got my daughter to record it for me (not without it costing me, of course), so now I hear it as if it is someone else’s story, and that helps me to be more objective in my listening.  Not only can I keep the story going in my head, but I’m forced to listen to it without making changes. This may not always be good, but since I’m revising for plot right now, I don’t want to get caught up in the little details (which inevitably happens when I pull it up on the screen).

Audacity is a free audio editor and recorder that works on both PCs and Macs. I did have to download a free converter in order to convert the audio recording to mp3 so I could put

Cassette Tape
(an old audio medium)

it on my iTunes and move it to my iPod (which is what I use in my car–seeing as my car is old and only has a non-working cassette tape player–do people even know

what that is anymore?) The only other thing I purchased was a cheap microphone. It’s possible you could record with the built-in microphone, but it probably wouldn’t work as well.

Audacity open on computer

Audacity is pretty simple to use. I’m one of those “read directions only if I can’t figure it out” kind of people, so I just opened it up and got started. The red circle is record and the yellow square is stop. At first I read from a paper copy, but then I switched to split screen on the computer


Which looks like this:

Split Screen
Audacity and Scrivener

I do the actual recording in my closet (it’s a very small walk-in closet) because all the clothes prevent the echo or tinny effect that I get otherwise. And it also helps prevent other “noise” entering into the picture. (like the cat barfing or the kids fighting)



Once I’m done reading, I hit stop and then go to File and Export. I just put it on the

Export as MP3

desktop because I’m going to then import it into iTunes.







When I tell it to save, it allows me to put in some more information. This is really helpful when I pull it into iTunes, otherwise I have to try to find it.








When I open iTunes, I go up to File and click on Add to Library. Then I find my MP3 file on my desktop and add it. Kind of exciting to see it there!

My Story in iTunes








I move it to a playlist so I can listen to all the tracks in order, and then finally I can transfer it to my iPod.  Here is the first few paragraphs of my novel in progress, I Feel For You. (it is me reading (my daughter forbade me put her voice on the internet)–and I didn’t record it in my closet, sorry for the background noise.)  Valentine’s Day Storm