In a recent interview with Fast Company, author Gillian Flynn, writer of the 2012 blockbuster book Gone Girl, gives other artists a lesson in creativity. She communicates what she has found to be the most useful things to remember when creating one’s art. In the interview, she summarizes the valuable pieces of information she learned during the time period between writing the widely read Gone Girl and its transition into becoming the box-office hit it is today.
Flynn began moonlighting as a writer during her tenure at Entertainment Weekly and was laid off shortly after the publishing of her second book. Flynn says that by the time the transition came, she had sharpened her skills as an author and elevated her abilities to a place where Gone Girl was able to become a movie that would lead the box-office charts during the first two weeks of its release.
Having struggled as an artist who had to pay the bills during the day and perform her passion at night, Flynn has journeyed through enough experiences to advise others who desire to bask in the sweetness of their own art on how to make that dream a reality. Flynn started out wanting to enter the world of crime reporting and quickly found it was not the avenue she wanted to take. She felt she did not have what it took to be a “hard-boiled, tough” crime reporter and, while still attending journalism school, decided to shift her focus to movies, television, and books. This decision led her to the road which caused her to author Gone Girl and gave her the ability to, now, provide lessons in creativity to other aspiring artists.
The first valuable lesson Flynn’s life has to bestow upon fellow creatives is that they must be emotionally invested their own story. She recalls starting several projects, writing 20 to 30 pages of it, and then putting it away. She knew that one of her first successful pieces, Sharp Objects would be a success because, while she was writing it, no matter what she had going on, she always had the passion to pick up and continue with it. She was correct and the success of that piece allowed her to obtain her second book deal.
Flynn initially decided to write her next piece, Dark Places, from a different, more positive place because she did not want to become boxed in and known as a writer who only wrote “bad women.” “And it was really awful,” said Flynn. Luckily, Flynn had a wonderful support system in her husband who was able to help her see on her own why the lead character she was developing was not working for her.
Flynn scrapped the story altogether and began telling it from her point of view. The Gone Girl author says it was a lesson learned that helped her see that it is more important to write the novel one is meant to write as opposed to attempting to write something just because it may please the critics, or even the people. Flynn calls this a great lesson that has the potential of setting free other writers by reminding them to never let outside voices dictate what they should write.
The Gone Girl author goes on to give further lessons in creativity recanting tales of her own emergence as a well-known author, including her life with her father, who was also a screenwriter. Flynn says that other important lessons she has learned over the years include allowing one’s own life form the life of their characters, knowing when to break one’s own rules, and the power behind doing it yourself.
by Bridgette Bryant
Photo by: Paul Bence – Flickr License