1. Be fearless.
Throughout his long career, Christopher Walken has not been afraid of taking chances. He plays outrageous characters (remember Diane Keaton’s character’s brother in Annie Hall and Leo DiCaprio’s character’s father in Catch Me If You Can?) He took creative chances with those characters and wasn’t afraid to fail.
Alan Alda, MASH’s Hawkeye Pierce, sums it up really well:
“Be brave enough to live creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You cannot get there by bus, only by hard work, risking and by not quite knowing what you are doing.”
Writing takeaway: Try out new ideas regularly. It is the only way you will grow.
2. Put your personal spin on an old idea.
So many writers and bloggers are concerned about finding brand new ideas all the time. Christopher Walken has a unique take and personal voice that shines through, even when he is tackling someone else’s work, as the video above shows in Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, as read by Christopher Walken. He is allowing us to get into his bizarrely creative mind and letting us see how he thinks.
Writing takeaway: Review a book or talk about another author in a blog post, but let us see how you view the world.
3. Turn the expected on its ear.
Walken is a genius at answering a question with another question. You can just see his creative thinking process when he says to an interviewer, “Yeah, you could do it that way. But what would happen if you did this instead? “
Writing takeaway: Turn a conventional idea upside down and ask yourself, “what if?” questions. Scribble it all down, uncensored. Because an idea that seems crazy at first glance just might work.
4. Don’t overthink.
I absolutely love this man because he says whatever comes into his mind. Walken is almost childlike in this way. And we relate to him because of the honesty and the willingness to share his most spontaneous thoughts. (It doesn’t hurt that they are often hilarious.)
What do we get with raw and uncut? As actors in improvisational theatre will tell you, often the best ideas come when the left, analytical side of the brain is turned off and you say the first thing that comes to your mind.
Writing takeaway: Don’t be too linear with your blog post (or short story or novel). Let the words spill out and save the editing for the second draft. You may be surprised at what you come up with.
5. Remove outside distractions.
In a recent interview with The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, Christopher Walken said that he doesn’t own a computer or a cell phone. Now, granted, this seems extreme and some of us need those two things to stay in business, but there is a nugget of truth here.
Writing takeaway: Spend some quality time inside your own mind. Go into that “wilderness of the intuition” Alan Alda was talking about. Turn off the internet and silence the ringtone on that phone. You’ll be less likely to be just repeating other people’s thoughts.
What about you?
Is there an actor who inspires you?
Have you had success with any of these tips?