Last weekend I watched Christopher Nolan’s new film, ‘Interstellar’. It’s a film set in the near future about a group of people who have to travel into deep space, to save humanity. It has some of the best cinematography I’ve ever seen, and a powerful, emotive narrative. It’s epic in every sense of the word.
‘Interstellar’ is a demonstration of a master at work. It’s Christopher Nolan at the absolute peak of his powers as a filmmaker. Someone with total mastery of their craft, in every possible sense. The storytelling, cinematography, soundtrack, editing, and epic size of the movie are perfectly seamless.
‘Interstellar’ is a cinematic masterpiece.
And when I watched it, and reflected on it afterward, one of the things which stuck with me purely from an artistic perspective was simply this:
My main goal in writing is to leave a positive impact on the world. To serve others.
But outside of this, my biggest hope is that I can master the art of writing and storytelling, in the way Chris Nolan has mastered the art filmmaking. To have the command over words and stories which Nolan currently holds over the art of filmmaking.
It may be my biggest test as a writer.
The film also convinced me of one other, crucial fact. That to become a master writer, I must become a master storyteller.
Movies have the power to communicate deep truths about ourselves, confronting us with truths within us. And the reason movies can do this like no other, is because of the power of story.
The best films are great stories. And a great story is one which meets us all in our stories.
A great story is all our stories. (you can tweet that)
My challenge as a writer is always to tell a great story. Even in blog posts and non-fiction, the impact of a piece can often be in how well we tell the story, share the metaphor.
The biggest questions we need to confront as human beings will always be most effectively communicated through great story – whether that’s in fiction or non-fiction. We’ve all heard talks, lectures, and sermons which have inspired us. And chances are what connected us to the message was a story. A story we connected with, resonated with, or which impacted us deeply.
All the best communicators we know, are great storytellers. Whether it’s filmmakers, poets, songwriters, speakers or authors. All the best ones tell great stories.
To master the craft of writing, then, I must also master the art of storytelling.
And what’s the only way to get there?
Simple. Doing the work.
Writing regularly, shipping work publicly, reading, learning. Investing myself in my own growth and in the cultivation of my gift.
For all of us writers, painters, musicians, filmmakers, artists, this is our ongoing challenge. To keep working, shipping, learning, improving & honing our gifts.
To do the work. And keep doing the work.
But there is an ironic truth about mastery.
The Truth of Mastery
And what is this truth? It’s that we’ll never reach our destination.
Though Chris Nolan has mastered filmmaking in many ways, he will see himself as still on a journey. He will be looking for ways to improve, grow, and develop.
It’s that attitude which allows the great artists to continue to create amazing work throughout their lives.
By continually setting the bar higher.
My first full length book comes out next year. I’ve no doubt in terms of quality it will be one of my worst. Not because the content or message is bad – in fact, it’s a message I deeply care about and believe in – but because I hope over time, as I write and publish more books, I will become a better writer. And as such, the work I create in future will of a higher standard.
As artists we should always be aspiring to improve, develop and grow in our craft. To make our next work the best we’ve ever created.
It’s up to us.
If this is our destiny, our calling, our gift, we must pursue it.
We must give ourselves to our craft. Invest our time, energy and money into it. Do the work. Keep creating. Keep shipping. And continue to learn, grow and improve.
Chris Nolan did this with filmmaking. He’s been making films for decades, long before he got into major pictures.
And each work contributed to making him into the master filmmaker he now is.
So if you watch Interstellar (and please, go watch it, it’s phenomenal – there’s a taster below), watch the masterful filmmaking on view. Take inspiration from it as an artist. Be reminded of what can be achieved if we truly invest ourselves in our craft.
Who knows, one day people might be talking about something you’ve created as a masterpiece. It might not be an internationally-known work, only a few may know about it. But it will be our masterpiece.
And we’re all capable of those.
Question for Reflection:
Are you willing to invest yourself in your craft?
Let me know in the comments below!
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