The Writing Process Quentin Tarantino’s Uses To Write Academy Award Winning Screenplays

Unsplash: Jaanus Jagomägi

Quentin Tarantino made a conscious change to his writing routine that helped improve his writing and propel him to be an award-winning screenwriter.

Specifically, a shift that he went through where in his mind, he went from an amateur to a professional writer. At the beginning of his career, he wrote how he thought writers were supposed to write. For those that don’t know, Tarantino is the Academy award-winning screenwriter, director, and producer of Pulp fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Inglorious basters, Kill Bill, Django Unchained, etc.

Tarantino implemented a meditative practice of floating in his pool after a day of writing that has helped him produce some of the best movies of all time.

Amateur to Professional

Early in Tarantino’s career he wrote at night and slept all morning. Or if he wrote during the day, it was at restaurants or bars while consuming coffee and food.

When he began writing Inglorious Bastards, he consciously changed his writing process.

He writes during the day at his home. Starting between 10:30–11:30 AM, and he stops between 4–7 PM. In the early evening, when he stops writing, he is either mid-sequence or at the end of a sequence, and he needs to figure out what to do next.

At this time, Tarantino jumps in his pool at his house, where he floats around in a meditative state, reflecting on what he wrote, thinking about where he can take the script.

After he knows where he will take the script next, he gets out of the pool and writes down not;es. Tarantino doesn’t go back to writing. Instead, he enjoys dinner and a relaxing evening. He sets himself up for success with the notes because they remove the friction in the morning to begin writing without thinking.

He throws himself a nice fat pitch that he knows he can knock out of the park the following day.

A Familiar Place

The critical takeaway here is that the pool is a constant variable.

The pool is a place for thinking without distraction. What this does is signal to a person’s brain that the pool is a place to think. The brain makes a connection between the pool and a specific way of thinking.

You could replace floating with walking, running, showering, taking a bath, etc.

Other Meditative Writers

The process reminds me of author Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

Both writers went through a switch in their writing routine. Early in Murakami’s career, he wrote late at night after the jazz bar he owned closed. Now, Murakami wakes up early, writes for 5–6 hours and goes for a run or a swim.

The run or swim is Murakami’s version of meditative Tarantino’s meditative practice.

Enjoy The Process

Tarantino says that his routine is a much more enjoyable way to write. You could attribute this to his success because the output will be better if you enjoy the process. On the other hand, if your writing process is tedious and takes a lot of willpower, it will get in the way of your ability.

“That’s ended up becoming this really enjoyable, really kind of lovely way to write.” Quentin Tarantino




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Mitchell Maynard

Mitchell Maynard

Writer. Thinker. Reader. Lifelong Learner.

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