Johnny Depp — aside from having looks that cause heart palpitations in women across the world — has a unique approach to his career: he doesn’t watch his movies. Specifically, his acting philosophy is solely centered on his craft, not on the product. He says, “I just prefer the experience. I like the experience, I like the process, I like doing the work.”
So many authors that I’ve worked with can get too wrapped up in the “end product.” It’s only natural — after all, having a goal of a published book in mind is what drives so many authors to finish the grueling writing process. But, what happens when we embrace Mr. Depp’s craft-oriented work ethic?
Here are 3 ways to write like Johnny Depp acts:
1. Know that mastering the craft is a lifelong process — not a one-time-and-it’s-done kind of thing.
If you’ve read any advice from writing greats like Ernest Hemingway, Joan Didion or John Steinbeck, you know that even those we all regard to be literary masters still wrote every day. There’s a reason why they continued to practice, practice, practice: there’s always room to improve your writing. Embracing Johnny Depp’s philosophy forces writers to live in the moment, and appreciate the very act of stringing together words, sentences and chapters.
Especially for writers who struggle with writing a certain amount of words a day, this is a very zen way to approach your craft, which might open up your mind to new possibilities and help you find joy — not stress — in writing.
2. Remember that focusing on the end-product can force writers to chase perfection — which isn’t possible.
It’s interesting that such a famous movie star like Depp isn’t even interested in seeing himself on a gigantic screen. But, I can see the appeal. Think about how watching yourself can cause even the least vain of actors to scrutinize every wrinkle, or criticize every delivery of a line.
Your duty as author is not to create a work of perfection; your duty is to produce a well-crafted work that speaks your message or tells a story to readers in the most effective way possible. Don’t ask yourself: “Is this perfect?” Instead, ask: “Will readers understand exactly what I mean here? How can I make this more powerful or effective?”
Steinbeck didn’t sit down one day and decide that he wanted to be famous or write a perfect book — he simply wrote because it was his passion to do so.
3. Write what you’re passionate about — not what you think will sell.
Sure, Johnny Depp is known for some mega blockbuster hits — The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, for instance — but he also chooses interesting, eccentric roles in what come to be lesser known movies. Yet, all of his characters are intriguing and real. It’s as if he’s not the one choosing roles for a movie; the characters are the ones that choose him.
Write what you love to write about, even if you don’t see a market out there for it. You may discover something about yourself that you wouldn’t have otherwise.