On Writing | Rod Serling, 1924-1975

Rod Serling on writing

Rod Serling, Connecticut, 1956

“The easiest thing on earth [is] to come up with an idea … The hardest thing on earth is to put it down.”

“I take off and write out of a sense of desperate compulsion.”

“Every writer is a frustrated actor who recites his lines in the hidden auditorium of his skull.”

“It has forever been thus: So long as men write what they think, then all of the other freedoms – all of them – may remain intact. And it is then that writing becomes a weapon of truth, an article of faith, an act of courage.”

“Ideas come from the Earth. They come from every human experience that you’ve either witnessed or have heard about, translated into your brain in your own sense of dialogue, in your own language form. Ideas are born from what is smelled, heard, seen, experienced, felt, emotionalised. Ideas are probably in the air, like little tiny items of ozone.”

“All writers are born. They’re never made… on the other hand, we can sharpen the width of the writer. We can point out style to him. We can use the criteria that is age-old. Three thousand years of theatre. That he can utilise to make a judgement on the value of his own work. We can show him what can move people.”

“The writer’s role is to menace the public’s conscience. He must have a position, a point of view. He must see the arts as a vehicle of social criticism and he must focus on the issues of his time.”

“Whenever you write, whatever you write, never make the mistake of assuming the audience is any less intelligent than you are.”

“The writer in any field, and particularly the television writer, runs into “dry periods”—weeks or months when it seems that everything he writes goes the rounds and ultimately gets nowhere. This is not only a bad moment but an endless one. I remember a five-month period late in 1952 when my diet consisted chiefly of black coffee and fingernails. I’d written six half-hour television plays and each one had been rejected at least five times. What this kind of thing does to a family budget is obvious; and what it does to the personality of the writer is even worse.”

“[The Climax] must be valid. It must take the various character traits of the individuals involved in your story and make them do something or react to something as their nature dictates.”

“Imagination… its limits are only those of the mind itself.”

“The worst aspect of our time is prejudice… In almost everything I’ve written, there is a thread of this – man’s seemingly palpable need to dislike someone other than himself.”

“I was deeply interested in conveying what is a deeply felt conviction of my own. This is simply to suggest that human beings must involve themselves in the anguish of other human beings. This, I submit to you, is not a political thesis at all. It is simply an expression of what I would hope might be ultimately a simple humanity for humanity’s sake.”

Rod Serling, 1924-1975

Rodman Edward Serling (1924 – 1975) was an American screenwriter, playwright, television producer, and narrator/on-screen host, best known for his live television dramas of the 1950s and his anthology television series The Twilight Zone. Serling was active in politics, both on and off the screen, and helped form television industry standards. He was known as the “angry young man” of Hollywood, clashing with television executives and sponsors over a wide range of issues, including censorship, racism, and war.

The New Exhibit | The Twilight Zone ( S04E13) | John Brahm, 1963

Twilight Zone Poster Rod Serling poster

Twilight Zone Poster, Rod Serling / buy it here:

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