Thursday, May 31, 2012

Why I heart Jack White

Okay, if you don't know who he is, go find out now! Okay, kidding, sort of. Jack White is the brilliance behind the White Stripes. He's one of our generation's most talented musicians. It's not my opinion, it's just fact. He's like a true rock god. Seriously. Saw him last night at the Wiltern and wow, just reminded how amazing he truly is. Now I'm not just writing this to brag about going out. Because yes, I don't do much of that any more. But I'm writing it because of his passion to his art. We writers need to remember that that's our job too. That's what sets us apart from other writers who do not have that passion. See, Jack White's passion is so completely and consumingly intense. He doesn't hold back, he doesn't apologize for it, he just lets his passion come out in what he writes and when he performs. And as writers, we need to remember that's what we are supposed to do and be. I remember years and years ago when I was first discovering I wanted to write screenplays, and I would talk with excitement about certain movies I loved and why they were good. And some people who weren't into film would sort of look oddly at me, like, what's her problem? And I felt almost like I had to apologize for my excitement. But then another time not long after, I was around other writers who also loved the craft and loved true and utter talent, and they had as much passion for the craft as I did. And we all got so completely excited and that's when I realized, I don't need to apologize for my passion! There was no reason I needed to hold back. I just needed to find other people who were just as excited as me! And when you have that kind of passion, when you let it flow through you and your work, it becomes true brilliance. I mean think of you favorite movies or directors or actors, are they milk toast and bland? Or are they intense and almost shoot off the screen when you seem them? Of course it's the latter. And we writers, we need to pour ourselves into our work and not hold back. Go for it with all your heart and all your gusto. Because what's the point of writing if we're not going to do it 200%! So yes, Jack White is amazingly awesome. And seriously go look him up on youtube. If you don't get him, then keep watching him till you do. The guy is pure brilliance. Then once you've been inspired enough, go write your screenplays with as much passion and I promise you, you'll get noticed by Hollywood. It would almost be impossible not to.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How to write when life hits you a blow

I don't know about you, but when I'm going through something sadly huge, like the death of a loved one, I just can't write to save my life. Now, I write comedies. So maybe that's why. I can't be funny when I'm crying my eyes out. Call me crazy! But, as a writer, I always feel like I should be writing almost every single day. So, what is one to do when life is too tumultuous to write? Well personally, I give myself that breathing room to go through whatever sad or bad event that has been thrown my way. I look at it as, well, maybe I'm supposed to take a break from my writing. The universe has knowingly put me through this emotional event, so it must not want me to write just right now. But being someone who never likes to feel like I'm not pushing forward in my writing career, I have to do SOMETHING to help my writing. So those are the times when watching movies in your genre are good. Or reading the latest screenplay books, if you have the mindset for it. Or reading scripts. Believe me, there have been times when none of that even matters, and whatever I'm going through just gets in the way. So I just watch as many comedies on Netflix that I can get my writing hands on. I always know when it's time to start writing when I actually care about writing again. I might not have all the emotional energy to do it. So I use a contest as a goal to inspire myself. I remember last year after my younger brother passed, I did that. I knew my script wouldn't be in the perfect shape to enter the contest. But just being able to use the deadline as a goal really helped me at least finish the first draft. Today I'm waiting to hear that my mom has safely come out of her exploratory surgery. I'm hoping for only the best of news. Luckily I have a concert to go to tonight to take my mind off of things. Because maybe I wouldn't have the emotional energy to write after this whole day of patiently waiting. So I'll watch my favorite artist as he inspires me. And reminds me that being creative and sharing it with the world, is a truly awesome thing. By tomorrow, I know I'll be ready to do just that myself.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Do you know who you are as a writer?

We hear about "finding your voice". But do you know exactly what that means? I think the writers that don't know, are still searching. I remember early on hearing it and not really getting what that meant at all. But lately, I've become more and more confident as a writer in the way that I can say, "this is what I write, take it or leave it." It's me! It's all me. And you may not like it, but that's no different than telling me you don't like that my nose is on my face. It's going to be there whether you agree with it or not. And that's how I feel about my writing. This is my style, love it or not, but it's who I am. And part of that "knowing" has come from also learning to become more confident in myself. Not that I mean I don't have doubts at times. But what it means is that I've learned to really stand up for myself in ways I never did before. For instance, I even had an issue I had to deal with this year with my son and a friend of his. Turns out the friend hadn't been nice to him for quite some time. As much as I tried to get him to stand up for himself, he just wasn't ready for that. And then it was starting to spread to his other friends not being nice to him. I knew I had to stand up for him before it got really ugly. So, as uncomfortable as it was for me, I had to approach the mom and tell her what was going on and pray that it got better, not worse! It was scary for a bit, but it all worked out in the end. Phew! But I learned a lot by doing that. I faced my fears and was rewarded for it! And I'm learning to do similar with my writing. Part of that also came from reading an article about how Arthur Miller, author of Death of a Salesman, was given notes that his play was really not that great at all. He made the changes and it still wasn't getting the response he hoped for. So in the end he decided to go with his original. He felt, if he's going to sink, he wants to do it the way he wants. And the rest is history. It's one of the most performed plays ever. And that got me to thinking. If he could be given notes to change everything he wrote and then be right in not listening to them, then what if we writers are sometimes not supposed to take every note we get? It was eye-opening and refreshing. Of course, me and my writer's group friends are at the stage of working with high-profile producers. So we're not newbies, to say the least. At this point, we get the craft. So really, the notes we get should only help our scripts be clarified better. But in the end, we have to trust as writers that what we put on the page, is what we want on the page. And notes that we get that aren't the story we want to tell, we can simply plain ignore. That's what "finding your voice" is all about. But when you think about it, I think we are always growing and always developing. Because as writers, don't we always want to keep on reinventing ourselves and what we write? I know I do. And I look forward to finding "my voice" over and over again.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Follow your inner guide

We all have this sort of internal compass. It tells us what kind of dinner we want, if it's time to go to bed, if we think watching Dancing With The Stars will be more entertaining than sports highlights. But for some reason, when it comes to following our passion, finding what we want to do with our careers and life, we forget to listen to that inner guidance. My theory is that, not to blame our parents, but most of them that wanted us to have a safe path in life. So perhaps they told us to become accountants instead of writers. Or didn't encourage us as children when we showed an aptitude for being an artist. There were also many parents, even in this day, that don't really know how to encourage a child to trust their own inner guidance. Most likely they weren't taught that either, so they just continue the pattern. But when you grow up not trusting your own inner voice, then how in the world are you supposed to recognize when it's there? But your inner voice is what tells you that you want to be an artist, when you're busy making a career out of banking. And maybe it's a soft nagging voice. But you ignore that nagging voice. Because your whole life your parents and society might have told you, that nagging voice didn't matter. And then eventually, you just get used to ignoring that nagging voice. But guess what? That nagging voice speaks really loudly when you get older. It's called "Midlife Crises"!!! It's the people that look at their lives, see the wife, the kids, the nice house and go wait...! This wasn't what I meant to do! And it doesn't mean the kids and wife need to be tossed out, even though unfortunately that happens sometimes. But if you had just followed that inner voice you never would be in that darn place at all. Even just this week my 8-year old son told me and my husband that he wanted to stop playing club soccer. He's really good, is on the top team for his age group of a really well known club soccer league. And at first we were kind of like, what?! But you love soccer. You love playing it! You never want to leave practice when it's over! So I spent a week asking him every single question to get to the bottom of what he was feeling. I wanted him to understand his feelings, understand his inner voice, really know who he is and what he was feeling about the situation. And you know what? He really doesn't like it any more, at least not the competitive aspect of it. It seems he just wants to enjoy the fun of it and play around on the soccer field. Not such strong competition. But imagine what that would have done to him as an adult if I just let him ignore that inner voice. He would have subconsciously told himself that it doesn't matter if it felt wrong for him. And that's how he would have lived his life. And then he'd turn into an adult that ignores their inner voice. It's just one wrong step of many. But instead, we want him to honor that inner voice. And as writers, we need that inner voice. It's what guides us to know what project to write. To hear the inspiration in the first place. To know who to trust in this crazy business called "show". I find for me, as I am getting closer and closer to success, the inner voice is almost electric. I feel this intense excitement right before I get a phone call or run into someone who's going to turn into an amazing opportunity. But if I hadn't learned to recognize that inner voice, I'd probably write it off to something I couldn't quite put a finger on. It's really intense too. Maybe it's why so many people are on xanax and other relaxation pills. Maybe they're all drowning out their inner voices! But I recognize it and then when it turns out to be correct, that the intense feeling really does come before a phone call from the producer I expected, then it just validates I am in touch with my inner voice. The more practice we get at being correct, the more our inner voice can guide us in life and writing in general. And we writers need all the guidance we can get, right?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A screenwriting website worth checking out

There are a lot of screenwriting websites out there, yes. But not all of them have the wonderful knowledge coming from Christopher Lockhart. He's worked at ICM for probably most of his career and now he produces films. But besides that, the guy just cares about the craft of writing and helping writers get ahead. He spends much of his own free time on the twoadverbs website giving newbies guidance on their loglines and ideas. I'm not sure when he sleeps, because he always seems to be doing more and more for fellow writers. Going to in my opinion can save screenwriters years of wasting time on screenplays that will never end up going anywhere because of the lack of it being commercial. If it wasn't for Christopher, I'm sure it would have taken me even longer to start seeing my success unfold. So that's why I'm writing a blog and giving a shout out to The writers on there are pretty helpful too. You get to know which writers hang out the most and have the most to offer. Sure, like any screenwriting website with a forum there can be people that make you scratch your head and wonder, "where did they get that opinion?" But most of them are really helpful and care to guide you towards the best idea possible. Occasionally CL even has contests. Not sure if he has lately. I haven't had as much time to peruse the site. But check it out when you have a moment. I think you'll like stopping by.