Thursday, May 23, 2013

Put one foot in front of the other

One of my favorite inspirational authors and speakers, Doreen Virtue, had a post on her Facebook page awhile ago. "Every goal and change is accomplished one step at a time. Keep your focus centered on the current step that you’re taking. Don’t worry about the ones that you’ll take next week, month, or year". Isn't this so true, especially for writers? But are we all really doing this?

When it comes to writing, it's all we can and should do. Maybe it's the first class we take, or the first writing group we go to, or the first time we let others read our pages out loud. We don't know how long the journey will take till we reach success. But it's not about that. It's about being a writer. Getting our words on the page. That's all we can control. Looking far into the future of when success will hit, that's not our concern. If we worry about that, we may never succeed.

Does a famous athlete worry about how he'll perform in the Super Bowl or any big game? Nope. If he does, he won't succeed. In fact, just the opposite will happen. What makes a good athlete is doing what he does best. Not worrying about the outcome. And I think as writers, we need to do the same thing. I've seen too many writers disappear from their dreams because they focus on the final outcome of success. And when they don't see it happen in the schedule or timeline they hoped, they drop out. But what if they were on the verge of reaching that success? Or what if success would have been greater than they imagined, but it would take 15 years, instead of two? Don't worry about the timeline. Just know that you're always becoming a better writer. You're finding your voice. You're stumbling upon new stories all the time. Meeting new people that can help you achieve your dream. When all that lines up, you will succeed. But for now, just put one foot in front of the other. That's all we have. Now. Worry about what to do now. Which is write. Then go do it. The rest will happen when it's time.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Don't be so critical

I think it's just an artist thing, but we tend to be really hard on ourselves. And truly, I think there's enough people in the world who are waiting to do that for us. So if there's one person who we should feel safe around, it's ourselves. It's what puts writers into writers block, for fear of writing crap. But if we don't get it on the page, we'll never get that moment to write something brilliant. I've definitely seen friends who have stalled at writing anything, because they've listened to that inner critic and given it too much power. I've told them all, just get it on the page!

I think for me, reading The Artist's Way has really helped. I read it years ago. But the author makes you write daily pages without reading what you write. But the good thing about that is you get in the practice to just get something on the page without being critical about it. I've taken that practice and use that with my screenplays. So I'm always writing. Always getting something on the page. I don't worry if it's any good. If it's on the page, you can at least get it to be good. If you keep it in your head, then you have nothing to work with. But once it's on the page, you've got a start. And a start can turn into a finished product.

I've even noticed with my 9-year-old son who's an artist. And he'll be so critical of his work. I try to teach him the same thing. Just get it on the page. Once it's there, you can redraw, learn knew techniques, eventually get better and better and better. I think he's listening to me. But seeing my critical self in my child definitely reminds me how harsh we artists can be. And it's such a detriment. So the next time you're hard on your writing treat yourself how I treat my child, with love and compassion and encouragement. If artists aren't creating, the world will truly suffer for it.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Sometimes procrastinating is a good thing

Okay, I'm not talking about watching TV every single night and forgetting that you're a writer. But when you're sitting down working on a script, and here and there you find your mind wandering, I truly think this is part of the process. Heck, I'm writing my blog to you right now as I'm writing my latest comedy. I think what it is, is that our little brains are doing a lot of work when we write. And every so often, our brain gets tired! It's like, hey, you've been squeezing out brilliance all day, do something else for a couple minutes!

So yes, I do find myself posting on Facebook or reading the headlines on Huffington Post or writing my screenwriting blog. I figure as long as I'm banging out pages that I'm happy with, then I'm doing what needs to be done. I'm not forgetting that my main job is to write. But by letting my story breathe, letting my brain focus on something other than the story, I'm actually coming up with the story.

The trick is making sure you're not letting other things get in the way of your writing. For me, I make sure I stay in my seat at my desk. I also make sure that I see my page count increase. If I haven't added any pages, then it would be time to worry. But we don't really know what goes on when we create magic on a blank page. And I really think that part of that magic, is letting our mind do what it wants. And sometimes that means procrastinating. Since I've just done some of mine, it's now time to go write a few more pages.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Where's the marching band?

So I had a meeting with the big producer I've been working with since last year. We were finally going to meet on the outline for the story we're developing together. So I expected at least two or three rounds of notes on the outline before I got to write the script. Well, guess what? He tells me he has almost no notes and that he'll email me what he has. But that basically I should start writing the script! Woo hoo! The words I've longed to hear since last year! He tells me to start sending him pages, 20 at a time. I'm just ecstatic! He also tells me he's going to set me up with a manager, and starts naming all these A-list managers. Woo hoo again! I couldn't believe it! Pinch me please!

So then I leave his office so excited and I'm texting my husband, "Good news!" And I'm walking to my car. And then I drive home to pick up my son from school. And then we do homework. And well, that's it! I had to live my life just the way I did before I got the good news! And I was like, wait, isn't something amazing supposed to happen after I get such amazing news?! Isn't there some awesome marching band like out of Dr. Seuss's book where the boy looks out the window and some fantastical band just marches past him. I wanted that! I wanted horns, and confetti, and something amazing! But that didn't happen. It was good news, and life went on.

And now, I'm writing the script, but just like every other day. I guess it just means all those normal days when I was writing scripts just for me, they were preparing me for the day when I'd be writing it for someone this big in Hollywood. So even though there's nothing as earth shattering as I was hoping it could be, it means I'm prepared for it. And truthfully, that's exciting enough.