2021 Resolutions

Premium Vector | 2021 neon sign, bright signboard.

This is the year I’m going to make things happen. We strike a pose and make a fist to emphasize the point.

How many times have we said that?

Looking at a new year in terms of making leaps and bounds towards our goals sounds good, in theory, but in actuality, imagining a whole year to accomplish great things is daunting. 12 months is a big chunk of time. Even though it passes in a blink of an eye. Without periodic check-ins, thinking we have so much time to do everything we want to do generally has the opposite effect and we end up starting grand, petering out, only to approach December in a sort of panic that we didn’t accomplish all we had hoped.

Then the subsequent self admonishment, pity, anger, and false assurances that we’ll do better “next year” begins.

We need to not think about our goals in relationship to the whole year. Instead we need to create more manageable terms, such as what can we accomplish in the next 3 months? After 3 months, we should evaluate, reassess, adjust and move forward for the following 3 months and so on.

By setting short term goals, we can trick our minds into focusing on the task at hand (well, that’s my hope anyway). I do better when I know there’s an external deadline to meet. It’s hard set, not just some self deluded, fanciful idea that I will complete my screenplay without an outside driving force in the next few months – especially when I have an impending move and all that goes with it on the horizon…((panic mode)) – without that deadline, the pressure, I know I will slack off a bit.

And this is where knowing how we best operate is key. In what environment do you best work? At what time? Do you constantly meet your goals or do you play fast and loose? How do you best keep yourself accountable?

I said I would share my resolutions and I will. Every 3 months. I’m looking at these first 3 months skeptically because of the move but it is my hope ((crosses fingers)) that I will finally, once and for all, no-more-rewriting-unless-paid-to-do-so, complete my screenplay Fate(s). I only have the 3rd act to finish and I have it mostly worked out now.

I have other writing resolutions and personal ones too but this year I’m trying my best to temper my ambitions. I always want to do so much, thinking a whole year is plenty of time…I have learned I am wrong.

So thinking on our goals for 2021, I offer you the following three questions I found in an article I read in 2019. I’ve been contemplating them and thought I would share them as part of my resolution post because while goal setting is a fine endeavor, if we don’t want to feel disappointed in our yearly resolutions, maybe we should reevaluate how we define success, for ourselves.

  1. What needs to happen by the end of the year to make it great?
  2. What needs to happen/be accomplished to feel successful?
  3. What will give you validation?

And finally, to end on a note of encouragement, because it doesn’t feel that overwhelming, a word from C. Robert Cargill, a writer I follow on Twitter:

There are 261 working days in 2021. If you write just 1 page every work day, taking holidays and weekends off, you can write at least 2 scripts or 1 novel in 2021. If you write just 2 pages every work day, you can write 5 scripts or 2 novels in 2021.

I hope we all move forward to accomplishing our goals this year. If you’d like to be part of an accountability group or know of one we can all join, please share. I’m thinking of creating something after we settle from the move – a goal for the 2nd quarter.

Happy Writing!

First Quote Monday of 2021

Starting off the new year it’s gotta be a good one, right?

I rattled around on Pinterest looking for the best quote to share about goal setting, looking forward, or starting the new year off with purpose and focus, etc. and thought I had settled upon one until I remembered a quote I’ve written down in each of my journals from the talented Phoebe Waller-Bridge, creator of Fleabag.

What would I do if I wasn’t afraid? What would I write if I wasn’t afraid? What would I say in this situation if I wasn’t afraid?

I’ve had a bit of anxiety about a variety of things recently, and while yoga is offering me some peace of mind, taking action requires a fair amount of bravery, in any aspect of our lives. This is why I chose to share this quote. Fear can put a stop to momentum and I can imagine after the past year, we could all use a bit of encouragement to take back the control where we can.

I don’t want to shy away from taking steps to move my life forward. I don’t want to shy away from being bold in my writing. I don’t want to fear taking a risk. I don’t want fear to cause me to miss an opportunity.

I’m putting this out there in the hopes that we can support one another in this creative community. So tell me, in what area of your life do you want to be brave? What’s a goal you’ve been afraid to tackle? Are you ready to conquer! Let’s do it…together!

Here’s to taking on 2021!

The Last Quote of 2020

35 Best Inspirational Quotes About The New Year That Prove 2019 Is Going To Be Your Best Year Yet | YourTango

I always say that I don’t like to make resolutions; that a goal can be set at any time. This is probably because I was like most people who fell off the wagon a couple of months into whatever resolution they had set for themselves. The keyword in that sentence is “was”. I was like that, and yes, I still have my moments, but I’m getting better…well, I try.

A few years ago I realized I hadn’t read a single book all year. Not one. I also realized I hadn’t watched a movie besides those in the MCU or Star Wars that were in theaters that year. What’s that then, maybe three movies? And I want to be a writer – of movies. Sheesh.

Upon this discovery I set two goals/resolutions for the following year: read more and watch more. I started my “one-movie-a-week challenge” which means 52 new movies a year and I use Goodreads to set a reading goal and track my progress. I usually have a few other things I want to do – I still want to learn to sew – and that’s where I tend to fall short. I need to find or create a goal tracker for these other things I’d like to accomplish.

With the longest year ever nearly behind us, there’s a big shining light at the end of the tunnel. If this year has taught us anything it’s that we’re resilient, that time truly is precious, and that we should find and do what makes us happy. I did a lot of soul searching this year and have an idea of the life I’d like to build, and now look to the horizon to make that possible.

So next week I’m going to share my resolutions for 2021 (yep, I’m calling them by their name). And it is my hope that by putting them out into the world, I’ll hold myself accountable. I’ve been thinking that it might be a good idea to create an “accountability team”. If you’d like to be a part of it, I’m going to put out the call, and we’ll work together to follow through on those goals. I hope you’ll join me.

And here’s to 2021. May you bring with you good things.

Flashback Friday #1: Routine

500 followers uploaded by Inès on We Heart It

My post on “writing a TV pilot” was my 500th; a milestone I should have reached some time ago. I sort of feel like Bob from the Bob’s Burgers episode “Sacred Cow” (S1E3) in which they celebrate the sale of the 100,000th burger, which should have happened long before, as evident by the dot matrix banner used to commemorate the occasion.

Having reached such a marker, I thought it might be nice to reflect on the posts that have come before, not only as a reflection for myself but also as a learning tool, because as the title of my blog suggests, I have a terrible memory and it would be nice to remember what I’ve come across and shared in the past.

Writing tips are always helpful, and if forgotten, necessary to revisit.

So starting back in the earliest days of my blog, I wrote about routines. As I stated just a few posts ago, I’m working on a new one. How things do come full circle.

September 6, 2013:

In 1932, Henry Miller, the famous writer and painter created a work schedule that listed his “Commandments” for him to follow as part of his daily routine. This list was published in the book, Henry Miller On Writing.

  1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
  2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to “Black Spring.”
  3. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
  4. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
  5. When you can’t create you can work.
  6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
  7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
  8. Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
  9. Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
  10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
  11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.

This is what worked for Henry Miller, so keep this in mind when creating a schedule for yourself. You know what parameters you need to work efficiently, so build a plan with those in mind.

I cannot write first thing in the morning. I’m not alert until after my second cup of tea, and then some. I used to write at night, after the world was asleep, but now I’m realizing that my home world is quiet earlier in the day so I need to rethink my plan so that I can be more effective.

Try a new schedule. Tweak where necessary. Try again.

Keep at it and Happy Writing!

How to Write a TV Pilot

Writing a teleplay is quite a bit different from writing a feature…or so I’m learning. With the ever expanding television market in need of fresh content, a screenwriter looking to break in must have a well rounded portfolio.

I hadn’t really given writing for TV much attention prior to the new “golden age” because none of the story ideas I had felt like they could be sustained for multiple episodes over multiple seasons. That was until The Demeter, my sci-fi/space/family drama. As I dug in and got to know my characters and the new world(s) I was creating, the more I realized it could not be contained to a single film, or even two.

I suppose that’s a good measuring stick for a story’s place and purpose.

So I gave my idea a go and wrote a pilot.

After what I was hoping would be my last rewrite, I asked one of my AFF friends to give it a read and offer some feedback*, and goodness, did she deliver. The most useful note I received was that my protagonist had become passive halfway through the script.

I did not see this. And this is why it’s useful to get an outside perspective.

There are a lot of points to hit in any screenplay but in a pilot, it needs to happen quickly. You not only need to introduce your characters, the world, the plot, your voice, where the story is going to go, and your characters’ desires but you also need to do all this in anywhere from 30 to 60 pages. Roughly.

And all while making it unique and interesting and coherent.

When you write a feature you still have all the same boxes to tick but without the need to sustain the story long term, the information given is precisely chosen, and therefore the story is streamlined.

Among the feedback, my friend also sent me this graphic from writer, David Steinberg which is both helpful and maddening.

According to the graphic, there are 10 things your pilot must do or set up in addition to some of what I listed above. Take one of your favorite tv shows and compare the pilot to these necessary elements. Does it hold up? Is anything missing? In light of these elements, or lack thereof, are any of these the reason you tuned in each week?

If you’ve been considering writing a pilot, and you find yourself overwhelmed by all of this information, don’t be put off, like I was initially. Discovering my protagonist had stopped being proactive makes a major rewrite the inevitable next step, and while a crushing blow, a necessity. This is why rewrites are considered the actual writing. They fine tune and make us aware of what’s needed to create a well rounded, compelling story.

I’ll have more tips on this topic in the coming weeks, but if you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to ask!

Happy Writing!

*With any feedback, it’s important to note that you should take it with a grain of salt, at least until people are paying you for your work. And then you may have to pick your battles. Your story is yours, and while feedback is helpful, pick and choose what best serves your story.

Quote Monday

I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself this year. Having quit my job a year ago, I had grand plans for how I was going to handle the few months I was giving myself before The Sis and I moved and we started our lives in a new town. Fast forward to nearly a year in a pandemic, and the pressure has only grown more intense.

If I was not going to go back to work, as we were teetering on the constant see-saw of should we/shouldn’t we move, then I better have something to show for all the time I had been given. After a number of false starts, blindly staring at a computer screen job and house hunting, writing easy-out blog posts, finding busy work to distract, and using a number of other excuses, the months passed and I was no closer to accomplishing any of the goals I had set for myself.

It’s not as if my goals were so lofty that they were unattainable, but not using my time better, because I was trying to do too many things each day, consistently left me feeling bad about myself and perpetuated the unmotivated side that used excuses for the lack of progress rather than confronting the fact that what I was doing everyday was the definition of insanity.

It has taken some time, but I have come to the conclusion that I need to format my time differently. The old writer’s adage “Write Every Day” has stressed me out, so much so that I’m lucky if I’m able to write even once a week.

A sad state of affairs.

I have chosen to create a weekly schedule that allows me to write on certain days and utilize the other days to accomplish the other tasks I want or that I defer to to distract me. It sounds so simple and yet it has taken me all this time to discover it. Instead of trying to do everything everyday, I’ll do at least one thing each day and make incremental progress on each. This way I don’t feel guilty on Tuesday for not writing because I’m supposed to be working on my Etsy shop. I will have written on Monday and will again on Wednesday.

Is this the right course of action? I don’t know yet. But I’m looking forward to finding out.

How do you schedule your time to ensure you accomplish all that you want to do?

Quote of the Week

Be proud of your journey!  #skinnyms #transformation #enewsletter

After reading my post about reflecting on the Austin Film Festival a year later, some of my friends said I was being too hard on myself.

It’s easy to be hard on ourselves. We’re usually our own harshest critic. I’ve long had an on-again off-again relationship with my feelings of self worth. Bad decisions are a part of life, no matter their size, and I often wonder if a certain decision here or there altered my path because I have a bad habit of comparing my current situation to where, ideally, I think I should be by now.

As positive as I try to be, I stumble occasionally. It’s hard not to see the goal in sight and maintain the momentum and positivity, but the creative path is a challenging one – one I embraced long ago, as many of you have as well – and so while we may suffer in our pursuit, we know why we do.

When I shared with a friend that I was reworking an entire act of one of my screenplays, he was in awe of my ability to do something like that. I was surprised by the reaction because I didn’t think it was awe inspiring. I am a writer. It’s what I do. It’s how I identify no matter what else I may be doing. And in that moment, I found a twinkle of pride.

I am a writer.

I may struggle with my writing from time to time but it is my calling, and I have to get out of the mindset that it doesn’t have value until others think it does, and that any small step towards accomplishing my goal is not worth being proud of.

So let’s take a moment to celebrate our hard work. No matter where we are on our journey, we’ve come a long way from where we started, and we should be proud of that.

A writer’s group I’m a part of does weekly check-ins of progress, and I’d like to try that here. I’d be delighted if you’d share a proud moment in your writing. Was there something you accomplished this week that you’d like to share? Let’s support one another!

Happy Writing!