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.

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?

Reflecting on AFF One Year Later

Austin Film Festival - FilmFreeway

Last year at this time I was preparing to head off to the Austin Film Festival Screenwriter’s Conference. My first (and only) time at any such event. I had finally chosen to invest in myself, and I was so excited at the prospect.

I had no real idea of what to expect.

It was more than I imagined. A year later and I’m still beyond delighted I chose to go. I was surrounded by like-minded individuals. I was listening to professionals offer sage advice and found the common thread that united us all. We were creatives. I was invigorated and inspired, and made the decision to quit my exhausting-body wrecking-causing-me-to-drink job on the second night. I did my best to get out of my comfort zone and walk up to strangers to start conversations knowing the purpose of my attendance was to meet other writers. And I did.

And one year later, many of them are doing amazing things.

And I…am envious.

I had big plans after the conference. I did indeed quit my job. Upon my return home, I gave notice and it was like a weight was immediately lifted. The Sis and I began talking about a move because Las Vegas was only meant to be temporary and it had been 5 years. I started to formulate a plan for, not only my writing goals, but also my life goals. Things were looking up.

We visited Washington state in March as a research trip for the move just as the first cases of the virus made their appearance. And it went downhill from there.

I was suddenly frozen. The uncertainty of it all…I was at a loss of how to proceed. In those early months, thinking about writing, of being creative was nearly impossible. I couldn’t even bring myself to write a blog post to commiserate.

I was in awe of those people who were going about their “business as usual”. That mentality escaped me, for a long time. I could barely find comfort or escape in a film, and have found myself way behind in my “One Movie a Week Challenge”. I never expected to be so affected by anxiety. Thankfully, in all this, I discovered yoga.

Then there’s the political stage.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to see the news and feel a sense of relief instead of all this?!

So here I am. A year after one of the most inspiring, motivating weekends in my life, and am no better for it. One friend is waiting to hear back on a directing fellowship for her short. One is meeting with a producer for her unique script. One is winning competitions and shooting a script. One is currently directing her project, pitching other ideas while on set, and winning awards.

I am absolutely thrilled for them all! It is inspiring to know these women as they make their way in the industry. And these are also the people I am in awe of. While I found myself almost paralyzed by indecision and the external constraints, they endured.

When it became clear that there was no immediate relief in sight, and after reading a poorly written published novel, I got off my ass and started to write. It’s been slow, but the spark is there. I realized, finally, that no matter what was happening outside, I am miserable and without purpose when I’m not pursuing my dream. I have had too many gaps in my life of not writing and focusing on irrelevant things, and I always regret those times. Time wasted.

Photo by Jordan Benton on Pexels.com

The older I get, the more I understand how precious time truly is. Should I fail to succeed in the pursuit of my dream of becoming a professional writer, I’m not sure how that will feel in the end. I don’t like the way it feels now.

So, it’s taken nearly a year to come back to the realization, but here I am. I’m grateful to those at AFF who gave me so many opportunities to meet the fearless women I now call my friends. I wish them every success, and hope to count my own among theirs soon.

Welcome to 2020

20202Happy New Year, friends!

Can you believe it?  Not only has another year ended, but we’re now in a new decade.  I’m still of the mindset that the 90s were the last decade because to think otherwise is just ridiculous.  How could it be, now, 20+ years ago?!

I tend to bring in the new year doing the one thing I hope to be doing the rest of it, writing, but I’ll come clean, I haven’t been able to write since quitting my job.  I, instead chose to spend it with one of my favorite people, Jane Austen.  I completed my “One New Movie-a-Week” Challenge last week with Rise of the Skywalker, but I thought it might be a nice motivator to watch a movie, a world I want to be a part of, instead.  I had not seen the film Love and Friendship, based on the novella, Lady Susan, and while I’ll have more to say on it in my next post about my movie challenge, it got me thinking about my own writing.  So at least there’s that.

I nearly finished my Goodreads reading challenge of 12 books, a despicably low number, I know.  I kept seeing these posts that if you want to be a writer and don’t make the time to read you can’t really be a writer.  I was a much better reader a few years ago when my schedule permitted me to do things in a particular order.  Now, I’m trying to implement that old schedule into my new daily routine.  When I realized the end of the year was nigh and I wasn’t going to make my goal, I had to reevaluate a few things.

In that reevaluation was the thought that maybe I had set myself up for failure by expecting too much of myself throughout the year.  I already knew the job was not allowing me to accomplish much, so achieving some of those goals was always going to be difficult, if not impossible.  While I did complete a few of the tasks I had set out to do, like attending my first screenwriter’s conference, others, like the reading challenge, fell by the wayside.  How could I possibly expect so much when days, weeks, and even months passed without a glance towards my passions?

I have to look at this year’s goal setting a bit differently.  Remember, I don’t like resolutions, and I don’t think January 1st is a magic reset button, but it is an unavoidable marker for moving forward and starting anew.  The outside world has dates and seasons for meeting goals, and a new year puts much of that into perspective.  But there are things that I continue to carry over each year that I want to do that, while time consuming, are still worthy goals to pursue.  It’s just going to take some patience and clever maneuvering, and not be at the forefront while more pressing matters are attended to.

What do you want to accomplish this year?  How will you set out to ensure you reach that goal?

set and reach goal concept

Here’s one of my favorite goal setting images for inspiration.  Now let’s go crush 2020!

Quote Monday

Everyone’s posting year end reviews and goal updates, and even as I, myself, am doing some reflection, if you’ve followed me for a while, you know I don’t like resolutions, one can’t help but look back on what’s been accomplished in the course of a year.  It’s also the end of a decade, so there’s even more to think on.

While the beginning of a new year is a great jumping off point, you can start something new or achieve a goal at any time.

Start where you are quote

I’m sure I’ve used this quote before, but as The Sis and I begin to prepare for a new journey, this quote seemed rather apropos.

Happy Monday!

Quote Monday

Quote Mondays are back!

My days of slack are over.  My two-week self-imposed vacation must come to an end and the reason for said vacation must begin – following my dream.  Mondays are a great day to start a new thing.

So let my future commence today!

Don't downgrade your dream

What do you want to accomplish today?

Happy Writing!

Writer’s Slump

I’ve been quiet…for a while. Initially it was because I was focused on my work. My real work. I’m still disconnected from the day job since the incident back in February, so at least there’s that. It still takes up a lot of time and energy, just the same. But then a series of mental hits soon followed and I lost my mojo. I’m second guessing myself. I don’t write, even when I want to. I don’t know how to fix some of my story issues, I’m feeling depressed, and I’m just not writing.

I leave for the Austin Film Festival in the wee hours of the morning and I had this huge laid out plan for how I was going to be prepared for it. I was excited and ready to take on the challenge, and then, in the blink of an eye, the passion disappeared. No matter how many quotes about being positive and goal oriented, fearless and creative I read or post, nothing is cracking this current mood.

Yes, yes, I know that failure is a part of the process, but I feel like I’ve been struggling for a long time, when I know, in reality, with all the spurts of inactivity, it’s only been a few years that I’ve been actively pursuing a career. This year’s screenwriting competition season offered me nothing. With only one more competition awaiting announcement, I sort of feel like… I wasted a lot of money. I love the story I submitted, and it’s not to say that someone else won’t feel the same way I do about it in the future, but the lack of upward mobility was less than encouraging.

I don’t know why I want to rant about this. I’m guessing that sometimes we all feel like this, and maybe it would be helpful for other struggling writers to realize they’re not alone. We all hit walls along this creative path, but if it’s truly what we want to do, then I guess, after some moping, we’ll get off our asses and get back to it.

At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Because I only have tonight to shift this mentality and take advantage of this huge step I’m taking. And even though it may not sound like I’m excited, I am, deep down, and I’m sure everything will change once I board that plane and the realization hits of what it is I’m going to do.

I’m going to my first screenwriter’s conference!

I plan to discuss the conference day by day and hopefully impart some of the wisdom and helpful tips I learn. I’m hoping to get my mojo back, be inspired, and feel empowered, as well as make some writer friends who understand this journey.

So before that happens, what do you do when you hit a writer’s slump?