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

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?

Quote Monday

InspireLast week I wrote an entire blog post after learning that my pilot had not advanced in the second contest I had entered.  I was sad and the overall tone was not the happy-stay positive-reach for your dreams-vibe I try to maintain here.

So I didn’t post it.

Rejection, in any form, is tough to take.  People say all sorts of things to put a positive spin on the situation, but when it comes down to it, rejection plain ol’ sucks.

I was already struggling with the third act of one screenplay, and I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself to get everything in order for the conference in October, so this news struck a blow.  I was down for the rest of the day.  But that’s part of the process.  You take the hit, get back up, and show ’em.

It’s hard when so much is in our hands as writers, and so much that isn’t.

It’s not like I didn’t know this going in, but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating.  The whisper of doubt that sneaks its way in about the possibility that no one will ever like what I write and I never become a professional screenwriter grows louder with each rejection, but then I think of the people that were once just like me.

Every writer ever.

So no, I’m not giving up.  On the contrary.  I’m just getting started.  So here is the “stay positive-reach for your dreams” tip of the day:

Wear that rejection like a badge of honor because at least it shows that your striving towards your goals.  How many people do you know that are unwilling to even try?

Good Luck and Happy Writing!

Small Steps

pic-jointer-11I’ve found that I haven’t had much to say lately.  I’m not sure exactly why.  In part it could be because the last couple of months have been sort of strange.  Since that incident at work back in February, I’m happy to report that my shift in focus has remained.  It is weird there though.  I’m more focused on the job I actually want, even though the progress is slow sometimes, I am still moving forward.

I’ve been better about reading, which somehow eluded me last year, and I’ve maintained my one-movie-a-week routine (although I did see the Avengers twice, so I’m small-stepsone movie shy of my goal as I write this).  I’ve rewritten two acts of one of my screenplays, I entered my TV pilot into 7 contests, I’ve come up with a new screenplay idea that I’m excited about (let’s just add that to the backlog of ideas currently nestled in the recesses), and I bought my airline ticket and badge for the Austin Film Festival screenwriters conference.  So…yay!

Not that long ago, we had been broke, The Sis and I.  Not so broke that I was worried we might end up homeless, because we always made sure we paid rent, but poor enough that there were a few times we used a credit card to buy groceries and pay bills.  Not a great place to find one’s self.  Now, I’m in a position to attend a writers conference, one of my goals, and I’m nervous and delighted.

Having this external goal compels me to get my writer’s portfolio in order.  There is no way I’m going to squander this opportunity.  It’s one thing to submit to contests, it’s another to hopefully meet and mingle with people who could actually propel my career forward, and so I have to get my sh*t in order.  No more messing around.  No more excuses.  If I’m going to spend this big shiny penny, I have to make the most of it.

It also helps to keep striving when you receive feedback like this from a contest you entered:

“Vivid world building and unique characters set a great foundation for the series. The dialogue between the characters is distinctive and introduces creative dialects and words that the sci-fi audience will love.”

Thank you, Slamdance!

So I’m committing to this page my goals for the next 17 weeks:

  1. Have 3 full length features show ready
  2. Have my Pilot’s Bible ready
  3. Flesh out at least 3 like-genre scripts
  4. Flesh out 1 out of genre script (will save this to the end 😛 )

DreamsWrittenDownAreGoals

Whew.  I’m at some stage of progress on each goal, but there’s still plenty to do, so I better get cracking.

How are you moving towards your goals?  Please share your small steps and let’s celebrate them together!  Also, are you planning on attending AFF?  It would be great to meet a familiar “face”.  😉

Happy Writing!

Quote Monday on a Tuesday

Although yesterday passed before I had an opportunity to post, it’s still early enough in the week to share some inspiration.  In fact, today is my Saturday, so if you work odd shifts like I do, then it really doesn’t matter what day you choose to celebrate #MotivationMonday. 😉

BeliefInSanta

We are our biggest critics, so it’s good to be reminded that we can also choose to be our biggest supporters.  No matter what you’re passionate about, if you’re chasing your dream, then believe in yourself that you can and will make it happen.  In the end, should we succeed or fail, it is up to us.

There’s another quote I’ve shared before that I feel is a good bookend for the above, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail.”  Believe in yourself and find out!

Quote Monday

Today’s quote is continuing in the theme of goal setting from my last post.

sacrifice

When I thought on this for just a few seconds, I didn’t care for the feeling, meaning I had already been sacrificing what it is I really want for myself.  I need to hang this on my wall.

What are you willing to give up to achieve your goals?

2019 Goals

set and reach goal conceptAt the beginning of every year we each decide what we’d like to accomplish, what we want to change.  The dreaded New Year’s Resolution – gyms are overcrowded for a month, a flurry of spending happens while we’re excited for a new hobby, mentally we prepare for the first of the year as if it were a magic reset button, but usually it’s all in vain.  We say things like, “This year, it will all be different.”  “Kiss last year goodbye and say hello to the new one and all the newness that comes with it.”  We set goals, we make resolutions, only to lose momentum a fraction of the way through the year.

Some years are better than others, but it’s because of this I’ve never been one to make resolutions.  The looming (potential) failure.  And I don’t like the feeling.  The reflection at the end of the year at how little I accomplished.  It’s not that we’re lazy, I think it’s just that we lose passion or focus and the reason why we wanted whatever “it” was to begin with amidst the chaos that makes up our daily lives.  An elusive goal with a slow payoff will usually take a back burner to the things that require immediate attention.

Maybe it has something to do with that mid-life crisis I talked about previously, but I’ve started to make some changes by redirecting my focus.  Side note, I did cut my hair off, and it’s kind of fun and different.  I’m not sure how long it’ll last just due to the sheer amount of work it requires but at least I was finally brave enough to try.  Last year I let a lot of things slide.  I let my focus shift to unimportant things, things that didn’t require the value I placed on them, and the year passed with little to show for it…again.

Price

It’s probably a good thing I didn’t make any resolutions. 😉

I like my day job (most days), but I realized I’m giving it too much attention.  I allowed it to gain too much space in my life, and for something I don’t want to do long term, I needed to shift my focus.  Coming home feeling tired, both physically and mentally, causes me to waste the number of hours I have left in my day to accomplish more.  Reading, writing, watching a movie – there have been too many days when none of those have happened. 

EveryNewDaySo, nearing the end of 2018 I started to reevaluate my situation, and like serendipity my general manager gave me a book, “The Coffee Break Screenwriter” by Pilar Alessandra and a tee-shirt that says screenwriter for Christmas.  

I think it was the the push I needed, and I have thanked him again since the holidays because I’m over half way through the book and I’ve already had some ideas about one of my scripts that needs a rewrite, I submitted my pilot to a competition, and I’m planning on attending my first ever screenwriter’s summit.  I’ve watched at least one new movie a week, I’m reading more, and I’ve decided to do the thing I fear – write down my goals.  It’s my hope that visualizing what I’d like to accomplish, in addition to having some sort of accountability, may help me actually reach them.

Discipline

I’m one for lists, so by creating a path to accomplish said goals, I may find it easier to navigate throughout the year when I start to wane or lose focus.  In the past I wrote about finding external deadlines to help in goal setting.  This was not my genius idea but one I had come across from a number of sources.  It’s one thing to say I’d like to rewrite my script by such and such a date, but having a competition to submit to with a hard deadline will definitely add the pressure, so I’m finding those as well.  

It’s about using my time wisely.  More wisely.  Finding the balance between the day job and the dream job, family, other interests, and the mundane will take some effort.  So here’s to a new year and the newness that comes with it. 😉  

How do you plan to achieve your goals this year?  Want to help each other be accountable?  Share your goal and let’s have regular check-ins to make it happen!

That Time I Chose to Become Rachael C Marek

RCM4yrsIt was a little over four years ago when The Sis and I had a conversation.

We were living in Los Angeles, and I had been struggling for nearly a year to find a job.  No exaggeration, I sent out over 250 resumés and only received three responses in return.

I was miserable.  And while writing should’ve given me some solace, I was too concerned about finding paying work, so every time I was on the computer, I felt guilty if I wasn’t doing that.

I barely wrote a word that year.  One of the main reasons for moving to LA – for me to become a professional writer – and I was failing, spectacularly.

It was then The Sis and I had “the talk”.

She was making good money at her job, and she had already been supporting us, so instead of continuing on in such a futile manner, the definition of insanity, I should change tactics and do what I was meant to – write.

It took a little time to become accustomed to the idea that I was being given free reign to follow my dreams, but I realized that I probably wouldn’t have another opportunity like that again, and so Rachael C Marek was born.

I wanted to create a pseudonym, but I still wanted it to be me.  My name really is Rachael (Hi!), and the C is the beginning of one of my middle names, but the Marek, well, that’s thanks to a character I identified with in a book.  It seemed appropriate.

The above reminder popped up last week and it gave me reason to pause.  Had it really been four years since that pivotal moment?!  It made me wonder what I had accomplished in all that time.  I have some writing to show for it.  I still have big dreams.  I still have stories to rewrite, even more to tell…and although I may still be some distance from fulfilling my goal of being a professional writer, I’m in a better place overall and I think that a big part of that started when The Sis encouraged me to become Rachael C Marek.

She deserves a BIG Thank You for years of support of every variety.

And then there’s all of you.  You’ve been welcoming and encouraging, and although I’ve never met you, and maybe never will, we’ve been a part of each other’s journeys, the ups and the downs, and such a community is important to the lowly/lonely writer, so thanks.

xx, Rach