Writing Prompt #112

I came across this prompt while cleaning up my email.  Somewhere along the way, I emailed myself this idea, and that’s where it ended.

So I share it today in the hopes it inspires us.

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Who wants to take on the challenge?  I look forward to reading your creations!

I also share writing prompts on Instagram, so if you’re looking for more inspiration, take a gander.  Happy Writing!

Quote Monday

Sometimes our goals are a bit overwhelming, and fear keeps us stationary.  Nothing worth having ever comes easy, so hopefully this week’s quote will inspire you to be brave.

Take-the-first-step

Happy Writing!

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!

AFF’s Screenwriters Conference: Days 3 & 4

AFF neon logo

∼ Saturday: Day Three ∼

7:45am: Another early morning.  More caffeine needed.  There’s a coffee shop on the ground floor of my hotel that I’m thankful for, and it’s fairly popular due to its proximity to the conference.  They have my favorite flavor, lavender, for their coffee and the most delicious pastries.  It gets me through the bulk of the day.

9:00am – 10:15am: One of the panels I’m most looking forward to, Writing Sci-Fi with Gary Whitta and Emily Carmichael.  They both offer some useful tips and let us all know that it’s okay to not write 8 hours a day.  No one writes like that, and we shouldn’t feel like this is a goal we have to achieve.  I learned about the Pomodoro Technique (which I will look into a bit more) which suggests writing in 25 minute spurts.

Tips: 1) Keep a Dot Journal to track writing progress.  Check on it regularly.  (I haven’t done this yet because I’m still learning how to create this type of journal.)  2) Maintain consistency in your world.  If a character has a power, be sure to use it.  (This is something we, writers, sometimes forget.)  3) Keep the rules of the world simple.

10:45am – 12:00pm: Overcoming Scene Challenges with Meg LeFauve, Carly Wray, and Dave Kajganich.  This proved to be one of the best panels I attended.  The most important thing I learned was that if there’s a problem in Act 3, it’s most likely because of something in Act 1.  “You haven’t earned it” was repeated by the panelists, and this was a big note for me.  As many of you are aware, from my many references to my troublesome third act of one of my screenplays, I either have a problem earlier on, or I haven’t followed through with something to earn the third act.

I happened to have an opportunity the following morning to speak with Dave Kajganich while waiting for coffee.  I thanked him for his advice, and then he gave me some more.  He asked me what I was struggling with and offered me some alternative ways of thinking about it.  Does it have to have a happy ending?  I told him I like happily ever afters, but it got me thinking.  Maybe it doesn’t?  Does it have to take place in modern times?  No, it doesn’t, and I don’t know why I’ve been trying to force it.  He was appreciative of me reaching out, he wasn’t sure if anything he said during the panel was useful.

12:15pm – 2:15pm: The Awards Luncheon was not being held close by.  It was a number of blocks away and not paying attention to the time, I thought it started at 12:30pm, and add on a big parade for Día de Muertos, I was power walking to make sure I arrived on time.  There was no shuttle, and the AFF staff I spoke with were very helpful, but afraid that if I didn’t arrive before it started, I may not be able to get in at all.  This was an additional upgrade to my conference badge, so I was not missing out.

There were some amazing speeches, and it was an insight as to what was winning on the festival circuit.  It ran way over for time, so I was unable to make my next panel, so I grabbed another coffee and got in line for the Lawrence Kasdan retrospective.  Even an hour and a half before the panel I was still about 15 people from the beginning of the line.

4:45pm – 6:00pm: A look back at the life of Screenwriter, Lawrence Kasdan.  He wrote The Big Chill, co-wrote Empire Strikes Back, wrote Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Bodyguard, French Kiss, As Good as it Gets, and so many more.  How could I not attend?!

7:30pm – 9:30pm: Pitch Finale.  Another writer from my FB group, Jasmine and I planned to meet up to attend the finale together.  All the winners of the pitch sessions gathered to pitch to the crowd and then winners were chosen from those.  It was so much fun and so inspiring.  There was a great deal of support and encouragement for the people pitching.

My shoulder ached from carrying around my computer bag all day, so after Deena and I grabbed a bite to eat, we returned to my hotel to minimize my carrying capacity so we could head to the last mixer of the weekend.

Upon exiting my room, we were dumbfounded to find a most likely drunken naked man in the hallway.  We never did find out if he had locked himself out, or was kicked out, but either way, when the young woman, who was the manager on duty arrived, another conference attendee, Deena, and I kept her company until the police arrived.  We weren’t going to leave her alone with a delusional nude.  That made for a good story when asked what we would remember most from the conference.

11:00pm: Heart of Film Cocktail Party.  I saw some familiar faces, which was nice, and made friends with Margaret.  One of the winners from my pitch session.

It had been such a long day, but so rewarding.

~ Sunday: Day Four ~

There was a Hair of the Dog Brunch at 10:00am but my check out was at noon and I was going to be in a panel, so I skipped it, and slept in a bit.  The sleep and food deprivation had finally caught up with me.  I checked my bag, grabbed a coffee (which is where I met Dave and got that great advice), met up with Jessica and Deena for a quick hello and pastry breakfast, and then Jessica and I made our way to one of our more anticipated panels.

11:30am – 12:45pm: The Quagmire of Female Character by Lindsay Doran.  When I was living in LA, I attended another presentation by Lindsay about the Psychology of Storytelling.  She’s an executive and producer and her insight is unlike any other.  She’s so engaging that I didn’t even take any notes, which, of course, I now regret.  If you’re familiar with what’s going on in Hollywood, and the rest of the world, you’ll have an understanding of the balancing act that is currently happening with how to handle female characters.  This panel enlightened us all.

Tip: If you have the opportunity to hear Lindsay Doran speak, do it.  

1:15pm – 2:30pm: Writing for Animation with Brad Graeber, Alvaro Rodriguez, and Willis Bulliner who created the animated Netflix series, Seis Manos.  Jessica didn’t have a panel planned, so she attended with me.  It wasn’t what I was expecting, it was more about how they got their show off the ground, but it was still interesting.

3:00pm – 4:15pm: Life as a Screenwriter with Shane Black and Scott Rosenberg was, I think, the last panel of the day.  It was the last one I attended anyway.  It was the other panel I was most looking forward to, and it did not disappoint.  These two screenwriters have been in the business for many years, and now, a bit older, have a different insight into the industry.  I thought I took some notes, but I can’t seem to find them.  Wah-wah.

4:15pm – 5:15pm: I have to say my farewells and get to the airport.  It was during my good-byes that I made a new connection with someone who is doing something I’ve been thinking about.  Traveling the world.  And getting paid for it.

I’m sad about leaving.  The entire weekend has been enlightening and I’ve had a wonderful time, even more than I thought I would.  I’ve made friends, and writer friends at that.  I gained a bit more insight about myself and what I want to do.  The tips and lessons learned have opened my eyes to my writing, which was the point of the trip.

Overall, for my first conference, I’m not sure I could have chosen any better.  If you have an opportunity to attend any writer’s conference, I definitely encourage it.  It’s an experience unlike any other.

If you attended AFF, I’d love to connect and swap stories.  If you’re planning on attending a conference and need some tips, I’m happy to help.

Happy Writing!

AFF’s Screenwriters Conference: Days 1 & 2

AFF neon logo

∼ Thursday: Day One ∼

3:30am: Slept maybe four hours and endured a rather bumpy flight which turned me a pale shade of green. By the time I made it into town from the airport, checked in to the hotel, and then checked in at the AFF registration, I was too late to attend the 11:30am Introduction/Welcome panel.  I signed up for the Roundtable I wanted to attend about an hour from then, but poor signage led me to the wrong room, so I missed out.

1:00pm – 2:15pm: I ended up in the Writer-Manager Relationship panel with Henry Jones and Ryan Cunningham.  Not what I was planning to attend, but learned that just as with any other relationship, finding someone who gets you is vital.

2:45pm – 4:00pm: I made my way to the Pitch Prep panel with Pamela Ribon for some advice on how to pitch before my go at it the following morning.  I was not at all prepared to pitch my idea, and at this point, didn’t even know what story I was going to pitch.  So much for being prepared.  We, writers, usually work best under pressure any way.  It was here I met Deena, who, I would later discover would become a fast friend, so that we could practice our pitch with someone.

Tip: If you have an opportunity to meet Pamela Ribon, take it.  She was engaging and funny and helped put the experience into perspective – pitching at AFF is not like pitching in any other situation.

5:00pm – 7:00pm: Opening Night Reception.  At this point, in my “normal” world, I would want a nap, but I was running on a high of the energy that seemed to infuse the entire area.  I was meeting people and learning things and I didn’t want to miss a moment.  I grabbed a drink and walked around the bar, but everybody already seemed to know people.  As I made my way to the back, I saw a solitary figure, and my first festival-made friend, Jessica.

We hit it off right away and she became one of my conference partners for the remainder of the weekend.  After the reception ended, we decided to get food.  I didn’t remember eating, so it sounded like a good idea.

Torrential downpour ensued and I was soaked through in minutes.

I purposefully ensured my room was close to all the action, and at that time, was thankful for my foresight.  There was a WGA Welcome Party at 11:00pm, but after the wet, the food, a hot shower, and writing and memorizing my pitch, I was done. 

~ Friday: Day Two ~

7:30am: Rise and shine!  Must. Have. Caffeine prior to pitch.  Kept running my pitch in my head…over and over and over…I decided to pitch my pilot, The Demeter.  Gotta say, pretty happy with the way it came out.

9:00am – 10:15am: Pitch session with Kelly Jo Brick and Cam Cannon.  Oof.  What a learning experience.  I was calm and collected, until the moment I was in front of the group.  The nerves kicked in and I stumbled about halfway through losing my train of thought.  I have this strange sort of memory thing.  If I write it down, I can see where it was on the page, and after a moment of collecting myself, I could see where I was in the pitch and finished.  So embarrassing, especially in light of all the positive feedback I received.  The judges were so reassuring that I had a strong, interesting pitch, and throughout the day, many people approached me and offered me support, even more so when they learned it was my first pitch ever.

It was here I met Margaret, who, again, would later become a fast friend.  She wasn’t even sure she would have an opportunity to pitch, and she ended up winning one of the two spots from our group.

10:45am – 12:00pm: The Life’s a Pitch panel with Tess Morris, Gary Whitta, and Ashley Miller.  You would think at this point I would have had my fill of pitching, but I wanted to know what it was like in the “real world”.

Tips: 1) Think of pitching like a conversation.  2) Everybody wants to hear a good story, so boil it down so they can retell it.  3) The more you pitch, the more the story may evolve.

1:00pm – 2:30pm: In-Person Meeting with agent Daniela Gonzalez set up by Roadmap Writers.  A fellow member of a writer’s group on FB made the introductions and I had the opportunity to sit with an agent and a group of amazing fellow writers, all women, and ask questions and gain real world knowledge of the industry.  When I arrived for the sit down, I was told it was canceled, so I left.  I quickly discovered it hadn’t been, and the group was kind enough to let me join in, a bit late.

3:15pm – 4:30pm: A no nonsense panel entitled “Practical Tips” with Phil Hay, Stephany Folsom, and Nicole Perlman.  They reiterated quite a bit I already knew, but hearing it from professionals made it that much more impactful.

Tips: 1) Don’t compare your process to others.  Understand what your process is and develop it.  2) Be kind to yourself and cut yourself a break.  (We are hard on ourselves.)  3) Make something – beyond the script – a play, a short, or a script reading.  4) Discover what it is that will give you validation.  5) As a new writer, the scale of your early projects shouldn’t be a risk or a budget concern.

4:45pm – 6:45pm: BBQ mixer.  Deena, Jessica and I had been in contact throughout the day and we decided to meet up for the shuttle to the mixer.  Behind us in line was a lone woman, Kyra.  I invited her into our group, and the four of us set off.  Now, some of you may know that I’m vegetarian, so you may be wondering what I was doing there.  It was a mixer.  An opportunity.  And I was taking advantage of whatever I could.  We met with other writers and had a great time amidst interesting conversations, but as the sun set, the temperature dropped, and none of us were prepared, so we headed back.

7:00pm – 10:00pm: The Stage 32 mixer on a rooftop with no heaters.  Brr.  As a member of Stage 32, I was looking forward to meeting some other members, and I’m glad I made the effort, even though after a short time I could no longer feel my toes.  I met the founder of Stage 32, RB and a handful of amazing writers.  Unfortunately, the cold drove Jessica and I out.  We had lost Deena earlier to pitch prep, and Kyra made friends and stayed behind.

There was a Final Draft Happy Hour at 11:00pm, but at that point, I didn’t think I was going to make it.  And I didn’t.  Instead I met up with Deena to help her with her pitch, and met more writers while hanging about the famous Driskill Hotel.

Again, I should’ve been exhausted, I’d barely eaten and was running on the fumes of caffeine, but I was having so much fun.  I talked with my sister and came to the realization that I wanted to follow my dreams.  I had wasted months not writing, being surrounded by negativity, and being emotionally drained after each day.  I was done.  Officially.  And it was one of those enlightening moments – I was going to move forward.

To be continued…

Writing Prompt #111

So, not only have I barely written a word in months, I haven’t posted much either.  My last writing prompt was back in May?!  May.  And it was like the only post for the month.

Gracious.

As another new year creeps around the corner, I have some major self reflection to do.  All that goal setting, the To Do lists, the plans…huh.  I really did waste some time.  Well that’s enough of that.

I offer this week’s Writing Prompt for the Challenge:

In the Water

If you’re inspired, please share what you create.  Maybe I’ll even jump on my own bandwagon.

Happy Writing!

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!