Quote of the Week

This isn’t the quote I was originally considering for today, but when I came upon it, it just struck a chord within me. I suppose this could be a Writing Tip as well.

This is one reason I need to return to the writing prompts. They encourage me to try new styles, to write something other than what I’m already familiar with. Reading helps with this too. I’m reading an Anthony Burgess (author of books such as A Clockwork Orange) right now and it’s a total slog and I want to quit, but now it’s a challenge. There has to be a purpose to the randomness, and because I’m trying to read outside my “normal” realm of genre and stories, it’s like I’m being stubborn. It’s going to pull down my reading average and I probably won’t make my annual reading goal, but I will finish it.

Experimenting with our writing is a great way to challenge ourselves as creatives and grow more adept in the craft. I’ve read that screenwriters should have at least one story outside their genre in their portfolio to show the higher ups that they’re capable of more than the brand they’ve developed. It’s about breaking from comfort zones.

This quote was probably more purposefully written about life, and we need that too. It’s how we get ideas – by experiencing more facets of the world around us. I know for most of us, we’re quite content to stay home and live vicariously through our characters, we’re writers, after all, but we need to fill the well in order to draw from it. (I say this happily enjoying a quiet day at home with no desire to leave the comfort of my living room. 🙂 Eh, there’s always tomorrow.)

Happy Writing!

Quote of the Week

I had this video of Tom Hiddleston’s “greatest life advice” saved on YouTube and finally gave it a watch this morning. The title was catchy, but let’s be honest, I was watching it for him. But then the video barely showed him, although it did let me listen to him. I feel like some second place prize analogy is relevant here. As he spoke, this was the line that struck me the most because I realized this was the lightbulb moment I had a couple of months ago verbalized by this delightful man.

About two weeks ago, I literally uttered the phrase, “Youth is wasted on the young.” Gracious. I still roll my eyes in retrospect, but I’ve discovered it’s true. When I was in my 20s and 30s, I felt like I had time. Even a few months ago I was still in that deluded mindset.

I think I might be having a mid-life crisis.

Living with The Sis all these years has kept me young. Not only does she support my passions, she encourages them, and vice versa. I’m lucky in that, but maybe, to some degree, that has added to the delusion. I don’t really feel my age, except in the mornings now when my joints crackle as I arise from bed, or when I have caffeine later in the day and it keeps me up, or when I have one more cocktail and feel crappy the next morning because I don’t bounce back like I used to. Yeah, I definitely feel my age in those moments. But it’s when you don’t feel the weight, the burden of time passing, the pressure to pursue your goal with some tenacity lessens.

I’ve always said I was a late bloomer, so here I am, finally…come to the conclusion that time is finite.

Whatever it is you want to do, do it. There will never be the perfect time, and waiting for it won’t help you get any closer to that goal. Obviously if there are some restrictions, financial or the like, the pursuit may be slowed, but there are a number of other things you can do in the meantime. As writers, we can write, but if for some reason that’s not working at the moment we can continue to learn. We can read, we can find a class, join a writer’s group, or watch videos with professionals discussing the craft. If it’s some other pursuit, creative or otherwise, there are starting points for all of them.

One life.

This conclusion is something we all come to in our own time. I’m not trying to force my own revelation upon you, it’s just that I wish my youthful arrogance had not caused me to brush off those pearls of wisdom from my elders, you know the ones – how time flies and how youth is wasted on the young – those are actual life lessons, ones you only come to on the other side, and they’re ones I wish to give you honest insight into in the hopes that you will reflect and decide how you want to pursue your own goals.

There are so many things I want to do, and have put off under the guise that “I’ll do them later”, but am now realizing I might not ever get the opportunity to. Another wasted pearl that I am now learning the truth of, “In the end you only regret the things you didn’t do.”

For Tom Hiddleston, he learned early on that his approach to becoming a professional actor wasn’t working for him, and so he changed his perspective and then pursued his goal relentlessly (and could he be a better example?). I wish that for all of us. Sooner than later. So that we can enjoy the fruits of our labor. 😉

If you want to listen to how Hiddles inspired me today, here’s the link.

Happy Writing!

Quote of the Week

Pearl S. Buck

The last couple of weeks have been a bust. With a work schedule change I’d have to get up even earlier to get my morning routine done, and that’s asking a lot of a night owl, and then, inexplicably, I got a head cold…how?! So there has been no writing, of any kind, because by the time I get home, all I want to do is snuggle my pups and enjoy a hot toddy.

So you can imagine my frustration these past weeks since having found that newfound desire to create. I’ve come home and stared at the screen and just felt tired and foggy. So annoying.

And because of the congestion, only a few days of yoga in all this time. I feel so off my game.

In the folly of my youth, I used to think you had to be inspired to write. I should have known better since I had to learn to crank out a script in college for a couple of semesters. I didn’t have the luxury of waiting for inspiration to strike. I had to deliver or fail the class. And I was never going to fail a writing class.

As writers, we only have ourselves to rely upon. We show up because we want have to. Like any new habit, or part of any routine, we have to rewire our brains (and our bodies) to understand that at a certain point in the day, it’s time to write, whether we feel like it or not. Whether we’re inspired or not. It’s the only way to make progress, and maybe feel a sense of accomplishment for the day.

This week is going to be a two-for because I think this quote by Neil Gaiman sums it up best:

Neil Gaiman

Some people think that they’re writing is crap if they force it, but they should be in draft mode, and until we get into editing mode, it’s all sort of up in the air anyway. Well, that’s the conclusion I’ve come to along the way. Trying to make a first draft (or maybe even the 5th, 10th, what-have-you) perfect is generally not going to happen (although that draft exists and is wonderful for that reason alone), so put in the time, and then reward yourself when you complete your task. Maybe after a few treats, you’ll trick yourself into that new way of thinking. (Oh, look at that, unintentional Halloween humor. 🙂 )

Happy Writing!

Quote Monday

I did it.

I finally wrote two of the most encouraging words for a screenwriter:

Fade Out.

The troublesome third act, the one I’ve been complaining about (for years) has finally come to a conclusion and I feel a sense of satisfaction, for the first time.

There has always been something off about the third act, no matter how many versions I tried, it was never right, and then I got that advice at AFF, and although that was nearly two years ago now, it finally all came together. Whew.

The two years is not ideal, nor acceptable in the real world – I still have the luxury of being a non-professional – but it is apparent that the time was necessary to get it right. It’s also apparent that I need some fellow screenwriters in my life.

When I wrote those two little words this morning, the feeling of accomplishment was such a relief, rather than the feeling of depression I recently felt at the end of the other story I had been working on. This has been my baby, for longer than it should have been, but after a rewrite or seven, I look forward to watching it go out into the world. It’s long overdue.

This particular story is special to me. It has changed so much over the years, but the heart of it has always remained the same. And I have high hopes for it, so it is with some trepidation that I’ll send it out, crossing my fingers that it will be well received, but that’s later.

For now I am going to relish the moment. Maybe do a little celebratory dance.

I often see these quotes that say to “trust the timing”, etc. and I sort of thought it was all bullish*t, but a few things needed to happen to get me to this place, and I wouldn’t be the writer I am now without that journey. I am planning to rewrite all of my scripts in order to prepare for next year’s submission season, and the ideas I’ve had, I’m not sure I would have had them prior to all this. Well, I suppose that’s obvious as I’m having them now…so here I am, spewing the same line.

If you are struggling, find someone you can bounce ideas around with, and trust that the story will find its way.

I wish you luck! Happy Writing!

Quote Monday

A few weeks ago, I mentioned how I had felt this mental shift towards my writing. I suddenly felt this desperate need to get my work out into the world. Maybe it’s because I’m in a terribly monotonous, uninspiring kind of job, and at my age, I thought I’d be in a different place on so many levels. Maybe it’s because I feel another birthday looming on the horizon, and again, I thought my life would be different at this point.

I have long struggled to maintain focus and momentum where my writing has been concerned. I think this was a byproduct of my youth – thinking I had time. Another one – believing I had to be inspired to write.

I’ve always been a late bloomer, doing things in my own time. That’s why, after so many years of aimlessness, I think it finally clicked. I had to get here to know it’s not where I want to be.

I feel it. It’s different now. I’m different now.

After I pulled myself out of the mild depression I was experiencing from finishing one of my stories, I turned my attention to the troublesome 3rd Act of one of my screenplays that I have labored with many, many times. This is the act I didn’t know how to finish, for some reason have never known how to finish, but came to me during the quiet, meditative state I was in during one of my yoga practices recently.

It’s flowing, and I’m feeling satisfied with it, for the first time. Now that’s a feeling to relish.

So many things had to happen for this to come about. I had to meet a certain writer at AFF who gave me sound advice. But I had to be at a particular point in my life to be able to attend. And he had to be standing in front of me while waiting for our coffees so that I could be bold enough to speak with him – something I may not have been brave enough to do had I not taken the soul-sucking job that helped me develop certain skills.

I had to experience more of life because this isn’t a story I could have told in my twenties.

I had to realize that saying I’m a writer doesn’t mean as much as being a writer because it was just lip service for a long time because I was embarrassed about whatever job I had and it was a way of making myself sound better.

Some of this is for one particular story, but it all boils down to this:

I had to finally decide that my writing matters.

You don’t have to wait until you’re in your forties to come to this realization, but as I mentioned, I’m a late bloomer. This is my journey, and goodness, has it been a long, rough ride at times. I think, for those of us who struggle, we just have to come to this conclusion for ourselves, and I believe much of this comes down to timing. No matter how many quotes your read or pin to your wall, or how many experts tell you the same thing, we have to make the decision, when we’re ready.

It’s a state of mind. It’s perspective.

Some people are fortunate to follow their path without much hesitation, while others have to find themselves in a low place, maybe even a place of desperation to discover if their passion, their art matters. However you come to the conclusion, I hope you grab it with both hands and run wild!

Best of Luck! And Happy Writing!

Quote Monday

Art First

That’s it. That’s the quote.

For many of you, you know how I love my routine. I’ve talked about it a lot. It has to be tweaked every so often, given the circumstances, but with the current job, I’ve found a routine I enjoy, one that makes me feel productive and satisfied with my day.

I now wake up early to write. I know. I used to be the late night/middle of the night writer. I now wake up, make my cuppa and write for about an hour before doing yoga and heading off to work.

I even stick to the routine on my days off, and I’ll tell you why.

When you know you have time, you put it off. On your days off you think, “I should clean this or that first.” or “I’ve put this off all week so that should be the priority.” or ” I just want to sleep in and binge the new season of (insert title), then I’ll write.”

Nope.

The day gets away from you. There will always be a house project that needs doing. Bills to be paid. Shows to be watched. Books to be read.

Art first.

Last week, I planned on writing a blog before working on my story and I ended up spending the day scrolling through Pinterest. Like the whole day. In part because I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted to post, so I went into seek-out-content-idea mode. The other part, I didn’t feel good, so it was easy to sit on the couch, snuggled with my pups, and aimlessly scroll, but I didn’t work on my story, and I didn’t post anything. The day escaped me.

I’ve always read about these authors who would wake up early to write and I thought, “Well, that’s not going to happen. I’m not a morning person.” And now here I am. Offering the same advice.

Be creative first. Get it out of the way, so to speak, and start your day off knowing you’ve already done the one thing you wanted to do. Many of us have to endure day jobs that leave us uninspired, so feel better about your day knowing you began it by working toward your goal.

Obviously, find a routine that works for you. If your work hours don’t offer you such freedom, or your kids schedules conflict, etc. it’s not always easy to work around, but give yourself permission to be creative, to do something for yourself, even if it’s only ten minutes a day. It adds up, and you’ll feel a bit better knowing that you did.

Happy Writing!

Quote Monday

I’m currently reading Chuck Palahniuk’s Stranger than Fiction and I came across this text in one of his nonfiction essays. Among stories about public sex acts and learning not to care what people think of you while dressed as a dog, I discovered this nugget that, truthfully, was the most startling thing I’ve read so far.

The worst part of writing fiction is the fear of wasting your life behind a keyboard. The idea that, dying, you’ll realize you only ever lived on paper. Your only adventures were make believe, and while the world fought and kissed, you sat in some dark room, masturbating and making money.

Chuck Palahniuk

Why did this unsettle me, you ask? Because until he said it, until I read it, I didn’t know this was something to worry about.

And then my mind spiraled.

I am a homebody, an introvert, a writer of sci-fi and fantasy. I know as a writer I have to get out and experience the world in order to have those things stored in the “bank of creative tidbits”, but honestly, sometimes I’d prefer not to make the effort, and I know that’s a shortcoming. I have plenty of interests to keep me occupied but if I only ever run in the same circle, I’ll never learn and grow, experience awe or displeasure. I’ll never be exposed to new ideas and new things by experiencing them firsthand.

It wasn’t until I read these words that I started to wonder about the subjects I’m drawn to and the stories that resonate with me – they’re lives I’ll never lead.

I’ll never be a woman with a mythological god as a best friend. I’ll never be the woman traipsing across the stars in an alien space ship in search of her sister. I’ll never be a spy. I’ll never save the world.

These are adventures I can only have on the page. They are unlikely, imaginary scenarios, and that’s why I write them, so I must be content with those adventures that are available to me, and as writers, we can’t forget that. We need to get out, we need to observe and feel so that we not only live, but can also create.

And maybe not worry that we’re living vicariously through our characters.

I may not be as daring as Chuck Palahniuk, willing to put myself at physical risk or in compromising situations to experience all the different facets of humanity, but I can make more of an effort to have a wider understanding of the world around me. We may not learn, see, and do everything we want – there’s so much more to explore than once person could ever do in a lifetime – but there’s no harm in at least attempting it.

That was my takeaway, at least – be more willing to get out (of the house).

Happy Writing!

Quote Monday

As creatives, we give ourselves a hard time. Whether it’s in regards to our craft, our feelings of self worth, our motivations, or life in general, it takes a lot to maintain any sense of balance and feeling of positivity. Many of you may recall my idea last year to schedule my days so that life stuff didn’t interfere with writing stuff…yeah.

I had willingly quit a job, just months before the pandemic, and writing felt like a guilty pleasure. And that old adage really started to wear on me as time drew on – a real writer writes every day. I couldn’t. For months I was a dry well. All these writers kept posting things like, “We’ve been given all this extra time.” Blech. People were being productive, and it was making me feel even worse. There were more pressing matters to attend to, there was stress and worry, and my writing wasn’t paying the bills so…after suffering in that dry spell for far too long, I chose to try something new. I created a schedule.

My idea of how my week should look went something like this:

  • Monday – clean
  • Tuesdays – write
  • Wednesdays – Etsy shop
  • Thursdays – write
  • Fridays – explore other enjoyments: piano, sew, bake, etc.
  • Saturdays – write
  • Sunday – blog

As a gamer, having a list detailing my daily goals seemed like a good idea, in theory but in practice, I was trying to schedule my brain into thinking about writing only 3 days a week. I was expecting the muse to show up on this strange itinerary I had created and thought I would make great strides in progress?! It’s one thing to show up everyday even when you’re not inspired, it’s another to think you’re going to create magic/gold/award winning work on a limited timeline.

Also, I had been, and still am, in rewrite mode on all my scripts, so I had forgotten that not all days are actual, physical writing days. When you start a new project there are those imagining days, research days, character creation days, plotting days, naming things days, so when I saw this quote I found myself dumbstruck. How could I have forgotten something so simple?

Remembering this would have helped me to not be so hard on myself during that time in the desert, and that’s why I decided to share this tip today, for those of you who have found themselves similarly marooned. If you’re reading anything, if you’re taking personality quizzes as your characters, if you’re coming up with story lines, snippets of dialogue, and what-if scenarios, it’s all writing. Not every day requires words on paper (or screen).

Sometimes we need to explore other options to discover what works for us, and my schedule idea was an attempt at that. It didn’t work because I was expecting too much from a structure that was not ideal for creativity…and it compounded my negative feelings when I was already weighed down. Side note, it wasn’t like I wasn’t thinking about my writing every day, it’s not something I can ever escape, but I felt guilty when I was writing and when I wasn’t. What a vicious cycle we’re a part of.

Remember that this path we have chosen is already a difficult one, so be kind to yourselves. Try to be creative in some capacity everyday, but give yourself a break if you aren’t. Don’t feel guilty if you watch a movie, take a walk, skim Pinterest, or just stare out the window because you never know when inspiration will strike.

Happy Writing!

Quote Monday

I have been struggling to reconcile having a mundane job that offers me the freedom to write or finding a new job that challenges me and potentially leaves me little time to chase my dream.

Either choice is exhausting nonetheless.

The monotony of my current job leaves me tired out of sheer boredom but it’s a job I don’t have to think about when I leave and it offers me a lot of time to think on my stories while I’m there. Actually, most of the time I just sing to myself because my trains of thought are usually interrupted a dozen times by customers asking if I work there. No, I just have OCD and need to rearrange this store’s shelves. ((face palm)) I often have time before and after work to write most days, and lately my writing has been all consuming. I make notes while on lunch. I’ve made notes on my phone at stop lights. It’s like a faucet has been turned on and left running.

Not a bad problem to have.

Obviously my concern about looking for something else is that a more “serious” job may take priority leaving me with little time or energy to focus on that which truly matters, and given this new river of inspiration, I don’t want to sacrifice one for the other.

And this is where continuing in menial work leaves me questioning my life choices. I know I’ve discussed this before – probably more than once, so apologies – the mediocrity before success. It’s hard not to want to feel fulfilled by the day job, we spend so many hours there, but if it pays the bills (hopefully) and allows us the freedom to pursue our passion, then isn’t it worth enduring? To some degree, I suppose it is.

It’s a catch-22.

The Sis keeps reminding me of the pros, and most days when I know I have time to write and do some yoga before going in, I feel like I’m already off to a good start. And that probably helps to get me through the monotony.

I truly look forward to the days when writing is the only “job” I have to worry about. ((sigh)) Can you imagine?!

If you’re in a similar position, how do reconcile this disparity? Let’s commiserate together.