I started sharing imagery aka writing prompts as a means of escaping my own writing, to break the routine, to try my hand at different styles, and to spark my imagination. I am embarrassed to admit I have only written 36 so far. Maybe a new goal can be to try to get to 50 by the end of the year?
I call what I write flash fiction. I try to keep them around 200 words with little forethought or editing, just a way to write without censoring myself. If this sounds intriguing, scroll through the images I’ve shared, and give it a try. And then celebrate that you created something new, and please share it.
I’m not sure how I first came across this idea of SMART Goals, and if you’d like to learn more beyond my summary, a search will provide you with lots of information. SMART is an acronym for a system to help you achieve better results. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time bound.
I am all about the goal setting. Those of you who have been with me for a while now know this. If there’s a better way to go about achieving them…I’m all for it! And I thought you might be too.
It’s one thing to write down your goals – an elusive idea of possibility – and to have an external deadline, it’s usually what I need, to feel some pressure, it’s another to create a plan of attack, one that will help you visualize the path to success. To get down to the nitty gritty of goal setting, we have to be honest with ourselves and what it is we truly want.
Whether it’s a writing goal or another creative endeavor, choosing the goal we wish to pursue generally has a number of precursors, and a lot of forethought.
So here are the steps:
Specific: What do you want to accomplish? Why is it important to you? Be, as the word suggests, specific in the goal you wish to achieve.
Measurable: How will you know when it’s accomplished? What is the finish line to achieving this goal?
Achievable: Is attaining the goal realistic? Is it reachable? This is about being grounded in what is possible. Of course, I would never deny anyone reaching for the stars, we are dreamers, after all.
Relevant: Is this the right time to pursue this goal? Is it worthwhile? I’m not overly fond of the use of the word “worthwhile”. What I am fond of is the opportunity to achieve one’s goals. Dream big!
Time Bound: Set a target date. Find an external deadline. I like them. It offers a window of opportunity, something to work towards. I have often found that a hard line in the sand is a great way to feel the compulsion that only such a constraint can provide. A little fear. A little stress. They’re great motivators.
One of the notes I made, in addition to those above: Beware of goal setting that allows someone else to have power over it.
And then, like the image above, you can celebrate when you accomplish your goal. If you’ve used this method before, please share your thoughts. If you have any other goal setting tips, please share those as well.
I had thought to do an overall post of my meeting with screenwriting coach, Lee Jessup, but I’ve chosen, without realizing, to just pepper in the details of that conversation instead. At some point, I’ll have to gather them all together for my own recollection.
There was a takeaway about passion.
One of the things she mentioned, and one of the finer points of that meeting that I have held on to was her notice of the passion I had for both my story and storytelling.
I am absolutely passionate about the story I submitted to her for review, Fate(s). Those of you who have been with me for a while now know, it had been a troublesome child. Act 3 had been written so many times, I could create a series of “what ifs”. But I knew it was “the one”. Present tense. It is the one. Eventually.
It was shaped by things that had actually happened to me, so the fact that she could feel the passion, read it on the page, that meant a great deal. And that warmed the spark I’ve been carrying for a long time.
Writing is my passion. It’s the thing that has sustained me all these years. It stresses me out. It elates me. Like Gloria Steinem said, “Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” I love it.
Which is probably why I should have treated it better all these years.
So write the story that excites you. I hope it lights your soul on fire! That translates, and others will feel it. And oh, what a joy that is to discover.
My brother just shared with me that he and his fiancé are planning on getting scuba certified prior to their trip to Hawaii in the fall. I am jealous. Some of you may recall, I was hoping to get recertified this year. I wanted to utilize something I enjoy to do something good for the environment. It has to be put off for the time being, so I suppose an underwater Writing Prompt will have to suffice.
Yeah, I’m not bitter or anything.
Are you looking for a little writing excursion? A break from the routine? If you’re inspired, join me in this week’s Writing Prompt Challenge and share your creation!
One of the big goals I had for myself this year was to meet with screenwriting coach, Lee Jessup. I wanted to speak with someone who knows and works with writers, is part of the industry, and could offer me insight as to whether or not I was on the right path.
I received wonderful feedback with only one rather sizable problem that needs attention.
I need writer friends. In particular, screenwriter friends.
Gasp! I have to be social? Isn’t that one of the perks of being a writer? To be antisocial? With purpose? ((wink))
I haven’t been part of a writer’s group since I left LA over seven years ago. I enjoyed that group. There were a number of published or soon-to-be published authors, but no other screenwriters surprisingly, given our proximity to Hollywood, so while a supportive, friendly group, I still didn’t have anyone who understood my specific needs.
I’ve known for quite some time that I needed to make at least a few screenwriter friends, it was one of the reasons I attended the Austin Film Festival Writer’s Conference a few years ago. And I did, sort of. I met a number of screenwriters who I now interact with on social, but there were two women who I befriended that I have actual conversations with outside of that, but we live in different parts of the country, so it takes effort sometimes to keep in touch.
I asked one of them to give me some feedback on an early draft of my pilot, and she did not disappoint, but I can only ask that of someone so many times. Especially when we only talk a few times a year.
I need to branch out.
It’s something we all need. Support. Alone with our words for months on end, it’s no wonder why other people consider us “crazy”. Sometimes I can’t look at the thing I’ve been working on anymore because I can’t see the forest for the trees. We need another pair of eyes. We need someone, or a lot of someones, who understand our mindset, our struggles, our craft. We need people to hash out ideas with, people with a wide range of experience and knowledge of our field, and people who share our passion.
I think people in other vocations, non-creative pursuits, have an easier time finding others like them. When I worked in event management, it was easy to become friends with DJs, wedding planners, and photographers. We were in an industry where opportunity allowed for us to repeatedly interact, and that’s why so many writers, I think, congregate to areas where they’re most likely to run in circles with other like-minded individuals.
So we’re moving back to California next year. Yep. Lee helped me to understand that it was an integral part of my journey. It was inevitable. She assured me that I’m ready for the next step, but need to make connections, and the best way to do that is to be in a place where they’re more readily available.
So I’m putting out the call! I’d like to do something like that here, now. Do you have any tips on making (screen)writer friends? Are you part of a writer’s group you’d recommend or are you considering starting one? Please share below, and let’s start building that community!
It doesn’t really feel like it, as the sun has only been out a few times this year so far. By now, in Vegas I would already be complaining about the heat, longing for cooler days, and here I am on the flip side, wishing for a day above 65 degrees.
Apparently, according to long-time PNW residents, this never-ending gloom is unusual. Like, hasn’t happened in 72 years. Didn’t they something similar last summer during the heat wave? Either way, I’m so happy we could be here to experience it. ((insert eye roll))
The lack of noticeable change in the seasons almost made me forget where we are in the year. Halfway through. Time for a check in on those annual goals.
You may recall I mentioned making them more “manageable” at some point.
Yes, this coming from the woman who wanted to watch a movie a week, read two books a month, read three screenplays a month, all while working full-time, having two dogs, writing, managing an Etsy shop, a desire to cosplay, starting a business, and so much more, in addition to all the other normal life stuff.
Yeah, hi. No wonder every year I was disappointed with my progress. I was out of control.
I decided to cut back this year, and having made it to the half way point, I am able to reflect with better clarity and rationale and say with all honesty, more attainable goals are so much more beneficial to my overall well-being.
This is something I’ve had to remind myself of, a lot – goals are just things to aspire to, not necessarily achieve. It’s a way to stay accountable. They are not meant to act as a measuring stick in order to judge the merit of our character based on whether we actually accomplished everything on our list.
*By the way, that’s all me. I’m guessing at this point, all those quotes I’ve shared have done their job.
We all want to make progress. We want some way of measuring how far we’ve come. Hence the goals. But when they are wildly out of reach when you have other responsibilities, the lack of reaching them can really hit our feelings of self-worth. That is so not the point.
Things are hard enough as it is. Why torture ourselves further?
I’m happy to report that I’ve made some of my goals. This is big for me. I’m usually eyeballing December 31st with skepticism. I know it’s judging me. I still have a lot of work ahead of me, but having achieved some smaller and some larger goals, I feel a bit more confident moving forward.
And that’s all we need sometimes. A boost to our self-esteem.
Here are a few of the goals I’m happy with so far:
My screenplay, Fate(s) is done. I will not touch it again without compensation. Pop the champagne! The troublesome child is ready to go out into the world!
I completed the first draft of my fifth feature, Projection. Gotta say, I’m pretty satisfied. A rare state.
I’m polishing up the next chapter in my fanfic series to get that off my mind. I’m sure more ideas will come knocking soon enough.
I chose to only watch two movies a month instead of one a week. I’m currently sitting at 20/24. Not too shabby.
I limited my book reading challenge, and not understanding how the library hold system works, it had been a while, ended up meeting that goal early on: 17/15.
My other goals were to get a new job (check), create a new writing space (partial check), and meet with a screenwriting coach (check). This I will cover separately.
More manageable goals are really the way to go. A feeling of accomplishment can really help the whole state of being and help on the long journey of our creative path.
How are your goals shaping up this year? Let’s celebrate our accomplishments and cheer one another on!
Brian Koppelman is a screenwriter, showrunner, and producer. A few years ago, Screencraft collected a series of his tweets and compiled them into a list of 101 screenwriting lessons. I reread them a couple of weeks ago, and while there are obviously a number of useful tips, there was one that stuck out to me in particular.
95. Sometime in the first week of a new creative project, write down all the reasons you’re excited about it. Refer back to it during the long slog through the middle.
For writers, after months (or years) of working on a project, we may find ourselves out of touch with the “why” in the why we chose to write this story. Maybe we’ve lost the inspiration. Maybe we’ve lost a little of the love.
Sometimes, it really is a slog.
Our path is a lonely one, and we often only have ourselves to rely upon. None of us wants to be that person who claims to be a writer. We are writers. And sometimes we need little reminders, sticky notes, or what-have-you to keep the momentum flowing. We need to make it easier on ourselves – it may be a lonely path, but it’s also not an easy one – so do what you can.
I make a lot of notes when I have a new idea. I try to sit with it for a little while and write down all the initial thoughts that come to me, but I like this tip of creating a list of reasons why I’m excited about it as well.
As a screenwriter, I rely heavily on imagery. It’s one of the reasons I started the Writing Prompts, but also why I have oh so many Pinterest boards (with more to come with the new story ideas in development). I have found that having a visual representation of the inspiration behind a piece to be beneficial, often.
I choose color coordinated binders for each screenplay; the color is usually representative in some manner. I like the ones that have a sleeve cover, so I can put an image that correlates to the script at the front. You may have come across some of them in my Scribbles. I call them “touchstones”. I generally settle upon an image fairly quickly when starting a new script. As you’ve seen with the writing prompts, I go with my gut.
Whatever tethers you to your current WIP, put it in your eye line. Let it be present as you make your way forward. If you don’t have one, I would recommend finding one. Obviously, don’t get stuck in a Pin hole, like I have done on so many occasions, but spend a little time seeking something out that will aid you. Create a list of the reasons why this project excited you, so when the barely-wrote-a-word days come, you have a reference, and then maybe they don’t seem so bleak.
Have any writing tips to share with the community? Let’s help each other out!
I’ve had a week, so instead of sharing this week’s Writing Prompt on Wednesday, as is the norm, it is now Saturday, even later than I planned yesterday.
I didn’t know what I was looking for in the way of imagery this week. I’m still celebrating the completion of a new script and thought to find something representative of it, and then I found this.
I was not a history fan when it was required in school, but have since become quite fascinated with different time periods and often include some aspect within my screenplays, so I found myself drawn to the photo above and the story potential.
Feeling inspired? Want to join me in a little free write or flash fiction? If you’re ever inspired by any of the prompts, please don’t forget to share! I look forward to seeing your creations!
No matter how much we accomplish, it’s easier to find fault, to consider what more we could have done, and to reflect only on the negative.
Creatives, athletes…we’re never satisfied.
The Sis and I enjoy Formula One, and one of her favorite drivers, even when he won, would always say, “We could have done better.”
We’re hard on ourselves. We nitpick. We doubt.
When I had that conversation about a month ago now with the one screenwriting coach, I said, multiple times, that I had wasted time. A lot of it. She tried to placate that negativity by saying I had been living my life.
Then last week, I went to coffee with a friend and told him how much I had written. His eyes literally went wide. It wasn’t like I had just been puffing myself up by saying I was a writer, I had the material, whether ready or not to be seen (see, hard on myself) to back it up. That impressed look, made me feel a little bit better.
I’m still no where near satisfied, but you know, it’s a process.
No matter where we are on our journey, it’s obviously easier to look back and measure our success, or lack there of, by that distance then to look forward and try to see the finish line because that is more elusive. We don’t know how many more steps we have to take before we can consider ourselves a “success”.
Besides, when is our kind ever satisfied?
It’s also easy to compare ourselves to others who are further along, and possibly younger ((gasp)). Or be annoyed that they found their way sooner.
When I was in film school, I learned how so many directors had used their families’ video camera to make shorts when they were like 10 years old.
Good for them.
Vera Wang didn’t become a designer until she was 40.
Way more relatable.
It’s hard work to silence the inner negativity demon. We work alone most of the time and without recognition or validation for years, sometimes. Don’t look back. Don’t be put off by the make believe distance you’ve manifested in your head. No matter if you’ve taken one step or a thousand, celebrate where you are now.
You’re so much further than you think.
You’re so much further than those who talk about it and yet have never taken the first step or those who quit along the way.
I finished a new screenplay in the month I’ve had off from work. Hence my silence here. I’m celebrating this achievement – a story that didn’t exist a month ago. What a deep feeling of satisfaction. When I wrote Fade Out, my heart flipped, and there was a moment of pride, and like I had given myself a high-five.
When I woke up the next day, there was that quiet nagging voice telling me to get back to work.
Do you have an accomplishment you’d like to share and celebrate? Let’s cheer one another on!