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.
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.
Happy 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?
Here’s one of my favorite goal setting images for inspiration. Now let’s go crush 2020!
This is not the kind of post I would typically write about, but as part of “The Journey”, it felt like something I needed to talk about.
Writers have a bad rap of being alcoholic-lazy-caffeine addled-bad eating habit having-delusionals. I, personally, am only two of those things. I’ll let you wonder which two.
I didn’t personally need to put myself in the challenge. When I became vegetarian, it was easy for me to discover the foods that didn’t agree with me. Example – I learned I was lactose intolerant. But I did need to change my habits.
We gave this challenge a shot because The Sis had been suffering from stomach problems, and we wanted to determine for ourselves the culprit before heading to a doctor.
If you’re unfamiliar with Whole30, it’s not one of the fad diets making the rounds, it’s actually a way of eliminating the foods that have adverse effects on your system. Not only with stomach aches, but fatigue, skin problems, body pains, and a number of other ailments.
So we started by buying the book about two weeks in advance. It was fairly inexpensive on Amazon ($16). You may be able to get it at the library, I’m not sure, but we wanted to be able to keep the recipes and continue to reference it. Then came the purge.
Sugar is one of the biggest offenders, and you’ll soon discover that it is in everything, so the removal of it does have positive side effects. One of them being weight loss. Unlike some of the other plans floating around, you can still eat fruit. It took some time to prep for this new way of eating, so removing things from sight and weening off of the non-compliant foods began about a week out. I didn’t want a shock to the system when we could no longer enjoy sweetener in our tea or coffee, or had to give up bread and goodies.
Let me start by saying one thing. This is a rather time consuming process. Many of the recipes only make enough food for one meal for two. So there is a great deal of cooking involved. If you find a dish you enjoy, double it in the future to save time. Make a few things in advance and freeze portions to save yourself some stress when you realize you don’t have time to cook, yet again.
I am by no means exaggerating. There is a lot of cooking involved.
It is also a bit costly at the start, but when you consider that you’re making food at home, that you can stretch into multiple meals versus eating out many times a week, that really isn’t a drawback.
The book is great at explaining the phases of physical and emotional highs and lows you’ll endure over the thirty days. It even describes the dreams you may have because of the fear you will eat sugar unknowingly and have to start all over. The Sis had a few of these dreams. For my fellow vegetarians, you will not experience the full benefits of the “diet” as seitan and soy are staples for us as a source of protein, but for meat eaters in the challenge, they are both non-compliant.
The positive side effects of this challenge are the variety of new recipes you’ll discover. Pinterest is great at finding even more. Shocker, I got in a Pinterest reference. You won’t need to snack, not really, because you’re eating 3 complete meals a day. If I was peckish, I’d eat some walnuts or pistachios. It makes you look at food differently, and the improvements are quickly obvious. Even more so if you work out. We did not. So without that added benefit, The Sis lost about 14 lbs. and I lost 10 lbs.
We’re now at the end of the reintroduction phase. After thirty days, you slowly introduce the big offenders back into your diet to analyze how they effect you for the following 10 days. One day you have grains, or dairy, or gluten then go back to the Whole30 for the following two days. This gives you time to see how you react. My reintroduction was shorter because I was already having both gluten and soy products.
I’m going to continue to limit my exposure to sugar, in particular. One thing I realized was that after quitting my job, I no longer had the desire to drink alcohol. I was only having a drink or two a night at most, but it had become a coping mechanism and that is a horrible discovery. It was also one of the major contributors to my weight gain and hence the removal increased its loss. I don’t need sugar in my morning tea anymore, and I’m not compelled to seek sweets out like I once did, although I am having a hankering for some junk food now that the 40+ days has come to an end. Oh, pizza. How I’ve missed you.
Side note, if you’re a Costco or similar warehouse member you can buy bulk spinach, fruit and veggies, avocado oil, coconut milk, almond butter, coconut aminos (a soy sauce alternative) and a few other items there, which will help offset some costs. I even found ghee, a clarified butter which is Whole30 compliant at a better price. I also discovered, as a lactose intolerant, that I’m okay with ghee.
If you’re interested in trying Whole30 for yourself, here are a handful of our favorite recipes beyond the cookbook to get you started.
If you’re considering Whole30 and need support, tips, other recipe recommendations, or how to make it more vegetarian friendly, please let me know and good luck! It seems a bit overwhelming initially but it’s really not difficult and you’ll reap the benefits.
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.
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.
∼ 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.
∼ 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…
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!
What do you want to accomplish today?
Goodness. Where to begin…
When I was last here, I was in a slump. I’m just now seeing my way out of it. I attended the Austin Film Festival the following morning and had one of the best experiences of my life. I’ll do a special post on my time there, this is just to remember what’s happened since.
On my second night in Austin, after meeting some wonderfully welcoming people and attending panels that inspired, I had an epiphany. The environment I was subjected to in my day job was not where I wanted to be. It had not only become a hinderance to my dream job, I hadn’t written in a very long time, it was also emotionally stunting and draining. This maybe, probably, most definitely, added to my funk. I nearly wrote my resignation letter right then and there.
I had been contemplating the idea for a while. Since February, actually. Some of you may remember my rant about, what I will refer to as, “the incident”. It was the beginning of the downward spiral when I realized so many things about a place I had put a great deal of time and energy into. But I decided to suck it up and figured I could make it work, knowing that in a year our lease would be up (The Sis and I had already decided we weren’t going to renew again), and I could hang in there a year more, right?!
The answer, which grew in intensity, was a resounding no.
It all became clear, and so upon my return to reality, I finally took the leap and quit my day job to pursue my dream. It’s been about two weeks, so after a reset, I’m ready to move forward.
In the midst of this new path, The Sis and I have begun the Whole30. This requires a post of its own as well. Needless to say, we’re feeling better, have more energy (most days), have already lost a bit of weight, and are experimenting with new recipes. We had sort of been in a food rut too. We had planned a trip to Disneyland for the holidays, but the thought of not having a churro or a candy apple, or dare I say a cocktail because of the offerings of adult beverages at California Adventure, were not the things either of us wanted to shy away from.
Then there was the definitive decision to move out of state. So now the unloading of all the unnecessary items has begun. There’s the sorting of all our belongings, the consolidation, the research, the stress. There’s also excitement at the prospect. Ah, the new and unknown.
And finally, let me touch upon the fact that now I can write. Have I? Other than this post, sadly no, not yet, but I have been thinking a lot about the rewrites I have to do and some new story ideas, so there’s that. The Whole30 takes up a lot of time and the move has shifted my focus, temporarily, because there are only so many hours in the day, but in the back of my mind, things are happening. I’m making some changes to the routine I’m so fond of and how I want to approach my career.
I’ve read a number of articles on time management and many offer similar techniques so I plan on incorporating some of them in the hopes I will be more productive and be able to use this time I’ve been
given taken to its fullest. If any of them show promise, I’ll be sure to share.
If any of you have chosen the “follow your dreams” path, I’d love to hear how you handle that while trying to handle everything else.
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?
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. 😉
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!