The thing I didn’t want to happen because I have goals to achieve. The thing I refused to allow even a whiff of to pass me by happened anyway.
It stopped me in my tracks.
The nothing. The barren landscape. The void.
I haven’t had the compulsion, let alone the passion, to write a word. For weeks.
Why? No idea. It all just came to a screeching halt.
I was talking to friends at work, musing over the lack of creating, when they said something quite similar to the quote I’m sharing this week. They reminded me of what I had accomplished this year, and that was only what I had told them about, so you can imagine my surprise at finding a quote that so adeptly surmised exactly that situation; something I needed to hear and wanted to share with you.
I have to remember all the quotes I’ve shared, the words of positivity, and not be so hard on myself. It’s only been a short time of inactivity, and I am fully aware of it. *Not like in the past, when months would fly by unnoticed. Not all days are going to be great strides towards our goal days, so we have to remember to be kind to ourselves and take note of the small steps too.
It’s the season of being thankful, so let’s be thankful for any and all progress we’ve made this year.
And anyway, just because I haven’t been writing doesn’t mean that I haven’t been thinking of things – plot points, new ideas, story rewrites, and new characters. The mind has been active…it just hasn’t reached my fingertips, yet.
As 2022 draws ever nearer to its inevitable end, celebrate the milestones you achieved this year. Each new day offers us a new opportunity to continue to work towards those goals, so if you’ve found yourself in a similar position to mine, take a deep breath, and try again.
Happy Writing! xx
*Side note: before posting this, I scrolled through my previous posts and it turns out, about two months have flown by. At least. Well, sh*t.
I recently read an article in which agents, producers, and managers were asked what they were looking for in a new writer. One mentioned that they wouldn’t even consider a writer without at least 100 ideas, in addition to their 2-3 ready scripts. I found that number a bit disconcerting. I figured, well, I’ve shared some 150 writing prompts so far, perhaps I can build my “idea bank” from those…((sigh)). I guess such a statement was meant to scare off those unprepared. They won’t find me lacking.
They thought themselves servants of the old gods. They had built their home in the remains of a fallen one as a way to preserve and watch over the sacred ashes. Every year, when the wind shifted and the air turned, they awaited the awakening. They offered sacrifices and held celebrations in the hopes the new god would be tempted. Would be pleased. There were tell tale signs, moments that would harken the coming, but it had been a dozen generations since the last, they had no way of knowing when the time would be right. This year felt different, mist rolled through the town, blanketing everything in a fine sheen so that the lanterns and the moon glowed with a strange, unsettling aura. Then there was the tremor and the sound of the great god shifting in his long slumber. It vibrated in your chest, it tingled up your spine, and in the distance its arms unfurled. The people stopped mid-action to witness the rising, a mixture of fear and wonder, for how could they ever know if their new god would be a benevolent god, or if today was to be their last day?
For the next image I had two ideas, similar enough, and yet each needing to be told.
Museums are strange places. I was told that once upon a time, they held relics of other worlds. They were places that held knowledge and history, and allowed visitors to travel to distant lands and connect with people long since gone. Or so they would have you believe. This exhibition wasn’t too different from the truth of what museums actually once were. Organizations that paid exorbitant amounts of money to acquire mostly stolen goods from lands plundered for their riches. This place didn’t feel like an art gallery, more like a zoo. The pieces were described as artist renderings of new species encountered on humanity’s exploration of the stars, but then why did they move? Why did I get the sense that their eyes followed me, pleading for aid? There were other stories I had heard of, ones where people protested animals being tested upon for human advancement, setting them free, and I had the feeling, looking upon the strange figure trapped in a box, that I was going to become one of those people.
~ * ~
When I was a little girl, my parents took me to an exhibit of an inventor, a scientist, a so-called visionary. I don’t recall the details with such clarity any more, but I do remember the feelings of awe and sadness as I took in the subject of each clear box. It was as if they were frozen in time. And there were so many of them. The boxes had to be stacked and platforms were built so that visitors could encircle the room to get a “good view” of all his creations. I remember hearing whispers. I remember the looks on some of their faces as they took in each form. It wasn’t a triumph, it was a freak show. They were said to be designed for a purpose, but whatever that may have been has long since been forgotten. I was drawn to a particular display, number 217. There was something about its form, its face, and when I saw the flicker of movement, I had to stifle the cry that wished to escape my lips. It was in that moment, when I felt small and powerless that I made a choice. It wasn’t long after that the exhibit was permanently closed. Two-ey, as he likes to be called, and I made sure of it. My age and size allowed me to be “unsuspecting”, and that shortsightedness, along with my new friend’s abilities, allowed us to wreak havoc.
Earthlings were still a fairly primitive species. They still had yet to move beyond their own planet, but that didn’t make them any less fascinating. They had had visitors since the beginning, those that periodically checked in on their advancement, offering them a helping hand from time to time, others that wanted to discover why so many had been drawn to them in the first place. Eventually, Earth became a destination, a vacation getaway, a chance to observe the natives, and on ocassion, interact with them. The appearances became so regular that the Earthlings built their society around it. They created places for their visitors to land safely, and buildings that offered a more welcoming, hospitable environment depending on their visitors planet of origin. They fashioned places they called restaurants and pubs that did their best to serve food and drink they hoped their new friends would enjoy. Of course not all interactions were so pleasant, but that didn’t make them any less fascinating.
The rain came down in a torrent. Its sudden appearance and forcefulness caused those strolling about to flee and take cover. The pitter patter was like a song to my wounded soul, and it was nature’s perfect response to my grief. It was as if she were commiserating and understood that I needed the solitude. I walked for some time in the quiet. The mist clung to my skin so much so that I could not tell where my tears ran except when they first fell warm upon my cheek. I clung to my umbrella’s handle like a life line, suddenly realizing that the empty world before me was my new life. For a moment I was paralyzed. I stood in the archway, knuckles white, cheeks tear-stained, and took a shattering breath that left me light-headed. And then it dawned on me. The world before me was my new life. It brought a smile to my lips. It felt unnatural, given the circumstances. Then my foot took a step forward, almost of its own volition. My arms slackened and the umbrella fell to the wayside. I lifted my face up to the sky and let the rain wash me clean. And then, again, as if she understood, the clouds cleared and a ray of light shone down upon me. I could not help but laugh.
Red is for Passion
She still remembered the day she was given her red drape, the color that designated her station and responsibility, and her vow. It was a proud moment to achieve such status at so young an age. For years she did as she had been trained, serving as a handmaiden to the goddess and upholding her sacrifice, a vow of silence, until he arrived. They worked side by side in the temple, barely acknowledging one another, tending to their duties. Slowly, over the course of a year, he drew ever nearer. He was drawn to her silent devotion, her soulful eyes, her gentle touch. It was forbidden, and if they were discovered…The first time their hands brushed against one another, she pulled away, angry. The withering look she gave him from beneath her hood made his cheeks burn in shame, and yet a warmth spread through him. In time, the priestess partnered them together on a number of tasks that allowed them to spend more time together, more opportunities for a casual caress that eventually spoke volumes more of intimacy. One day, when they found themselves alone, he took her by the hand and led her further into the shadow of the forest where for the first time he could look upon her face fully and hear her break her vow.
~ * ~
I’d be delighted to read your creations, if you’ve been inspired by any of the Writing Prompts I’ve posted. And I’ll happily share them here as well.
I had been doing so well, and then I got deterred somehow. I lost my motivation even as I found myself unusually satisfied with what I had been producing. I decided to take some time, recharge my batteries, but I have yet to find my center, my norm.
I’m not sure what happened.
Too often I have found myself in long lulls of not writing. I didn’t feel inspired. I let outside forces influence my productivity. And here I am, all these years later, still waiting, still hoping, falling back into old patterns.
If I want to be a professional, I have to show up like one. I, currently, have the luxury of writing what I want, when I want, but that is not always going to be the case. I want to be a working screenwriter, and I have to remember, it’s about discipline.
It’s about routine. And you all know I’m all about routine.
When I sat and worked on the flash fiction pieces for the Writing Prompt Challenge, I felt like myself. It was freeing and satisfying, and it was a reminder that I have a purpose.
I have an external deadline, the move back to California, to get my writing in order. I have goals that still need to be met, and that won’t happen without discipline. I can’t will their completion into existence. I have to put in the work. No more flying by the seat of my pants.
I’ve talked about this before, the showing up, the holding yourself accountable, but also the being kind to yourself. Not all days will be multi-page days, but hopefully, most of them will offer progress, to some degree. Setting time aside to create is a step in the right direction. It’s the discipline to be in that space even if you don’t feel like it, because you know it all comes down to you.
We’re driven by the passion for our art, even when we don’t feel it, it’s always there, deep down (sometimes), so we need to entice it to come out and play just by being there.
So what tips and/or tricks do you have to keep up with the discipline? Share with the community! And Happy Writing!
I’ve read a number of tips from professional writers that speak highly of the technique and its mastery; some of them writing such detailed outlines that they nearly rival a first draft.
I tend to write a bare bones outline – each act and a variety of incidents I have in mind. I enjoy getting lost in a story and allowing my characters to tell me what’s going to happen next. This may not be to most prudent course of action, especially in a time-crunch sort of situation, but I’m not under those types of constraints and pressures to produce…yet.
On my last screenplay, I chose to try something new – a reverse outline. Well, that’s what I’m calling it.
I don’t know if this is something I learned about along the way (I mean, there are so many things in my head who knows where they’ve all come from at this point), but it made sense to me at the time, and I did find a few holes with this technique, so I thought I’d share.
After my first draft was done, I created an outline based on the written text. I made note of each event, each change of scene, any important detail, and any topic that might need to be addressed further. When I was done, I had an outline that revealed any shortcomings and from there I could fill in those blanks.
From this vantage point I was able to see if events were happening too close together, and if I should incorporate a new scene or two to spread out the action. I found ideas that may have been introduced but lacked follow thru. I discovered conversations between characters that were too long, long winded, or not detailed enough.
It made the rewrite a much smoother process.
Yes, I know. It probably would have made the first draft an easier process as well, but that’s not how I write. A rough draft outline so I know the major beats and where it’s supposed to go is how I work, right now.
Yes, yes, I know I should probably be practicing for the work ahead, but I like to be surprised by the journey.
So what do you think of this trick? How do you prepare to write a draft? Share your tips below!
As I neared the completion of the first rewrite on my latest screenplay, I could feel my desire to continue waning. I was enjoying the rewrite, didn’t really have an idea of what I was going to do next, despite the plan I had in place in order to be prepared for the move back to LA, and so here I am. I think I mentioned the “fear” in a post, so perhaps I manifested it. Well, if my mind is capable of that, perhaps it could make some other things happen instead.
Even before I felt a bit aimless…lethargic…bored. Still sort of do.
I haven’t been compelled to do much of anything – not yoga, not gaming, not movie watching – just the bare minimum to get by.
So I’ve taken a break in the hopes I can refocus and find my center.
I’m not 100%, but I can feel myself returning to my normal, slowly. I even had the stirrings of a new idea, so…
Being a writer isn’t for everyone. It is not easy, as some may think. It’s not for the faint of heart, or those without the passion to carry them through the rough patches. It may sound a bit dramatic, but it’s true. While I want to be encouraging to those who already are writers, because we all get it, I’m not sure how apt I am to encourage someone who may only be “interested” to pursue this path.
Okay, that’s not true. You all know I’ve had multiple encouraging conversations with hopeful writers.
It takes a lot of years to see results. We spend an inordinate amount of time alone, doubting ourselves, our skills, our story, and everything in between. We have to push through writer’s block, being told we should get “real jobs”, having to listen to everyone we meet tell us that they have a “great” story idea, as if we don’t have our own or that we need the help.
We’re told we have to “show up” every day. We have to write when we feel like it and even when we don’t. We’re told we’re not real writers unless we do it every day. We’re told we’re not real writers unless we read. We have to get up extra early to find quiet time, or stay up late for the same reason. There are days when we’re lucky to write a sentence, and others when we go blind staring at the screen because we can’t stop the flow.
There’s panic and dread when we submit our stories. There’s a a little panic when we see a new story hitting the shelves or the screens that resembles ours. There’s a perpetual state of waiting. Waiting for inspiration, waiting for a break, waiting for results…and beyond all that, there’s hope.
There’s hope that our story will resonate with someone. That it will help them in some way. That we’ll see our name on a bookshelf or a tv/movie screen. That people will talk about our characters. That they can’t wait to find out what happens next. That they’ll see subtext we weren’t aware of. Maybe they’ll create fan art or fan fiction. Maybe they’ll ship characters we didn’t imagine together.
It’s the hopes and dreams we have for our work that keep us going, but sometimes we need a break from the pressures we place upon ourselves. We heap quite a bit upon our shoulders, and elsewhere. We can’t half ass our creativity, not if we want it to matter, not only to them but also to us.
There are times to press on, to push through those blocks and walls, and there are others to set yourself to rights. Another thing we writers need to know – the difference between them.
What a wonderful life we lead.
So keep your chin up, and do what you can to move forward. Just do your best, even if that means taking a break. No other path is as persistent as ours. No other creative pursuit, or otherwise, is expected to give 365 days of commitment, so let’s remember to be kind to ourselves.
If you have any tips about staving off burnout or how to get past it, please do share!
I am happy to announce the completion of the first rewrite on my new script. And I have to say, I’m fairly pleased.
There it is again, that feeling. Satisfaction.
The Nordic people are known for a particular approach to their work – it can always be better. This is something I definitely echo.
It took a long time, too long, in fact, to be satisfied with my first screenplay. This new one is number six, so maybe it has something to do with that. It’s not my first rodeo. Big question mark.
It took a little longer than it should have to get through the rewrite. I’m not sure how else to explain it, but I had this feeling that I would be aimless when I was done. Still sort of do.
And that’s where discipline comes in.
I was not motivated to finish the draft. I would be sad to be done with it. And yet I knew it had to be done. It’s not like I don’t have a number of other projects waiting. And so I pressed on.
Some days flowed better than others. Some days I was lucky to rewrite more than one line.
So often I’ve heard, and I’ve probably shared it as well, that we have to show up even when the muse hasn’t. Writing is a practice. We have to do it every day. Blah blah blah.
Surprisingly enough, it’s true.
We (I) really should listen to those who have come before because if we waited for inspiration and motivation, it would probably never happen. To be a writer we have to be diligent. We have to embrace routine. We have to show up, and then we’re there when the muse visits.
Nothing has to be perfect. Nothing ever will be. We can do our best, I mean that’s what rewrites are for, and hope that it resonates with those in a position to make something happen.
So Happy Writing! 😉
Have an accomplishment you’d like to celebrate? Have you chosen discipline over motivation? Let’s cheer one another on!
I was going to try to count how many quotes I’ve shared now; take note of which topics of positivity and encouragement I’ve been peddling all these years.
There have been a lot.
I had to stop at some point because I was wasting time instead of writing.
I started the quote section of my blog because for a long time, when I came across a really good one, I would post it on my cork board above my desk. I needed inspiration, often because it wasn’t to be found elsewhere, and figured there were probably others like me, who just needed a word of encouragement to continue on their creative journey.
The quotes I choose are generally related to the way I, myself, am feeling at that particular moment. Maybe I chose one because of something I talked about with someone during the week, and sometimes, like this week’s quote, it is for a particular someone who I know needs to hear it.
The Sis has been struggling for a little while now. Her career path is unique, mentally taxing, and physically tough sometimes. It has both a number of pros and cons, but recently the negatives are starting to far outweigh the benefits. We had a conversation the other night, one in which I told her that I didn’t think she was happy, and that no job is worth that.
Day jobs take up a lot of our time. We sometimes spend more time with coworkers than our own families. So it should at least bring some measure of pleasure with it. Of course, not all of us have the luxury of changing jobs without some risk, there are a number of other factors why people stay, but if you are truly unhappy, it is something to reconsider.
I have been unhappy in most of my jobs. Why? Because none of them were what I actually wanted to do with my life. Now there’s a death bed regret. Luckily, I have someone who is supportive of my dream, and now it’s my chance to return that encouragement.
Hence a quote of the week that hopefully offers that inspiration.
I hope you have someone who supports your dreams; at least one person you want to make proud. The Sis is that for me, and after all these years, she deserves the reward that comes with that dedication. And now it’s her turn to find that dream for herself.
Need a cheerleader in your corner? You know where to find me! 😉
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.