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?
Last week I wrote an entire blog post after learning that my pilot had not advanced in the second contest I had entered. I was sad and the overall tone was not the happy-stay positive-reach for your dreams-vibe I try to maintain here.
So I didn’t post it.
Rejection, in any form, is tough to take. People say all sorts of things to put a positive spin on the situation, but when it comes down to it, rejection plain ol’ sucks.
I was already struggling with the third act of one screenplay, and I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself to get everything in order for the conference in October, so this news struck a blow. I was down for the rest of the day. But that’s part of the process. You take the hit, get back up, and show ’em.
It’s hard when so much is in our hands as writers, and so much that isn’t.
It’s not like I didn’t know this going in, but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating. The whisper of doubt that sneaks its way in about the possibility that no one will ever like what I write and I never become a professional screenwriter grows louder with each rejection, but then I think of the people that were once just like me.
Every writer ever.
So no, I’m not giving up. On the contrary. I’m just getting started. So here is the “stay positive-reach for your dreams” tip of the day:
Wear that rejection like a badge of honor because at least it shows that your striving towards your goals. How many people do you know that are unwilling to even try?
I’ve found that I haven’t had much to say lately. I’m not sure exactly why. In part it could be because the last couple of months have been sort of strange. Since that incident at work back in February, I’m happy to report that my shift in focus has remained. It is weird there though. I’m more focused on the job I actually want, even though the progress is slow sometimes, I am still moving forward.
I’ve been better about reading, which somehow eluded me last year, and I’ve maintained my one-movie-a-week routine (although I did see the Avengers twice, so I’m one movie shy of my goal as I write this). I’ve rewritten two acts of one of my screenplays, I entered my TV pilot into 7 contests, I’ve come up with a new screenplay idea that I’m excited about (let’s just add that to the backlog of ideas currently nestled in the recesses), and I bought my airline ticket and badge for the Austin Film Festival screenwriters conference. So…yay!
Not that long ago, we had been broke, The Sis and I. Not so broke that I was worried we might end up homeless, because we always made sure we paid rent, but poor enough that there were a few times we used a credit card to buy groceries and pay bills. Not a great place to find one’s self. Now, I’m in a position to attend a writers conference, one of my goals, and I’m nervous and delighted.
Having this external goal compels me to get my writer’s portfolio in order. There is no way I’m going to squander this opportunity. It’s one thing to submit to contests, it’s another to hopefully meet and mingle with people who could actually propel my career forward, and so I have to get my sh*t in order. No more messing around. No more excuses. If I’m going to spend this big shiny penny, I have to make the most of it.
It also helps to keep striving when you receive feedback like this from a contest you entered:
“Vivid world building and unique characters set a great foundation for the series. The dialogue between the characters is distinctive and introduces creative dialects and words that the sci-fi audience will love.”
Thank you, Slamdance!
So I’m committing to this page my goals for the next 17 weeks:
Have 3 full length features show ready
Have my Pilot’s Bible ready
Flesh out at least 3 like-genre scripts
Flesh out 1 out of genre script (will save this to the end 😛 )
Whew. I’m at some stage of progress on each goal, but there’s still plenty to do, so I better get cracking.
How are you moving towards your goals? Please share your small steps and let’s celebrate them together! Also, are you planning on attending AFF? It would be great to meet a familiar “face”. 😉