Throwback Thursday #2: The Lies We (I) Tell Ourselves (Myself)

Writer.

It’s what I tell people I am.

Most of the time it’s true.

Even in times of writing drought, when I was embarrassed by the day job, I told people I was a writer, as if that would somehow make up for, what I considered, my professional shortcomings.

I’m not just a food server, I’m a struggling artist.

I’ll never forget the time I used an elaborate word in front of a guest and them being surprised that I knew such a word and used it properly in context. How insulting.

Saying I’m a writer is almost like a hall pass. It takes time to make it, so floundering is all just a part of the journey. Working towards that goal for a number of years is expected, but I discovered I was lying. Pretending.

Disney’s Pinocchio

Not intentionally, of course. And really only to myself.

It was a way for me to justify taking another dead end job because a “real” job would be all-consuming and take away from what I really wanted to do. It was a way to excuse the life I had found myself in. It was a way for my friends to think me brave for following my dreams after all these years.

I didn’t want it bad enough. I thought it would be easier. The story is not quite right…yet.

Those are simple lies I could tell myself, in hindsight, as to why “it” hasn’t happened yet, but they’re simply not true.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. It seems I’ve only ever gotten in my own way.

Maybe it’s fear. Maybe it’s laziness.

Showing up for a dream is hard.

I was searching through old posts for today’s subject matter and came across so many instances of me saying I was going to “do things different this year”. I was going to try a new strategy. Set new goals. Make my mark.

It all led to this.

I’ve had this blog for 8 years now. I can count on one hand the number of times I did something different in attempt to propel my career forward. I write about staying positive, reaching for your dreams, slaying your goals and rewarding yourself for achieving them because I wanted to create a space in which I could inspire others, as well as track my progress.

Progress…ha!

Finding myself regurgitating the same words all these years later…well, let’s just say it was rather eye opening.

If my actions are any indication as to who I am, I am mostly not a writer. But it is who I want to be.

I have wasted years not writing, but I’ve never not said I wasn’t a writer. It’s a big lie I’ve told myself, and one I will not continue to perpetuate.

One of my goals for this year was to discover what aspect of my writing to work on. I thought it might be structure or pacing.

Goodness. What sort of Pandora’s box did I open?!

Apparently, my problem is follow through. I could write all day, every day, but without an actual endgame, there is nothing to propel me forward to making writing all day, every day a reality. A contest deadline isn’t enough. There has to be more. More action. More steps forward. More accountability. More solid, actual progress.

I’ve been on a mission for months now, after that lightbulb moment, and I am proud to report that I’ve finished one story, rewritten two screenplays, and am nearly halfway through writing a new one. But now it’s time to do something about it.

This post (may) hint at my self-loathing for my ability to so long not go after my dream, despite all the quotes to the contrary, but it is the kick in the pants I need to get myself off this merry-go-round. Why would you want to keep reading about my journey if I don’t have one?

I want to throw my fist in the air and say “That all changes today!”, but it physically can’t, there are steps that have to be taken, but I am taking a first step in that direction soon.

A story for another day.

What lies have you told yourself that are keeping you from achieving what you want? Let’s help one another move passed them!

xx, Rach

Quote Monday

by Quotes.pub

I like to share a bit of inspiration at the beginning of the week, but for me and some of you who work a non-traditional work week, it’s like my Thursday.

I suppose the inspiration helps to get me to my weekend, when I can finally decompress and be productive in the ways that truly matter.

This week’s quote is to help us writers with our confidence. Something I know I struggle with. We’re a strange breed. We spend hours beyond counting in solitude, consumed by self-doubt and without any encouragement for years, and then, at some point, are forced to pull a 180 in order to face the world in an effort to become “professional”.

And people wonder why so many writers are unstable. πŸ˜‰

We already have to be so many different people for our art – the writer, the editor, the audience, the hero, the villain – and then we have to alter ourselves to make it happen by being confident.

Okay.

It’s easy to be confident while I write. I take on the persona of my characters, the ones who are willing to do anything to achieve their goals, who go on big adventures, and do great things. I put myself in their shoes and walk into rooms as if I own them.

In the real world, not so much.

It’s hard to be confident when we’re unsure of the outcome. When we’re new. When we’re in a room with people higher on the ladder with much more sway. Or all the sway. But this is not so much about the physicality of the situation, but instead about shifting our mentality.

We have to be secure in what we’ve done and what we’re ready to put out in the world.

Easier said than done, I know.

Like any new skill, it takes time and practice aka patience.

One way I think of obtaining said “confidence” is knowing what we want for ourselves – our measure of success.

What needs to happen for you to count yourself as successful? There will always be disappointments, but what will give you satisfaction?

I’ve long dreamt of winning an Oscar. I mean, c’mon. How cool would that be? But does the possibility of never winning one diminish my drive? Nope. It’s a big reach, and a political gambit, apparently, so I don’t place my measure of success on having that gold statuette on my mantle. But I do have my dress picked out, just in case. Think of this, Stephen Hawking never won a Nobel, so…you know, perspective.

I also believe that as we continue to meet and exceed our goals, that helps to build our confidence as well. So as we look forward to a new year and the associated objectives we wish to accomplish, tackle those small tasks that lead to bigger ones (and then tackle those too) and reward yourself each step of the way.

Be brave, my fellow writers. Be confident. And Happy Writing!

Throwback Thursday #1 : Articles on Screenwriting

Photo by ThisIsEngineering on Pexels.com

Ages ago, I shared this article from Script, a site for screenwriters, called Notes from the Margins: Every Article on Screenwriting You Never Have to Read Again by Danny Manus. I have read and saved a number of articles in my pursuit of becoming a professional screenwriter, and this one, in particular, reiterated how contradictory so many of them are. It will make you think twice before clicking on another.

How is a newbie ever to make heads or tails of it all? Sometimes, it’s just too much.

This year I decided to clean up the folder with said saves because some of them are years old now, and while probably still worth reading, at this point, I’ve most likely come across the information elsewhere. Plus, as the article above makes clear, most of what’s out there is bullsh*t.

Screenwriting is an elusive career path. There is no direct, one-way only entry. It’s not like any other creative pursuit, let alone traditional ones. A novelist can write a book and seek out a publisher or self-publish. A painter can create a work of art and put it on display. If a screenwriter wants their work “out there” we’re often told to make a short.

I don’t want to be director. I don’t think. So that means I have to find a director…?

I barely have any writer friends as it is.

So those already in the know share what they’ve learned, what trends they’re “seeing”, and basically utilize their position to further their own careers via writing guest posts, pushing their screenwriting books, classes, or services, and offering “advice” on how to break in.

Yes, I’m using quotes to reiterate how inconsequential so much of that advice truly is, especially when you keep scrolling and read advice to the contrary, as the above article highlights.

Like any advice, good or bad, take it with a grain of salt.

I’m also learning that the more time I spend reading the “should and should-not” posts is just more time taken away from doing what I actually should be doing – writing.

If you’re interested in researching a particular subject, like screenwriting contests, of course, seek those out, from reputable sources, but maybe be more discerning with the content you subscribe to and how much time you spend on subjects that don’t currently relate to your situation.

How’s that for advice? Some I need to follow myself. I’m off to delete!

So now that you’ve read my post about articles and their potential uselessness, thank you very much, by the way, close this window and go write! πŸ˜‰

Happy Writing!

First Quote of 2022

2022. We’ve come to the years that sound like those in sci-fi movies. I’m still one of those people who refers to the 90s like they were the last decade, not well over twenty years ago.

Ugh. It’s horrifying. Mostly because of the implications.

With the start of a new year and all the potential and possibility that comes with it, let’s start it off with a big ol’ dose of inspiration. If the last two years have shown us anything, it’s that we shouldn’t waste our lives being unhappy, going through the motions, and not following our dreams.

There is rarely ever going to be a “perfect” time to start a new journey, we just have to choose to be brave, and find any small measure toward making it happen.

Perhaps you’ve been considering your New Year’s resolutions and what you’d like to accomplish this year. While you do that, think on the times when you’ve felt most “alive”, at peace, or just generally happy and find a way of integrating more of that into your day-to-day.

It doesn’t just have to be about writing.

During yoga on New Year’s Day, I had to keep brushing aside three thoughts that repeatedly wanted to be known, all related to writing. But that’s me. There are other things I want to accomplish, things I know that would bring me joy, so I’m considering how to pursue those as well. But that’s a post for another day.

What is your heart trying to tell you? Where does your true passion lie?

Think about the people who inspire you – their passion. How can we emulate them?

I wish for us all the courage to follow our dreams and finding opportunities to make them a reality this year!

Best of luck! xx, Rach

The Other Side of Goal Setting

As another year draws to its inevitable end, it’s hard not to reflect on the goals I set for myself and how I fared. Where did I succeed? Where do I need improvement?

As many of you are now aware, The Sis and I had a rough start to the year. That chipped away at a big chunk of productivity overall. Months were lost, and when I realized how soon 2021 would be gone, I was stricken with a sense of scrambling to make my year end goals. This led to exhaustion, and a bit of depression.

The last month or so I have felt little motivation, in any regard. It probably doesn’t help that I haven’t seen the sun in weeks either. How can the sun just not exist here?! It’s too cold. It’s too gray. *Side note, I had a Facebook reminder today that 8 years ago I was basking in 81 degree weather and was rubbing it in the faces of my East coast friends. Today I’m avoiding the fact that I’m now in 14 degrees and my car is buried in the snow.

The day job is mind numbing, and I’ve already said enough on the topic. It won’t change until I make a change, so that one is on me, but compounded with the above, I’m feeling the effects.

I think I also may have been too over-reaching this year in my goal setting. With the big move, a sick pup, and the two above-mentioned downsides, it has been harder than usual to stay the course, so I should have reconfigured the list sooner so as to not feel this disappointed by not being able to mark my goals as “complete”.

So this is where we come to the moral of the story. When determining your goals for the new year, be reasonable, and a little lofty in your aspirations. The “resolutions” are meant to be inspiration, something to strive for. While some of them may feel out of reach or grandiose, the point of making a goal a goal is so we have a measuring stick for our accomplishments. They shouldn’t make us feel bad about ourselves. They should offer us something to work towards; to help us gauge each step in our progress, and that falling short doesn’t mean we’ve failed because at least we were willing to try (and are possibly continuing to do so).

This is something I’ve had to remind myself of, and why this week’s quote struck me.

I allowed my inability to accomplish all my goals affect my feelings of self worth. I have let a number of years slide without a second thought as to my aspirations, but this year was different. When I had that lightbulb moment about my writing, that newfound desire to follow my dreams resonated so deeply within me, that I think the thought that I couldn’t accomplish a few simple tasks hit me harder. “If I couldn’t finish a movie watching goal, what makes me think I can be a professional writer?” Those two things do not have any bearing on the other, and it was an easy spiral to find myself in as a way of discouraging my progress.

So be kind to yourselves. Set goals, but understand they may take longer than the time we set for ourselves. Celebrate the small steps or accomplishments toward a greater goal. Find people who will continue to encourage you. If you can make changes to the things that are inhibiting you, be brave. And Good Luck!

Here’s to a new year of new goals and to crushing them!

xx, Rach

Happy Thanksgiving!

Some time ago, around the cusp of the new year, I thought I would write “thank you” messages to all those who have inspired me in some way – an author whose book affected me, an artist whose work moves me, a yoga instructor who is the reason I enjoy the practice. It became one of the yearly goals I set for myself because who wouldn’t appreciate a shout out in appreciation of their hard work? Sometime throughout the year, the thought that I should write them in November came to me because that is when people are “thankful”.

Then November came, and I thought, maybe like the 12 Days of Christmas, I could do the 12 Days of Thanksgiving.

Then that window also closed.

I struggle to find enough time to work on my screenplays at any length, so the grand plan of writing some 30 thank you notes became a rather daunting prospect. Shortening it to 12 seemed more manageable, and yet… This is in no way meant to diminish the importance of any of those I was considering. In fact, as I write this, I’m thinking, “I have 37 days until the end of the year to accomplish this task, and I do thrive under pressure.” ((insert eye roll here))

So let’s strike one off the list: I am thankful for all of You!

You keep me coming back to this space, to stay positive, and to continue striving towards my goals, which in turn I send back to you. It’s a wonderful symbiotic thing we have happening here. πŸ˜‰ You support my geeky obsessions, you share words of encouragement, and are an amazing circle of creatives to be a part of, so…

Thank you!

For helping me be the best version of myself.

Happy Thanksgiving! xx, Rach

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. πŸ™‚ Eh, there’s always tomorrow.)

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. πŸ™‚ )

Happy Writing!

Need a Laugh?

Or just want to nod your head in agreement?

I’ve come across these ecards before. In fact, I’ve saved a number of them on Pinterest, but this one was new and made me chuckle, for how many times did I believe I would remember an idea later?

I now keep paper and pens all over the house, in my purse, and car. I use the note app on my phone for the middle of the night or when I’m at work. If I’m in the car and can’t write something down, I repeat it over and over in my head until I come to a stop. I’ve learned my lesson by letting too many thoughts get away.

How many times have you told yourself this lie? πŸ˜‰ And do you have any tips on how to avoid this to share?

Happy Writing!

Writing Tip (Almost Tuesday) #4

I recently met a young man who wants to be a screenwriter. I was delighted to meet someone with whom I might be able to talk “shop” and bounce ideas around with, potentially.

I was surprised to learn he doesn’t write, let alone read.

I was confused. And slightly disappointed.

“How do you know you want to be a screenwriter?” I questioned with a raised quizzical eyebrow.

“I have an idea that I think would make a cool tv show. Do you have any advice on how to begin?”

Uhh, yeah. “Start writing. Anything.”

And then I wondered at what else a young, hopeful writer should know.

The writing bit seemed fairly obvious as one needs to find their voice, so I encouraged him to try his hand at a variety of styles.

The second piece of advice I gave him was to read. A lot. I recently discovered the unique writing of Ursula K. Le Guin via her novel, The Wizard of Earthsea. She has her own way, and I’m kind of sad I only just found her because I’ve had her books on my shelf for years and she’s different from anything else I’ve read.

I suggested that he could start doing research on the topic and that it could lead him to have a better understanding of the story he wants to tell. So far it was just a specific time period because, I think, he likes the idea of the set dressing.

Finally I advised watching shows that are thematically or genre specifically similar to his so that he knows what’s out there. There’s this idea among new writers that they might be unduly influenced, but any professional will tell them that in order to market their own material, they must be familiar with the competition.

I definitely wanted to encourage the spark of creativity to grow, but I had that sense, the one so many of us, as writers, have encountered before – he’s just another random person with “an idea”.

You know the one.

But he is still young, although if you don’t read or write, how do you decide that this is the path you wish to follow?

It’s like…I don’t know…wanting to be a chef because you watch cooking shows even though you don’t cook.

I want to believe that this could be the beginning of his journey, and like I said, I wanted to encourage him, so I asked questions to get him thinking in greater detail of the overall story he may want to tell, and offered other tips, but what it comes down to, and this is the scary side of becoming a writer, is that it is truly about finding your own way.

I knew I wanted to be a writer from a young age. It’s just taken me a long, and rather winding path to finally get here. Maybe this spark of an idea is enough to propel him forward into becoming a writer, himself. Either way, we all find our calling in different ways, and it’s up to us to pursue it.

I didn’t tell him about the struggles we face, there’s no reason to scare him off in the early days. I’ll leave that for him to discover in his own time, like we all did πŸ˜‰ because when I think back on all I’ve learned and experienced – the years of research, the articles and books read, the years of tv and movie watching, the sleepless nights when I was on a roll (or when I wasn’t), the writing droughts, the rejections, the few and far between hints of encouragement, finding inspiration in the waking moments and when you’re drifting off to sleep, the trying to stay positive, and taking dead-end jobs (too often) to keep the dream alive – goodness, that’s probably best kept to myself.

Such is our life.

So on that note, fellow writers, what other advice would you give a newbie?