Quote of the Week

Nearly a month ago, I started to feel it.

The whisper. The tickle at the back of my mind.

The dreaded creativity cursed fear –

Burnout.

At least that’s what I think it is.

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!

Happy Writing! ūüėČ

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Quote Monday

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! ūüėČ

Have an accomplishment you’d like to celebrate? Have you chosen discipline over motivation? Let’s cheer one another on!

Quote of the Week

I had my first conversation with one of the screenwriting coaches I wanted to meet with and I found myself saying things that I didn’t expect.

For as positive as I want to be, being honest with myself about my goals, my hopes, and my fears, left me feeling a bit unnerved. Until recently, I had been afraid to chase my dream, but now I’ve done a 180 and don’t want to waste any more time. After saying this phrase a few times, Lucy, my potential new coach, said I hadn’t been wasting time but living my life.

If only she knew.

If the state of the world is any indication at how precarious it all is, then we need to take advantage of the moment.

We have to silence the inner demons, squash the dark side of ourselves, and believe we are capable of achieving whatever goals we have set. I always think, there are so many people doing what I want, so why can’t I? They stepped up. They believed in themselves. It’s time I did the same.

Finish the project. Get it out into the world. See what happens. And no matter the result…try again. Repeat until desired result achieved. ūüėČ

How do you build self-confidence? Share your tips or advice below and let’s encourage one another!

And Happy Writing!

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

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? ūüėČ And do you have any tips on how to avoid this to share?

Happy Writing!

Writing Tip Tuesday #3

There are a lot of reasons a writer’s life is frustrating. I think we can all agree that one of the more disheartening moments for us is when the muse has shown up, we’re writing tenaciously, and then suddenly, our mind goes blank in regards to what should happen next.

The mind becomes a barren wasteland of inspiration. The fingers hover over the keys. The eyes stare off into the distance in vain hope that the answer will reveal itself. A minute passes. Dread sets in. Self-doubt creeps up our spine. Frustration grows until we finally give up.

What a delightful path we’ve chosen.

The other day I was on a roll with my story when I suddenly got caught up in a moment and didn’t know how to proceed. I knew the scene I wanted to go to next, so instead of stopping the flow, I made a note of what I wanted to happen and continued on.

I don’t know where I learned this, but it’s one of those tricks I’ve picked up along the way, sometimes fail to remember its use, but appreciate when I do, so I thought I’d share.

If you don’t want to lose your momentum, but are stalling because of a scene, or dialogue, or what-have-you simply do something like this:

[fight sequence]

* bittersweet farewell

(convo about the past and sudden realization)

I often color code text that needs to be revisited. I’ve even written short paragraphs so I don’t lose the idea or feeling I want to impart. It’s like a sticky note, and it’s a simple trick, one I wish I had learned about years ago – this has been a more recent discovery – because I have wasted a lot of time staring in vain.

Watching that little blinking cursor remind you that it’s waiting can genuinely ruin your productivity, so when you have more time to sit with the difficult, time consuming passage, you’ll have a clue as to what you wanted to write about without having lost your rhythm.

Because if the faucet is on, let it flow.

I hope you find this useful. Feel free to share any tricks of the trade you’ve picked up along the way.

Happy Writing!

Quote Monday

I have been struggling to reconcile having a mundane job that offers me the freedom to write or finding a new job that challenges me and potentially leaves me little time to chase my dream.

Either choice is exhausting nonetheless.

The monotony of my current job leaves me tired out of sheer boredom but it’s a job I don’t have to think about when I leave and it offers me a lot of time to think on my stories while I’m there. Actually, most of the time I just sing to myself because my trains of thought are usually interrupted a dozen times by customers asking if I work there. No, I just have OCD and need to rearrange this store’s shelves. ((face palm)) I often have time before and after work to write most days, and lately my writing has been all consuming. I make notes while on lunch. I’ve made notes on my phone at stop lights. It’s like a faucet has been turned on and left running.

Not a bad problem to have.

Obviously my concern about looking for something else is that a more “serious” job may take priority leaving me with little time or energy to focus on that which truly matters, and given this new river of inspiration, I don’t want to sacrifice one for the other.

And this is where continuing in menial work leaves me questioning my life choices. I know I’ve discussed this before – probably more than once, so apologies – the mediocrity before success. It’s hard not to want to feel fulfilled by the day job, we spend so many hours there, but if it pays the bills (hopefully) and allows us the freedom to pursue our passion, then isn’t it worth enduring? To some degree, I suppose it is.

It’s a catch-22.

The Sis keeps reminding me of the pros, and most days when I know I have time to write and do some yoga before going in, I feel like I’m already off to a good start. And that probably helps to get me through the monotony.

I truly look forward to the days when writing is the only “job” I have to worry about. ((sigh)) Can you imagine?!

If you’re in a similar position, how do reconcile this disparity? Let’s commiserate together.

Fear of Success

QuestionMarksI’m certain I’ve talked about this subject in the past – the idea that even if our lives are chaotic and unsatisfying, we’re comfortable with what’s familiar, what we know. ¬†Sometimes while¬†striving towards a goal, the unknown can be cause for fear, even if subconsciously.

How do I know this?

I’m pretty sure I created an act of self-sabotage this week, of course¬†without any thought.

I wrote an original TV pilot to add to my portfolio, and I have to say, I’m proud of it. ¬†It took some time to get everything in order, it’s sci-fi with aliens and distant worlds, etc. but when I got into¬†it, I had tons of ideas and I really wanted to spend more time with these characters.

Writing the pilot is among the most satisfying writing I’ve done. ¬†I had a clear image in my head and I wrote it. ¬†I made¬†minor adjustments, but honestly,¬†within five¬†drafts I felt it was ready to be seen.

I sent it to my readers, got positive feedback, and then found a contest to submit it to. ¬†I wasn’t looking for any¬†contests, it was my plan to get everything in order for the beginning of the year, but there was a pilot launch contest from Screencraft and the deadline was fast approaching.

So, why not?!

The Sis went through the script with a fine tooth comb and found all my little grammatical errors and one thing she thought needed changing Рthe name of a fairly inconsequential character.  Agent Six as he had been called, reminded her of something, and it was my goal to not have anything (names, places, expletives) sound too similar to those things I had been inspired by.  If that makes sense.

I had named him Six in honor of my favorite Cylon, but upon a search, Agent Six is a pretty big character on a current running TV series, so I felt it should be changed. ¬†I didn’t have a lot of time to make the change and I got sidetracked during the process…I’m sure you can guess what happened.

I hit submit, got ready for work, and an hour later on my drive it hit me – I hadn’t caught them all.

The Beastie Boys song “Sabotage” has been playing on repeat in my head for days now. (The fan made Rogue One trailer hasn’t helped matters.)

Was this an act of self-sabotage?  Am I afraid of getting what I want?  For all my talk about going after your dreams, am I just putting on a façade?

I am so angry with myself, still. ¬†Yes, it’s a small error, but when you’re¬†hoping to be a professional, the best, most perfect representation of your work should go out into the world. ¬†Does this error deter from the story? ¬†No. ¬†It’s near the end and takes up a fraction of the page, but it’s there, and I know it, and I know they’ll see it.

Sigh.

And now a new deadline lingers on the horizon, and in the back of my mind I have to wonder, am I capable of setting myself up again?  I truly hope not.

I’m not sure how to spin this to be helpful, except maybe to say, “make sure you have the time and focus to rewrite your work.” ¬†Deadlines are great motivators, but¬†let me be an example of what not to do. ¬†Don’t wait until the last minute. ¬†Don’t worry about something inconsequential – it can be changed later if there’s concern. ¬†Plan ahead. ¬†And, I suppose, this quote sums it up perfectly:

Don't be too hard on yourself

Wishing you all the very best in your endeavors!

How to Recover from Burnout

SherlockBoredAs many of you are aware, I like my routine, but something about it recently has created the side effect of “burnout”. ¬†I’ve had little motivation to do much beyond what is¬†absolutely necessary, and even those things have taken great effort.

I’ve been tired. ¬†I don’t feel compelled to write anything. ¬†I haven’t done those responsible things you’re supposed to¬†as a grown up, and it sort of came out of nowhere.

I feel that some of the blame can be placed on the vicarious living I’ve been doing through books and gaming, even my own stories. ¬†All these characters are having adventures, meeting new people, and are seeing amazing sights, while I sit on my butt. ¬†The other day at work, it was yet another slow night and I was writing notes for my fanfiction when the cook asked me if I was writing about my own life.

I couldn’t help but laugh, like a big hearty laugh.

I told him I write fantasy and science fiction, so that didn’t really apply, and then I waved my hand about the bar/restaurant¬†as an explanation. ¬†This is my life, well, my working life any way, and it blows.

We moved back to a city I don’t like to get back on our feet, and all we’ve done is struggle. ¬†I was unemployed in LA for two years, and since taking this current¬†job a year ago, all I’ve done is job hunt, so I feel like I’ve been perpetually searching and sending out resumes¬†for a good job (to no avail) forever. ¬†This in turn affects my writing.

I think it’s this cycle that has caused the burnout. ¬†I’m just frustrated and¬†bored with my life.

Falkor2014Luckily, I do have one thing to look forward to, and it couldn’t be more timely, Gishwhes is upon us.

The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen begins tomorrow morning.  This will be the fourth year The Sis and I take part on Team Falkor.  It is a crazy week of creative endeavors, acts of kindness, nearly impossible tasks, and sometimes utter nonsense that brings together a group of people from around the world with one purpose Рto make a change Рfor ourselves and for others.

So, what does this have to do with recovering from burnout?

The routines we rely on, the normal day to day that sometimes wears us down is something we occasionally need a break from.  This is why vacations are so important for overall well being Рthey tend to relieve all those internal and external pressures we put upon ourselves and bring us back to our equilibrium while reinvigorating our passions.

But…sometimes we are constrained by our circumstances, and yet we need to find¬†avenues we can explore that inspire and invigorate us. ¬†Gishwhes, for me, is the perfect example of that. ¬†It’s challenging and creative, makes you think outside the box, and for the most part, costs very little to be a part of. ¬†Also, the feelings of creativity, inspiration, and kindness last long after¬†the¬†hunt is over.

I’ve been trying to find inexpensive means of enjoying things in my current city, and you’d be surprised what you can do as a local. ¬†Often times museums, shows, even restaurants offer special deals for locals. ¬†Some movie¬†theaters offer specials on a certain day of the week – here in Vegas we have $5 Tuesdays. ¬†Some communities offer a number of free events through the county government, the library, or¬†the arts district, you just have to do a little searching.

It’s no vacation to a tropical island or London, but it’s a step in the direction of doing something different.

If you’d like to¬†a little break from the monotony, and¬†maybe escape the threat of burnout, Team Falkor is always looking for unofficial team members. ¬†Sometimes, an item calls for a specific landmark somewhere in the world, or the use of technology most of us don’t have access to, or something so random we¬†have no idea how we’ll accomplish it, and yet, you could be the answer.

Next week will be a little unconventional, so keep an eye out for the unusual requests, and if you’d like to help, let me know, and join me in saying goodbye to burnout!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Why Are Series Endings So Hard to Get Right?

HappyilyEverAfterThis post is in regards to shows that know they’re coming to a close, not shows that are cancelled mid-season or not renewed thereby leaving us with a wonderful cliffhanger to ponder for the rest of eternity, or dozens of unanswered questions that will haunt us on our death beds.

After watching the series finale of Dexter, way back in 2014, I wrote a rant. ¬†You can read it¬†here¬†in its entirety, but what it boiled down to was giving the audience a¬†“satisfying” ending¬†while¬†staying true to the¬†characters.

You may be wondering why I’m¬†on another rant. ¬†I’ve finished a few¬†shows recently, all terrible endings, and it got me wondering:

“Why can’t I get a satisfying end?”

*Be forewarned, there will be spoilers ahead for shows Dexter, True Blood, and Lost Girl!  

Let’s take a look at Dexter.

This one still bothers me, years later. ¬†After some time recollecting on Dexter as a character, I don‚Äôt think his character arc found justice in the end. ¬†Dexter was an amazing character to watch grow into¬†a fully realized human – something he didn’t think he was capable of. ¬†After all that time invested, on both sides, to leave him on his own in some podunk town without his family, no less? ¬†Nope. ¬†Wrong.

What would have made a satisfying ending for a serial killer? ¬†Well, clearly there’s a moral gray area here. ¬†Dexter, generally, killed people according to his code, does that mean he should walk free? ¬†Not exactly, but it’s a show. ¬†We watch it for entertainment value, not reality. ¬†I wanted to see him reunite with his son and the woman he loved. ¬†Simple as that.

Then there was True Blood.

True Blood ended in 2014 and I was an avid viewer of the show.  About three episodes into the final season, they killed a character off in such a way, I was turned off completely from finishing the show.  Two years later, finally having access to HBO again, The Sis and I decided to finish it.

What a let down.

From episode one on, Sookie is generally at the center of whatever conflict is happening, but they wrapped the show up in a nice little bow as if nothing bad would ever happen again. ¬†We’ve had 7 seasons of crazy, people. ¬†So what, it was like, they’ve done there time and have earned their peaceful Thanksgiving dinner? ¬†Please.

They killed off a main character, they let another character revert to his old ways, and then, to top it all off, they gave Sookie that normal life everyone thought she deserved Рpregnant by a faceless human husband.  She never dated a human in the entirety of the show because (I want to shout) she can hear their thoughts.

So what would have been a more satisfying ending, you might wonder? ¬†Well, first of all, they should have listened to their characters. ¬†Don’t send them on these unique journeys, only to put them right back at the beginning. ¬†We didn’t hit the refresh button. ¬†What I wanted, was to see these characters 20 years down the road. ¬†It’s a vampire show. ¬†There’s longevity involved.

Finally, there’s Lost Girl.

This Canadian import had a unique premise, and although I felt there was so much more they could’ve done with the show, it was a fun watch. ¬†The show’s premise was the all-encompassing world of fae, centering on the character of Bo, a succubus, who uses her power to help human and fae alike as a sort of detective/champion. ¬†The show was episodic, but had an overall theme each season.

After multiple seasons with hints to her power, we were treated to about 5 mins in the series finale of her going nuclear, but not quite all the way, and then they wrap it up a short time in the future.

Another let down.

As the fae on the show live for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, I would’ve really liked to see these characters in the future, not just hinting at an old foe just recently beaten. ¬†Bo was in love with two people on the show, Lauren, a human, and Dyson, a shifter. ¬†Dyson’s character could love others, but could only truly give his heart to one person, and he chose Bo. ¬†Bo chose Lauren in the end. ¬†As human lives are relatively short in comparison, I would’ve liked to have seen a reunion of Bo and Dyson in the future. ¬†He was a wonderful character, and I feel he should’ve received his happily ever after too.

I’m not looking for just “happily ever afters”, but I am looking for satisfying endings. ¬†As¬†TV shows go, I understand there are multiple writers and¬†that stories progress in different ways as seasons continue, but in these examples, I’m not sure they did right by their characters.

What do you think?  Did you like any of these endings?  What other shows annoyed you with their finales?  Which shows ended well?

I’ve been thinking about this in regards to my own original series I’ve been working on, wondering what would be the most satisfying finale. ¬†I may not be in control of that in the end, and that sort of makes me nervous, but it doesn’t mean I can’t hope for the best. ¬†I’d love to hear your thoughts!