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!
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?
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”. 😉
I can’t believe I haven’t shared a Writing Prompt since last April. Dreadful.
In that continuing effort to shift my focus (which apparently has been askew for a while now), I’m getting back to routine. It took some effort to find an image that spoke to me. I looked at Pinterest, and wasted some time, for a few days (not full days or anything) until this one finally appeared.I’d like to start up the Writing Prompt Challenge again.
The purpose: To give us a break from our “regular” writing. I use them as a stream of consciousness style writing to offer me some freedom from my fine-tooth-comb style of screenwriting. I write for 30 minutes or less, don’t plan, and don’t edit. I call them “flash fictions”.
The rules: They’re simple – write something and share the link in the comments, or tag my page on yours so I can find it. If you don’t have your own page, feel free to share your creation in the comments, and in the next two weeks I’ll share them all in a post I call “Writing Prompt Challenge Accepted”.
Are you feeling inspired? Are you up for the challenge?
At the beginning of every year we each decide what we’d like to accomplish, what we want to change. The dreaded New Year’s Resolution – gyms are overcrowded for a month, a flurry of spending happens while we’re excited for a new hobby, mentally we prepare for the first of the year as if it were a magic reset button, but usually it’s all in vain. We say things like, “This year, it will all be different.” “Kiss last year goodbye and say hello to the new one and all the newness that comes with it.” We set goals, we make resolutions, only to lose momentum a fraction of the way through the year.
Some years are better than others, but it’s because of this I’ve never been one to make resolutions. The looming (potential) failure. And I don’t like the feeling. The reflection at the end of the year at how little I accomplished. It’s not that we’re lazy, I think it’s just that we lose passion or focus and the reason why we wanted whatever “it” was to begin with amidst the chaos that makes up our daily lives. An elusive goal with a slow payoff will usually take a back burner to the things that require immediate attention.
Maybe it has something to do with that mid-life crisis I talked about previously, but I’ve started to make some changes by redirecting my focus. Side note, I did cut my hair off, and it’s kind of fun and different. I’m not sure how long it’ll last just due to the sheer amount of work it requires but at least I was finally brave enough to try. Last year I let a lot of things slide. I let my focus shift to unimportant things, things that didn’t require the value I placed on them, and the year passed with little to show for it…again.
It’s probably a good thing I didn’t make any resolutions. 😉
I like my day job (most days), but I realized I’m giving it too much attention. I allowed it to gain too much space in my life, and for something I don’t want to do long term, I needed to shift my focus. Coming home feeling tired, both physically and mentally, causes me to waste the number of hours I have left in my day to accomplish more. Reading, writing, watching a movie – there have been too many days when none of those have happened.
So, nearing the end of 2018 I started to reevaluate my situation, and like serendipity my general manager gave me a book, “The Coffee Break Screenwriter” by Pilar Alessandra and a tee-shirt that says screenwriter for Christmas.
I think it was the the push I needed, and I have thanked him again since the holidays because I’m over half way through the book and I’ve already had some ideas about one of my scripts that needs a rewrite, I submitted my pilot to a competition, and I’m planning on attending my first ever screenwriter’s summit. I’ve watched at least one new movie a week, I’m reading more, and I’ve decided to do the thing I fear – write down my goals. It’s my hope that visualizing what I’d like to accomplish, in addition to having some sort of accountability, may help me actually reach them.
I’m one for lists, so by creating a path to accomplish said goals, I may find it easier to navigate throughout the year when I start to wane or lose focus. In the past I wrote about finding external deadlines to help in goal setting. This was not my genius idea but one I had come across from a number of sources. It’s one thing to say I’d like to rewrite my script by such and such a date, but having a competition to submit to with a hard deadline will definitely add the pressure, so I’m finding those as well.
It’s about using my time wisely. More wisely. Finding the balance between the day job and the dream job, family, other interests, and the mundane will take some effort. So here’s to a new year and the newness that comes with it. 😉
How do you plan to achieve your goals this year? Want to help each other be accountable? Share your goal and let’s have regular check-ins to make it happen!
It was a little over four years ago when The Sis and I had a conversation.
We were living in Los Angeles, and I had been struggling for nearly a year to find a job. No exaggeration, I sent out over 250 resumés and only received three responses in return.
I was miserable. And while writing should’ve given me some solace, I was too concerned about finding paying work, so every time I was on the computer, I felt guilty if I wasn’t doing that.
I barely wrote a word that year. One of the main reasons for moving to LA – for me to become a professional writer – and I was failing, spectacularly.
It was then The Sis and I had “the talk”.
She was making good money at her job, and she had already been supporting us, so instead of continuing on in such a futile manner, the definition of insanity, I should change tactics and do what I was meant to – write.
It took a little time to become accustomed to the idea that I was being given free reign to follow my dreams, but I realized that I probably wouldn’t have another opportunity like that again, and so Rachael C Marek was born.
I wanted to create a pseudonym, but I still wanted it to be me. My name really is Rachael (Hi!), and the C is the beginning of one of my middle names, but the Marek, well, that’s thanks to a character I identified with in a book. It seemed appropriate.
The above reminder popped up last week and it gave me reason to pause. Had it really been four years since that pivotal moment?! It made me wonder what I had accomplished in all that time. I have some writing to show for it. I still have big dreams. I still have stories to rewrite, even more to tell…and although I may still be some distance from fulfilling my goal of being a professional writer, I’m in a better place overall and I think that a big part of that started when The Sis encouraged me to become Rachael C Marek.
She deserves a BIG Thank You for years of support of every variety.
And then there’s all of you. You’ve been welcoming and encouraging, and although I’ve never met you, and maybe never will, we’ve been a part of each other’s journeys, the ups and the downs, and such a community is important to the lowly/lonely writer, so thanks.
First of all, I would like to thank and welcome my new followers! I used to be much more active, but as life goes, there are only so many hours in a day. I know. Excuses. Excuses. On Wednesdays I used to regularly post Writing Prompts, and then (occasionally) I would post flash fiction pieces in response. I’ve been otherwise occupied as of late, but I decided today I would revisit my old ways. 😉
I try to write in a stream of consciousness style – little forethought or editing. Other than my fanfiction, which I write in a similar way, this is my only other “free from stress” writing. My screenplays are written with such precision, that sometimes the fun of it is lost because every word has to be just right.
He almost felt like a character from a fairytale. Wasn’t there one about kids following breadcrumbs? That’s what he had been doing for days, without even deciding to do it. He had entered the forest for a pleasant day’s walk amidst nature, but became compelled to seek this place out. He neither ate, nor slept. He could only walk.
The tiny house, surrounded by dark, still water and towering trees, despite its quaint nature, seemed oddly out of place. It was the only structure of its kind in the area; he hadn’t come across another in his travels. He was awash with tranquility, and yet, at the back of his mind, in the deepest recesses of his soul, he knew something was wrong, but he continued forward.
The dried leaves crunched under foot, alerting the lady of the house who appeared in the doorway like a shadow. She beckoned him, and he did as she commanded.
Sadie had never been to New York City, but she imagined it must look something like this – buildings that extended to the sky, neon lights so bright it resembled day, and a limited view at what might lie beyond. Sadie enjoyed the mornings here; they were quiet, and the air smelled sweet, which seemed a contradiction all considering. Since this whole journey had begun, this was the only place they had visited that reminded her of Earth, and she found herself oddly comforted with just a hint of longing.
The strange winged creatures that slightly resembled birds were rather friendly and perched themselves upon her balcony. She spoke to them in hushed tones, whispering her secrets, her hopes, and her fears, like she used to with seashells she had found upon the beach. When they returned to her each morning, she found solace in the idea that perhaps they had carried away those thoughts and helped to lighten her burden; although not fighting harder to protect her sister was one she would never be free of, not until she found her.
~ * ~
If you’d like to create something from one of the 100+ Writing Prompts I’ve posted in the past, please be sure to either post a link to your page in the comments, or tag mine so I can see how you were inspired.
I’m not going to make excuses for how absent I’ve been here. I mean I could mention how busy work has been now that I’ve been promoted, and how my days off were scattered and inconsistent. I could mention how it’s time for yet another move and all the stress and prep that goes into that…but I won’t.
Times flies whether you’re having fun or not, and suddenly it’s the middle of October and you’re feeling a bit concerned because of how little you have to show considering nearly another year has passed. I had such big plans at the beginning of the year too.
The only way to get back on track and refocus my attention is by getting back to the routine I once cherished and held dear. Sooo, let’s get back to one of my favorite things, quotes!
I have to find a way of reconciling my new schedule. I must find a balance between the day job, the dream job, and everything else. I’ve said “one day” more often than I’d like to admit recently, and I don’t care for how it feels.
How have you balanced your life and found time to do the thing you love?