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 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”. 😉
Even though February is a slightly shorter month, it really did seem to fly by, and it had its moments. From wanting to quit my job to celebrating my birthday, playing in the snow and buying a new computer, February was a rollercoaster of highs and lows.
Let’s start at the beginning.
I was officially written up at work for a few small things that could have easily been solved with a conversation. At my current employment, they only start paperwork when they want a paper trail on people they’re getting ready to fire. I took the hit hard because their accusations implied they thought I was capable of lying and stealing, among a couple of other not so flattering personality traits. And the source of it all, the one person I trusted. The person I share a very small office with.
Needless to say, it’s been a difficult few weeks in the aftermath, but it was also an enlightening moment. Previously I wrote about having taken stock of my life near the end of last year and realized I had become too invested in a job that I didn’t truly care about. I wasn’t nearly focused enough on my writing and the career I actually want, so having it reiterated to me so effectively was enough of a boost to shift my attitude and focus.
The following week was my birthday. Dinner with friends and a numerical reminder that I’m not where I wanted to be by this particular moment in time.
Then it snowed. Like a lot. So much so that the city issued a snow day, well, technically, a black ice warning. Now, for those of you who live in places where you have actual winters, you may mock us here in the desert, but the truth is, we don’t see snow very often and we are not at all equipped to deal with it. It was awesome though.
It was during this confinement that I finally decided to bite the bullet and buy a new computer, something I had been deliberating for months. With the desire to move my writing career forward fueled by the past weeks’ infuriating nonsense, paying a pretty big penny for a new piece of equipment that’s meant to help me suddenly became the easiest decision.
Keeping up the momentum I entered two more screenwriting contests and started the whole “get my professional portfolio in order before the big screenwriting conference”. Yes, I am going to attend my first conference this fall during the Austin Film Festival.
I’ve found that when we get comfortable, things slide. I know I’ve had this conversation with myself a number of times in the past, getting my sh*t in order, but then my job gets in the way. In some way or another. It’s usually my major source of ire, and whether I have a job that sucks and spend too much time looking for another, or invest too much and lose focus on what really matters, I get comfortable.
The now tenuous work situation has me looking at things differently. Maybe my increased maturity 😉 is also helping to streamline my focus. I don’t want to regret not taking this chance. I don’t want to only ever say I’m a writer without anything to show for it. And while I’ve said this a time or two before, something’s different now.
After shedding a number of tears because the higher ups insulted my character, I said some words aloud on the drive home that were meant to give me perspective, and they did just that. And that’s when I felt it. The shift. I literally felt a detachment occur.
As clichéd as it’s going to sound, life continues to put us into situations that we may not understand at the time, but are meant to help propel us in the right direction when we finally realize the pattern. This is my moment of discovery. It’s time to take advantage of it.
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!