Mid-Year Goal Check

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It’s June.

It doesn’t really feel like it, as the sun has only been out a few times this year so far. By now, in Vegas I would already be complaining about the heat, longing for cooler days, and here I am on the flip side, wishing for a day above 65 degrees.

Apparently, according to long-time PNW residents, this never-ending gloom is unusual. Like, hasn’t happened in 72 years. Didn’t they something similar last summer during the heat wave? Either way, I’m so happy we could be here to experience it. ((insert eye roll))

The lack of noticeable change in the seasons almost made me forget where we are in the year. Halfway through. Time for a check in on those annual goals.

You may recall I mentioned making them more “manageable” at some point.

Yes, this coming from the woman who wanted to watch a movie a week, read two books a month, read three screenplays a month, all while working full-time, having two dogs, writing, managing an Etsy shop, a desire to cosplay, starting a business, and so much more, in addition to all the other normal life stuff.

Yeah, hi. No wonder every year I was disappointed with my progress. I was out of control.

I decided to cut back this year, and having made it to the half way point, I am able to reflect with better clarity and rationale and say with all honesty, more attainable goals are so much more beneficial to my overall well-being.

This is something I’ve had to remind myself of, a lot – goals are just things to aspire to, not necessarily achieve. It’s a way to stay accountable. They are not meant to act as a measuring stick in order to judge the merit of our character based on whether we actually accomplished everything on our list.

*By the way, that’s all me. I’m guessing at this point, all those quotes I’ve shared have done their job.

We all want to make progress. We want some way of measuring how far we’ve come. Hence the goals. But when they are wildly out of reach when you have other responsibilities, the lack of reaching them can really hit our feelings of self-worth. That is so not the point.

My favorite Goal graphic

Things are hard enough as it is. Why torture ourselves further?

I’m happy to report that I’ve made some of my goals. This is big for me. I’m usually eyeballing December 31st with skepticism. I know it’s judging me. I still have a lot of work ahead of me, but having achieved some smaller and some larger goals, I feel a bit more confident moving forward.

And that’s all we need sometimes. A boost to our self-esteem.

Here are a few of the goals I’m happy with so far:

  1. My screenplay, Fate(s) is done. I will not touch it again without compensation. Pop the champagne! The troublesome child is ready to go out into the world!
  2. I completed the first draft of my fifth feature, Projection. Gotta say, I’m pretty satisfied. A rare state.
  3. I’m polishing up the next chapter in my fanfic series to get that off my mind. I’m sure more ideas will come knocking soon enough.
  4. I chose to only watch two movies a month instead of one a week. I’m currently sitting at 20/24. Not too shabby.
  5. I limited my book reading challenge, and not understanding how the library hold system works, it had been a while, ended up meeting that goal early on: 17/15.

My other goals were to get a new job (check), create a new writing space (partial check), and meet with a screenwriting coach (check). This I will cover separately.

More manageable goals are really the way to go. A feeling of accomplishment can really help the whole state of being and help on the long journey of our creative path.

How are your goals shaping up this year? Let’s celebrate our accomplishments and cheer one another on!

Happy Writing!

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Writing Tip Tuesday #5

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Brian Koppelman is a screenwriter, showrunner, and producer. A few years ago, Screencraft collected a series of his tweets and compiled them into a list of 101 screenwriting lessons. I reread them a couple of weeks ago, and while there are obviously a number of useful tips, there was one that stuck out to me in particular.

95. Sometime in the first week of a new creative project, write down all the reasons you’re excited about it. Refer back to it during the long slog through the middle.

For writers, after months (or years) of working on a project, we may find ourselves out of touch with the “why” in the why we chose to write this story. Maybe we’ve lost the inspiration. Maybe we’ve lost a little of the love.

Sometimes, it really is a slog.

Our path is a lonely one, and we often only have ourselves to rely upon. None of us wants to be that person who claims to be a writer. We are writers. And sometimes we need little reminders, sticky notes, or what-have-you to keep the momentum flowing. We need to make it easier on ourselves – it may be a lonely path, but it’s also not an easy one – so do what you can.

I make a lot of notes when I have a new idea. I try to sit with it for a little while and write down all the initial thoughts that come to me, but I like this tip of creating a list of reasons why I’m excited about it as well.

As a screenwriter, I rely heavily on imagery. It’s one of the reasons I started the Writing Prompts, but also why I have oh so many Pinterest boards (with more to come with the new story ideas in development). I have found that having a visual representation of the inspiration behind a piece to be beneficial, often.

Waterhouse’s Psyche Entering Cupid’s Garden – Touchstone for Fate(s)

I choose color coordinated binders for each screenplay; the color is usually representative in some manner. I like the ones that have a sleeve cover, so I can put an image that correlates to the script at the front. You may have come across some of them in my Scribbles. I call them “touchstones”. I generally settle upon an image fairly quickly when starting a new script. As you’ve seen with the writing prompts, I go with my gut.

Whatever tethers you to your current WIP, put it in your eye line. Let it be present as you make your way forward. If you don’t have one, I would recommend finding one. Obviously, don’t get stuck in a Pin hole, like I have done on so many occasions, but spend a little time seeking something out that will aid you. Create a list of the reasons why this project excited you, so when the barely-wrote-a-word days come, you have a reference, and then maybe they don’t seem so bleak.

Have any writing tips to share with the community? Let’s help each other out!

Happy Writing!

Quote of the Week

Almost 7 years ago to the day, I shared this quote. This knowledge, to some degree, makes me sad.

7 years?!

A new goal?! A new dream?!

While I absolutely agree with this quote, I am reminded that I still haven’t reached said goal from 7 years ago.

Now, while I haven’t done everything in my power to achieve my dream of becoming a professional writer, the passage of time is a harsh reminder that I have wasted a lot of it. Call back to a previous post. The time does, honestly, fly, and it flies with even greater speed the older you get. I have been spouting words of positivity and chasing your dreams all this time and simultaneously been dragging my feet.

I finally took the next step I’ve been talking about to work with a screenwriting coach. Before I speak with her directly, she has asked me to fill out a questionnaire that will save time in the “getting to know you” phase. There are some questions that are making me come to terms with my journey as a writer.

I am a procrastinator.

This is not newsworthy. I’m well aware of this problem, and even though sometimes I think I’m doing better…BAM! I discover I’m not. Hi. 7 years.

I have fear.

I’ve discussed this a time or two. Fear of the unknown. Fear of success. Fear of actually getting the thing I want because then what do I do? That’s a bad joke. But the nervous energy of the potential/wish fulfilling change is real. So many of us are comfortable with the known mundane.

I need accountability.

Because I’ve had to rely on a day job in the interim, often times that schedule takes precedence over all else. Bills have to be paid. This is a sad part of reality for all creatives before they can work full time at their passion. Beyond the job we have families and a slew of responsibilities that usually push our creative outlets to the back burner. The unsatisfying nature of some of our day jobs leave us tired and emotionally drained. Also, there’s no one to answer to at this stage.

The only one I’m letting down at this point is me.

At a day job, there’s accountability. There’s a hierarchy. A dependency. It’s what I want from my writing, to be responsible for only that.

So why this quote, you may be wondering? Given the above. Because as I now officially take the step towards accountability with a career coach, swallowing my fear and putting procrastination in the corner, I have to remind myself that age is just a number and taking this goal seriously, finally, is worth the effort.

With age comes a shift in perspective, obviously not everyone benefits from experience (i.e. the current state of things), but I know my sense of humor has changed. I find all sorts of random things fascinating thanks to exposure, and all that has affected my writing. Sometimes I think, I’ve had to wait until now to become this writer because I wasn’t ready before.

The story I’m running with started out as a fluffy romance piece, and now it has depth. Without some life experience under my belt, it never would have become what it is today. I have to remind myself of some of the quotes I’ve shared over the years, one of them being:

Trust the timing of your life.

So, no matter your age, no matter the goal, attempt the thing and who knows…maybe you’ll surprise yourself.

Best of luck! xx, Rach

Writing Prompt #145

For this week’s writing prompt I was torn between two images. I went with the first one, perhaps the other will be next week’s…

As some of you may know, I love lost worlds, history, and fairytales, and this image seems to combine a little bit of each.

I’m still a few edits from taking part in the writing prompt challenges myself, but would be delighted to read your creations. If any of the prompts have inspired you, please be sure to share!

Happy Writing!

Writing Prompt #144

Ah, you know me. Whatever grabs my attention becomes the week’s Writing Prompt. This week I was intrigued by the idea of hands, and all they are capable of.

Photo by Pedro Figueras on Pexels.com

Hands can bring comfort and pleasure. They reach out in desperation or to protect. They can inflict harm and reveal menace. We can convey a number of wordless meanings with them, or use them to emphasize that which is being said. We use them for everything.

So are you up for using them as part of this week’s Writing Prompt Challenge? I hope this offers you a little inspiration for a free write, a bit of flash fiction, or maybe an opportunity to add to your own work.

As always, don’t forget to share your creations!

Happy Writing!

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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

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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! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Happy Writing!

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. ๐Ÿ™‚ Eh, there’s always tomorrow.)

Happy Writing!