Friday, December 6, 2013

Comic Relief: TV Executive Feedback

Huh?  Here's scratch-yer-head feedback that some TV executives have given their script writers.  Check it here... for you've-got-to-be-kidding-me chuckles.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Motivation: Set a timeline.

"The difference between a dream and a goal is a timeline." ~ Dr. Phil

November was National Novel Writing Month.  Writers strive for 50,000 words of a novel in those thirty days.  My daughter set the goal to complete the word count before Thanksgiving.  She finished in 24 days!  That's quite an accomplishment, especially considering she has three busy children (age five and under).

If you dream of writing a novel someday, check out the National Novel Writing Month website: NaNoWriMo.  Put a timeline on that dream -- make it a goal.  Research.  Take notes.  Be ready to hit the keys in 11 months!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Comic Relief: Toilet Boogers

I became a fan of Shellie Rushing Tomlison while reading her book Suck Your Stomach In and Put Some Color On!: What Souther Mamas Tell Their Daughters that the Rest of Y'all Should Know Too.  Oh how that book made me miss my friends in the South!

This video of hers provided comic relief for me, and I'm hoping you "crack" a smile too.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Motivation: Dance with your skeletons.

"If you have a skeleton in your closet, take it out and dance with it." ~Carolyn MacKenzie

I found that quote in Walking On Alligators: A Book of Meditations for Writers, by Susan Shaughnessy.  She spells out:
"Writers dance with skeletons--their own.   
"The one thing you least want to write about--the shame you shiver and shrink from--will work its way into your writing somehow.   
"Why?  Because that is where your psychic energy has bunched up.  In writing about it, you smooth it out."
With Halloween just a few days away, it's a perfect time to dig up my skeletons and dance.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Comic Relief: Young Frankenstein

Or should I say, "Fronken-steen."

Scary movies, well, scare me. So, I go for the monster movies made for laughs. This is one of my favorites.

Trailer: Young Frankenstein (1974)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Motivation: Doubt does not indicate a lack of talent.

"The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as consolation prize."  ~Robert Hughes

I take comfort in this quote because it's been a tough year for me, plagued with doubt. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Comic Relief: Sullivan's Travels

Sometimes my husband rolls his eyes at my movie selections, but submits to sitting through films he hasn't heard of. Such was the case when Sullivan's Travels (1941) arrived from Netflix. To tell the truth, I wasn't sure what we were in for either. It was highly recommended by someone in the film industry, who said it was hilarious, but that doesn't mean anything... I was also told a certain Chinese film was comedy and ended up crying through the hard-luck tear jerker.

So with some skeptical hesitation we watched the movie, which is now a favorite.

The character, John Sullivan (Joel McCrea), is a director of comedy films, but he wants to do a "serious" film for a change, something about poverty and hardship. His producers, thinking to discourage him from veering from his proven successful path, convince Sullivan that he hasn't experienced enough trouble in his life to create anything of a serious nature. Sullivan agrees, and decides to dress as a hobo and hit the road to find adversity.

Worried about the safety of their money-producing director, the producers decide to send an entourage to follow Sullivan, as well as cash in on his story. Here's that scene:

And here's how Sullivan tries to ditch the entourage:

I love when after the hair raising go-cart ride, Sullivan tells the kid, "Drive careful," to which the boy responds, "You know me!"

The movie was full of humor, but also had food for thought such as when Sullivan's butler, who disapproves of his quest to make a film about the poor, tells him, "The poor know all about poverty and only the morbid rich would find the topic glamorous."

The film takes a serious turn when Sullivan gets a major dose of trouble, still, comedy carries the story and the message, "There's a lot to be said for making people laugh."

Our concerns before watching the film were unfounded. No wonder it is a classic.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Action!: Journal Writing

[I found this post in my blog drafts. Originally written in January of this year, I didn't publish it. I felt nervous about exposing my soft underbelly to unknown readers, but today I feel ready… I hope.]

In September 2012 I posted Action: Writing and more writing. I listed a variety of writing I do, and have shared samples since then. (See: Action!: Morning Pages, Action!: My memoirs, and Comic Relief: Humor Notebook.)

I have faithfully kept journals since 1975. Sadly, some of my early journal entries are fading because I used regular looseleaf paper and ballpoint pens. At one point I thought it was cute to write with a different color felt pen each day... those pages are now blank.

I learned my lesson and switched to archival quality journals and ink. I use 3-ring binders because I can put keepsake items (ticket stubs, obituaries, announcements) into acid-free sheet protectors and add them to my journal. Also, when I travel, I use my laptop to type my journal entries, then print them out when I get home to put in the binder.

I get my journals from Deseret Book, and they are available on-line (click here).
I prefer the large journals with 8 1/2 x 11 pages, but they also come in a smaller size.  

I prefer blue ink, and the extra fine point which is difficult to find,
so I usually have to order a box of a dozen (click here).
Journal writing, for me, began as a college assignment for English Composition. We were required to write regularly in a journal during the semester. The next semester I took English Literature with the same professor, and same requirement. I wish I could give that instructor a hug for starting me on a valuable habit.

Yep, just a few of my journals.

A majority of my journal pages are filled with trivial day-to-day happenings, but it's my hope that my posterity will glean interesting phrases such as I needed to put up my hair (who says that anymore?). Even what seems like mundane daily life captures a bit of history.

But my main reason for maintaining a journal almost daily is so when special events or heartfelt moments need recorded I'm already in the habit and more likely to write it down.

Here is an example of a trivial entry:

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Last night I met Kurt at Sears and we looked at glasses. I need to have mine changed--frames and all. I didn't make a decision, but I did select some I like.

This morning I exercised for a little more than an hour. I hope I don't get overly tired today -- my long day on campus. I still have one class I haven't attended which I will go to tonight from 6-10 p.m.  Then I need to decide (and pray about the decision) which classes to keep and which (if any) to drop.

Nothing too interesting in that entry, huh? But then two days later I pour my heart out on paper...

Friday, January 11, 2008

I am sitting on the couch, crying. Why? Because it snowed in Baghdad. I just read about it on the Internet and it is difficult for me to express why snow falling in Baghdad caused tears falling for me. My first--and foremost--reaction was shame and sorrow. Here I live in a free country able to worship how and where and what I please, with others free to do the same. Here I live in a warm and comfortable apartment and attend a wonderful university. Yet... I have been wallowing in grumbliness because of snow -- the very thing that brought joy into the lives of many in Baghdad. Reading about it was a wake up call to me. Yes, we have far more snow here than in Iraq. Yes, it is cold here, and yes it is miserable to walk to class bundled up and slipping on ice -- BUT, there are far worse problems than "Poor me, I don't know what classes to take." or "Poor me, I wish it was Spring." I could be living in a war zone. I could be living in a country or city ravaged by fear and bombs, with conditions that can be compared to "hell" and that "hell" has just frozen over and, ironically, it brought joy.

So I sit here ashamed at my petty problems. And I sit here in sorrow that I, who have so much, rarely think of those in Iraq. I rarely think of their lives and their hope and fears. They are a "lump"--a country--in my mind. Rarely individuals, although they are God's children. I feel sorrow that it took "hell" freezing over to bring them to my attention. My tears are of shame and sorrow -- but strangely also of joy. Joy for God's children seeing a miracle, and something new. Joy that in their time of darkness and war they were given some moments of delight. And joy that through God's watchful eye they have seen peace...even if only for a couple hours.

When I look through my journals, I can tell which entries were written when I was feeling the Spirit--the handwriting is more elegant and the thoughts more eloquent. Which brings me to...

On Tuesday, November 3, 2009, I penned the following:

This semester I am taking a digital photography course for non-majors. It has been an interesting and at times frustrating experience. There are times that I take numerous shots of an object or subject yet it still looks like a snapshot, or a documentary, "Look, here is a flower." But then, when I continue taking pictures from different angles, different lenses, different lighting, I somehow manage to capture an image that looks more like a photograph. 

Today, as I browsed through some past journal entries, I realized that keeping a journal is like photography. Sometimes the entries are more like snapshots, or documentaries, "Look, here are some days of my life." But then, because I continue writing in my journal, there are times when I see from a different angle, or a different perspective or distance, and the "Light" (the Spirit) touches my writing in such a way that what I put on paper photographs the image of my soul.

Monday, October 7, 2013

"Block" Buster: Writer's block is bunk.

"Writer's block is bunk. ... It's simply a sad excuse for not confronting the blinking cursor and your own inadequacies." ~ Daniel H. Pink

Well now.  Don't I feel silly for devoting space on my blog for "block" busters.

I agree that creative blocks come from within, but it's nice to have weapons for the inner conflict, and reminders that it all boils down to, simply, get to work.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Comic Relief: The solution is right in front of me.

I know this video is old, but it still makes me laugh... and gives me a reminder: stop spending so much time complaining, just get moving. The solution to my problem is usually right in front of me.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Comic Relief: C.E.S.S.

Today I'm sharing the short narrative (fictional) film I made as a student, to fulfill a beginning-level production requirement.  

I challenged myself to make a visual comedy, without any dialogue to carry the joke, and hoped the audience would catch the humorous irony.

Monday, September 9, 2013

"Block" Buster: Change your thinking and actions.

I keep making the same mistakes, and think of the saying, "If you keep doin' what you're doin', you'll keep gettin' what you're gettin'."

Or put this way:

"Frustration is dreaming of a new future while continuing to think and act in old ways." ~Dan Rockwell

Monday, September 2, 2013

"Block" Buster: Push past the self-imposed limits.

"Argue for your limitations, and sure enough they're yours." ~Richard Bach

Creative blocks form when we say…

"I'm not creative."
"I'm never going to get this project finished."
"I don't have enough talent."
"I can't find the time to write (paint, dance, photograph)."

Let's not limit our abilites.  Thomas Edison said, "If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves."

Friday, August 30, 2013

Comic Relief: Shifting Titles

Remember awhile back when I wrote about shifting adjectives (click here)? I thought it might be fun to try that exercise on movie titles to see what funny combinations turn up.

First I chose ten movie titles consisting of only two words. I wrote each title on a separate piece of paper, mixed them up, then randomly selected each one so I wouldn't be tempted to orchestrate the list. Here it is:
  1. Rear Window
  2. Finding Nemo
  3. Die Hard
  4. Roman Holiday
  5. Groundhog Day
  6. High Noon
  7. Citizen Kane
  8. Toy Story
  9. Funny Farm
  10. Star Wars
Then I shifted the first words of each title one notch, and tried to think of ideas for a comedy film.
  1. Star Window
  2. Rear Nemo (He finally found his son, now he's gotta raise him through the teen years.)
  3. Finding Hard (Everything comes easy for Helga, so she sets out on a variety of bizarre and silly ventures searching for something to challenge her abilities.)
  4. Die Holiday (A man is determined to kill his least favorite holiday…Halloween.)
  5. Roman Day 
  6. Groundhog Noon (Groundhog, Chattanooga Charlie, challenges Punxsutawney Phil to a shadow duel at high noon, whoever resists running from his shadow is the winner.)
  7. High Kane
  8. Citizen Story
  9. Toy Farm  
  10. Funny Wars (Class clown, Andrew, goes to Clown College only to discover being a goofball there is serious business.)
Okay, my brains are drained. I would love to hear your ideas for these titles!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Writing...It's not a hobby or pastime.

I have an "on-call" part-time job driving cars. While talking with co-workers, I mentioned a little writing retreat I hope to have someday. One of the drivers said, "Oh, are you trying to become a writer?"

My hackles rose, but I bridled my tongue and responded, "I am not trying to become a writer, I am one." I really wanted to ad: "Just like you are not trying to become a jerk, you are one."

I drive cars and other odd jobs to get out of the house, and to avoid hermit status. The income helps fund my writing expenses. Dennis Lehane said, "I would tend bar, load trucks, chauffeur -- do whatever it took. But from the moment I took my first writing workshop, I was a writer." I can relate to that.

And consider this quote: If there's a writer in your life who you love, don't call what they do a "hobby." On the other hand if your long-time nemesis is a writer, be sure to undermine their confidence by referring to their life's work as a quaint pastime. (Andrea Cremer)

Writing is not a hobby or pastime, so word of warning: Don't ask me if I'm trying to become a writer. I might lose the Mrs. Nice Guy. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Motivation: Don't fear the crayons.

This is a continuation of last Monday's post. (See Motivation: Get the crayons back.As I mentioned, I checked the book out of the library. The quote I used last week turned out to be a heading for an entire section on the subject, which seemed directed at me. It read:

So you've got the itch to do something. Write a screenplay, start a painting, write a book, turn your recipe for fudge brownies into a proper business, build a better mousetrap, whatever. You don't know where the itch comes from, it's almost like it just arrived on your doorstep, uninvited. Until now you were quite happy holding down a real job, being a regular person...

Until now.

You don't know if you're any good or not, but you think you could be. And the idea terrifies you. The problem is, even if you are good, you know nothing about this kind of business. you don't know any publishers or agents or venture capitalists or any of these fancy-shmancy kind of folk. ...

Besides, if you write a book, what if you can't find a publisher? If you invent a new piece of world-changing software, what if you can't find a financial backer? If you write a screenplay, what if you can't find a producer? And what if the producer turns out to be a crook? ...

Heh.  That's not your wee voice asking for the crayons back.  That's your other voice, your adult voice, your boring and tedious voice trying to find a way to get the wee crayon voice to shut the [heck] up.

Your wee voice doesn't want you to sell something. Your wee voice wants you to make something. Theres a big difference. Your wee voice doesn't give a [darn] about publishers, venture capitalists, or Hollywood producers.  

Go ahead and make something.  Make something really special.  Make something amazing that will really blow the mind of anybody who sees it.

If you try to make something just to fit your uninformed view of some hypothetical market, you will fail.  If you make something special and powerful and honest and true, you will succeed.

The wee voice didn't show up because it decided you need more money, or you need to hang out with movie stars. Your wee voice came back because your soul somehow depends on it. There's something you haven't said, something you haven't done, some light that needs to be switched on, and it needs to be taken care of. Now.

So you have to listen to the wee voice or it will die...taking a big chunk of you along with it.

They're only crayons. You didn't fear them in kindergarten, why fear them now? ~Hugh MacLeod, Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity, pp. 26-28.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Comic Relief: Shoulder Angel

Sitting at a table at the BYU campus, yesterday, I happened to look up and recognize a celebrity walking past... Matt Meese, a talented cast member of Studio C. I  asked, "Where were you when I needed a shoulder angel?" He laughed. (What a nice young man.)

Here are three hilarious sketches with Matt as the Shoulder Angel. I have a hard time choosing a favorite.

I think this video introduces the Shoulder Angel. Great comic moments!

I love his reaction to Shawn Bradley in this one.

Matt's athletic ability amazes me.

Check out Studio C for more comic sketches.  Good clean comedy.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Motivation: Get the crayons back.

I liked this quote so much, I searched for the source and checked the book out of the library.

Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the 'creative bug' is just a wee voice telling you, "I'd like my crayons back, please." ~Hugh MacLeod, Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity

Friday, August 16, 2013

Comic Relief: "Hello?"

I found this funny quote on-line. So true!

I love how in scary movies the person yells out "Hello?" as if the killer is going to be like "Yeah I'm in the kitchen, want a sandwich?"

(No citation.)

Monday, August 5, 2013

"Block" Buster: Protect your writing time.

I frequently get blocked because I've allowed too many other things to bump my creative time. How often must I learn this lesson:

"You have to protect your writing time. You have to protect it to the death." ~William Goldman

Friday, August 2, 2013

Comic Relief: Super Lazy

This fits me...

I'm super lazy today!! Which is like normal lazy, but I'm also wearing a cape...

Monday, July 29, 2013

Motivation: Don't give up.

"The only thing that I have done that is not mitigated by luck, diminished by good fortune, is that I persisted. And other people gave up." ~Harrison Ford

Friday, July 26, 2013

Comic Relief: Procrastination

There are typical distractions like surfing the Web, checking Facebook, and reading blogs, but many of us turn to the silly tasks while procrastinating. Mundane or distasteful chores suddenly seem completely necessary or urgent.

Here are a few confessions I found on-line from writers and creative artists. (I wasn't surfing, it was research!)

Drew pictures...on the stomach.

Used a toothbrush to scrub the stove.

Dusted the keyboard, with a cotton swab.

Shopped for salt and pepper.

Washed the pipes under the kitchen sink.

Washed all the pieces of the vacuum cleaner. It was dusty.

Arranged all the books by color.

And my favorite...

Practiced moving eyes like a chameleon.

If you have time for additional procrastination techniques, watch Ellen poke fun at her own delay tactics:

I'm not alone in procrastinating, so I might as well laugh about it.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Motivation: The world you desire exists.

Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved... The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it's yours. ~Ayn Rand

Monday, July 8, 2013

"Block" Buster: Plot twist!

Sometimes life slaps the creativity out of us. It helps to remember...

When something goes wrong in your life, just yell, "Plot twist!" and move on. (From Screenwriting U)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Comic Relief: Catatonic Daze

This is a favorite scene from Overboard (1987). Goldie Hawn plays an extremely wealthy (and pampered) woman with amnesia, tricked into believing she is a wife, homemaker, and the mother of four rambunctious boys. Even though I can't relate to her feelings about her "family", I can relate to her catatonic state of feeling overwhelmed and out of her element. I have "daze" like that.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Motivation: Go out and get busy.

"Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy." ~Dale Carnegie

Friday, May 31, 2013

Comic Relief: Laughing off the nightmares.

I am on a Boise-bound Greyhound. I forgot to bring a book to help pass the time and the bus' wi-fi is on the fritz, so I read something already downloaded onto my laptop--the screenplay for Psycho (1960).

What a humorous experience… getting creeped out reading that suspense-filled script while surrounded by strangers.

I sent a text to my friend, warning, "I just read Psycho. I might need to sleep with you tonight."

She kindly informed me that I could sleep with McCoy (her Scottie dog), or her cat, Chloe.

I might need both. I chuckle as I think of the humorous line from Ghostbusters (1984), "Dogs and together..." I can see the humor in this.

In texting with my friend, I learned she doesn't have the Internet at her place. A weekend without the Internet? Now I am frightened for reals.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Motivation: Yes, dream, but take action.

"The universe doesn't give you what you want in your mind; it gives you what you demand with your actions." 
~ Steve Maraboli

Although I believe it is important to visualize and dream, without taking action (even baby steps) the "universe" cannot step in to help those dreams become real.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Sharing the other commercial.

Here's the other commercial filmed while I was an extra. I can't find myself in this one, even though I was "right there" for many of the shots. No matter... I had a blast and would do it again if given the opportunity.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Comic Relief: Commercial

Last September I was on extra while filming commercials for Lagoon Amusement Park. Here's one of them. (I won't attempt to tell you where to watch for me...I'm barely a blip in the background and it took me a long time, going frame by frame, to find myself.) I got a kick out of the story-line of the commercial and wanted to share it.  Be sure to pause at the very end to read the humorous fine print.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Action!: Sitcom writing team.

Last week an associate contacted me and asked if I would be interested in being part of a sitcom writing team with the hopes of pitching the series to network executives. Am I interested??? YES! A dream come true!

Maybe watching The Dick Van Dyke Show planted that dream when I was young.  I loved watching the team of television writers (Dick Van Dyke, Rose Marie, Morey Amsterdam) making wisecracks and brainstorming ideas.

Over the years, while watching sitcoms, I often thought, "What a blast to be with comedic minds and hammer out that script."

While studying screenwriting, sometimes students brought in their hopeful scripts for television comedies. After reading the pages, we sat around the table and discussed ideas to make it even stronger, often howling with laughter. Those were my favorite times in class.

Last Friday we had our first team meeting and discussed ideas about the premise, characters, background, and funny situations for the series. Our level of laughter increased when certain ideas gelled. So much fun and synergy, just as I imagined. I felt excited and grateful for the tremendous opportunity.

After the meeting, however, reality and fear set in.

  • I have never written anyone else's ideas or stories.
  • I have never written a television script (it has different formatting, timing, and beats).
  • I have never written a comedy.
  • What if I tank?
  • What if I disappoint the others on the team?
  • What if I'm not funny?
Of course, the inner negative critic had a heyday over that.  
  • Who do you think you are?
  • Who are you kidding?
But I don't care about all that. I want to do this and have to give it my best shot!  Thanks to Amazon and the public library, I found some books about writing for television, and writing comedy. I'll be cramming before our next meeting.

Opportunity knocked and I yanked it through the door.  Now I need to work hard to make sure it is tied securely to a chair and not escaping!

Monday, May 20, 2013

"Block" Buster: Want it!

Quoting Bill Cosby: "Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it."

Last week opportunity knocked and I grabbed it by the hand, pulled it through the door and invited it to stay. Afterward the reality sank in, I don't know what I'm doing! And the negative critic chanted, Who do you think you are? You can't pull this off. Fear engulfed me. What if I stink at this?

But you know what? I don't care. I want it more than I fear it.

(Stay tuned for Wednesday's Action! post.)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Motivation: Sacrifice

"You can only become great at that thing you're willing to sacrifice for." ~Maya Angelou

Friday, May 10, 2013

Comic Relief: I don't need anything... except this...

Humor gives me a brighter attitude, so whenever I throw a pity party, I like to imitate the following scene from The Jerk (1979). "I don't need anything ... except this ... and that's all I need!"

Monday, May 6, 2013

"Block" Buster: Good enough.

"Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." (Attributed to Voltaire)

I tend to look for the perfect idea, and of course the perfect time to write. The perfect place. The perfect mood. When I fall into that mindset, I don't write.

I'm striving to become a "good enoughist" rather than a perfectionist. Any idea, time, place, and mood is good enough to write.

Writing something, sometime, somewhere, anyway is better than writing nothing at all.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Comic Relief: Make 'Em Laugh

Donald O'Connor sings "Make 'Em Laugh" and brings a smile to my face. I needed that!

Clip: Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Motivation: It's your choice.

"Be miserable.  Or motivate yourself.  Whatever has to be done, it's always your choice." ~Wayne Dyer

Friday, April 19, 2013

Comic Relief: Car Sales

Used car shopping saps the life out of me. We need a second car and it seems like every "free" moment gets sucked into talking about cars, researching Consumer Reports, and going to auto dealerships. Aaaagh. So for today's Comic Relief I found two clips about a car salesman (Robin Williams) from the movie Cadillac Man (1990).

I've never seen the film, and have no idea what it's about, but I like these clips. The first one ("Sale at a Funeral") represents the sleezy side of a car salesman. The second clip ("Wheeling and Dealing") shows his view of car shoppers.  Uh...I'm the indecisive one who can't commit.

The Car Salesman:

The Car Shopper:

I asked my husband what we will spend our time talking about when we aren't talking cars. "Vacation," he responded. I need to get out of the "I dunno" stage, quick!

Monday, April 15, 2013

"Block" Buster: Open the gate.

"It is my experience both as an artist and as a teacher that when we move out on faith into the act of creation, the universe is able to advance. It is a little like opening the gate at the top of a field irrigation system. Once we remove the blocks, the flow moves in." ~Julia Cameron

Sometimes I think I am blocked, but as soon as I make the effort (take action) the block lifts. I am still writing on my screenplay every day. There are days I don't write very much, but I make sure I write something.  It's amazing how much progress I make even when the action I take seems small.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Comic Relief: Film failures.

I got a chuckle out of this quote. My failures shrink in comparison!

Failures are inevitable. Unfortunately, in film they live forever and they're 40 ft wide and 20 ft high. 
~Harrison Ford

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Action!: Screenwriter's group.

Last week I was invited to join a newly formed (on-line) screenwriter's group. I know most of the members, and admire the writing success of the group's host, so I accepted her invitation.

Since I've been re-writing my second feature-length script, I planned on submitting pages of that one for the group to critique, but then I decided to try my hand at writing short scripts. I've only written two.  My first one is real short, and the second one is incomplete (the one I planned to enter into that contest I missed).

I submitted my first short script to them. It's only 1.5 pages and no dialogue... I love visual story-telling!

It's amazing how nervous I was to submit that little script!!! Many writers view their work as their "babies" so even though the script was small, it was like I was sending my baby onto the stage and hoping she wouldn't embarrass me by singing off-key, or picking her nose.

Now I need to rest in a dark room until my nerves settle down... and gear up for the feedback.

Monday, April 8, 2013

"Block" Buster: Turn the faucet on.

"Start writing, no matter what.  The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on." ~Louis L'Amour

As I mentioned in a recent post (see: Action!: Battling Resistance) I am writing even when inconvenient. For instance, last Wednesday I was very busy and at the end of the day, when I was ready for bed, I realized I had not written on my screenplay.  Even though I felt more like sawing logs, I opened up my screenwriting software and did some re-writing.  I was amazed how ideas started to flow, even when I was so sleepy.

Indeed, when I turn the faucet on, I can tap into a hidden reservoir of creative energy.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Comic Relief: Running from bad news!

This scene from How Do You Know (2010) made me laugh. I can't count how many times I wished I could run from bad news! Wouldn't it feel great to do this, even if it's only temporary relief?

Note: This movie is rated-R for "some language." I abhor foul language, so I watched it with a Clearplay filter. Although I found the movie interesting and funny, I cannot vouch for the content of the film in its entirety.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Artist Date: Wooing my inner creative child.

In her book The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron encourages "artist dates" and defines them:
An artist date is a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set aside and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist.  In its most primary form, the artist date is an excursion, a play date that you preplan and defend against all interlopers.  You do not take anyone on this artist date but you and your inner artist, a.k.a. your creative child.  That means no lovers, friends, spouses, children--no taggers-on of any stripe.
I've attempted numerous artist dates, but felt stuck when it came time to plan. Similar to a bored couple whose go-to date is dinner and a movie, I kept falling back on the same outing...go to the library. One time I was daring and stayed home to read a book about writing.

Determined to snap out of my rut, I made a list of artist date ideas. I came up with 159 dates by using brain power and an Internet search. I printed out the list and cut it into strips--one idea per strip--then folded each one and put them in a decorated box.

At the beginning of the week, I pull one out and then schedule the activity for later in the week so I have time to plan or prepare.

By randomly selecting an idea from my box, it saves time and brain cells from trying to decide what to do, plus it prods me to do something different. If I just looked down the list each week, I would probably keep choosing familiar or comfortable dates such as...

#17 - Write a letter - longhand, on pretty paper - to an old friend.

#82 - Drive.  Aimlessly.


#98 - Read jokes or watch a comedy.

Artist dates should broaden my horizons, so now when I pull out a strip of paper, it might suggest a new experience for me...

#21 - Sit in the driveway and make designs with pretty rocks.

#35 - Spend a day naked.


#71 - Create a piece of artwork entirely with things from your recycle bin.

For added encouragement to stay consistent with my dates, I want to post about my adventures, but felt I should explain about artist dates first.

I would love for others to share their artist date experiences too!

Monday, April 1, 2013

"Block" Buster: Noun-verb combinations.

I came across a writing exercise similar to the one I wrote about last June (see: "Block" Buster: Shifting Adjectives).  However, in this exercise you randomly make a list of nouns...
  1. cat
  2. computer
  3. pan
  4. radio
  5. truck
  6. book
  7. rug
  8. cart
  9. apple
  10. cabinet
Then think of an occupation (chef, accountant, doctor, teacher, carpenter) and make a list of action verbs fitting that job.  For instance, a sales associate...
  1. bargains
  2. drives
  3. discounts
  4. sells
  5. negotiates
  6. shows
  7. guarantees
  8. displays
  9. stocks
  10. assists
Now put the nouns and verbs together and see what fun combinations emerge...
  1. cat bargains
  2. computer drives
  3. pan discounts
  4. radio sells
  5. truck negotiates
  6. book shows
  7. rug guarantees
  8. cart displays
  9. apple stocks
  10. cabinet assists
Hey, that was fun.  Now I make sentences...
  1. The cat bargains for the most comfy chair.
  2. A slow computer drives me insane.

  3. The radio sells advertising.
  4. His truck negotiates tight turns with ease.
  5. A travel book shows pictures of exotic locations.
  6. That crumpled rug guarantees tripping.
  7. The cart displays fresh produce.

  8. The bathroom cabinet assists me with organizing.
It's amazing how writing exercises help break through the blocks.

Give it a try.  What sentences would you write with noun-verb combinations #3 (pan discounts) and #9 (apple stocks)?  

Friday, March 29, 2013

Comic Relief: Mr. Mom

I love this witty dialogue from Mr. Mom (1983) when Jack (Michael Keaton) wants his son, Ken, to give up his beloved scraggly security blanket. He tells him:

"No listen to me, I understand that you little guys start out with your wubby's, and you think they are great... and they are. They are terrific, but pretty soon a wubby isn't enough. You're out on the street trying to score an electric blanket, maybe even a quilt. Then the next thing you know you're strung out on bedspreads, Ken! That's serious! Now gimmie the wubby."  

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Action!: Battling Resistance

It's been a long time since I posted about action. For the past few months, I made very little progress (if any). I was a victim of Resistance.

I set a goal to enter a short script into a screenwriting contest with a January 31 deadline. I referenced the contest a few times in my posts: "Block" Buster: Allow abundance.... "Block" Buster: Involve other imaginations. ... and Action!: First draft. That was the last Action post until now.

I was excited about the story with its unique concept, however, every time I set aside time to write, something interfered. Legitimate somethings, over-riding my writing. I knew Resistance was having a hey-day. As the deadline drew closer, I drew a line in the sand, so to speak, and blocked out my calendar so I could complete the script and obtain the goal. Take that, Resistance.

Then I became very ill. The deadline came and went while I feverishly hacked, barely able to think or function.

Missing that contest sent me into a deep blue funk. Resistance won, and I was tired of fighting the battle. I raised a white flag, and cried, "Uncle." I started searching for a job where Resistance would give me a free ride, because as Stephen Pressfield explains in The War of Art, "Resistance only opposes in one direction... It kicks in when we seek to pursue a calling in the arts, launch an innovative enterprise, or evolve to a higher station morally, ethically, or spiritually.... So if you're in Calcutta working with the Mother Teresa Foundation and you're thinking of bolting to launch a career in telemarketing... relax. Resistance will give you a free pass."

I wanted that pass. A job without Resistance nipping at my heels every day? Sign me up.

As the weeks went by and I struggled with thoughts of defeat, I questioned: If Resistance fights me when I strive towards goals, yet gives a free pass when I let go of the dream, where does Divine Assistance fit? Shouldn't Divine Help counteract Resistance? Shouldn't Divine Assistance give me a boost during the uphill battle, or provide a speed bump to slow my decline?

I felt alone and somewhat miffed in my battle-weary state and decided to have a long talk with God about it. This fight seems pretty one-sided. Can't I have a little help here?

God is a patient Father. He didn't tell me the answer, but told me where to find it. You refer to the War of Art. Why don't you read it again.

Okay. I did. And there I re-learned a horrible truth. Pressfield wrote: "Resistance is internal. ... Even though we think others or situations outside ourselves block us from doing our work, it's actually an inside job. Resistance comes from within."

What?!? Did I cause my own sickness just to resist the contest? I don't think so.

But then I remembered that a few days before the deadline, I actually rallied for a little bit, health-wise. I had thoughts that I should buckle down and do my best under the circumstances to finish the script and submit it. But I didn't even try. I didn't feel like writing. I ignored my writing rule: write no matter what (no matter I write, no matter where I am, no matter how I feel). I didn't cause my sickness, but I didn't take advantage of a window of time when I felt well enough to put my fingers to the keys. Ouch. Painful awareness. Resistance did indeed come from within.

As the cartoon character, Pogo, said, "We have met the enemy and he is us."

I kept reading, and came to the section titled "Combating Resistance," where I was reminded that a major key to fighting Resistance is to write. Do the work. Be committed and consistent.

The next section, titled "Beyond Resistance: Higher Realm" brought answer to my where's-the-Divine-Assistance question. Here are quotes that stood out to me...

"...the most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.

Why is this so important?
Because when we sit down day after day and keep grinding, something mysterious starts to happen. A process is set into motion by which, inevitably and infallibly, heaven comes to our aid. Unseen forces enlist in our cause; serendipity reinforces our purpose."

"Just as Resistance has its seat in hell, so Creation has its home in heaven. And it's not just a witness, but an eager and active ally."

"Angels are like muses. They know stuff we don't. They want to help us. They're on the other side of a pane of glass, shouting to get our attention. But we can't hear them. We're too distracted by our own nonsense.

Ah, but when we begin.
When we make a start. ...
When we make a beginning, we get out of our own way and allow the angels to come in and do their job. They can speak to us now and it makes them happy. It makes God happy. ..."

Perhaps during that short window of wellness, making an attempt to finish the script might have brought a miracle. Maybe Divine Assistance stood nearby, eager to give me a dose of energy and clarity of thought, but I didn't do my part... I didn't try.

It took weeks to recover from the illness and months to recover from my Resistance wounds.

Thankfully, I was guided to read that book again, and reminded that I am not fighting the creative battle alone. There is Heavenly Help ready to give a boost, but I need to show up, be committed, and work... no matter what.

So I turned away from the free pass and re-entered the war of art. I'm writing every day, especially on my screenplay, even when inconvenient. And I've been rewarded with creative ideas... and joy.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Motivation: Finish

"Best advice on writing I've ever received.  Finish." ~Peter Mayle

Friday, March 22, 2013

Comic Relief: The Incredibles

If Disney animators make a spin-off of The Incredibles, (2004) I hope the main character is Agent Edna "E" Mode.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Motivation: Persevere

"Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did."
~Newt Gingrich

I soooo need perseverance right now.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Comic Relief: I got nothing, folks.

"Dying is easy.  Comedy is hard."

Finding the original source for that quote is even harder.  And finding movie clips with clean humor, free of foul language, is harder than that.

Monday, March 11, 2013

"Block" Buster: Do the work.

"I think most writer's block is just not wanting to do the work. Heck, nobody really wants to work every day. But if writing is your job, you have to write. No excuses, no 'but I'm just not in the mood today.' Plumbers don't get 'plumbers block,' right?" 
~William Martell

Writing is not a paid job for me... yet. If I'm serious about writing, I have to do the work no matter what. The excuse of "I'm just not in the mood" is too handy and too deadly. When I start using that excuse, Resistance moves in for the kill.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Comic Relief: Is this what you are wishing for?

I saw a humorous sign on

"When you wish a book would be made into a movie, you really wish it'd be made into a 19-hour-long spectacle that includes every detail of the storyline and is casted perfectly."

Monday, March 4, 2013

Motivation: Practice art.

"To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow.  So do it." ~ Kurt Vonnegut

Friday, March 1, 2013

Comic Relief: And the award goes to...Holly.

Last Friday I posted humorous quotes from the 2012 Academy Awards (click here), and hoped to capture funny quotes from the 2013 Oscars for today's Comic Relief.  I wasn’t familiar with Seth MacFarlane's humor, or I would have known beforehand there would be nothing funny to write about.

When I finished watching the recording of the awards, I went on-line to see what people had to say about the show, and found a funny Facebook post from my young friend, Holly (due to have a baby any day now).  After such a long dull spell of watching the program, her update gave me welcome laughter.  My favorite 2013 Oscar humor award goes to her:

"Poor Noel nearly lost his life last night.  While watching the Oscars he commented on something being over dramatic.  Unfortunately, he spoke out as I was struggling to roll over and get out of bed. I thought his comment was directed at my huffing and puffing. Lucky for him I let him explain himself."

Monday, February 25, 2013

"Block" Buster: Fill in the blank and be wrong fast.

"You can fix anything but a blank page."~Nora Roberts

I agree with that to a point, but actually, you can fix a blank page by getting started.

Which brings me to...

“The first draft is nothing more than a starting point, so be wrong as fast as you can.” ~Andrew Stanton