Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Writing Script

Newsflash, Blog Followers. 

Signed Contracts!  The writing can begin and...

I can finally break my silence on the new project with the Big Hollywood Producer (BHP) because I signed my contract today. 

What will follow in the upcoming weeks is another journey, hopefully from script to screen but on a 25-30 million dollar feature.  It has been quite a ride already, so hold on to your belly boys...

And in other news...

Writing For Hollywood is moving.  I have finally decided to move my little blog to a space all its own.  New website address will be forthcoming and I hope you will follow me and spread the word. 

Until we meet again - here's a little secret I want to share (under the protection of anonymity, of course) because it's a little strange:

What do writer's do after they sign their writing contracts?

Drink bubbly, pay off credit cards, buy a new car, a house, take a vacation?


Not this writer.  This writer does a "signing contracts dance."    Wow, seeing that in type makes it seem even goofier, but something behind it that I want to share.

It's something I referenced in Tips for Writers a long while ago.  But especially today it bears repeating.

A while ago a writer friend of mine (http://thewomanformerlyknownasbeautiful.com/) told me, "You've got to celebrate even the smallest of good things in this business." 

This advice has stuck with me for years, because it is so true and so helpful.  Rejection is the norm in a writer's life.  Even when a studio buys a script there are ten others who didn't buy it.  For every writing assignment you land imagine the six (or more) other writers who worked just as hard and were turned down.  Most specs don't sell.  Most scripts never get made.  Success is the exception, not the rule.

So, this is why I do my little dance. 

Be it in the privacy of my own house (joined by my toddler who has no clue why Mommy is dancing or witnessed by my husband who is kind enough to not count this lunacy against my sex appeal) or in my attorney's office - I sign and then I shimmy.   There's no smugness, no ego in my little boogie.  It's just an acknowledgement that something good has happened.  A marking of a moment before the clock officially starts counting down to that first deadline.

I hope you'll all find reasons to celebrate your work in your own distinct way.  Dwell on the good and it might help you skim over the oceans of not so great.

Happy Shimmying!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Golf As A Writing Tool

Golf As A Writing Tool

Golf has helped me in my career.  I don't have the kind of career that is helped by trapping people on the course for four hours in a bonding session that will end with a hand-shake deal.  Golf has helped me in what it has taught me about myself.  In the staying focused department, for example, I'm a gnat that landed in a vat of speed.

But, playing golf and concentrating for four and a half hours has helped.  It taught me that it is impossible to concentrate for four an a half hours in a row.  To attempt it is setting yourself up for failure.  In order to do a "power stretch" in writing or anything else, you need to give your brain little breaks.  So with golf it's focus, then relax, next shot focus, partner hitting the ball, relax, etc.  In writing it's the same.  Make a plan for what you want to write next, or read a section, then relax.  Write for an hour, then stretch, get a cup of tea, check in on FB. Then, focus again. **

Golf has also told me that I'm a pretty decent person.  I'm easy going.  I like to have a good time.  I play my best golf when I'm relaxed and having fun.  I do my best writing when I'm focusing on what interests me.  When I care about what's happening to the people on the page.

But one of the most vital lesson's golf has taught me in regards to my career is:  "What's important now?"  This simple question is my tool to get through each and every hour of each and every day.  In golf it means, think about what you are doing and what needs to be done right now.  For example, today, my partner was in trouble and I assessed that what was important now was not being a hero and going for the green and a possible birdie, but to take the safe shot and keep us in play.  Staying in play was what was important in that moment. 

Being a writer means being a juggler. You have to focus on what you are contracted to do, but you also have to keep spinning the plates that will lead to your next sale or assignment.  You also have the "business of the business", the networking, the calls and emails to return, the taxes to stay on top of, etc. etc.  (And then aside from that you have your family, friends, home to maintain and of course your golf game to keep in shape...)

I used to spin out of control.  I've got pages to write, scripts to read, pitches to prepare, yada, yada, yada...

But now, I do this:   I make a 3x5 card of everything that I'm working on.  I also have a set schedule of when I write every day.  (Having a baby shoots the 'when the muse visits' in the head.  Trust me.)  When I sit down I go through my list of project cards and I pin the one I need to focus on in a big frame that I've labelled: "What's Important Now Is:"  I set a realistic stopping point for that project and a plan for switching my attention - if I'm juggling multiple deadlines.  I'm happy when I've reached my goal.  I move that project out of the "Important Frame" and pin up the next.

This all may sound painfully obvious - but it's these simple steps that allow me to take on many projects, without any of them suffering.  And juggling is the way I've been able to keep doing this for fifteen years.   Playing golf and drinking is what's kept me sane.   You think I'm kidding.

Happy Writing.

PS:    **Some friends swear by The Pomodoro Technique to help them focus and relax.  Check it out here:  www.pomodorotechnique.com 

I admit that it's great when you absolutely don't want to face something, but setting a 25 or 35 minute timer just isn't enough time for Moi.   I like to work in hour stretches, but Pomodoro is a great way to build up to that.  Nobody jumps on the treadmill and runs ten miles their first time out.