I’m typing this from new brand new office – namely, whatever Starbucks I happen to be at.
Some people love to hate on Starbucks, but not me. The beverages can be expensive but a latte at Starbucks only costs a few cents more than a latte at McDonald’s and it’s got the advantage of not sucking. And Starbucks givers you whatever size water you ask for free, without an eye roll – I order Venti nonfat decaf ice waters all the time.
My new morning habit for the past month has been hitting the local Starbucks at about 5:30am or so and using my two hour session first thing in the morning to get some writing out of the way. I get a breakfast sandwich, usually the sausage muffin one with no egg, which is sort of like an Egg McMuffin which much better cheese. I clear my inbox, scan HuffPost for news, and then write a blog post or script or something. I Twitter periodically.
I leave a couple of hours later with a latte for Lauren and secure in the knowledge that I’ve started the day right by getting something done right away.
This morning, I am doing a video interview with Judge Jim Gray in Orange County and it’s about a fifty mile drive. I got up early, picked up my son Shane and headed down to early to avoid traffic…secure in the knowledge that I’d find a Starbucks to hang out at for a couple of hours. And so here I am.
When I get to Albuquerque in a week, I’ll be using my office with the picture of the spread eagled mermaid as a place to write, eat and take meetings with people. Maybe I’ll see you there…
Put out a new issue of New Mexico Media News all about why it’s the perfect time to write a screenplay with Script Frenzy and free software available – all useful whether you live in New Mexico or not.
And in video news, I put up a new chunk of my interview with Kevin Smith – Part 5, in which I saw something that KS finds funny.
In my last post, I wrote about the importance of actually DOING whatever it is you want to do. Now I’ll give you the other side of the same coin.
Stop beating yourself up for not having done whatever you haven’t done.
Feeling shitty about yourself is just part of the cycle of depression that is a productivity killer. It’s part of the binge / purge cycle of not actually accomplishing anything. Just like it’s easier not to finish anything because nobody can criticize you, it’s also pretty easy to beat yourself up in the peace and quiet of your own mind.
So how should you treat yourself when you aren’t being productive?
Trying listening to yourself.
When I’m not getting something done that I feel like I should be getting done, after a little bit of beating myself up (which is a natural first step) I try and stop and figure out what’s actually going on. If I can’t figure it out, I just stop beating myself up anyway and assume that I’ll figure it out eventually.
If you’re blocked creatively, it probably all comes down to one thing: you weren’t ready.
You weren’t ready to write that song or start taking that series of photos or to make that film. There are lots of reasons that you might not have been ready. Maybe you didn’t have the equipment you needed or the didn’t know the people you needed to know to help you or maybe the idea wasn’t fully formed in your head.
Now here comes the scary part…here’s why you’re beating yourself up rather than listening to why you’re putting something off; because once you answer that question, you have a fairly clear path to actually doing something.
When you’re indentified what you need, you’re a big step closer to that frightening prospect of doing something and then being criticized for it. And sometimes all you need is to get over that fear.
Whatever kept you from getting your work done in the past, it’s past. Be a good friend to yourself. Listen. Figure out the problem and solve it. Then get to work.
I saw something on TV a few years ago where a bunch of aspiring comics were talking to veteran comedian Larry Miller. He told them the key to success.
Write jokes. Tell them. Keep the ones that work, throw out the other ones. Then write more jokes.
But that wasn’t what the comedy students wanted to hear. They were all looking for the secret shortcut to success, it seemed. How do I land a sitcom or get an agent. Miller kept giving them the same advice over and over again.
Write. Then write more.
Why is that so hard? It isn’t, of course. It’s the simplest advice in the world. Put in the time writing and keep doing it.
Want a career in music? Write songs, play them, write more songs. In Film? Write scripts. In painting? Paint. Photography? Take photos.
Don’t plan the perfect novel but never write it. Don’t talk about your idea for a sculpture but never create it. You know what you’re doing, right? You’re stalling. You’re putting it off. You’re probably just afraid of failing.
Get over it.
See, it’s true that if you never actually make a movie, nobody will ever tell you that your movie sucks. Because if DO make a movie – trust me – some people WILL tell you it sucks. So it’s a lot easier to talk about your movie to your friends and loved ones.
Stop talking and write the damn script.
In my own work, I’ve learned that when I try and short circuit the process it almost never works. My YouTube channel has dozens of little political comedy films I’ve made and I had to write a script first for every one of them.
Sometimes I’d try and do something else other than writing the script- like maybe do an animation. For me, it never worked. You didn’t see those films because I never made them. (They were AWESOME, by the way.)
Okay, enough blogging. I’m unemployed and have no excuses. I have scripts to write.