Exercise… the Writing Muscles

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If you want to get fit, you exercise. You lift weights, you do cardio, you eat right, etc. But what do you do to hone your Craft? How do exercise your writing muscles, so to speak? I feel like there are four ways to improve:

1-Write

2-Writing Challenges

3-Read

4-School/Lessons

One: If you never write you’ll never improve. That’s just a simple fact. So writing this blog, writing for work, actually sitting down and puttering about with an outline, whatever it is, I just need to be writing. Without that, I’m not doing anything to actually, physically make progress.

Two: I bought a book a while back, 642 Things to Write About, and I’m not sure I’d ever cracked it open. Not really. So I’m going to start adding that in as a segment for this blog. I’ll just write in it, snap a photo, and Bob’s your uncle. Post done. Brain expanded. Challenge accepted.

Three: You have to read. If you aren’t reading, you aren’t learning from others. This may come in a variety of forms for me. I’m part of a tv writer’s group, Chicks with Scripts and I’m really enjoying it. We just increased the number of writers in our group, so every couple of weeks my reading may just be the reading for the group. But I also need to be reading the Trades like Variety and Deadline to stay abreast of current information. And I need to be reading books– how else will I research a new topic or discover something interesting?

Four: I don’t have all the answers. So right now I’m getting my screenwriting certificate at UCLA. The big writing class this quarter is Genre. So I’ll be learning about the different genres (hopefully more than just what they are, because that’s a check in the old box) and coming up with movie pitches for the different genres. So that’ll be an exciting one as well.

Sunday Sunshine

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Feeling like your Sundays are the dreaded day before the week begins? Maybe it’s time for a perspective shift! Try thinking of Sundays differently:

-As the chance to plan your week out

-As a day to reflect on the past week

-As a day to take a bit of time for yourself

-As a chance to look at your goals and accomplishment

There are numerous articles on the power of reflection and looking back at what you’ve done, as well as the benefits of planning ahead and taking a few minutes each night to look at the next days goals.

Check out these helpful articles:

11 Ways to Beat the Monday Blues by Forbes.com

4 Ways to Use Sunday to Make Your Upcoming Week Easier by The Financial Diet (a blog which you should totally be following!)

So this Sunday, I’m working on a project I’ve long had on the to-do list– repainting some equipment cases, an act that will help make our business feel more legit as well as improve our pride of ownership.

This Sunday, I’m meal planning for the week. I’m doing the Whole 30 (post coming soon!) challenge and meal planning is a necessity unless I want to turn into a ravenous monster who ends up bailing on my month’s commitment.

This Sunday, I took time out of my day to sit with a cup of coffee and watch my cat. It was great.

This Sunday, I’m going to curl up with a good book at the end of the day to relax.

Get Out and DO!

So I came across this challenge: http://30-in-330.blogspot.com/  where the goal is to complete 30 goals within the remaining 330 days of the year. I found it via Habitica (love that goal getting app!) And my list, in no particular order:

  1. Run and PR in a half marathon
  2. Write a pilot script
  3. Pet a hippo
  4. Script Sup another feature
  5. Take pictures with film camera
  6. Set up my fish tank
  7. Host kombucha tasting party
  8. Lose 10 pounds
  9. Do month of Whole 30
  10. Get my bartending license
  11. Do a handstand
  12. Make homemade tiramasu
  13. Hike up a mountain
  14. Read 12 books
  15. Paint under bar area in kitchen with gold design
  16. Give up alcohol for one week
  17. Consolidate sewing pile to one bin
  18. Write a screenplay
  19. Repair picnic table
  20. Eat epic meal
  21. Finish darkroom painting
  22. Play a song on violin
  23. Organize GMedia equipment
  24. Make Julia Childs recipe
  25. Do a pull up
  26. Do a boudoir photo shoot
  27. Apply to writing fellowships
  28. 30 days of sex
  29. Buy queen size bed
  30. Go on a weekend getaway

More later as I actually go through each item and my plan to accomplish it!

30 days of Letters

A letter, such a simple, easy thing to write, yet so difficult and so rarely used.  I’m embarking on a challenge of writing 30 letters, one per day, to various people and ideas. Now, most of these letters I can’t actually send.  I found this challenge on Habitica, and I love the concept.  I write to my grandma (not as often as I should) and I miss that people don’t write more letters to one another. The ones I can’t actually send I’m going to post here, because, well, why not?  To give you an idea of what’s coming, here are the 30 days:

Day 1: Your Best Friend *Mailed

Day 2: A crush (I picked my husband) *Written, not delivered

Day 3: Your parents *Written, not mailed yet

Day 4: A sibling/close family member (I’m picking grandma)

Day 5: About your dreams

Day 6: A stranger

Day 7: Your ex boyfriend/girlfriend

Day 8: Your favorite internet friend (I’m just going to pick a different friend on this one)

Day 9: Someone you wish you could meet

Day 10: Someone you don’t talk to as much as you’d like to

Day 11: A deceased person

Day 12: The person who caused you a lot of pain

Day 13: Someone you wish could forgive you

Day 14: Someone you’ve drifted away from

Day 15: The person you miss the most

Day 16: Someone not in your state/country

Day 17: Someone from your childhood

Day 18: The person you wish you could be

Day 19: Someone that pesters your mind– good or bad

Day 20: The one that broke your heart the hardest

Day 21: Someone you judged by their first impression

Day 22: Someone you want to give a second chance

Day 23: The last person you kissed

Day 24: The person that gave you your favorite memory

Day 25: The person you know that is going through the worst of times

Day 26: The last person you made a promise to

Day 27: The friendliest person you know

Day 28: Someone that changed your life

Day 29: The person that you want to tell everything to, but are afraid

Day 30: Your reflection in the mirror

So not all of these are things I can mail, or would want to mail. But the ones I can’t, I’ll post here.  And update on what I’ve mailed or not mailed, as the case may be.

Letter writing just resonates with me, maybe it’s because our mailboxes are full of bills and junk and advertisements to buy things; I mean, when was the last time you opened your mailbox and it held a letter?  My grandma writes me, even when I don’t write her very often, and it always makes my heart glad when I see that letter in the mail.

What do you think? Maybe embark on this challenge with me or at least write a note to a loved one?

Word Problems

Whew!

So I’m attempting to apply for a seasonal job at Anthropologie.  I mean, who wouldn’t want to work there?  I can only imagine that the discount is amazing, and getting a chance at their clothes and merch for cheaper sounds like a win.  Unless I end up spending my entire paycheck and giving it back to the store… But I digress from my blog topic.

Word problems.  I thought I left stuff like that behind in grade school.  Nothing more confusing than when you got a math test and it asked:

If Jack has a three gallon pail of water, and Jill has a two gallon pail of water, how fast will they fall down the hill if the water buckets are half full?

But man, I just took the little intro quiz thing these companies make you do to try and weed out the thieves, stoners, and lazy people, and it was tough.  It wasn’t easy like when I applied to Taco Bell years ago and the questions were “Is it okay to steal?”  I mean, that one is pretty straight forward.  Urban Outfitters ups their game and has you answer from 1 – 10 on an Agree/Disagree scale.

I felt like I was going through a subtle psyc eval the entire time I was taking the quiz.  I’m really curious how the results pop out.  Is there a ratio for giving strong agrees/disagrees vs giving weak responses?  I think I failed some of them, but the questions are a bit tricky.  Most of the questions are two parters– so it’s hard to say if you’re answering for the right part. For instance;

I used to always show up late, but don’t anymore.

If you agree, then you are saying you show up late.  No one wants an employee who rolls in late all the time. So do you say you don’t show up late?  If you disagree too strongly, does it look suspicious?  I’m very anti stealing, and have very strong opinions on it, but is being too disagreeable seem like I’m overcompensating?

It’s very interesting.  I would love to know if anyone out there gets to look at results from “opinion surveys” like this.  Is it like a mini psyc eval? Can you tell a lot about a person by what the answers are?  Or does the computer just spit out a yes or no based on the results?  Can it tell what sort of issues an employer is going to have with an employee?

Success, and the fear of

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Success.

That word is packed with so many things. Hopes, fears, aspirations, and conflict. At least, the idea of success in my mind fills me with conflict and conflicted emotions.

I have a fear of success.

I know that it’s bizarre, and completely irrational, but it doesn’t make me procrastinate any less or try to avoid being successful. I know that it stems from my childhood and where it comes from, but that knowledge doesn’t make the nervous whirl in the pit of my stomach go away when I think of actually trying to go after something I want. It’s the same feeling I get when I think of the times I was successful as a kid and then other kids made fun of me. I’m not sure that there is a worse feeling than being made fun of for doing well– you succeeded, yet you are still a loser. I ran my hardest in cross country and managed to come in second place! My less successful teammates mocked me for running the B group instead of the A group, taking away my hard won success. So my brain equates success with losing, and that’s not really a good way to get to where I, or anyone, wants to be in life.

I just did some research on the fear of success, and it’s a legit thing. It is nice to know I’m not the only one who suffers from this. So I want to share some of the articles and found and what I am doing to overcome this fear.

Step 1: Buckle down and do it. I overcame my fear of talking to strangers and being shy by just doing it. I live in LA, and an ability to network is a requirement. If I can’t make small talk with strangers I’ll never get jobs or make connections. And, more importantly, I would be spending all my time alone at home because I wouldn’t have any friends. Most of my current friends are people I randomly met at a party, started talking to, and found that they were fantastic. So I’m applying that same logic to my fear of success. I know I have the fear, but I just have to face it head on if I want to overcome it. It will be a struggle, something I probably always carry with me, but the more I do it the easier it will get.

Step 2: Ask myself these questions. I found these questions today, and I’m going to include them in my ‘diary’ on a regular basis. (My diary is more a reflection of my day and musings about my goals and where I want to be.) The questions are these:

How will my friends and family react if I accomplish this goal?

How will my life change?

What’s the worst that could happen if I achieve this goal?

What’s the best that could happen?

Why do I feel I don’t deserve to accomplish this goal?

How motivated am I to work toward this goal?

What am I currently doing to sabotage, or hurt, my own efforts?

How can I stop those self-sabotaging behaviors?

This questions came from an amazing article, very worth reading: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/fear-of-success.html I highly recommend spending time every week thinking through these questions. The article recommends 15 minutes to really think about them, and that’s what I’m going to. Every week.

Step 3: Stop beating myself up. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be successful, yet I then turn around and sabotage myself. After sabotaging myself, I beat myself up for failing, yet again, to overcome and strive for what I want. Condemning myself doesn’t do anything to help, and only re-affirms the concept that I don’t deserve success. So from now on I’m going to value my successes and forgive myself for any stumbles. As the photo says, mistakes mean I’m trying. And what could be better than trying to be my best?

My current sabotage involves not writing on my screenplay and doing everything under the sun to procrastinate. I want more than anything to be a writer, yet if I never write I don’t fail and I don’t succeed. I just stay exactly where I am. …which is a hallmark of a fear of success.

This article: http://99u.com/articles/14347/are-you-subconsciously-afraid-of-success also looks at what some of the subconscious fears are, and what to do about them.The Fear of Not Coping with Success, Fear of Selling Out, and Fear of Becoming Someone Else are all fears that lead to behaviors that keep you right where you are. Never changing, never advancing, never being the person you truly can be.

In the words of Yoda, “Do or do not, there is no try.”
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Do any of you out there suffer from the fear of success? Has anyone overcome it?

A Little Bird Told Me…

Welcome to the first Work Wednesday!

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Today I want to look at Twitter. First, I want to say how much I love that twitter uses a little bird as its logo. I really enjoy when companies think through their logo, and twitter really captures the “a little bird told me” sentiment perfectly.

I feel it is imperative in today’s work market to have a twitter handle and to learn to use it. I am @LadyGriswold and while I have yet to match my twitter followers to my Facebook friends, the more I tweet, the better focused my tweets are, and the more consistent they are, the more my followers grow.

As a writer twitter is also a great way to showcase your abilities. If you can’t sum up what you have to say in a sentence or two, re-think how you phrase things. It’s great for letting the world get to know your humor and see tiny slices of your daily life.

Some advice I got from a Cosmo article on how to get started:

Tweet smarter Break through by being colorful and confident and sticking to what you know.

Do a date list What makes you irresistible? Are you witty? Intellectual? Narrow a list to five qualities.

Do a job list Are you the go-to gal for sex tips or sci-fi movies? List your to five areas of expertise?

Learn the drill Get the hashtags, handles, and lingo for your job list so you connect with like-minded people. Otherwise, you’re just a voice in the wilderness.

Build your profile For one month, talk about the things on your job list, and show the qualities from your date list.

Have fun with it Once you’re tweeting confidently, people will be interested in what you have to say.

Some other advice I’ve seen:

Time of day Most people tweet in the morning, so if you want more exposure tweet at night, when most people get online.

Consistency Post regularly. More people will see it and people who already follow you will be more likely to share if they are familiar with you.

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Not Feeling the Sunshine

Ugh. My first post in what feels like months and it’s a depressor. Sometimes I think it would be easier to actually be a vampire, then when I missed out on the sun I wouldn’t feel so depressed.

Unless… All vampires are depressed because they don’t ever get Vitamin D! That’s something no one every talks about, depressed vamps. I’ve been inside editing a short film for the past few days (which means all curtains closed and infrequent human contact) and I’m starting to feel a bit surly and out of sorts.

Does this happen to anyone else? Besides vampires?

**update: The film came out great and I got some sunlight.  While I didn’t sparkle, my mood definitely lifted!

Coffee

Coffee = Heaven

No coffee = workplace hell

When I’m at home, I can survive without a does of caffeine (probably due to my cat like ability to sleep for 12 hours straight) but at work I require coffee. Does anyone else find this to be true?

I’m really lucky right now. The place I’m freelancing at through mid January has a very snazzy espresso machine that brews delicious Americanos, Lattes, and the option to add steamed milk to my afternoon tea. They also leave out vanilla powder and have at least three liquid syrup flavors at all times.

It’s workplace coffee heaven.