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.

#16 Give Up Alcohol – DONE!

So, I did it. I gave up alcohol for a week. It actually wasn’t that hard once I made a firm commitment to do so, rather than a pie crust promise to myself to do so. I have a friend who doesn’t drink, and a month or so I ago I asked about it, and she said it was easy to not do something once you’d legitimately, firmly decided on it. It’s the New Years Even goals that never seem to work out for us, or never seem to quite happen– that’s when we’re just setting ourselves up for unrealistic expectations and then end up berating ourselves for a little lack of willpower.

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To be perfectly honest, it was also easy after realizing I might have the family hereditary blood disease of spherocytosis, aka, I have spherical shaped blood cells rather than circles. In my mom and aunt, this meant they eventually had to have their spleen removed– an action that makes you constantly tired and basically unable to workout or run marathons. That’s a terrifying prospect to me, so I actually made an appointment to get my blood checked out and haven’t had a drink since.

Part of the snazzy side effects of the disease means that alcohol affects me differently, and I believe can make it harder on the liver to cleanse the toxins, which means it can lead to liver failure. I work at a hospital, of all the things you don’t want, liver failure or liver disease should be at the top of the list. It’s the worst. So not drinking seems like an easy option until I get some blood work done and know for sure.

It’s also been really easy because my husband has decided not to drink as well. Talk about a killer support system. I think that’s been the biggest difference between going 7 days no sweat and the other times I’m attempted and failed– I had the person who’s opinion matters most to me 100% backing me up rather than saying ‘Just have a sip of this cocktail.’

Overall on my 30 in 330 goals, I’m not doing stellar. I’ve only accomplished about 10 out of 30; but I’m also looking at it as I’ve accomplished one major goal every month– and that’s kind of amazing if you think about it!

@TravelingPaleo

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So, as promised, (and better late than never) here are my thoughts on my Whole 30 experience. This was my second time doing it, and I stuck with it a lot more. I was still not, how would you say– perfect– by any stretch of the imagination, but it really worked for me. And check mark for the 30 in 330 goal!

I felt great. Eating good foods really does mean you feel good. Take a look at some of these beauties. I invested in a spiralizer and I satisfy all my pasta cravings with zoodles and suffer zero guilt. I actually meal planned while on the Whole 30, and that was both a lesson in itself and really helpful for not just eating crap.

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But the biggest help was starting an Instagram account to document my progress. Originally it had a whole 30 title but I’ve since changed it to @TravelingPaleo to continue to motivate me in my fitness and health goals.

I lost 5-7 lbs during the month, and so far I’ve mostly maintained that. On the left is the After photo and on the right is the Before photo. It’s amazing how much of a difference even 5 pounds can make in how you feel, how your clothes fit, and your overall motivation to keep working out and staying the course.

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I’m trying to adopt more of a paleo lifestyle and eat less carbs and try to fill up on veggies, but it’s harder without the full all-or-nothing mentality. It was very difficult when I visited my mom over the weekend (I did not come from a veggie friendly family).  But I’ve stuck with it.

Have you ever tried a diet fad? Tried to figure out what makes you feel like you’ve got ‘tiger’s blood’? What’s your best health tip?

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!

2016- The Year of Learning

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This year my goal is to learn, to hone my skills, to really knuckle down, acquire discipline, and pursue learning. I’m continuing work on my screenwriting certificate and applying to fellowships and competitions to really try and hone my skills and develop my craft.

In addition, I discovered a fashion design certificate on groupon, and have purchased and begun a year long semi-intensive certificate in fashion design. I’ve always been interested in clothes, sewing, runway, and the creation of the things we wear everyday, so why not? It may take 10,000 to master a craft, but I enjoy a good diversion and feel it’s important to let the brain wander in different directions.

This year, instead of trying to read 25-50 books, I’m selecting 12 books from my shelves and working my way through one book per month. These are books on the craft of screenwriting (I have at least 10 half-started), books I’ve long wanted to read but never actually picked up (Quiet: Power of Introverts), books I’ve enjoyed but gotten distracted from (House of Leaves), or books that will highlight other pursuits (Born to Run). In short, I’m trying to consolidate and optimize my time.

Now, I think resolutions are bunk. They’re like a pie crust promise: easily made and easily broken. (We can all thank Mary Poppins for that bit of wisdom.) But goals– these are sustainable and empowering. One thing I discovered last year that has really allowed me to hone in on the things I want, and get them done in a timely manner, is Passion Planner.

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This gem has really helped me, especially because it includes a lot of visual components and places to make lists, keep things together, and progress points to really look at how you’re doing each month, and whether you’re really making progress. If you don’t already have a planner you love, I recommend giving Passion Planner a try.

What are some of your goals for the new year? Do you have a theme or focus that’s driving you?

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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“If you write…”

“If you write one page per day, by the end of a year you will have finished a screenplay or novel”

2014 approaches.

All New Year’s goals will be based around the theme of speed.

Fitness goal: Increase running speed by doing speed drills and adding mileage.

Home goal: Speed through weekend cleaning by doing small cleaning chores throughout the week.

Writing goal: 1 page per day. This is where you, wee blog, come in. I will be posting something every day, whether it be from my screenplay, a writing exercise, or just a silly poem I made up. Writing every day will inevitably speed up finishing my screenplay.

Romance goal: Speed up defensive to offensive chess until I checkmate Ryan.

Yoga goal: Do yoga more often and flow into forearm stand.

Organization goal: Speed up frequency of sewing and vanquish giant mending pile.

Creative goal:Speed through editing photo shoots by just picking a few photos to edit instead of the entire shoot.