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.

@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?

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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New Blog Format

So the magical blog experts out there say that a successful blog has certain characteristics. It ought to have:

A THEME: something to tie everything together. In this blog I try to both tie my posts back to writing and I am, obviously, writing each blog post, so I count that. Honestly, you could get anything depending on what I’m feeling at the moment, which is the idea behind living in the Write.Now. But the goal is to make it writing related.  🙂

CONSISTENCY: I will admit, I am not consistent with my posting. Apparently successful blogs post every day with one day off. And if you’re a super successful blog like Design.Sponge you aren’t even doing that! As I am but one person, I’ll be taking a day off, and trying to be more consistent. Monday will be my day off. Mondays can be rough on everyone, and while the advice column thing suggested a Monday “joke” to keep things light, that sounded like a cop out to me. So Mondays you get nothing.

ORGANIZED DAYS: posting certain things on certain days to make blogging easier for you, and so your audience knows what days to care about and/or check into.

This I was a fan of, so not only will I be trying to post every day, dear lovely three people following, but I will try to theme my days. The days will be thus:

Manda Monday: taking a self day and not posting

Tasty Tuesday: things culinary, tasty, and delicious. Hopefully with a writing slant since this is not a cookbook blog.

Work Wednesday: either dealing with my job as a script supervisor, work on set, helpful work tidbits I find, or info about working out and fitness (see how I pulled a combo there?)

Theater Thursday: I will be critiquing and reviewing movies. Old movies, new movies, documentaries, scripts, and occasionally a TV show.

Fun Friday: This could be anything. Anything at all! It’s a mystery and surprise!

Story Saturday: Some real writing on Saturdays. I am working on compiling short stories from my life, so these will appear. Maybe a poem, a scene from a script, or some type of creative writing that is not a blog post.

Superficial Sunday: This day is for listing awesome things in stores, sewing projects, home improvements, or anything that the Jonses might be interested in or want to put on Pinterest.

So…that’s the new blog plan. Having a plan and road map is supposed to help smooth things over and make posting easier. Much like creating an outline is supposed to make writing easier. Consider this my blog outline and buckle up!

Learn, Watch a Doc

I just watched a documentary, “The Ivory Tower” and it focused on higher education, the cost of student loans, and alternatives to the traditional four year degree plan. What was really amazing about this doc (besides how well it was produced, shot, and edited) was how many options besides amassing large amounts of student loans there were, and how many schools are looking at other ways to get information to the public besides the typical lecture/student dynamic.
Link to director interview

The Cooper Union was a free art and design school in New York until early this year. The current President just instituted tuition to pay for debts the school took on by overbuilding, and in response the students had a summer long protest and are still fighting to return Cooper Union to a free education.
Students of Cooper Union Website

It is an amazing and powerful story– and one that really begs whether education is a right or a privilege. And if it is a privilege, why is it only for the rich and those able to afford it? Does continuing the class system, and potentially making it more dynamic still make it a privilege? Des a the massive student loan taken on by the poor, middle class, and those unable to fully afford college really make life better? Does the massive student debt actually give you more money in your life when you pay that debt balance until you die? When you are contacted by creditors whether you can afford it or not, and there is no way to declare bankruptcy?

I think it’s time for more people to ask questions and look at solutions when we have 1 trillion dollars of student loan debt, and over half of the students loans are in deferment or default.