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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Goal for 2009: Just Do It

So here we are guys...about to start a whole new year. Every year I think, oh, I don't hew to these false calendar boundaries, I just flow with the seasons of life, maaaan. But then the new year rolls around and one does find oneself secretly thinking: will try go to bed earlier, will get electric toothbrush, must get new cell phone plan.

As it turns out, in Screenwriting World, January really does make a natural break from one year to the next. We have a few short weeks of relative quiet then the competition season is announced and business begins to rev back up again. Yes, this year we have a Funky Economy so we must take that into account, but still - Hollywood slouches on and this is indeed a good time to take inventory of where you've been and create a road map for where you're going.

Personally - because it would be no fun if I didn't share - I am excited for the thriller my partner and I co-wrote to go out to some buyers right after Sundance. We're working on another at quite a clip, should we have some opportunities that arise from the first, and we have literally a huge dossier of other ideas, some beat out in outline form, others even more realized than that. So we're ready to pull the trigger on a number of thrillers. Tons of complicated stuff is happening with my business but the upshot is we have new financial backers and - well, I guess it's dull unless you're interested in Media Empire Chia Pets. Lots of cool new initiatives, let's just say. And one of them - if it actually gels - will mean that I will be looking for some kick-ass comedy scripts.

I also really am going to try to go to bed earlier and rise earlier. I want to read more and if I go to bed earlier, there's a chance of that happening rather than the 1.5 paragraphs I currently make it through before falling asleep, book in hand, at 2am. I'm going to be adding some new content to the Rouge Wave which I think you will find mighty enriching. Oh, and work out daily. And get a new car. Yeah, I need a new car. So 2009 will be a year of great personal and professional growth. Oh and I really did get an electric toothbrush so I'm off to a pretty positive start.

What about you? It's sometimes helpful to look back at where you've been in order to design a plan for going forward. Do you have any old scripts that you're still rewriting and working on? Or are you going to generate new material this year? Hint: please generate new material. Are there screenwriting events you'd like to attend this year? Hint: go to at least one. Can you be reading more produced scripts this year? Hint: YES. In fact, one of the new bits on my new website which debuts later this week is a "script of the week" that you can go download and read. Will you be entering competitions this year? Which ones? Deadlines have not yet been announced but we know that in general the deadlines are in May and June. So you have time to prepare. You should be able to complete two to three feature scripts in one calendar year. Sounds like A LOT, I know - but why not try? The more material and ideas you generate, the better your writing becomes and the better your chances of breaking in get. That's a fact, Jack.

So take this week to reflect a bit on where you've been and where you're going. Set goals that are realistic for you. We all have families and other obligations so don't set goals that you know in your gut you won't actually meet. That defeats the purpose. If you work full time, can you set a goal to write two pages each day? Or to write for 30 minutes each day? 30 minutes 7 days a week is 3 1/2 hours of writing time every week. Doesn't sound like much but that might be realistic and actually, writing doesn't take all that much time - it's the THINKING about writing that does. Many of us probably spend more time thinking about, dreading, worrying about, complaining about writing than actually writing. Do you surf the interweb? How many minutes each day? I know I waste tremendous amounts of time on doing stuff that has absolutely no pay off for me. And I know that because when I buckle down to write or work at developing my business, I am always amazed at how much I get done in two focused hours. Two focused hours is like 8 unfocused hours, don't you think? Arguing on message boards, clicking on silly links that show cats saying dumb things spelled wrong, reading celebrity news - these are bullshits, my friends. And we all do it. So we need to go on a collective Interweb Diet. I'm in, are you?

When it comes to your writing career you have to be mercenary: Just Do It. Nobody is going to do it for you and there are plenty of other writers who'd love you to mess around, wasting time because you just created an opening for THEM.

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J.J. said...

I used to have this new Yorker cartoon taped to my computer:

A man and a woman are at a party celebrating the publishing of another writer's work. They're standing alone for a minute and he turns to him and says, "So, what's your excuse for not writing today?"

Seems apt.

And be careful about advising people to quit reading blogs and clicking on silly message boards, etc., you might get your wish. And then what would you do with a blog and no readers?

Mike Scherer said...

Amen, Julie!

I have to give up my daily one hour of writing after work to fulfill a promise to myself to get back in shape and lose weight -- a healthy writer is an effective writer.

BUT... I will be writing 5 hours every Saturday morning and 4 hours every Sunday morning -- I promise!

As for contests: The Nicholl -- that's it.

Keep Writing!

Judith said...

Hey Julie,just wanted to wish you a happy and successful 2009.I hope that the new year provides you with the opportunities to achieve your personal and creative goals.I truly appreciate the good vibes you keep sending out to us.

Racicot said...

Happy New Year Julie & Chaia!

I watched 30 Days of Night ... er... last night.

And WOW!

Josh Hartnett is sooo cute.

Just kidding.

Fun, fun, movie. I wouldn't have watched it without your comment.


Racicot said...


Can anyone recommend a GREAT Horror script to read?


Christian M. Howell said...

2008 was a pretty good year for me. I grew a lot as a writer and I think a film maker.

My goal of getting reads has happened (no sales or options yet). I read at least a Master's Degree of cinema theory - of course last year was the real burnout year for that having to really "go to film school" while working up to 12 hours a day at my day job.

I had to decide if it was better write more or read more and since reading is much easier than writing I chose reading.

I did struggle with the genre choice as a new writer and since this is about money, I chose comedy. I just finished one that always has me laugh but I don't know if that's good or bad.

I have three more in the works along with a thriller and an action movie so I have enough material - it might even be good - to do more than three if I can budget my time to the utmost.

My real goal though is to be considered a serious aesthete, well-versed in the implications of the Time Image and semiotics\semiology in post-modern cinema. Of course the point is to turn that into marketable product but I consider knowledge = assignments.

Anyway, I guess I should get back to work. My day job that is. I got a few scenes done yesterday.

I'm about to submit to BlueCat for the early bird notes and I may try Nicholl later this year.

My next goal though is to move to LA. I miss so many networking events living in NY it's crazy.

Julie Gray said...

@JJ - oh JJ, you're such a rascal. See now, I've done something kind of unusual with TRW; it's fun AND an informative resource for screenwriters. A spoonful of sugar and all that. But hey, if you feel you're wasting your time by reading it, by all means, don't. If I thought it fell under the "time wasting" category, I wouldn't bother writing it now would I? But thanks for the comment. Love ya mean it. ;)

@Mike S - that's GREAT!

@Judith - thank you so much for such kind wishes. I have a good feeling about this year. Lots of cool stuff! Happy new year to YOU too!

@Racicot - Hartnett does have dreamy eyes, kudos for noticing ;) No, that movie really is pretty darn good, isn't it? Inventive set pieces. You know, THE STRANGERS is a pretty great read.

@Christian - GREAT goals!

Evan said...

As someone moving imminently to LA, this definitely hit home. Thanks for the inspiration, Julie.