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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Are You a "Creative?"

Today I am proud to announce what I hope will be a regular column here on The Rouge Wave. (You guys know the blog is shortly to be moved and renamed, right? Don't freak out; there will be breadcrumbs. I drink your milkshake!) But before I introduce Libby Barnes, life coach to those who work in the entertainment industry - or aspire to - I must remind you all that you are weird. Well - so am I.

"Creatives," as those poor souls like us are known, who write, act, direct, sculpt, photograph and otherwise sing a song back to life, are gifted with abilities that the masses could only dream of having. But with those creative gifts comes a lot of doubt and yes, I'll say it - neuroses. I try to address that here on The Rouge Wave but I am not a qualified professional. I just get it because I am you. When I heard about Libby Barnes, who does life coaching and workshops specifically for creatives, I thought wow! I must get her to write for The Rouge Wave! And she was kind enough to do so.

In addition, Libby will be on an upcoming teleclass (details TBA) taking your questions about the peaks, valleys and swollen rivers you encounter as you carry the gift and the burden of dreams of being "a creative" like some crazy scene from FITZCARRALDO. Without further ramblings, here is Libby's inaugural post:

As a life and career coach for the entertainment industry, I often work with writers on ways to increase their self motivation and productivity. For many of them, there are no 9 a.m. meetings, no bosses to please and no deadlines to meet. Bottom line: There’s no structure. And most writers thrive on structure, so they have to create it themselves. One of the most effective strategies I like to suggest is what John F. Kennedy once referred to as “throwing your hat over the fence.” If you throw your hat over the fence, you will HAVE to climb over the fence to get it. You’re committed. To metaphorically “throw your hat” means you announce what you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it, preferably to people who matter to your career. This, in turn, propels you into action because there’s no going back and you don’t want to fail in front of them.

As a writer myself, I’m always looking for ways to create that accountability and commitment. Recently, I was working on the fourth draft of a screenplay that I felt had great marketability. But I kept putting it down and losing motivation. So, I decided to set a date to do a staged reading of it. I booked the theater, made the announcement and prayed that my creative juices would flow. And they did. Knowing that my work – good or bad – was going to be read out loud to an audience was productive pressure at its best. I completed the final draft and had a fantastic reading that opened a lot of doors for me.

How can you throw the proverbial hat? It may be as simple as signing up for a class or joining a writers' group where you have to share your pages. Better yet, start a group yourself. Being a leader and needing to set an example for others will inspire you to rise to the occasion. Or you could schedule a table reading in your home, book a meeting with your agent or tell an industry contact the date you’ll be sending him your script. The possibilities are endless.

Whatever you choose to do, you want it to be realistic so that you’re setting yourself up for success, but also challenging, so you’re compelled to get to work. And it can’t be easy to take back, like promising your mom you’ll finish your first draft by next month when you know that, even if you don’t, she’ll love you anyway. You want to announce your intentions to people who may NOT love you anyway if you don’t get it done. By making this commitment before your work is ready (and especially because your work isn’t ready), you’ll be creating that structure and accountability that can often be the key to a writer’s success.

One great outcome from my staged reading was that a producer liked my comedic style and wanted to collaborate on my next project. I emailed him a couple days ago asking if he’d like to meet on Thursday to go over the completed outline of my new script. Guess what? Right now, I don’t have a completed outline of my new script, but I can promise you that by Thursday I will. I have thrown my hat and now I must follow.

Libby Barnes is originally from Virginia, where she received a Master's degree in Counseling. She moved to L.A. in 1998 to pursue acting and writing. She is now a life and career coach for the entertainment industry and is working on her fourth script. To schedule a complimentary life coaching session with her or to find out about the next Passion Into Action workshop, visit her website or call 310-721-7028.

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Trina0623 said...

Thanks to Libby for a great post. Great idea Julie! Lord knows we creatives are a strange bunch who can use all the help we can get.

That is so true about "throwing your hat over the fence." That's what I love about my writers group.

I've also promised a writer friend that I will submit to a certain contest. There is a writer's conference I'd like to attend, but I told myself I can only go if I have finished another draft by then.

Eric C said...

Where is the blog moving to? I'm a fan of the idea of having your own site, because I don't really like Anyways, keep us informed.

Anonymous said...

I was lucky enough to get my dream job straight out of university. But I was 22, and realized that with my life goals acheived, I had to pick something else. I'd always kept a journal of thoughts and ideas, and I'd had a short story that had won a comp. a couple of years back, so writing seemed to be an obvious next step. But how do I fit it in around my new job, which is labour intensive, time I tenaive and by its nature, lacks any sort of routine.

So I threw my hat over the fence. A guy on myspace told me the best way to force yourself to write when you don't have a job as a writer is to do a writing course at university. It forces you to write at least three or four days a week, gives you deadlines, weekly and per semester, and not only Improves your skill, but more importantly you meet other writers with similar goals. I'm studying online, so I can manage my time around my full time job, and I'll come out with a graduate diploma in professional writing on top of my batchelor of dramatic art from my first uni. I recommend it, it gives you a sense of acheivement as a writer, and I have built up a great back catalogue of pieces of writing.

carey said...

excellent post - something similar recently inspired me - my sis in law who is a top nurse and in her fifties, is now studying to be a pharmacological nurse. I asked how she could be so confident about memorizing and learning a whole new set of facts? She told me she "had a gun to her head"and that was that. I pretended I had a gun to my head to finish the first draft of my new TV script and guess what? I finished it.