Handy Dandy Notebook; it’s something “Blue’s Clues” taught me.

If you were a kid in the late nineties to the early…. 2000’s or whatever, then you’re familiar with the show Blue’s Clues. It was decent show; that was until Steve left and his brother took over….

There was a good lesson I took from that show and I think everyone else should too… and it wasn’t that a saltshaker and a peppershaker could have “kids” (how would that even work?)

Lesson: Carry around a notebook.

In Blue’s Clues, un-animated human character, Steve, has this small pocket sized notebook called ” The Handy Dandy Notebook”.  And let me tell you it was sure dandy. See when Steve and his blue dog would go searching for clues to solve the day’s mystery, they would always write(draw) down the clue. This was crucial to solving Blue’s problems. With out this notebook, they would had never remembered — all of those clues (3). Steve and Blue had it all figured out. This method had eliminated a lot of stress and later on when they all regrouped at the chair, they could easily review their clues, piecing them together and thus solving the mystery! Without this notebook, plenty of mysteries could have gone unsolved.

It’s hard to remember everything, especially when you got a lot of going on and that’s about everyone. To help eliminate the stress of trying to remember, I carry around a small notepad that I keep in my back pocket. When I come up with an idea, character, concept, scene, etc — I write it down. Whatever it is, even if it has just a sliver of hope, I write it down.

Now this doesn’t only work for the struggling screenwriter, it can also work for the full time working man. Example: Wife tells you to pick up milk after work. Often you forget, causing a fight, possibly leading to a divorce.

Next time, write it down! Trust me, this works.

I must note, I don’t only use this notebook method to remember “great” ideas, but I also use it for normal daily life. I find myself jotting down spending, gift ideas, things to do, work list (at my job place), funnies, things to buy, etc…. It goes on and on.

These notebooks are cheap. I find a three pack at the dollar store for only a buck. You’ll need three, they wear out easy.

I have been doing this for a while now and can say it really helps. If you find yourself struggling to remember, your mind seems like a jumbled mess or say you had this great idea and for some reason it’s no where to be found, well go find a notepad, put it in your back pocket and next time, write it down.

Special thanks to Blue the dog and Steve, where ever you are, for the inspiration of this blog.

-REH

Three things that lead to success. You need two.

To succeed, you need two of the next three things. If you got all three, consider yourself successful.

1. Talent. Ah, you were born with god given ability to run fast. Great hand-eye coordination and lighting quick feet. You have physical talent! Someday you’ll be playing a professional sport. You can draw, your pencil just recreates images from life onto paper. You don’t have to try hard to impress people, the talent comes very easy. But even the talented can’t make it in this world without one of the next two.

2. Hard work. You practice your art every day. You struggle to be good, but on a consistent basis make progress to accomplish your short term goals, therefore accomplishing your long term goals. Every waking second, you think about what needs to be done, entering a world where nothing else matters but working hard to get “there”.  They say hard work pays off, but sometimes it just doesn’t. You need one of the other two to make it anywhere, let’s hope you got it.

3. Luck. The key variable in this equation.  Fate has taken over and seems to be playing in your favor. Your decisions, sometimes stupid, still pay off. Things just go right for you, even when you least expect it. Timing is everything. But even when you’re lucky, if you don’t got talent or hard work, you better just start playing the lotto < which is a bad idea.

Let’s examine the combinations:

Talent + Hard work. This is the preferred combination. We leave luck out, not letting fate rule our success. We are naturally gifted individuals that strive every day to get better. Over time, things fall into place and success seems inevitable.

Talent + Luck. You got talent and now you’re lucky. You don’t have to do much because things fall on your lap, it happens quickly, you’re so damn talented that it all works out.

Hard work + Luck. Unfortunately, from the looks of it, this how most of Hollywood has made it — seeing how many bad movies are getting made.  But they worked hard (harder than you) and crossed their fingers, hoping for the best. They’re there and we aren’t. This combo may be the only chance you and I got.

One of the hardest jobs.

If you’re a struggling writer like myself, you understand where I come from when I say writing is tough.

It’s a struggle everyday. It’s not like I wake up in the morning and sit by the window and the words just flow out. The inspiration just over comes me! So artistic!

No it’s nothing like that.

It’s like….

1. wake up. Snooze button, six to seven times. Depends how late I stayed up the night before playing video games.

2. feed cats. Watch them eat for 20-30 mins; dreading the day of writing ahead of me.

3. shower. 20-30 mins. Sometimes I’ll just sit in there. Not wanting to leave.

4. breakfast at  desk. I’ll eat and surf the web. After I’m done eating I usually continue to surf the web; Facebook, Yahoo news, Facebook. WordPress stats, Facebook. Twitter. Email. Facebook. WordPress stats. Yahoo news.

When I finally realize how much time I have wasted… I finally start writing — 5+hrs

As of now, I don’t make a living on my writing, but someday, I plan too. So therefore I must write like I am getting paid. If I don’t, then I’d fail.

A day job is what pays my bills, puts ink in my printer, gas in the car and wine in my glass. Currently I have a job in service. Dealing with people. Can I help you? You looking for something? Anything else I can help you find, you helpless human being you?

I can say that my job in service is so much easier than the writing I force myself to do everyday. Sure there’s hard days; days when I leave tired and physically drained. But never have a felt the way I do, after a long day of writing. When I’m at work I don’t actually look forward to getting out, because I know I have to go home and write. That’s how much I dread doing it. I once read a quote that really sticks out to me.

“I hate to write, but love to have written”. That’s just the way it goes. This sums it all up.

The shear mental endurance a writer must have is ridiculous. I can sadly say I don’t think I’m there yet. Some days I’m just OFF. I’m tired, lazy and downright mad at the world. See at a job, you go there, you clock in and you do what you have to do. You know what’s expected of you. But to be a writer, especially one that doesn’t get paid, you have to do your job without anyone telling you, without any pay and with every distraction in the world. I could easily, get off the computer and go play video games. No one is going to stop me. No one is going to tell me to get writing. It’s all free-will. And that’s what makes it it tough. It takes you and you only to make your self do something. And sometimes, it just doesn’t happen that way.

This is just covering the part of getting work done. Producing good writing is a whole another battle. But I am convinced the more you write, the better you become. So……MORE WRITING= BETTER WRITING.

I find my self sleeping on the floor. Staring at my cats. Long showers. Amazon shopping. Texting. Emailing. Handicapping the race program. It goes on and on. This is my daily grind. Sounds awful, I know.

But eventually the writing gets done. I get my words on paper and up to this point, I’ve accomplished my goals. I always try to push myself, testing that mental endurance.  Slowly but surely I’m getting there…

-REH

Dont Break The Chain; it’s a life changer

What do you want to do with your life? And how will you get there?

Months and months ago I was writing only when I could; I mainly wrote weekdays, allowing myself to have weekends off. But — whenever I read advice from successful screenwriters/writers, they always said the same thing ” write every day” — to be successful. I wanted to write everyday, but wasn’t willing to make the proper sacrifices to do so.

That was until I came across DON’T BREAK THE CHAIN. It was made popular from comedian/writer/actor Jerry Seinfeld.  Jerry created his own way of getting work done. What he would do was sit down and write every day, and then after the work was done, he would cross off the day, creating an X on the calendar. After repetitive days of doing so, it would create a chain of X’s. If say he didn’t write that day, he couldn’t put an X and therefore he BROKE THE CHAIN! It was a way for him to keep track and make sure he was getting work done. His main mission: Don’t  Break The Chain.

We all have something we want to do. We have dreams and aspirations to be somebody. I think I speak for the most part of the population. Now in order to get there, we have to take the proper steps. If you’re an athlete, you have to practice your sport. If you wanted to lose weight you have to exercise.  Anyone can accomplish their goals; they just have to be willing to sacrifice time and energy. I believe that.

It’s been over five months since I’ve started Don’t Break The Chain. I am proud to say, my chain has yet to be broken. I can say there have been bad days, some better than most, where I write more lines than the day before. But I know, I sat down and wrote, and was able to put an X through the day.

This practice doesn’t only work for writers, but for anyone with a goal. The hard part is finding the daily tasks you can do to reach your goal; that’s something that you’ll have to figure out.

Things you’ll need:

1. Calendar (perhaps one that is themed with your goal)

2. Red Marker (or Black)

3. Your life’s desire (what do you want to do? and how will you do it every day?)

That is all. Now it’s up to YOU to NOT break the chain. DBC.

One day at a time. That’s all it takes.

Here is a link to download your very own free don’t break the chain calendar.

http://www.writersstore.com/dont-break-the-chain-calendar

-REH

Selling a spec is a lot like fishing.

Selling a spec screenplay is a lot like fishing.

I had just done a mass send out of query letters for my latest screenplay. I had received multiple rejections immediately days following. This in the fishing world, were line tangles. They happen quickly and although frustrating, you somehow manage to untangle the line and keep fishing. That’s what I did. I took it all with a grain of salt and waited for the other forty five or so to respond.

Two weeks flashed past. I had caught no fish. I had no responses.

And when I least expected it….

My email notification went off. I got a bite. It was a response from one of those agencies, wanting to read my screenplay. Now this is when I began to fight the fish and I sent out my script immediately. Generally speaking fighting a fish takes  fifteen seconds to a couple of minutes; the bigger, the harder they are to bring in. But the waiting game for a response on a script read may take weeks, sometimes months. But that’s what makes it fun. I have no idea how big this fish is and all my desires and passions that were poured into this screenplay could possibly land me something big. But I don’t know, because I’m still fighting. The fish could brake the line and never respond. Or I can real it in and it could be the smallest fish I had ever seen. All I know is that I’ll keep reeling and keep fighting, because I have no choice.

It may not be my trophy but at least I’ll always have another cast. Another script. Another chance.

-REH

Strange Occurence at the Armory.

It was a normal day. Going through my daily routine, no worries or reason to be upset. I of course had things to do; I was on a mission to return home.

I had just dropped my girlfriend back off at work. I had picked her up to catch the lunch special at a local Mexican restaurant. I sat the left overs passenger side, holding them down every turn I made, making sure rice doesn’t go all over the leather seats. I’m very anal about rice spilling everywhere…

I picked up my cell phone and gave my friend a call. It rang twice and picked up. I could hear his mother talking, I thought nothing more of it; this happens quite often, I catch him in mid-convo with his mom, he picks up, while I wait patiently until they’re finished. I naturally listen to the conversation as best as I could.  His mother spoke of  “reports” and how they where almost ” finished”. The phone abruptly hung up. I was confused.

I looked down at the phone and saw it was now calling my Dad. I quickly hung up and examined the strange occurrence. The phone rang, it was my friend.

I answered and immediately told him what had happened. I explained how I could hear his mom. He said that was impossible; she was at work. He also informed me that he wasn’t returning my phone call, but just calling me, for no particular reason.

We both laughed at the strange coincidence. Trying to find plausibility in some way…

I pulled into my apartment, the Armory, still on the phone.  I parked out back and grabbed my left overs. This is where I don’t know what happen. I believe the keys slipped right through my hand; my mind was still on the conversation with my friend, preoccupied with the strange phone lines crossing.

I exited the car. Checked for the keys. Looked in window and there they sat. I tried to open it. The car was locked.

I got off the phone with my friend. Said a couple of bad words. See my keys were crucial to the rest of my day. I needed the keys not only to enter the  building, but to get into my apartment.  I would have to go all the way around to the other side of the building, to even find shelter. So I began my journey. It’s probably a five-minute walk. No biggie. It started to rain about two minutes in. I found that as ironic.

Once inside the building, I found a seat in the waiting area and sat my left overs next to me. I retrieved my Triple A card, knowing I had a service for such circumstances. My phone beeped. The awful beep of battery life.  I realized my phone was near death. I didn’t panic.

I  dialed the Triple A number. The woman was nice and comforting, she took my information, my location, name, and car description; everything you need to arrange a locked-keys-in-the-car fix. She said it would be a forty five minutes. I didn’t have a choice. She said she’s going to process it and to hold.

She started to apologize and told me her computer has frozen up and asked to call me back.  For some odd reason this was occurring, her computer had just stopped working. I told her my phone was going to die. She promised me she would run it through and someone would be there shortly.  I said thank you and she hung up. My phone beeped.

I went to back entrance, staking out my looking spot in hopes of an early arrival. I know I had time. I sat my leftovers on the floor, leaned up against the wall and examined the strange events. I had thought it was over. All I had to do was wait.

My phone beeped. The battery crying out to me. Neighbors passed, said hello, I smiled and they moved on with their lives. Fifty minutes had gone by. Where are they?

I stared through the glass. I felt anxious. I tried to find possibilities of hope; I thought maybe the truck would go out front, I know I told them outback, but anything is possible. Right?

So I took once last good look out the window and darted to the front. Leaving my leftovers on the floor.

Out-front, I looked around outside. Nothing. No one. No service at all. Shit.

I scurried back to my stake out, looked out the window. Nothing. I leaned my head against the glass, condensation formed as I took a deep breath of frustration.

An hour had passed. My phone took its final beep.

I still tried to remain positive. Maybe the service had shown up and I had just missed it. I decided to venture out and check to see if they unlocked my car. That could happen. I grabbed the nearby trashcan in the door,  placed it in the doorway, securing it open.

I trotted to my car. It sprinkled rain. I looked inside, my eyes scanning the leather seats. My keys still remained rested in position.

I retreated back to my post. This time walking. I came to the door, grabbed the trash can and this is when life slowed down for a split second.  I watched the door shut, my hands still wrapped around the trashcan. My mind told me to react, but instead I hesitated.

The door shutting echoed in my chest. I realized, I would now have to travel around the apartment to get inside the building. Again.

I said some bad words and began my journey.  It had been at least an hour and half. As I walked, I examined the unfolding of these strange occurrences. I was overwhelmed. I really thought it couldn’t get any stranger. But then it did.

Suddenly I stood in a three-foot hole. The ground had given away to what looked to be a sinkhole.  I stood in it for a moment. Overcome with fate. The rain had stopped and the sun had come out and there I was, in a sinkhole, outside my apartment.

I shook my head. That’s all I could do. I tried to take picture with my phone, trying to save the evidence, quickly realizing it was dead. I brushed off the dirt and mulch and slowly walked away.

When I returned to my post, I was no longer anxious. I was tired and worn out. I was ready for the day to be over. Frustrated and confused, I took a seat near the door.

That’s when I spotted the truck coming around the corner. I was relieved, but found it hard to have  joy. The truck stopped. What I wanted to do was run out there screaming ” over here! right here!” I stayed composed and waited. I knew he was reviewing the order. A moment passed and then the truck carried on, past the back drive to the front.

I had told them the back drive multiple times. So many times. How could they mess this up? I waited, hoping the driver would recognize his mistake. I waited. And waited. Nothing.

I darted to the front.

Up front, I scanned the area, the parking lot full of cars. Nothing. Where the shit hell is he?

I sprinted back. I looked through the glass and seen nothing. He had left. I had no cell phone, my left overs where  going bad here soon and I have mulch in my underwear from the sinkhole. I wanted to scream.

I busted through the door, found my car in the corner. Parked next to it, was the service man on his cell phone trying to call me.

A smile over came my face. After some small talk, he unlocked the car. I signed some papers and he drove off.

I clipped the keys to my belt loop, entered into the building, grabbed my left overs. Went up the stairs, unlocked my apartment, plugged in my phone. It beeped.

Later as I lay on the couch, I again reviewed the strange occurrences. Trying to find plausibility in the unfolding of events. I tried to even go back to where it could had started, to answer questions; how and why life puts you where you are. These were small events, not life changing in any way. But every single moment was for a reason for the next to occur; I truly believed that now, for this was all just one strange occurrence at the Armory.