Write before bed and sleep like a Baby

This goes for day writers. I realize many of you just find time to write when you can.  I write during the day; I have found a major problem with this practice.

Ever lay in bed, your mind wandering with ideas? You sit there trying to sleep, and trying NOT to forget these ideas– because they’re good and forgetting them would be a shame.

I do this on a consistent basis. It doesn’t make sleeping easy.

There’s two ways of fixing this. One is keeping a notebook near the bed. And jotting the ideas down. I do this, but finding a pen, turning the light on, blah blah blah. I have  a better  way.

I’m laying there trying to get some sleep,  thinking about the day and the day to come, when suddenly a scene pops in my head. –“Oh that would make a good movie!” Before I know it I have ten ideas. Ten tidbits that have potential. I begin listing them in my head — So I can remember. Before I know it it’s been two hours and all those good ideas, are a jumbled mess. I wake up the next morning, tired, from a lack of sleep and it’s all gone.

I hate this.

Write before you go to bed.

I do this after everything is done. Right before I hit the sack.  After writing in the morning, after homework, my day job, feeding the cats, making dinner, all that stuff that comes with being an “adult”. I sit down for fifteen measly minutes and I get it all out. I scroll through my day. The feelings, the moments that I think are worth digging. I write everything down. Anything and everything. I get in touch with my day. I compare this practice to an expression of journal writing. Treat it that way. Don’t feel like it’s a job, but a relaxing method.
Do this and you’ll sleep like a baby.

Always be Writing.

-REH

Choosing Your Next Story

Ever heard how writing is about making choices?  Choices in your character action, moments in a scene, plot points. Whatever it is, you have to make choices. Sometimes big, sometimes small — either way they are crucial.

The same goes for choosing your next story.

I hang a note card near my desk that reads “the next story could be the one” – meaning the next script I write could possibly make my career. So I treat every script with that “make or break” passion. Choosing the next story is very important to my success.

It’s about timing. It’s about your career. Choosing your story is a career move.

Review your choices. if you have been writing for a while, you should have plenty of notes and folders, full of ideas, plot lines, characters, whatever. Make sure to review them. I list all my options. Ones that have legs, ones that inspire me; I make a pros and cons list of each.  I whittle it down to three of four. I dig deeper, I research, weigh in the market, my inspiration, and I ultimately choose which one  I can create and tell — successfully.

It takes me roughly eight months to finish a script. Those eight months are long. That’s almost a year. A year I could had spent on writing that other story that could had won an Oscar. I wouldn’t have known this of course. One can even blame fate. The right story at the right time. Read by the right person.

We all have stories we want to tell. Just make sure you are ready to tell that story. Make sure telling that story is worth the investment. And every time you start thinking about your next story remember it’s your career at stake.

Choose wisely.

-REH

How to catch the writing bug and How to keep it alive.

The writing bug is rare, hard to find and few writers ever catch it. But when they do, it’s tough to keep alive. Some have successfully kept their writing bug alive for years, bringing on success. Some only have it for only short periods and others never find it.

I found this bug. It’s been alive for about two years now.  At moments, I think my bug is going to die; It’s tired, worn out. But somehow I manage to keep it alive.

If your interested in finding the bug, here’s a couple places to look…

1.  Good Movie/Good Book

When the author or screenwriter was writing this “good book / good movie”, they most likely had the bug. They are sharing with you, through their work. Take advantage. It can be very inspiring.

2. An Original Idea

This one is tough. But there is no doubt, that if you come up with an original idea, one that you find passion in and enjoy, the bug will come along.

3. Success

This one is hard. But success is crucial in finding your writing bug. It comes in the form of confidence. But the problem is, that you may need the bug, to even get the success.

You’ll know you found the bug, when all you think about is writing. It will over take you like a disease and will push you to strive and work harder everyday. But the problem is, keeping the bug alive.

Ways to keep your bug alive:

1. Write every day.

The bug feeds on the writing. Write something everyday. Regularly feed it. It may not be hungry, but you know damn well it could eat. Don’t let it miss a meal.

2. Failing (Not Failing)

Yes, failing helps keep your bug alive. But can also kill it. It all depends on how you handle the failure. What effect will you let it have on you? If it’s a positive one, if it’s “get right back on the horse” attitude, your bug may never know it happened. But if you let the failure get to your bug. You very well could see it die.

3. New things

Feed your bug different things. Spice things up and write something new. Your bug can get bored, fall into a slump, make sure to keep it occupied. Make it try new things.

Be sure to let me know how you found your “writing bug” and how you keep it alive.

-REH

Be all that you can be — On just one thing.

“I’m a poet, musician, actor, producer, director, writer, chef, fisherman.”

Have you seen this? I’m sure you have…

There seems to be a lot of multi-talented people out there. And that’s great. I do not hate. But it annoys me.

I’m a believer in perfecting one talent. It’s your job to choose which one best suits you; master it.

I too love to do lots of things. I like to cook. But I’m not a chef.  I take pictures, I even have a professional camera. But I’m not photographer. I’ve directed my own movies. But I’m not a director.

In this world of CREATIVE ARTS, there is a lot of competition. So much that it’s very hard to make a living doing what you want to do. It takes time, sacrifice and endurance. I mean A LOT of time. It should take so much time, that every moment you have, should be used to hone your skill with focused  energy. Doing so, means you won’t have time to do all that other stuff: Acting. Poetry. Photography. Theses things will fall, sadly, to the wayside. That doesn’t mean you can’t still practice them — but let them become a hobby. Because that’s what they are. And that’s how they should be treated.

You need to be able to identify what your best at. Or what you enjoy most. Where does your passion lie?

And that’s my spiel.

-REH

Write one. Rewrite the last. Outline the next.

Oh how times have changed.

Remember when you were only working on one thing? The last I remember, it was in high school, on a science project; I concentrated on that baby for a week. It turned out pretty good.

Yeah those days are over.

I’ve heard this a lot — Many writers work on two-three things at the same time. Especially when it comes to screenwriting.

I have grown to love this practice. Some writers will say they don’t get the most out of the project. That’s just not true. You should always be working on multiple things. This keeps things fresh. I’ll be writing one, rewriting the last and outlining the next.

Not only have been able to triple the amount of words I write a day, but the amount of finished product has multiplied by ten — compared to before when I worked on one thing at a time.

My first screenplay took me 15 months to complete. And it’s still not “done”. Last year I wrote five. Three not so good. One okay. And one I’m proud of.

It’s all about rotating, prioritizing and planning.

I’m always ready to move on to the next. You always have a next step. You won’t ever be saying ” Okay? So what now”. It’s go, go, go.

My writing days are filled with jumping from one project to the next. There’s no down time, there’s always just progress — blog about that.  I plan it, so when I’ve finished one project, I can move onto something I’ve been developing. Then I’ll write that and rewrite the last. It’s triple the work and sometimes I have to say, it’s hard to put a lot of effort into the rewrites when you have something so fresh. That’s why you have to be able to adapt quickly. Get in that zone and know what you need to do.

Mix it up a little.

-REH

Embrace the Blank Page.

I’m an explorer, telling a story.  This blank page is my map and I can draw it any way I want.

I’ve come across a lot of advice on facing the ” blank page”. The fear and how to overcome it.

I say — Why are writers so scared of the blank page?

To me, the blank page is the best. It’s the ultimate. The blank page is when your story is the most “fresh” in the coolest terms.

It’s the starting point in which your whole “reality” is born. That’s not scary. That’s exciting.

The options are limitless. You have so many choices. The power is yours.  That’s what writing is all about.

When I open that new Final Draft document, I’m extremely happy. I can’t wait. I have outlined, noted, jotted, formed, brainstormed and researched for the past 6 weeks (okay, I lied, 2 weeks.). The words can’t wait to flow. Every-line I write is something new — Something that hasn’t been said or done before.  It’s the last moment when the story has originality. It’s pure and unforsaken. Of course, 6 more weeks down the road, you want to burn it, you’re so sick of it.

You want that blank page.  Chase it. When you think you’re ready to write, wait an extra couple of days. Build it up. So when you do sit down to begin, that blank page doesn’t live for long. Disappearing in moments.

What’s sad about the blank page is you only get one true shot at it. With my experience, once you’ve written that first scene, the rewrites, the changes, always seem to be influenced by that first draft. There’s a reason for that.

The blank page is new land. Uncharted turf — for you to run all over. Don’t be scared. There is so much more you should be worrying about. What scares me, is the rewrite. That’s another topic.

Embrace the blank page. Be an explorer.

-REH

Treat it like a job and it becomes a job.

I once posted about making writing an obligation to yourself. I compared it to the day job and how having this obligation to work and make money makes it a lot easier to get things done.

When that’s what I’ve done with writing. Not only do I set a schedule for my daily writing goals, but I make sure to treat it like my job. I’m my own boss –another blog about that.

See there are problems with this. Writing has slowly but surely become something I  dread doing. It’s a job! It’s time-consuming, stressful and if I wasn’t so committed at this point, I’d toss it out the window and go to the NFL like I had planned.

Saying that, I love to look back and see all the progress I’ve made with the writing and everything I’ve gotten done.  It makes it all worth it. Treating writing  like a job was the best career move I’ve ever made.

This is how you should all treat it.  That’s what you want to do right? You want to be a writer? Right? Well I know, I won’t be satisfied until I get paid to do what I want to do.

Do you honestly think professional writers sit around, watching TV, eating hot pockets, waiting for inspiration?  Heck no. They wake up at 4am and hit the computer. They clock in. And write.  They have an obligation. People to impress. Deadlines to make. It’s their job. It’s the reason they are getting paid for what they do.

My advice is to beat the paycheck to the punch and make writing your job — your profession. You’ll not only be more productive, but will put your career on the fast track.

Are you an amateur? Turn Pro. It can start today.

-REH

THE BIG WEST trailer. It’s an Indie Western

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a special blog about a movie I was producing called the THE BIG WEST. Well now I’m here to present to you all — the first trailer.

Watching it, it’s hard to believe it’s only a short film. As you can tell, this is no average western tale. We are aiming for a final cut time of around ten minutes and so far let me tell you, it feels much quicker than that. It’s a story unlike any other, that isn’t worth missing.

We are currently in the process of finding a suitable location for its premiere.  We plan to display Gus’ earlier films and then  follow-up with THE BIG WEST premiere.

I’ll be posting further details later down the road. You can always contact me if you ever have any questions. I’d be happy to answer.

#THEBIGWEST

-REH

Forced words are better than no words.

I come across a lot of writers that love to write. They are talented, gifted individuals who work hard at what they do. It’s really too bad what they do — isn’t writing at all.

Hey, I know how they feel. Too busy. Got other things to do. It’s hard to sit down and write. I understand all that. I was once in their shoes, always wanting to write, but never doing it as much as I wanted. This is merely a combination of procrastination and fear.

But then I began to force myself. I just did it. There was no thought or process. I just made sure I got words on paper, because forced words are better than no words.

Sure some of it sucked. Actually most of it sucked, but I was writing. That’s all that mattered.

I have days that I concentrate on certain projects. Than other days where I find something ” fun” to write. This usually occurs on the weekends, when I give myself less time to write with more to do. I sit down and  open a new file.

Sometimes I wing it. Or sometimes I look back into some story folders, searching for a sliver of something inspirational. Let me tell you, most of the time I don’t find anything worth doing. Sometimes I do. When I don’t, I pick the one with the most legs and go!

This usually results in a short script that are never finished. I have about thirty of these. Ones with no endings, no real idea, basic starting points, ending nowhere in sight. But again those were forced words. And that’s soooo much better than no words at all.

On rare occasions those forced words turn into words from the heart. They just spill out of me. Once I make it past the first couple of pages, suddenly I’m not “winging” it anymore. I keep a pen handy because my thoughts are moving faster than I can type. Before I know it, I have something I’m very proud of. Pre-writing who?!

I soon adapted this practice as ” free writing”. It was a good exercise I did on weekends when I took a refresher off my main projects that I worked on relentlessly during the week. The point of this free write was to write — merely exercising the brain. I take no days off and this was a perfect way to keep my mind moving.
Those unfinished scripts often come into play at later days. Sometimes that opening scene would pop in my head and suddenly I have a direction of where I want to take it. There I go. Suddenly I have another finished piece. Another sample. Another day of writing. And that’s all that matters.

-REH

Always be Writing

They say a writer never stops writing.

I can relate. And you should too.

Whatever I ‘m doing, I’m looking for a  story. If I’m working the day job, at a family gathering, at a restaurant eating, showering, shooting hoops, whatever it is — I try to relate back to my writing. I’m always in search of new characters, premises, situations, dialogue, themes, everything and anything.

Life is much more interesting when you observe more closely.

You never stop writing, ever. Always be on the look out. Keep those ears open. A pen handy. That notebook in your back pocket; It’s these small observations that can inspire a whole new world.

Sometimes I’m forced to do things I just don’t want to do. Like work. But now I go to work with a positive attitude. I treat it like a research project; a search for new ideas. Things that are normally boring become a lot less boring when I’m picking it apart, trying to recreate it as a movie.

It’s a life as screenwriter. I try to listen to everybody. When someone tells me a story. I  listen. I ask for background details, I want to understand  these stories, make sense of the characters and their actions. It can be all inspiring…

Always be writing.

-REH