The day I broke the chain.

2 years, 3 months, and 13 days.

It was a Monday. April 14th.

When I started this blog more than two years ago, I blogged about something called “Don’t Break the Chain”. It was a writing technique practiced by comedian Jerry Seinfeld. It was simply a promise to oneself to write every day. Using a calendar and a red marker, you cross days off that you wrote, creating a chain… Hence DON’T BREAK THE CHAIN.

And on April 14th 2014, I simply forgot to write. And now the chain is broken.

I woke up that morning I realized what I had done.

Before I get into what followed, I should put some context into why I think I broke the chain.

It had been two months since I had worked on a specific project. There were a lot of changes in life and for some reason I was hitting walls with creating anything new — thus I had very little inspiration when it came to writing. Early drafts of scripts sat on my desk, and I couldn’t find any ambition to do rewrites. Perhaps the two years of striving, had worn me down — that’s my excuse anyways.  Without the inspiration of a new fresh project at hand, I began to journal to continue my goal of writing everyday. But then one day, I forgot to. Writing seemly took a backseat — something that didn’t occur for over two years.

I woke up that morning feeling nothing by guilt. I began to over think the reason why…

Perhaps it was sign to give it all up. Stop all struggling and realize I’ll never make it. And that’s how I felt.

“What do I have now?”

There was a blank space on my calendar and I felt broken. The feeling didn’t last for long though. Because I knew, I had to be tough. It was just one day. I had still conquered quite a bit and achieved what I wanted for those two years.

I simply kept writing the following day. I started a new chain on April 15th.

I’m still struggling to get back in the groove of things — and quite honestly don’t know why that is. Some days I’ll work on the rewrites that I have put off for so long. Other days I’ll journal just to cross off the day.

Since breaking the chain that one time, I’ve done it three more times. It doesn’t hurt so much anymore…

And that hurts that it doesn’t hurt so much anymore. When did the writing become so stale and when did the dream of being a successful, working screenwriter become so distant?

It’s hard to say I suppose. But at this point, there is no turning back.

It’s like I’m waiting for that break and that inspiration again. I’m waiting for that moment of rejuvenation and reason to start working hard like before.

I don’t know when that will be, but I’m confident it will come sooner than later.

Or I could just not wait and make it happen myself…

We shall see.

But what I have is two years of major progress in my work. What I have now is another streak to continue, another goal to reach, and another reason to write more and better. I just have to sit down and do it.

Always be writing.

 

-REH

 

Go back to where it all started.

When a good idea comes, I write it down. Eventually the really good ones are turned into a screenplay.

But all these “good ideas” are placed into a folder on the computer.

Often when I begin my outline, I copy and past the very first notes into another word document where I can continue to build the idea, thus leaving the very first starter note as is.

So one long night….
I went back to the starter ideas that were turned into screenplays…

What I found:

Most of the time the notes don’t even apply to the screenplay anymore. But I did find that they are filled with meaning and substance.

On the good screenplays I’ve written, that meaning and substance stuck.

On the bad screenplays, the meaning and substance was clearly lost. Probably in the shuffle of structure, characters and the basic to-do list of a screenplay.

I was also inspired by a lot of the notes. They actually brought on new ideas, which I quickly wrote down. I realized that these starter notes were crucial. I wrote them down for a reason. It’s what inspired me in the first place. And when I write a new story, I need to remember where it all started — where it all came from.

Go back and review your free flowing thoughts. I think you’ll find something. I know I did.

Always be writing. Everyday.

ULTIMATE GOAL: Getting paid to do what you love to do.

I landed a writing job last month, rewriting some script.

Although, it didn’t exactly pay a whole lot, I realized a huge lesson…

I was getting paid to do what I love to do. And as I polished the script, I was enjoying it to the full extent.  I’ve had various other small writing jobs — but until now, I’ve never full understood the lesson.

Sometimes you have to sacrifice your artistic integrity and just push through it. The script may not be exactly what you would write, or perhaps the topic isn’t exactly what you would agree with. But I was getting paid to write.

Writing is something I’ve done everyday for the past two years — very often for free.  SO when I saw that deposit in my checking account, all for sitting at my computer, with my tea, music in the background, typing away, expanding my mind, creating and imagining — I realized,  all that hard work, all that reading and practicing, has paid off. Not in full, but it was a start.

And that should be everyone’s goal. Not just for writers. But for anyone with a passion. Learn how to get paid for what you love to do. And suddenly your problems won’t be so immense. Life will have a purpose.

Let’s face it: we need money to make it. We need money to live. We need money to write. And that’s the issue with most striving artists today — they stop being artists, when they need to pay the bills. But what if your art can pay the bills?

Strive to reach this goal. Whatever it is, master it and get paid to do it for the rest of your life.

That’s my goal.

Always be writing. Everyday.

-REH

Save the Egg Roll

Chinese leftovers is king.

I love ordering out, they always give you more than you can eat, thus leaving plenty for the following day’s lunch. In the take out order, you get your main dish, your rice and an egg roll.

(There’s nothing like doing rewrites with a big plate of Chinese and an egg roll in front of you)

I always save the egg roll for the following day. This is very important, and it goes to show you how I live my life and how you should start living your life as well.

It’s about waiting. The egg roll is great. Even though I want to eat it as soon as I see it, I don’t. I let it sit in the fridge, waiting for me to eat it tomorrow.

I know, it’s just an egg roll and how can this possibly reflect life…?

PATIENCE. We want what we want, right now. Not later. RIGHT NOW. This is why we spend money right away; this is why we get frustrated and why three years olds throw tantrums — they don’t understand the idea of waiting for good things to happen.

And this is why saving the egg roll is important for writing screenplays. It’s about patience. For the past two years I’ve spent my days working on my scripts — writing everyday. It’s a struggle. Sometimes I just want to scream. Everyday it’s another goal. And everyday, well most of the days, I receive no instant gratification. So it would be easy to put it all down and walk away. Forget about it!

But I know, I’m laying the bricks, building my platform, becoming a better writer, so one day I can eat that egg roll — and I will be successful.

It’s not going to happen tomorrow. Not next week. It’ll be years. I’m prepared for that. But this is why you need to keep going. You can’t stop or give up. Now if it were as easy as grabbing an egg roll out of the fridge to be successful, everyone would be doing it. The analogy is the egg roll is there. You just have to earn it, if you want to eat it…you need to put it away and wait. Go do your homework. Go strive. You’ll know when it’s time to eat.

I just realized this is my second posting that has to do with Chinese food. Strange.

Always be writing. Everyday.

-REH

I (don’t) envy those who have “lazy days”.

Browsing social networks, I often come across posts like this:

“Day off work, putting in a good show and being lazy, all day!”

“Lazy day, with wine!”

“It’s raining outside, so I’m not going to do shit, but sit my lazy ass on this computer and share my recent gaming achievements” — okay, I exaggerated that one.

I don’t know why these people, work their asses off, go to school, pay rent, raise kids, strive for all these things, to sit around and do NOTHING — when they finally have free time, they want to be lazy?

Why would you ever want to do that?

Hey, I love taking 2 hours off and drinking a beer in front of a good movie. But, even when I’m drinking that beer, watching that movie, I’m still thinking about all the things that I need to get done. All the writing I could be doing. And how the movie I’m watching could influence that.

Take that free time and progress in life where you haven’t…

Hey, we all work hard. Every now and then we need to sit back and relax. But it appears too many people are doing it way too often.

I sound so preachy, I know. But when it comes down to it, everyone wants something out of life.  Let’s face it, they want A LOT out of life. We expect so much. But often we get very little. You want something, you have to work for it.

So you hate your day job, but always wanted to (insert your dreams here) and possibly make a living out of it. Well then why in the hell are you taking a day off to sit on your ass and watch Vampire Diaries? What you do on those days off can change your life.

Take advantage of your day off. Get some things done. You’ll feel better. You’ll make progress and thus you’ll take one step closer to your dreams — being happy.

I suppose if being lazy makes you happy, then do it. But don’t brag about it.

Always be writing. Everyday.

-REH

New Orleans Film Festival, here we come!

Good news!

The short film I produced earlier this year was selected for the 2013 NEW ORLEANS FILM FESTIVAL!

I blogged about it about five months ago, just after our kickstarter-funded production wrapped.  The writer, director, and editor, Gus Péwé, is just finishing up the final cut to send it off.

In all honestly, we weren’t expecting to have a final cut until Spring 2014.  You have to understand, this movie is like none other.  One of the characters in this 20 minute film, is completely rotoscoped.  Frame-by-frame animation had to be done.  It’s a total pain in the ass.  Just ask Gus.

To make things easier, I purchased Gus a Wacom Tablet, along with a carpel tunnel wrist guard.  The past month has been long and tedious for him.  I commend his endurance and drive.

So a trip to New Orleans should ease all the pain…

Our big plan was to take our time to finish the cut, and complete the animations.  We would then work the film festival circuit, and try to build a platform for the film.  Then we would release it  online.  From here, we would seek out funding for our next film — a feature Gus is currently writing.

But, we released a short teaser trailer this summer.  Actually two of them.  The second one was more revealing than the first. This is when Gus received a message from the director of the New Orleans Film Festival.  He he had watched the trailer and was very excited to see the final cut.  He  also expressed interest in the possibility of  showing the film in this year’s festival. See, another short Gus made, This Vacuum is Too Loud, was shown there last year.  So Gus knows it is a great festival.

Gus uploaded a very ROUGH cut of Same Ghost.  He sent it over to the director along with an access password.

A couple days later, Gus received a message.

The film was selected and, according to him, everyone at New Orleans was very excited to screen such an original movie.

Despite unedited sound, and animation that wasn’t even close to being done, the film was selected.  A deadline was set, and Gus got to work.

The NOFF staff saw what Gus and I saw when we filmed this movie: an original piece of work.

We are honored to premiere the movie at New Orleans this October.

We just recently purchased train tickets to New Orleans (I don’t fly).  We are ecstatic about the trip.  We are forever grateful for those who donated to our Kickstarter campaign, to those who helped make this possible and most of all, the support we have received from NOFF,  and our family and friends.

Today, we are looking forward to what the future holds.

Be sure to check out the trailer here.

-REH

Warming up, before a long writing day

I like to schedule a 30-minute time slot to warm up before writing.

On further reading, this appears to be the practice of many writers and I would highly recommend it.

But I still have yet to find that one warm-up I prefer. And let me be clear, I don’t necessarily always WRITE to warm-up.
At one point, I was going for a jog. Doing sit ups and push ups. My mission is to get focused. Clear my mind and ease into the project ahead.

Finding my favorite warm-up proves to be difficult. I’ve experienced them all:

Exercise. I ran a mile and half every morning. With sits-up and push-ups. But it got cold and I found myself crashing around mid-afternoon.

Free writing. Using Penzu — I journal my thoughts. Sometimes I have trouble getting them out. I use this more on my off days.

Grammar practice. I had a lesson-a-day grammar book — this helped tremendously and I ended up doing every day for a full year.

Luminosity — this cost some money. Using their regimented brain exercises, it really helped me with my math. But, it often wore me out. And eventually I dreaded doing it.

I have experimented with them all. Some mornings, I just sit there and drink my tea, read my horoscope and skim the headlines. This helps.

I also seek out blogs and articles that can inspire the muse for the day.

The important thing is to write. And no matter what warm-up I did, I always ended up writing.

If you have a special way of warming up, please share.

Always be writing. Everyday.

-REH