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

 

Don’t write to live. Live to Write.

It’s not easy to write. Don’t get me wrong…

But it is easy to sit in the chair, sip coffee, and type some dribble into a word document.

I think I’ve been in this desk chair for the majority of the last two years. Sure, my writing has improved and I’ve gotten a lot done…but I’ve also missed out on a lot. And I’m just now realizing this.

Some of the things, I’m glad I missed out on. Choosing writing was the right choice. Other things, I regret missing out on. Finding the balance between writing and life can be difficult. Both need effort.

Recently writing has become hard for me. I have hit more walls than I ever have. My routine has been off and my work has slowed.

BUT I still write everyday. And all those walls have forced me to approach writing a different way…

Now, I write on a whim. With no real schedule. Now it’s true, I haven’t gotten much work done. But the work I am getting done appears to be really good — for my standards anyway.

Let me go back to where I started hitting walls: Now I must state that I don’t believe in writer’s block — mainly because it has never been an issue for me.

I finished a first draft of a script in October. I usually always have another project to move onto next, but this time, I didn’t — that was my first wall. So I began to search out other alternatives for writing. I realized I was bored with writing screenplays, so I was open to anything — perhaps a novel. Or I was going to blog more. Writing short stories or opinion pieces…

None of which I did. Instead I began to journal everyday. And eventually through the journaling a new story started to appear. For the past two months I’ve been working on a new story.  Notes here and there — pages are starting flow and I feel good about it. But my approach is way different than my previous 17 screenplays.

Not only do I think the writing is good. But this is the most personal story I’ve ever written, and I’m enjoying the writing to the fullest extent.

I have changed my tactics for one reason. I was bored.

Now with this new tactic, writing on a whim and writing a story that’s personal and meaningful…I have more time to live. More effort is put into my life outside this desk. I feel alive when I write and before I write.

The work shows that.

Writing less. Writing better. And living to write. Not writing to live.

There was no doubt; my writing was becoming numb writing. It was a job and I treated it like a job. My passion was fading. And my change of tactics couldn’t have come at a better time.

The pressure is limited. The pages are slim. My routine is seemly fucked, but suddenly the passion for writing is back.

Always be writing. Everyday.

-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

Succesful writers have one thing in common. And it’s so obvious.

There’s one thing that ALL successful writers do. And they do it a lot.

THEY WRITE.

I know this is an obvious point. But too many times I come across people who claim to be writers, that don’t actually write.

Writers write. That is all.

And then again, I come across too many talented “writers” who don’t write enough. Or at all.

If you want to be a writer, you actually have to write. From what I’ve read and heard, you have to write everyday. Or it’s recommended I should say.

I have developed a habit to do so. I sit at my desk, I make the time and I write.

There is a yearning in all for us for greatness — and by greatness I mean happiness. And by happiness I mean fulfillment of one’s desires. If you’re a writer, or a want to be writer, then make sure you write. I’m guessing there is a lot of you “writers” out there today who know they don’t write enough. They don’t have the time. Or they don’t make the time. They tell themselves everyday or every week — how they will write more. Or write at all…

Before I wrote everyday, I wrote when I felt like it. When my heart desired, I sat down and wrote. What happened was that I only wrote, two or MAYBE three times a week. There were weeks where I didn’t write at all.

Saying, acting and yearning is not enough. I chose this to be my path of desire. In order to get there, in order to make money doing what I love to do, I understand I will have to take and make the time to do that exact thing!

It all seems obvious, I know. But I’m sure there are a lot of writers who know, they don’t write as much as they should.

I hope you write today. I hope you write tomorrow as well. And then so on for the next fifty years of your long writing careers.

Always be writing. Everyday.

-REH

Send a friend a screenwriting book

I’m not much of person who enjoys writing with others. I honestly don’t know how partners do it.

From what I’ve read, writing partnerships only work if you write separately and then send each other drafts for the other to write ALONE. This process continues until you both feel it’s complete.

THIS SOUNDS GREAT.

I would love to minimize the pressures of writing a script — and then add the joys of collaborating and creating with someone else. I’m a team player naturally. I love talking to other writers — only if they’re not in the room dictating my word.

I’m on a search to find that person I can write with.

It’s going to be hard to find someone with the same vision. But what works with writing partnerships is that your visions are combined. Both writers can offer their great stuff to make a killer script.

I’m on a mission to find that someone I can send a draft too, and in three or four weeks I’ll get another draft back better than it was before.

My plan is to send a friend a screenwriting book. I already have a few people in mind.

Of course I could find a practicing screenwriter. Or I could find a fresh mind who aspires to write, but doesn’t “practice”. It’s almost like I’m trying to discover new talent.

My list of known screenwriters is lean.

I have to know the person really well to trust their “writer’s instinct”. They have to love movies of course. They have to be good readers and number one, they have to be able to sacrifice time to write.

With these restrictions I think I have found that friend.

I’m on Amazon searching for the right book to send. I’ll send it as a gift and it’ll be on the person’s doorstep in 5 to 7 days. They won’t even see it coming.

Hopefully the book will show them how “easy” screenwriting really is (I wish). I can hope and pray that they’ll open it up, and say “I can do this” just like I did some four years ago. Then I can hope and pray they’ll go to their computer download Celtx the free script software and start writing. Before you know it, we’d be exchanging drafts, talking story, and discussing the latest hottest script on the market that we should had written.

All this by just sending a screenwriting book? It’s more than just writing. It’s a process of doing and not just saying.

I’m going to give it go. Wish me luck. Hope and pray I find my writing collaborator.

Always be Writing. Every day.

-REH.