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

Have a reason to wake up in the morning.

Sleeping is great.

I need at least 10 hours of solid sack time. And without my alarm I could go all day.

But work doesn’t get done while you’re sleeping. But as of late, the holidays and all, getting work done was awfully tough — goal achieving was slim.

I slept a lot.

In many ways, all that sleep felt great. But I knew I was quickly falling behind. All that drive to get up and strive was fading quickly. My routine was slipping and I felt inadequate. I was having a tough time deciphering why.

And then it hit me…

I had no reason to wake up. Besides writing, my day job hours were slim. My days were filled with nothing. I had nothing to do…and this how time gets wasted. And wasted it, I did.

What I needed was a new project.

I was in between projects. Waiting on coverage for a screenplay. I hadn’t outlined anything new in about two months. SO I had nothing on the slate. This was the issue. I know it was. I don’t remember the last time where I didn’t have something to dive into every morning… It had been at least two years.

Why? I don’t know.

But the point is, we all need something to wake up to. This is the very reason why staying busy is important. We set goals to meet them. We meet them by working everyday. Waking up is the first obstacle in achieving those dreams.

I’m currently still trying to get back into the old routine that I relied on so greatly.

Eventually, things will be back to normal.

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

Take advantage of your emotions and write something Good.

You’re stressed. You’re tired. Confused and disgruntled. You maybe upset about something, maybe a loss or a big change.

Your body is reacting emotionally. Take advantage of these times and pour it all out, into your writing.

The pain will show on your page. The passion will shape the scene and words will flow.

Writing always helps curve my anxiety. Writing makes me feel in control — where in reality, I’m not. It’s not going to fix your problems, but perhaps writing will help you deal with your issues.

Before, when I was stressed, writing was the last thing I wanted to do. Let’s face it; it’s a job that few take the time to do. But as I practiced more and more, I began to see writing as a therapy session.

I suppose this is why adolescents journal their feelings.

I do journal, but I keep it to a minimal. Instead, I pour my emotions into my characters and my scenes. I try to instill those very feelings I’m dealing with, into the paper. I don’t always succeed. But I always feel better.

And remember it could always be worse…

Often the scripts we write are nearly absurd. Character’s issues are always worse than ours. For example…TAKEN… My problems are nowhere close to Liam Neeson’s. His daughter was kidnapped! Poor guy. Thank god he had all that prior training…

Horrible movie by the way.

So when I hit the keyboard and realize life could be so much worse, the challenges I face in reality become manageable.

Suddenly, your life doesn’t seem so bad. And after you leave your computer, you’ll have a little more confidence.

Always be writing. Everyday.

-REH

If you’re going to start something: Start Monday

I think this is a great practice.

Even know, I’m all about saving time and getting the most out of my day, starting Monday is the best idea when you take on a new goal.

Whenever I finish a new project. Or perhaps promise myself to start to working out; A new healthy diet. Or something that I always mean to do and never do…I tell myself  “I’ll start Monday”.

Now this only works if it’s not Monday. Then it becomes “I’ll start next Monday”

Allow yourself time to prepare for your new goal. Plan it. And tell yourself I’m going to do it. If you give yourself a couple of days, it gives you no reason to not do what you want to do — It doesn’t allow for any excuses.

For instance: my girlfriend wants to start eating only vegetarian.

Today she said, “Well maybe tomorrow I’ll start”. I said “NONSENSE! Start Monday.”

Monday is a great day of reckoning. It’s the beginning of the week (not technically). It’s the beginning of a workweek. It’s new. So much lies ahead.  You got the whole week ahead of you… to accomplish your goal.

When I finish a script on a Wednesday or Thursday…I never jump back into my next project the following day. I find other things to write. I still make progress but I tell myself: “On Monday… My next project will begin.”

It’s a mental thing. I jot it down in my schedule and there ya go. No excuses. No procrastinating. The three or four days I have to “think” about starting something new, is the procrastinating. It’s an excuse to procrastinate and think about the upcoming goal.

Always be writing. Everyday.

-REH