Pursuing a career as a working screenwriter is challenging at best. And maintaining an existing one is no walk in the park either. More like a walk through broken glass (while also eating it).
There can be days – years even – when it seems like my professional writing is on life support.
At this point I’m all too aware of what burnout feels like.
So how do you find hope or optimism in your writing journey during the dark days? How do you feel thankful when you’re pretty damn sure there’s nothing to be thankful for?
Back in the day, before he was creepy (other than the standard self-help-guru hucksterism weirdness), Tony Robbins had an exercise in his Personal Power tape series that addressed this.
(yes, after enthusiastic recommendations from my roommates at the time, I actually ordered a set of tapes off late night television and found them about 80% helpful and only 20% nonsense).
In this exercise, Robbins instructed the listener to look around the room they were in and find and remember everything that was brown. Then he asked us to close our eyes and name everything in the room that was red (a tricky redirect as you might imagine).
After that, he had listeners open their eyes and actively look for everything red. Naturally, this time around, significantly more red objects were found.
The idea being that you tend to only see the things you’re looking for, leaving you blind to the things outside that adopted point of view.
Whatever you focus on is what you’ll see.
So that’s the essence here, really. If you only dwell on the things that make you miserable, that’s all you’re pretty much going to think is there.
On the other hand, if you devote some time and energy to direct your attention to the more positive things in your life – and career – you’ll tend to find them.
The seasonal point, of course, is to stop focusing on the brown parts of your career, and focus on the red instead. Metaphorically speaking.
What are you thankful for this year, screenwriting warriors? Here’s my list (with another month still to come)…
- Got my first songwriting royalties from SESAC, thanks to lyrics written for episodes of The Adventures of Chuck and Friends (in 2011!).
- Did a small “test run” of Rhonda and my graphic novel, Blowback, while searching for a publisher Looks awesome (we even sold a few).
- Got a script read by a production company thanks to the WGA submission portal (created as a result of their Agency Campaign). It ended up not being a fit for their mandate, but they liked the writing and it generated a new industry relationship.
- Started getting award screeners.
So while – no – I didn’t get any award nominations myself, or sell a million dollar spec, I still had things to be upbeat about. And today, that’s what I’ll focus on.
Now please pass the stuffing.