Enjoying the journey

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
~ Lao Tzu

It’s been more than a month since I’ve attended the London Screenwriter’s Festival. Time really does go by too fast.

I have enjoyed every bit of this wonderful event! Starting from the opening speech till the last drinks with fellow writers at the Globe, a lovely pub. I’ve met a lot of new friends, fellow voyagers on the writer’s journey. I learned a lot from well-known speakers; heroes of every screenwriter. Above all, it provided me exactly what I was looking for: acknowledgment. Fellow writers who treat me as writer too.

A few years back when I finally had the courage to take a step onto the writer’s journey, I was pumped with energy. It felt good! It still feels good. Like I’ve finally found the right path. I started with a blank screen and now I can call myself the writer of a feature screenplay and several short scripts.

But as the journey advances I started to feel lonely too due to the lack of fellow travellers who understand what I’m doing and what I stand for. I have no one in my surroundings with whom I can share my struggles and discuss about writing. It’s like being lost in the ocean holding just a raft. While I was trying to keep my head above water, I started to lose my motivation. Slowly procrastination became a habit.

Fortunately, somewhere in the ocean there is an island called LSF. And I started to swim to it. When I’ve reached it, I found out that it is a very big island. I felt a bit tense stepping onto this island for the first time. But tense faded away immediately when a fellow writer reached out to me. And from that moment on I’m reassured that this is a safe haven for writers!

Everyone is welcome at LSF! Whether you’re a novice writer or a seasoned master of the craft, LSF greets everybody with a warm embrace. Complete strangers would make contact with each other and it doesn’t feel strange, because we all have one thing in common: the passion for writing. It’s like one big family and I am grateful to have found this family.

Although I started this journey many years ago, it is not until now that I finally feel to have leapt one big step forward. With so many fellow travellers around to share my adventures with this trip can only get better and better! And I can safely explore the ocean without feeling lonely again!

You too can be part of this big family! LSF is offering an early bird ticket now. Go to the website HERE and grab this deal!

What do I want?

Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes and having fun.
~ Mary Lou Cook

I have been struggling for a while with what I really want to do. For the past 5 years I’ve worked as an importer of Chinese herbs, a caterer, promotional employee and receptionist and I can’t quite find my way in all these jobs. There was even a time that I was a software engineer and I have owned a restaurant. I can’t say my life is boring. But non of these professions gave me satisfaction. I just can’t find peace at any of them. I started to wonder why.

I took a pause and asked myself, what is it that I really want? The answer was quite clear: I want to be a screenwriter and filmmaker! I’ve always knew but I I’ve never told the world.

The reason I have not told the world earlier about my dreams is because Fear and Ego were controlling over me. I was scared that people will laugh at me and think I’m silly. And then Ego will tag along with Fear   and tell me I have no talent. A little voice in my head keeps screaming at me that I’m better off doing something else than to pursue my dream. It’s very annoying! Fear and Ego dominated my life for a very long time. It caused me to gave up my dream once. I won’t let it happen again.

So, now I’m yelling it to the world: I WANT TO BE A SCREENWRITER AND FILMMAKER!

I’ve always wanted to work in the film industry. Once upon a time I’ve even taken acting classes. But due to circumstances I did not persevere. Deep down that dream didn’t fade away. It’s like an itch underneath my skin that I have ignored for too long. And now it has turned into a wound. The wound is open and it has to be healed. It can only heal if I nourish it and be gentle to it and use the right medication.

Three years back I started to write my first screenplay. It took me six months to finish it. All the scenes were so vivid in my head and I just wrote them all down. I know it’s not a masterpiece, but at least I can put my name on a finished screenplay. And maybe it will never (well, never say never…) get produced, it gave me satisfaction creating it. It made me feel alive, it charged me up and pumped me full of energy. I’ve used the energy to write more stories and now my name is on two other screenplays too. That’s the power of creativity! It provided me the right medication to heal my wound and the best weapon to fight against Fear and Ego.

My next goal is to start a vlog channel on Youtube. I’m preparing for it and I’m watching (and learning from) successful Youtubers to see how they do it. One of them is Peter McKinnon. This guy is so funny and full of energy and he has soo much fun doing what he does. It just makes you happy watching him. In one of his latest episodes he gave tips to his audience on how to start a vlog! That can’t be a coincidence! Just as I need the courage and support soo much, this guy decides to make a vlog about how to vlog! It’s amazing!

And there is another photographer called Sean Tucker. He also has his own vlog and it’s quite artistic. He is all different from Peter, but his channel is even fun to watch. Sean is more timid and shy where as Peter is all funny and active. And they both have their own audiences. Both of them have said that the main thing about creativity is to have fun. Step out of your comfort zone and do the things you love to do. Enjoy doing it and don’t bother what other people think of it. Because you are the game changer.

So, I decide to follow the advice of these two men; have fun doing the things I love to do. Step over Fear and give Ego a punch in the face. I might take some risk walking down the road of screenwriting and filmmaking, make mistakes, even fall down a few times, but I’m sure that every time I get up again I will know more about that road and it will only bring me more fun walking on it.

Dare to live

“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself.”
~ Soren Kierkegaard

I’m sitting here staring at my screen, desperately to write something. Anything! But I got zip inspiration. Nothing. Nada!

So, I’m trying to figure out what I want to write about. Is it about writing? About filmmaking? About books? Films? Kids? Oh, hell, about football then?! I really don’t know. After a while it sudden occurs to me that I just want to write about life. Yes. Life! You might think: “How boring! Again a blog post about life! Don’t people have better things to write about?” Just pause for a minute. Rewind. And think again. Isn’t everything we read and watch about life?

Every book we read, at some point we will relate it to our own lives. Every film we watch there are always some scenes in it that we can relate to our own life. If we play with our kids we will feel life. Why? Because, in my opinion, life is the most precious thing we have.

Life can be cruel sometimes. But I think it doesn’t intentionally mean to harm us. It’s just that we need to learn how to live it. In time you will learn to live a happy life.

I see many people around me struggling with life. I guess sooner or later we all reach a point that we realise the life we live isn’t the life we want for ourselves. But we’re merely living up to someone else’s expectations. Be it your parents, your siblings, your partner. Most of us are living just to please somebody else. And when we realise that, we become truly unhappy. But it is also the first step to awakening.

You just have to make sure you stay awake and change your way of life. Dare to break the circle. Stand up for yourself. Tell your parents, siblings, partner what you really want. Do the things you like. Live the life you’ve always dreamt of.

I know it’s easier said than done. Many of us have experienced this feeling. But how many of us really dare to stand up and fight for life? It’s a scary fight. I give you that. A fight that one must fight on his own. And staying true to oneself is the only way to win. Along the road you will hurt people. You will lose precious relationships. But in the end the ones that stand by you, those are the ones who really love you for who you are.

If you’re feeling life is a burden, don’t bury your head in the sand. Pull your head out and stop for a moment. Think about your life. Don’t let the most beautiful thing be a struggle. Embrace it, face it, live it. Because we only get one life. Dream, dare, do. Live, laugh, love!

Happy life to you all!

Review: The Crown (Netflix)

The Crown started Friday November 4th 2016 on Netflix. A total of 10 episodes.

I have been waiting for this series to come to Netflix ever since they’ve announced it last summer. I just finished watching Downton Abbey then and was looking for another period drama to continue binge watching. But there weren’t many series in that genre that could hold my interest for more than 2 episodes.

I’ve spend three evenings watching all ten episodes of The Crown and every minute was worth it. I expected a high quality show not just on visual aspect but also in storytelling. And The Crown has not let me down. But then, I am a bit biased because I do particularly love English period drama and history in general.

The story starts late 1940s showing Elizabeth in love with Philip. Elizabeth, as any young woman at that time, longing for a loving husband, becoming a wife and mother.

As the series move on, we come to know more about the life of young Elizabeth; how she turned from a princess to heir presumptive and eventually crowned to be Queen of The United Kingdom. What impact that life had on her and her family. And we get to know the rules, scandals and intrigues behind the facade of the Royal House.

Although Elizabeth knows that one day she will become the Queen of The United Kingdom, that day came sooner than she thought. When her father, King George VI, died of lung cancer while Elizabeth was on the Commonwealth tour in her father’s place, she’s instantly transformed into Queen Elizabeth and has almost been denied the time to even grieve.

From this moment on the journey starts for Elizabeth. She is bound by the strict rules and customs of the Royal House, the cabinet and Church. She has to keep up the reputation of the Royal House to her people and the people around the world. She has to be the perfect Queen. That contradicts her life as a woman.

Creator Peter Morgan constructed the story very well and made every characters almost touchable. Completed by the excellent performance of  Claire Foy, you can almost feel what The Queen felt when she has to take yet another decision that is against her own feeling and of harm to the people in her life. You can feel how she struggles to be a Queen and a daughter, sister, mother and wife at the same time. How powerless she is and yet how strong she stayed in the roll. It touches you and you will sympathise with Elizabeth.

The Crown is said to be the most expensive series on Netflix of all time. If you’d ask me, I’d say it’s well invested. It is a wonderful and compelling show with excellent directing and cinematography.

It is, though, not an action driven series, but more a character drama. The pace is slow and the story sometimes goes into details of an event. If you’re looking for fast paced stories, this is not your cup of tea. But if you love period drama and biopics, I highly recommend The Crown. In my opinion it is a fine piece of art.

And now we wait for season two.

 

httpss://youtu.be/JWtnJjn6ng0

Things I’ve learned from being unsuccessful

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.”

~ Albert Einstein

There had been moments in my life when I felt myself being useless, even a failure. When I thought about what I have achieved and what my parent’s expectations were, I could really cry. I felt like I have disappointed them in so many ways. Although they are not here anymore it still weigh on me sometimes.

But what exactly is success? Who decides if you’re successful of not?

It took me some years but I finally realise that success is merely a measurement and every person handles a different scale.

Allow me to share with you what I’ve learned over the past decade and how I measure success now.


Self-pitying does not help

It all starts with self-pitying. You see family or friends achieving one success after another. Family and friends always talk about the ONE who has accomplished a big thing. Your head is spinning, thinking what did I accomplish? Why don’t they talk about me? Well, who cares? Today they talk about the one, tomorrow they’ve already forgotten the one.

The point is, don’t compare yourself to others. Because in your eyes they will be always more successful than you. Focus on yourself! Start thinking what you did. Did you start writing that novel you always wanted to write? Did you start baking a three-layered cake you’ve always wanted to bake? Or maybe you want to climb the Mount Everest in a Pokemon cosplay suit? Put on the suit and start training! Just do it!

The moment you start to do whatever you want to do, even the smallest amount of effort is already success. You can now tell people you actually did it! If people know, it will motivate you to finish it. But if you don’t start, you will never taste success. And miss out all the fun of seeing peoples astonished faces when you tell them you’ve actually put on a Pokemon suit and climbed a wall!


Shift your focus to feel success

For a long time I only think I failed because it took me a very long time to finish my first screenplay. Actual writing became the measurement of success. If there are no words flowing from my fingers and hitting the computer screen, I think of it as a failure.

But then I realise that I have done research for the topic I’m writing about. I’ve read books about screenwriting. My head spins thinking about plots and story.

I’m not failing my writing. No words on my computer screen doesn’t mean I’m not writing. Because every minute of the day I am thinking about the story and I jot down notes. That is part of the writing process too.

So, not doing exactly what you want to do, does not mean you’re not successful. It’s the process that counts.


Recognise you successes

No matter how much success you gain, if you yourself does not recognise it you will still be unsuccessful.

Start with the small things. If you have achieved 2 pages of writings added to you story instead of ten, tell yourself that it is okay. Because you have two pages instead of zero!

Learn to be satisfied with even the smallest thing you have achieved.


It’s all in your mind!

Change your mindset! Tell yourself you are already very successful! I might be a screenwriter with zero productions. Yet! But I am a successful screenwriter. Because I have actually finished a screenplay and I’m working on other scripts too.

Hell, I am a successful mother taking good care of my kid, cooking for her, helping her with homework and tuck her in bed.

I am a successful employee as I always give a 100% at work and carry out my duties with great care.

I am a successful friend as I always make my friends laugh and have fun when we’re together.

Get it?


And remember: success is just a measurement

Success does not mean the same to everyone. No matter what you do, there are always people who think it could be done better. But there are also people who admire you for what you’ve done! Don’t lose yourself to the negative comments. Stick close to yourself and listen to what your heart tells you.

So, in the end, what’s my story about?

It’s simple. If, on a scale from 1 to 10 you always set 10 as being successful, I can assure, you will always be a failure.

Nobody is perfect and certainly nobody can achieve tens all the way. If you succeed to achieve a 10 once, twice or maybe three times, well, spread it over a life time, I can really say, u suck.

But instead, why not just set your scale at 3 or 4 or maybe 6, wouldn’t you feel a lot more comfortable and successful?

Life is not just about successes. It is, well, about life! About being alive! Enjoy every moment of it. Enjoy every moment you are chasing success and don’t just fixate on reaching success. Let the ride thrill you as well. Although at the end you don’t succeed in what you wanted to do, you have at least tried and enjoyed doing it.

Downton Abbey, reviver of my writing spirit

“To persevere, trusting in what hopes he has, is courage in a man.”

~ Euripedes

In the past few months I’ve finished and rewritten my first screenplay. I’ve even sent it out to some screenwriting contests. I was very proud and satisfied and It gave me strength to carry on.

The idea for my first story came to me rather easily and I do strongly believe in this story. But now that it is finished I felt myself falling into a dark hole. I have another story in mind but it doesn’t feel as strong as the first one. So, I started to doubt. I doubt myself, I doubt my capabilities, I doubt my skills.

While I was self pitying I thought I might as well watch some TV series or movies to cheer myself up (and for research of course!). As I was curious why Downton Abbey was so highly recommended (and because of the wonderful Dame Maggie Smith) I started to watch it on Netflix. After the first episode I was already hooked.

It was not a very good idea, starting to watch it; I finished watching four seasons in three days! After that my mind could only think of Downton Abbey! And every character flows in my mind all day long. I think about the fate and fortune of all characters. The good ones and the ill-minded ones. That doesn’t happen often when I watch a movie of series. I did not only enjoy the serie, I actually learned a great deal from it!

Every scene of every episode is so well constructed. Every bit of it contains intrigue, suspense, conflict and mysterious twists that moves the story forward and hook the audience. Every character is so well built that makes the audience curious about all their fates. From the earl to the footmen, from the ladies to the kitchen maids. Every story line is just so fabulously written. Watching the serie is almost like you’re a part of it yourself!

It could discourage a novice writer like me. Because watching such a masterpiece can make a novice writer, who struggles with story construction and writing, feel very small. But the odd thing is, I don’t feel that way! Downton Abbey was a wonderful gift to me (or rather, a subscription on Netflix was a wonderful gift I gave myself). It gave me courage to persevere writing. Julian Fellowes has shown me the tricks of how a good story should be and what good scenes need in order to push the story forward. He gave me strength to keep on constructing stories. And I just hope that one day I will have such a masterpiece of my own that people will love to watch.

 

Carol, saviour of my writing soul

“Flung out of space.”

~ Carol

Carol is literally flung out of space to me. I watched this movie a few weeks back and it hit me hard. It’s such a beautiful, delicate and gorgeous movie. Todd Haynes really blew my mind with his directing! Phyllis Nagy inspired me to keep on writing. This movie will stay #1 on my most favourite movie list.

I fell in love with this movie instantly. Read about why I love Carol so much here on the Londen Screenwriters Festival website.

Scribble away in Scrivener

If you type in “Scrivener” in Google you can find around 3740.000 results about this software. So, there really isn’t much that I can add to it. But I really want to tell you how amazing this writing tool is!

My story with Scrivener started when I was looking for a good software to organise my writings. I started with MS Word. Excellent software if you only need to create one document. But unfortunately, insufficient when you want to keep all your scribbles of one project together. Of course you can put all related documents in the same folder. But you still have to open them separately. And before you know it your desktop is covered with tiny little windows. Very confusing.

Aside of the organising part, MS Word doesn’t provide formatted templates for screenwriting. So, it takes a lot of effort for one to write a good formatted screenplay in Word. That’s the reason I started to search for some other software.

When I did a search for screenwriting software, Final Draft was, of course, the first hit I got. But unfortunately, I couldn’t afford Final Draft with my tiny budget. So, I kept on searching and I found Celtx. It claimed to be a free software if you work online in their cloud. But you will miss some features if you use the free version. Plus, I don’t want to work online constantly, because sometimes I work at places that doesn’t provide WIFI. And I really want to keep my documents local.

There is a desktop version of Celtx though. It costs around €20,-. It’s a most basic version that only allows you to write a screenplay. If you want to add, for example, character sketches, you have to switch to the online mode. I can not tell you much about the online version, because I haven’t really used it. But the desktop version still has some bugs that needs to be solved, though. If you only need a writing tool for a screenplay, Celtx works just fine.

But I still wasn’t satisfied with Celtx because I miss a lot of features. So, I went on searching and I found information about Scrivener on the website of The Writer’s store. I did some research about this software, read some reviews and watched some tutorial videos online. And I thought: this is it!

For a very affordable price of less than €50,- I downloaded Scrivener from Literature and Latte. And a whole new world was opening up to me! Not only can I use Scrivener to write screenplays (it comes with excellent templates for different screen-writings!) I can also use it to write novels (fiction AND non-fiction templates are provided!) and even start a recipe collection (maybe one day…)!

Starting a project in Scrivener is very easy. Just choose a template and write away! You can use images or add notes to your project and simply just attach them to the binder and you can keep all related documents for one project all together. So, you never have to open them separately anymore. You can add different folders to the binder for different purposes. And you can discard scenes or documents which you don’t need. They will be kept in the trash bin of the project. If you should, for some reason, decide to retrieve the removed documents, just fish them out of the trash bin and put them back in the folder.

Best part of Scrivener is the cork board. The cork board shows you an overview of all documents in one particular folder as index cards pinned on a board. You can easily arrange scenes or move around documents. You can label the cards with different colours and different statuses. It provides you so much clarity!

This writing tool is really a must have for writers who wants to keep their projects well organised.

Not convinced yet? Read more about Scrivener:
Writing a screenplay in Scrivener by Gwen Hernandez
Scrivener review on www.standoutbooks.com

Watch an introduction video to Scrivener here.

Writer’s foreplay

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.
If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

~ Albert Schweitzer

I always had that romantic image of a writer in my head: a melancholic appearance, hanging over a laptop in a coffeeshop, sipping a cup of black coffee, typing away the words which hit the screen like water hitting breakers. Occasionally shedding an eye on a small notebook at the corner of the table and then continue processing the information into the story on the bright screen.

Unfortunately, I found out that it doesn’t work that way. Being a writer is everything but romantic. It is hard work! You can’t just write away and and skip the foreplay. The foreplay of a writer isn’t romantic either. It means a lot of research, outlining, structuring and absorbing all kinds of information about the subject you are writing.

The foreplay is necessary! I made the big mistake of skipping this proces and followed the image of a romantic writer, eager to become one of myself. I failed!

As a novice writer I started to write my first story without preparations. Well, of course I did some structuring and outlining. I knew, for instance, who my protagonist is and what her goal will be. I focused on it, wrote down some notes about her and her goal. I also knew who the antagonist is and what she wanted from my main character. Well, that should be enough, right?!

I didn’t work out a detailed outline. Just worked out half a story structure. Didn’t get to know my story characters as good as I should have and what they do and what they really really want. I didn’t work out the side characters and their stories. I just started to write down my story while the foreplay wasn’t even getting warm let even hot. I managed to get words processed on my laptop. But the more I wrote, the more I got lost! The story went a whole different way than I had planned! All the characters did something different than I wanted them to. The main story did stick a bit, but all side stories went astray. I had to adjust the story while I was writing and it took me a lot of time to get it straight again. When I finally typed “Fade out” the outcome was a whole different story than I had in my mind in the first place. The rewrite was fun though. But that was only after I wrote a detailed outline and set up a new structure. And I made a character sketch for every character that appears in the story and got to know them again. If only I had started with these preparations in the first place, it could’ve saved me a lot of precious time.

So, the next project I started, I did my research and structuring well! The writing went a lot smoother than my first project and the story sticks! It saved me a lot of struggling while writing.

This is one thing I learned: just consider writing is your love relationship. You can not just reach an ecstatic state without hugging and a kissing. The more you know about your partner and his or her needs the better your love life will be! The same works for writing. The better you do your research and structure the better the outcome will be!

Don’t make the same mistake I did! Be well prepared if it concerns your precious story! But by all means, if you have made the same mistake I did, don’t give up! Just get over it and keep on writing! Learn from the mistake. Make the second attempt a better one. And the third one even more better. Because, if that is what you love to do, you will somehow learn to play the first bit and successfully get to the ecstatic stage!

More on structuring:
Find some strong facts about structure by Bang2Write here
Some interesting structuring tips article on ScriptMag.com: The Four Act Structure

Two zero one six

“You were born an original. Don’t die a copy.”
~ John Mason

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
~ Oscar Wilde

I intend to start every post with an inspirational quote of a famous person. But when I started this post, the first post of the year, I couldn’t think of any good quotes of anybody. So far for the inspiration.

After thinking for a while I still can’t think of a good line to start with. So, either my brains are still in holiday mode or I totally lack creativity.

Since I refuse to accept that I lack creativity (how else can I explain the crazy things I write) I decide that it has to be my brains that refuse to come back from holiday. So, I just let it rest a bit more. It is, after all, the part of my body that works the hardest. I just start to write what comes up to me.

Well, where to start then without a quote? Normally, that would be my starting point. I guess the most convenient subject at hand would be 2016. Are you ready for this?

Let me first wish you all a splendid 2016! I should’ve done that at the beginning of the post. But since everybody starts with that line, what fun would it be if I start with it too?

2016.

This will be a terrific year for me as a writer. I can feel it! I started this year with:

2 resolutions: write more and sport more.
0 regrets: I think I ended 2015 well.
1 goal: to publish.
6 projects: two I’m currently working on and will finish soon; four ideas that are about to start.

I’d say I got enough activities to fill 2016!

As an aspiring author I find it sometimes difficult to keep writing on a routine. There are so many things in daily life that need my attention. I spend too little time on writing last year. That will definitely change this year. There were some moments that I felt bad I didn’t write more. But then I consoled myself with the thought that I at least did write some things! I know that if I had put more effort in making time free to write I would’ve probably finished the screenplay I’m currently working on just before new year. But it’s okay. I have written a screenplay. So, don’t be hard for yourself. Instead give yourself a compliment for what you’ve accomplished.

It is a good thing to set a goal. Last year my goal was to write. This year it would be to publish. And to enter a writing contest. I feel more confident now than a year back. I used a year to practise the skills. Now I’m ready for the real thing! Set a goal and work to it!

Six projects on hand is maybe a bit ambitious. I’ve read articles about working on just one or two projects at a time. Otherwise you will get distracted. I tried. But I can’t help it that splendid ideas (I think they’re splendid) comes to me every now and then. So, I write them down and think of a new project to put them in. And it works just fine for me. I think it’s okay to do your writing on your own conditions. Just do it and make your creations. It’s yours, you decide how to do it!

There are many great sites and articles about writing on the internet. You can find everything you need out there. And most of them are very useful. Read them, get the things out of it that are useful to you and use them on your own way. Remember to find your own writing footprint and set them in the writing world. Create your own writing identity! Don’t be a copy of someone else, because there are already many copies out there.

And there, I have just found two quotes to use for my post while I just ask for one! Sometimes you have to let go to let a miracle happen! My brains are back from holiday!

Happy new writing year everyone!