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!

Voyage to Aurora Borealis

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

~ Marcel Proust

I’ve always like this quote of Proust. It is true. Don’t stuck on the things you’ve already seen and know of. Try to see something new everywhere you go. Even places you’ve been for a thousand times can give you surprises sometime.

Last year I  went to Rovaniemi, Finland to see the Northern Light a.k.a. Aurora Borealis. Unfortunately, the weather was too bad and I didn’t see any light! But this year I managed to see the Light in Lofoten, Norway. It’s an unforgettable experience. And I have once again developed some new eyes for the beautiful things in life.

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.

 

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

The Voyage of Writing

“The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
~ Marcel Proust

Over the past year I had learned about writing techniques. I’ve read dozens of books and watched hundreds of videos on the internet to acquire the knowledge of writing.

I learned about structure and about building characters. I’ve read that a writer has to use different words to describe the story to draw the readers attention. I gathered valuable information about writing techniques from well known writers on the internet. With all these knowledge I started writing my first project, a screenplay. It was then that I start to struggle with the story!

How do I develop a story? I couldn’t find much about it on the internet! Well, sure! I had ideas! I did have parts of the story in my head. But how do I connect all the loose parts and mash it into one smooth story? I felt a bit lost…

So, I took some time to let all the information subside. I went out for a walk to get some fresh air. After a short walk I bought a cup of coffee and sat down on a bench to enjoy my favourite drink. I watched people walk by. Dogs sniff at everything. Small children try to walk away from their mothers. And clumsy mothers who try to catch up with their runaway toddlers while carrying heavy diaper bags and pushing baby-buggies. And suddenly I realised that I can find stories everywhere. All I had to do was to open up my senses and observe everything around me!

Last Friday while I was waiting for the metro I picked up a conversation of a group of students. One of the students held a tripod in one hand and while talking he used his free hand to show his friends how a motorbike passed him closely when he walked on the curb that morning. His friends all gasped when he showed them how close the motorbike passed him. He was furious about the incident as he was almost hit by the two-wheeled vehicle. He used almost every part of his body to describe the incident. When he flung up his occupied hand the tripod almost hit a woman who stood a bit too close to the group. The woman did a step back. The talking student’s cheeks turned red when he realised he almost hit someone. He apologised immediately. The woman smiled and walked away quickly.

I was surprised that I described the whole scene in my head with words. Before I started writing I would watch the incident and didn’t pay much attention to it. But now, I observe the actions and overhear the conversations and I try to think about how I would tell the story, what words I would use and how I would describe the situation.

I guess that’s the thing with writers. They observe and write at the same time. Good thing I always have a notebook with me. So, I can write down all the details and things that I see. Or smell. Or feel. All the things I need to build a story.

Try to have new eyes on every journey you take. Whether it is at home or at the supermarket or a busstop: there’s a story everywhere! But you must have the right eyes to see it and an open mind to let it in.