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.

 

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.

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!

Liz Gilbert chimes in

“Done is better than good.”
~ Carole Gilbert

When I heard about the new book of Elizabeth Gilbert I knew it wasn’t coincidence. It was meant to be for me to read this book. “Big Magic” gives ons advise on how to live a creative life. The first thing I did was grabbing my iPad and made an online order for this book.

For a few weeks now I was stuck on my project. I’ve been doubting whether the screenplay I’m currently working on is good enough. I doubted about the originality of my story. And last but not least lack of confidence just became even worse.

And then Liz Gilbert chimes in. She wrote in “Big Magic” that one has to embrace creativity. She teaches her readers how to keep close with creativity. She explains that it’s not about failure nor success. If you really want to pursue a creating life you just have to work with it! Let the flow go. Allow it to be there. Don’t block it just because you think you suffer from it.

Just create your art and it doesn’t matter what reactions it will trigger. There will be people who loves your work. There will also be people who hates your work. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is how you feel about your work. How you feel when you are creating your work. How you feel if you don’t. How it feels when you finish it. As long as you keep creating you will feel the magic.

I’m halfway through the book and I already feel inspired. I’ve put aside my project for a really long time now. That’s because I didn’t know how to carry on. I felt like inspiration was gone and creativity took a holiday. They both left me. Then I realised that it was really me who left them. I pushed them away by telling myself I’m not good enough. That was in a way to tell inspiration and creativity that I don’t trust them. That must’ve really hurt.

I’ve made it up with them now. I told myself no matter what I will keep writing. Because I really love writing. It doesn’t matter if what I write is crap of brilliant. I will keep doing it! And I told creativity that I need him. And I would love to work with him. I apologised for the times I’ve let him down just because I don’t know how to put order to the chaos in my head. I promised I won’t do that anymore. I will keep writing, keep creating even if I don’t know what to write. If I could just keep practising I believe creativity will stay with me and help me. And that’s what really matters. I don’t want creativity to leave me. I will walk with him side by side from now on. I will talk to him, ask him for help and stick with him always.

As Elizabeth Gilbert pointed out in her book; there are too many unfinished works on this world. I intend to finish mine and start a new one and finish that one too. And there will be more to come! Do it people. Finish you creative work. It doesn’t matter if it is bad or brilliant. Just get it done! And feel the satisfaction.

Thank you Liz Gilbert for a wonderful book with invaluable advise!

More on Elizabeth Gilbert: Elizabeth Gilbert official website