The feeling that you’re useless…FIGHT IT!

“Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.”
~ Og Mandino

A few days back, while vacuuming the living room, I picked up the guitar of my daughter. I was tired of cleaning so I put down the vacuum cleaner and started to ping on the strings. Just for fun. I’ve always love the sound of a guitar and I will melt away at songs that are guided by acoustic guitar sounds. Unfortunately, I never got the chance to learn how to play it when I was younger. Now I’m compensating it by sending my daughter to guitar class. Luckily she likes it a lot and she’s doing really great.

So, I held the guitar that day and looked at the book with music notes. It’s a book for beginners, which my daughter left on the stand after practicing some old songs. The book lies proudly open, as if it intentionally shows me all its contents. It seems not too complicated so I decided to give it a shot. After a few attempts I almost want to give up. the joints in my fingers and my fingertips already started to complain after a few minutes. I feel them burning of pain caused by the pressing on the strings. My shoulders cramped and I couldn’t hit a decent music note. I thought about how well my daughter could play this instrument and I felt like a useless woman.

Okay.. now wait a minute! That’s totally not fair to think that way.

We all know the feeling when something doesn’t go the way as we’ve planned. And unfortunately, most of the time it works like that. But that doesn’t mean that we’re not capable of doing something right or making something to happen. It just means that you need more practice in what you’re trying to do. Perseverance is the key. That and a right mindset.

If you’re feeling bad because something didn’t go as planned. Then stop what you’re doing! Stop and take a deep breath. Let your mind flow away from what you’re doing and let it go for a moment. And then, think of something else. Think of something that you’ve done and that you succeeded in. Think of things that make you happy. For instance, think of that time that you’ve nailed a very complicated cake recipe. Or maybe you’ve once helped an old lady to cross a busy road. Or even think back at the time that you’ve passed you’re driving exam.

All those thing, no matter how small they seem to be, you made them happen. Those are your achievements! Maybe you forgot about them, but the people you shared that cake with, will always remember that cake of yours and admire your perseverance to make it. That old lady will always be grateful to you for your help and the fact that you steer your car so easily around these days, is because you once passed that exam!

So, remember, the next time you feel bad about a thing that doesn’t work out right away, don’t focus on the things that went wrong, but think of the things that make you strong. YOU can change your mind, YOU can CHOOSE on what to think. So, choose the positive matters, because those things can make you feel better and let you believe in yourself. And that is the most important part! Believe in what you can do. Be determined to succeed!

As for the things that did not succeed today, there is always a tomorrow!

i kept practicing on the guitar and after a few days I can now finally complete playing a whole song. Check it out in my latest Youtube video.

 

The Walk

Old age

“Old age: the crown of life, our play’s last act.”
~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

I had a lovely vacation this summer. I went to Slovenia and Croatia. I’ve visited some beautiful places and saw some impressive sceneries. When on the last day I sat on a bench in a nice park in Zagreb, thinking how grateful I am to have the chance to make this journey, I saw two women walking by. One pushing a wheelchair and one leaning on a cane. I guess the wheelchair is meant for the lady with the cane. My educated guess is that they’re in their late 70s maybe even early 80s. I couldn’t help but to follow them with my eyes.

The women walked slowly. My impression was that the lady with the cane couldn’t walk too fast and gets tired easily. They set a few steps and then they will stop to rest for a minute or two. The lady pushing the wheelchair awaits patiently for the lady with the cane to take lead and carry on. I couldn’t make out their relationship. They might be sisters or just good friends. Best friends even, I guess. They’ve definitely known each other for a long time. It’s like they are willing to stand by each other no matter what.

When I look at them, I couldn’t help but to think how their life must have been. Are they married, do they have kids, what have they endured? Are they happy? Do they have regrets? What are their biggest achievements. Are they grateful? Do they visit church every now and then or did they gave up hope and belief a long time ago?

All sort of questions crossed my mind. I would’ve loved to have a chat with them. To hear their stories. To get to know the things that they have experienced. To listen to their achievements and share their regrets, if they have any. I always think of people of old age as one big treasure chest, full of inspiration.

When I was sitting there, watching the treasure chests, my mind started to wander off. Slowly, just like the lady with the cane and it stops for a pause, too, at my past. I’ve learned to let that go a long time ago. But sometimes it still hits me. Don’t want to waste too much time in the past, I urged my mind to carry on and it wandered to my future. What will my future look like? That’s the most mysterious question no one can ever answer. My mind started to come back to me and it accompanied me again at watching the old ladies. And then it told me: make sure you don’t have regrets when you’re at that age. Live today and enjoy life! Whether it’s good or bad. Accept the things that cross your road. Be grateful for the things that you have. And keep on learning. Keep inspiring people and be inspired by life. The past gave you a present to build the future. So, live the present!

Life’s a funny thing. We’re not guaranteed a tomorrow. So, we must get the most out of it today. And if we are lucky to live till the age of the ladies in my photo we have to make sure that every day counts and that we don’t have regrets on the last day of our lives.

The women went on their way. So did I. As our ways separated I turned back a few times to watch them. They became smaller each time I turned around until eventually they’ve disappeared into the distance. This was the best scenery I’ve seen this vacation. I wish them both the best last act of their play.

Live or survive

“If there’s no struggle, there is no progress.”
~ Frederick Douglass

It’s been a few months now that I’ve been jobless. Last October my boss gave me the news that my services weren’t needed anymore after 1st January. At first I was very surprised. The news hit me like a thunderclap because I didn’t see that coming at all. After the feeling of surprise was gone, the feeling of fear showed up. Finding a new job is just a hard thing to do nowadays. There are so many people looking for work, the competition is huge. But I do also realise that I can not give in to fear. All the fear I have is just about money. No income means trouble. Especially if I still need to pay off some debts. But I can not let that fear control my life. And to be honest, I didn’t really mind that I lost my job. Long before my boss announced the termination of my contract I have already thought about quitting. But I didn’t quit because of…money.

As of today I still haven’t found a new job yet. At least, not one in which I get paid. In the past few months I’ve been struggling with the well-known problem; lack of income! But not just that. I also struggled to be myself. The constant fight between my heart and my mind makes me crazy sometimes. I know I have to find a paid job to survive life. But stubborn as I am, I don’t want to give in to my ego. My heart tells me that I won’t be happy if I have to go to a boss on daily basis doing the things I don’t really like to do. And that is true. It would kill me slowly. But I need to survive! I just don’t want income coming from a daily job behind a desk at a boss’ office. I wan’t to be my own boss. Doing the things I love to do. And there comes struggle number three! I have quite a few things that I love to do and that I want to use to earn my money with.

I love to write, to construct stories all day long. I love photography. I want to take photos all day long if possible. Filmmaking, another thing that I would love to do on a regular basis.  And last but not least, making my own graphic designs, I just don’t do it, because I don’t know what use they have. I love to do all these things and I can use them to earn money. But somehow i just don’t know where to start or how to start.

Something is holding me back. But what exactly is it? If I dig deep, the answer takes me back to where I started; fear and ego. Although I have practised these skills for many years, I’ve never done that on a professional level. My biggest problem: lack of confidence. Ego 1 – 0 Jessica. The chance to earn an income with these skills and establishing a career from this point just seems impossible to my ego. It keeps telling me that I need money and I need it fast. To be honest, worrying about money and struggling to get bills paid do really keep me awake at nights. The best way to solve this problem: find a job, any job. Just not the one I want.

Is it the right reason to give in? Am I too stubborn? Maybe. But it just don’t feel right to do things against my will just because I need money. I’ve done that for the past twenty years. There has to be other ways! I just refuse to give in to fear. So, as stubborn as I am, I will keep finding a way to earn my living by doing things that I love. And I found one that might just work.

I started a webshop selling t-shirts with prints that I design. My photos, my designs! Two things that I love to do. it gives me an opportunity to show my work to the world. It might work, it might not. But I won’t allow my ego to win. I will try with all my heart to find a way that works for me to earn my living doing things that I love to do!

If it succeeds, and I do believe it will, then after all those struggles, progress will definitely show! And I don’t have to work anymore. Because I will be doing things that I love to do.

Please check out my first step of combining two things I love do: DL3 store.

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!

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!

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.

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.