We are the Writers of our own Lives

…Which behooves us to put at least as much thought into our very real choices as we do into the fictional choices of our characters. Think about it, as you watch this:

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Another well-crafted Ted Talk

Care of the Writer’s Instrument

thepinchy

Xena going straight for the instrument!

by Kathryn Graham

What’s a writer’s most important instrument? Is it a pen? A notebook? How about a laptop? Or is it your butt, the proverbial ‘butt in seat’ thing?

Bottom line, yourl butt is you, and you happen to be a physical body on a physical plane.  I know my body is my most cherished instrument because right now I have a crick in my neck that’s making this article tough to write. It’s like Xena cut off the flow of blood to my brain except that instead of Xena, it was a shitty mattress, a flattened pillow, and a 40 hour a week desk job.

Many people, myself included, don’t treat their bodies right. Writers are more susceptible to this because of the nature of writing. If you’re sitting for long hours pounding away at a keyboard, you’re likely hurting your spine, potentially not eating or depriving yourself of sleep, and any other number of vices in the name of the written word.

So how do we take care of ourselves while also devoting ourselves to this sedentary craft? Here’s a few things that I’m going to be trying:

  1. Get some sunshine. You need the vitamin D. You could also take supplements, but you might as well just take the laptop outside or sit near a window for a little while.
  2. Eat healthier. I know it’s easy to warm up a five minute hot pocket (and you need that time to write!), but heavy or bad food is harder to digest, makes you tired, and will make you less sharp. If you have no time or you’re in a groove, before you sit down, grab something quick that you don’t detest – an avocado, pistachios, a granola bar, an orange. Here’s some good ideas. (And more tips on how to be a healthy writer).
  3. Get good sleep. Invest in a good mattress and pillow. Make sure you have as close to ideal sleep conditions as possible (no light, the right temperature, nix the caffeine 5 hours before bed, keep a regular sleep schedule). Do your best to make sure that you get enough rest so that when you wake you’re alert and ready to write.
  4. Stretch out. Even if all you’re doing are chair stretches for ten minutes. Set a timer and do it regularly throughout your stint in the chair. (This one I can vouch for)
  5. Hey for that matter, get a good chair or a standing desk. Whatever works best for you. Nothing worse than a chair that gives you saddle sores or bends your spine out of shape.
  6. Walk around for a while. Bonus: This can help you generate or shake loose some ideas if you’re stuck. It’s as if physically moving helps you move through your brain.
  7. Stay hydrated. Don’t just drink coffee, tea, or alcohol as you write. Add a glass of water every now and then.
  8. Massage. We westerners filed this under a ‘luxury’ service because it feels so good. The thing is it feels so good because it’s good for you. All of those aches and pains you’re suffering can distract you in addition to making you miserable. Loosening up your muscles will loosen up a lot more in your head too. Massages are practically a necessity when you think about it.

It’s the usual sorts of things health experts and scientists say to do. I’ve just scaled it down to a minimum because that’s all I’m willing to do right now. If you have more to add to this list, I’m all ears. As you can probably tell, I’m writing this mainly for myself, but it will hopefully be of service to any of you other long suffering bodies out there.

Sure it seems self-explanatory, but maybe you need to hear it again. If you’re not feeling well, you’re less likely to be as productive, to have as much energy as you need, and to be able to write for as long as you’d like to. Breakdowns of the body can sometimes be pushed through, but they can also stop you cold. Why torment yourself when it’s so easy to do the bare minimum to keep yourself going?

So if you needed another reason to take some baby steps toward a healthier you, here’s another one: It will help your writing.


Kathryn is a Contributing Writer to TVWriter™. Learn more about Kate HERE

Procrastination, Impulsivity, TV and Thou

Yes, it’s true. All the problems we have not getting our work done – postponing, and postponing, and postponing again – would be solved if the TV and film writers who do indeed finish what they start would stop oversimplifying everything, dammit!

But don’t believe just us….

Now-Later-2532203You Don’t Have a Procrastination Problem, You Have an Impulsivity Problem
by Eric Ravenscraft

Procrastination is like bad signal or crappy Wi-Fi. Everyone deals with it, but most of us don’t understand how it works. Here’s the key: It’s not that you have a problem saying yes to the thing you’re supposed to be doing right now. The problem is you can’t say no to everything else.

Procrastination manifests itself in a variety of ways, but they all have one thing in common: they come from an impulsive tendency to do what feels easier, rather than the thing you know you should be doing. Some people get distracted by unimportant to-dos like cleaning the bathroom or doing the dishes instead of focusing on the important thing you should be doing right now. Others spend hours reading pointless stuff on Facebook, rather than being productive. Some even procrastinate because they have perfectly reasonable fears about the thing they’re putting off!

Whether it’s focusing on the important work, closing the Facebook tab, or dealing with a big looming problem, the procrastinator avoids the thing they know is better for them in the long run. The reason this happens is found in how your brain handles impulsivity.

Thanks to TV and movies, you probably think of an impulsive person assomeone who’s dangerous or takes a lot of risks. While risky behavior can be a symptom of impulsivity, the truth is more subtle. In reality, impulsivity simply means that you act immediately on your impulses. When the mood strikes you to do something, you do it. Your actions are largely dictated by whatever your most immediate desire is, regardless of the long-term consequences of that action.

As behavioral researchers Martial Van der Linden and Mathieu d’Acremontdetailed in a 2005 study, published in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, impulsivity is generally characterized by four broad characteristics:

Read it all at Lifehacker

6 Great Ways to Brainstorm Ideas

TV and film writing are collaborative. Some writers find working with others onerous, to say the least. Others welcome the chance to develop projects within a group because…brainstorming!

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from VM Measures

Curing Your Creative Block

We’ve tried this. (Well, LB’s tried it.) And it works!

sand-sculptureby Herbert Lui

So making songs now that I know aren’t going to be heard by anybody else, it is an interesting thing. Because I think you have to do that now as an artist. I really do.

—Donald Glover, Grantland interview

You might feel your work has gotten less creative over the past few months (or years). You might feel discouraged. Perhaps money turned a fun hobby into a chore. Maybe you’re completely creatively blocked, or haven’t felt inspired in a while. Or maybe you’re just bored.

If any of this happens to you, I want to suggest a simple exercise: Every week, set aside a few good hours to create something just for yourself. By good hours, I mean do it first thing if you’re a morning person. If you’re a night owl, do it at night.

For me, the magic moments and connections happen when I’m just writing in a journal (usually by pen), or when I’m reading a book I’d selected out of curiosity. I realize that this might sound like a waste of time. Why would you want to produce something that no one will use?

Here’s why it’s valuable:

When you’re creating for someone else—a client, a huge group of users, or for critics—your success is determined externally. And as management wiz Peter Drucker says, “Wherever there is success, there has to be failure.”

When you’re creating something just for yourself, you neutralize any possibility of failure. And what seemed so difficult becomes easy again.

Donald Glover, well-known for his TV work and his music, talks about how he makes things that he never intends to show the public.

Similarly, so does musician Hudson Mohawke: “When myself and Lunice did the TNGHT project, it was not even intended for release.”…

Read it all at Quartz

The Psychological Benefits of Writing

…Something for all writers to remember:

writingtherapy

by Gregory Ciotti

When you attempt to envision a writer, I imagine many of you see a quirky recluse, hunched over a desk in some cabin, crumpled paper strewn about as they obsessively work on the next great American novel.

But writing is so much more. Prose is thought put to page, which makes all of us writers—even if we don’t have the chops to tangle with Faulkner. In most cases, writing is most useful as a tool for thinking, expression, and creativity; cabin-dwelling novelists be damned.

Let’s look at some of the benefits of making writing a regular habit.

Writing and happiness

Much of the research on writing and happiness deals with “expressive writing,” or jotting down what you think and how you feel. Even blogging “undoubtedly affords similar benefits” to private expressive writing in terms of therapeutic value.

Expressive writing has also been linked to improved mood, well-being, and reduced stress levels for those who do it regularly, says Adam Grant:

Research by Laura King shows that writing about achieving future goals and dreams can make people happier and healthier… And Jane Dutton and Ifound that when people doing stressful fundraising jobs kept a journal for a few days about how their work made a difference, they increased their hourly effort by 29% over the next two weeks.”

Writing and communicating clearly

Laziness with words creates difficulty in describing feelings, sharing experiences, and communicating with others. Being able to flesh out thoughts in your mind only to have them come stumbling out when you speak is supremely frustrating. Fortunately, regular writing seems to offer some reprieve.

In both emotional intelligence and in hard sciences like mathematics, writing has been shown to help people communicate highly complex ideas more effectively. Writing helps eliminate “it sounded good in my head” by forcing your hand; brains forgive fuzzy abstractions, prose does not.

Writing and handling hard times

In one study that followed recently fired engineers, the researchers found that those engineers who consistently engaged with expressive writing were able to find another job faster. Says Adam Grant:

“The engineers who wrote down their thoughts and feelings about losing their jobs reported feeling less anger and hostility toward their former employer. They also reported drinking less. Eight months later, less than 19% of the engineers in the control groups were reemployed full-time, compared with more than 52% of the engineers in the expressive writing group.”

According to an older study, writing about traumatic events actually made the participants more depressed, until about 6 months later, when the emotional benefits started to stick….

Read it all at Help Scout