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FINISH WHAT YOU START

James Gunn is an American writer, director, producer, actor, and musician, currently he is most well known for writing the script for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. He is so talented, I am sure there will be many more projects that he will be known for in what will be a long and successful career.

A few days ago, he posted some great advice on his Facebook page. I am sharing it today and you can also see the original here.

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Pro Tip: FINISH WHAT YOU START

When people ask me for advice on writing or directing, or almost any project, “finish what you start” is the first thing I tell them. As a young man I’d start a novel or a script or a film and it would all be going amazingly well, and then I’d hit a snag… something that stopped me. Maybe I was judging the project, or I lost my passionate fuel, or I became distracted by a newer, shiner project. And so I just stopped and moved on. I didn’t think the problem was me; I thought it was the projects I was choosing. I thought I would eventually find the right project that would fix everything for me, that would be THE project that would propel me to success.

I was in my twenties and becoming discouraged. I was seeing people around me, who I thought were less talented than me, getting film deals and TV deals. It wasn’t because I was lazy – I was often writing for fifteen or sixteen hours a day. Why wasn’t I doing as well as others?

And one day it came to me in a burst of inspiration: Perhaps the missing ingredient was incredibly simple – I just needed to finish whatever I started. There was nothing wrong with the projects I had been choosing. The problem was me: I just hadn’t followed them through. Any of them could have been “the one.”

Fear was what most often kept me from completing something. What if it wasn’t good enough? What if I put my heart into something and put it out there and I looked stupid? I realized I had to act despite my fear if I wanted any of the benefits of artistic achievement (which include artistic achievement itself).

So I started finishing whatever I started. It became the primary goal of my writing. And it was only a matter of months before everything in my life changed dramatically, both in terms of how I felt about myself, and in terms of how the world treated me in regards to my career.

Finishing what you start – plowing ahead, no matter what – is what separates amateurs from professionals. It’s what transformed me from a wannabe, kinda writer into an actual writer.

Obviously, not everyone who finishes what they start in every endeavor will be successful – natural ability and experience and personality make up a huge part of success. But I do think it is the most important aspect of being successful. (And, contrary to popular belief, “having connections” is NOT an important aspect of being successful – of all my successful friends in the film industry, maybe two were born with connections.)

As writers and directors we have to be self-starters, because no one will hire us with nothing to show for it. And, if you’re a beginner, finishing what you start is the quickest way to improve. You learn a lot more about writing from completing a screenplay than you do from writing the first thirty pages of ten screenplays.

Finally, if you’re an open-minded and honest person, finishing what you start is a way to learn if you want to pursue a career in whatever field you’re considering. Maybe you aren’t that great at the job you’re considering – but you’ll never know that unless you try.

I don’t know what’s propelled me to write all this this morning – perhaps it’s a conversation I had this weekend. But enough of Facebook for me, as I have a project I need to get to finishing.

I wish you all luck and perseverance.

Have a lovely day, james

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Procrastinator Support Group

TeamHi, my name is Kim and I’m a procrastinator. Not only am I a procrastinator but I am a wizard level procrastinator.

The basic definition of procrastination is the practice of delaying or postponing the completion of a task. Advanced procrastinators don’t simply delay a task they often replace it with a less important activity. This less important activity is usually something that really doesn’t need to be done, and certainly not in the time frame of this very important task that clearly has a deadline.

When I was in college I am pretty sure that I had the cleanest closet during finals week at my university.  Every semester like clockwork classes would wind down and I’d find myself organizing my closet.  Of course, I always had a good reason. At the end of the fall semester, I told myself that with the holidays coming I needed to get it taken care of.  Where would I hide gifts? At the end of the spring semester, I justified it by reasoning that I needed to be able to find my sandals or other summer gear.

It’s a problem with perfection, and it’s not that we, as procrastinators, think we are perfect or that we do things perfectly. It’s that we have illusions of grandeur. We can imagine perfection, and it looks really good. The only problem with perfection is that it’s well, perfect.  Even if we ignore the idea that different people are going to have varying ideas of what is perfect, we are setting the bar exceptionally high.

As my father, all around smart guy and my junior year Honors English teacher, would tell me, “It’s hard to be perfect and on time.” At the time I just thought he was talking about me, but since then I have found that this is a universal truth for procrastinators. You start with a task that needs to be done and then you come up with this great idea and you are really psyched about it.  It’s going to be amazing, and groovy and maybe even blue and…wait.  What now? There’s a deadline. Perfection and punctuality, fantastic, two of my favorite things, really.  Awesome. Ok.

At some point, it turns into perfect or punctual, one or the other but not both. How do we choose? Perfection is fairly subjective, you ask a random sample of people a single question and you are going to get different answers.  I think Chris Hemsworth is pretty close to perfect but I know a few people who are not impressed at all. Punctuality, however is definite, Thursday at noon means the same thing to everyone.  (Yes, I know there are different time zones that could cause confusion but we all knew what I meant.) Clearly, the deadline is going to win over a fleeting chance at perfection.

The deadline is the deal breaker but as a procrastinator we are then obligated to justify the lack of perfection. How can we be perfect when we have had such a busy day?  And, yeah, sometimes we invent things that have to be done right now. It’s avoidance at its best, perfection takes time so we allow ourselves to be distracted by various shiny alternatives. When we triumphantly meet our deadline we can point to all of the distractions and pat ourselves on the back for doing so well in such a short amount of time.

Here’s my shiny example, while writing this post I got an email letting me know that I had earned a $15 rewards certificate to a national shoe store chain. I stopped writing to go look at shoes.  Do I need shoes right now? Nope. It is summer and I have a plethora of sandal options to choose from.  All I thought was, “Wow, $15!” and I sprinted off to see if there was anything that I absolutely needed.  Did I find anything that I needed right now? Nope…although I did find a darling pair of slouchy pull on boots that are on clearance, the avoidance thing, it’s not always bad.

Is there a cure for procrastination? If you climb a mountain in Borneo and talk to the wise man…yeah. No, there is no cure. You can only treat the symptoms.  Like perfection, treatment options vary among the procrastinator population. When it comes to writing, schedules work for some people, block out the same time every day to write.  Setting a timer is another favorite, set it for an hour and keep writing until you hear the ding. The best treatment, in my humble opinion is to drop the idea of perfect in favor of ideas like fun, inspired, heartwarming or relatable.

 

This post originally appeared at the RWA Chapter of Contemporary Romance Writers Blog.

 

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The First Step…

The first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem. So, I guess it’s time to admit that I have a problem, more of an addiction really.  I am going to need to just blurt it out.

I can’t stop buying nifty notebooks, groovy journals and primo pens. Every time I walk into Staples, Office Max, Barnes & Noble or any other store that has similar items, I can’t seem to stop myself from buying one more notebook or journal. I’m becoming a paper hoarder.

I currently have these journals…

Journals

Barnes and Noble

 

And these Moleskine notebooks…Moleskine

I even have small notebooks…

small notebooks

I have stacks of these…I even created my own combination of supplies…  poly folder + legal pad = my very own coolio writing notebook

Writing notebooks

Mead Five Star Advance

I have used these during National Novel Writing Month, and they work great for outlines, descriptions and all of those other random notes. The binder clip works double duty, holding the legal pad securely and as a pen clip.

Writing notebooks 2

 

Oh, and the pens…

Wow pens

 

I’ve been using these Pentel Wow! pens for several years and I love them. They are really dependable, last a long time and I love the different colors.

 

 

 

 

The Pentel EnerGel pens are my new obsession. They glide so nicely on the page and there are a lot of colors, more than what is found in this set.

 

 

 

I have notebooks, journals and pens stashed everywhere. I keep saying that I won’t buy anymore until I use up all of the ones that I have but I think we all know that’s not really an option. My plan is to start using them consistently, fill up a notebook and then move to the next one.  The extremely ornate journals at the top create a dilemma for me, they are so pretty I am hesitant to use them. I guess it’s similar to having the beautiful china that you only use for holidays, they are too nice to use everyday. I’ll have to tackle that one at some point.

It’s time to get back to my NaNo story.  Happy writing!

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July 4th Weekend

WHappy 4th of Julye had a really fun and relaxing Fourth of July weekend. I got some yard work done, completed a few easy projects in the house but the rest of the weekend was spent hanging out and watching movies.

Oh, and good food…

Friday morning I mixed up a pretty good sized batch of gazpacho soup, then Friday afternoon I made a big bowl of my mom’s famous potato salad. It was great having those two cold sides all ready to add to our main dishes (rotisserie chicken and steak) and hot sides (brown sugar and hickory baked beans and garlic grilled veggies).

 

Kaijuly

 

We watched several Kaiju movies Friday and Saturday during the marathon on the El Rey Network.

 
ThunderballDuring our 4th of July dinner we watched a James Bond movie, Thunderball.  I picked this one mostly because we had just watched a wonderfully awful movie on Mystery Science Theater 3000 that kind of referred to this one a bit.Double 007

The following is from TV Tropes.org**

Originally titled OK Connery and later released  in the United States (1967) as Operation Kid Brother, Operation Double 007 was an attempt to cash in on the popularity of the James Bond movie series.

 

 

  • It stars Neil Connery, the actual “Kid Brother” of Sir Sean.
  • In addition to co-starring Bond series regulars Bernard ‘’M’’ Lee and Lois ‘’Monepenny’’ Maxwell, the cast also includes veteran 007 actors Daniela Bianchi (Tatiana Romanova from From Russia with Love), Adolfo Celi (Largo from Thunderball) and Anthony Dawson (Prof. Dent from Dr. No).
  • The score is by Ennio Morricone. Yes, that Ennio Morricone.
  • The film was distributed by United Artists even at the same time they were handling the legitimate James Bond film rights.

It was a fun and relaxing weekend. Looking forward to the rest of the summer and more good times.

**Check out TV Tropes for more info

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Camp NaNo 2015

Camp-Participant-2015-Web-Banner

Each year on November 1st writers from all points begin the endeavor of writing 50,000 words in 30 days for National Novel Writing Month . The hope is that at the end of the 30 days that participants would have gotten a good jump on their novel and maybe developed a routine for writing daily. I’ve done well with the 50,000 words but not so much with sticking to a routine. December is always a busy month for me and my writing ends up being low on the priority list.

Camp NaNo is a more easy going version of the November festivities. Camp NaNo holds two sessions each year in April and July with participants able to choose their own word-count goals between 10,000 and 1,000,000. I always enjoy the camp themed notes, badges and artwork, it’s a fun distraction from the crazy Arizona heat.

I’ve signed up to write 30,000 words during the July session. Like every year, I am hoping that I’ll be able to get a writing schedule finally set up. A daily word count of 1,000 words is low and pretty attainable at this point. I’d like to set it up so that I am writing at the same time each day.  We’ll see how that goes in the next few days.

Happy Writing!

cabin typewriter

 

 

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Summer viewing

It’s summer and as I’ve mentioned before it gets pretty hot in Arizona. We actually had a Heat Advisory Warning that started last Thursday and expires today. In an attempt to avoid the stifling heat I have been working on different projects, some sorting, sewing and some other miscellaneous craft projects. While I worked on the projects I wanted to have something I could watch. I was looking for something good but not too riveting.

I was flipping through Netflix and after some deliberation picked a show I watched sporadically during it’s first run. Murder, She Wrote.

I amMSW4 so glad that I did. I am totally hooked on this show. I mean, it’s Angela Lansbury, she is amazing and so very charming. The writing is really good and the show holds up really well. There aren’t any cell phones and computers have been featured or mentioned maybe three times, at least so far, I’m about halfway through the third season.

I think my favorite part of watching the old episodes is seeing so many great guest stars. A lot of the guest stars were stars of their own shows many years before like, Chuck Connors from The Rifleman, Forrest Tucker from F Troop, Noah Beery from The Rockford Files, John Astin from The Addams Family, and nearly the entire cast of WKRP in Cincinnati (except Loni Anderson and Tim Reid). Not to mention recurring characters like those played by Tom Bosley, Jerry Orbach, William Windom, Julie Adams and Ron Masak.

MSW5

I’ve now gotten the entire family hooked on watching. We just watched a cross over between Magnum P.I. and Murder, She Wrote (MSW). The first part was the Magnum P.I. episode “Novel Connection” and the second part on the Murder, She Wrote episode “Magnum on Ice”. It was great seeing the crossover and we’ve already talked about watching Magnum P.I. once we’re done with MSW.

 

I’m adding this last image because it made my daughter laugh, well, me too.

MSW1