Today’s Tiny Talk is actually a spin on a newsletter I sent out several months ago called “23 Reasons to Keep Marketing Your Screenplay.” I had so many writers respond and tell me how much it inspired them.
I was thinking about it again recently and it just feels like there are people who really need to hear this right now, including myself!
It’s easy to start beating ourselves up this time of the year because we think we should be so much further along than we believe we are.
That’s really just a bunch of baloney and even if it were true, it doesn’t serve you one bit.
But putting your work out into the world is about so much more than just selling your screenplay, winning that contest, having someone hire you, or landing a manager.
All the gifts and growth happen between where you are now and where you want to be. And where you end up is probably beyond any expectations or goals your mind could ever conjure up. You don’t want to leave all that gold behind and cave into cynicism by deciding that your work is not worth putting out there.
Ultimately, your life will be so much richer, more joyful, and it will give you the best chance of actually reaching your goals – and even beyond to things you never imagined were possible for you – by simply choosing to believe that putting your work out into the world is a gift that just keeps on giving.
So, here are 23 reasons and beliefs to keep you on the path of putting your work out into the world where it belongs.
- When you reach out and share your work, doors start opening. And, not just for you, but the people you collaborate with, so it’s a win for all involved.
- Why spend your time thinking thoughts like “This won’t work”? You can just as easily reframe it to “This might work! If I don’t try, I’ll never know.”
- “I can choose to believe that marketing my projects can feel simple and enjoyable.”
- “I’ve done hard things in my life before. I can certainly stay the course and market my projects.”
- “I don’t have to do everything all at once or even today. Today, all I need to do is make a list of 10 people I’m going to contact to tell about my project.”
- Tiny, courageous actions, like meeting people, telling them you’re a screenwriter, or offering your projects and services, can lead to very big things.
- When you reach out and tell people about your projects and skills, they might hire you, they might know someone looking for a creator with your skillset, or you might know someone with the skills they’re looking for. There is no downside to putting your work out into the world and making new connections.
- If they say, “I’d love to read your screenplay!” that’s great! If they say, “No, thanks,” that’s okay, too. Either way, you get to be proud of yourself for reaching out.
- They might say, “Actually, I have a different project that might interest you….” Maybe it’s one that could change everything!
- Hearing “no” builds resilience and makes you stronger. Think about it – the worst that can happen from a “no” is a feeling, and we can handle our feelings by changing our thoughts.
- When you get a “no” answer, you still gain something valuable. For instance, you gain a contact, a friend, or maybe information you didn’t have before. That is amazing and it comes from just being vulnerable enough to share your work.
- Every “no” means you’re that much closer to a “yes.”
- Sharing your work with the world takes practice, and you get better every time you do it.
- Putting your work out into the world can be about something so much bigger than yourself. Put your work out there for those who have no voice – the incarcerated, the forgotten ones, and for those who have been ignored by the rest of the world.
- If something hasn’t happened yet…it doesn’t mean it won’t.
- When you put yourself out there, there’s is a chance between 1% and 100% that you will get a yes. There is zero chance you will get a yes when you don’t put your work out into the world.
- When you get good at being uncomfortable, you can become a master of not just your mind but of your craft. Both require pushing your boundaries.
- Marketing your projects is a small investment with the possibility of a high reward, and it takes very little time.
- When you put your work out into the world, doors open that you can see – and some you can’t see. It’s not our business to know when and exactly how. We just need to keep taking the next step from a place of belief that our efforts are worth every minute.
- When you start taking action, you’ll be amazed at where it may lead you as well as to whom.
- Imagine how boring your screenplay would be if you had a character who just sat around wishing for things! Go after what you want.
- Sharing your work with the world is simply believing and taking the tiny courageous action to say to others, “Hey, I’ve got a great idea, a promising project, something I’m really excited about. Can I tell you about it?”
- You can think of all the reasons it will never work. How does that serve you? Instead, you can choose to think of all the reasons it just might work. And that perspective will serve you for a lifetime.
Get out there and market your projects!
Are you stuck in a marketing rut or just have no clue how to start putting your work out into the world? I’m taking on 10-12 clients for my second One-on-One Marketing Mentorship workshop. You can check out all the details right here.
I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome of the Marketing Mentorship program. With Laree’s guidance, I developed a polished portfolio of marketing materials and a solid marketing plan tailored specifically for my manuscript. I enjoyed the individualized nature of the program and how Laree’ took into account my experience level, personal goals, and needs. It enabled me to approach the marketplace with confidence, target the right individuals resulting in multiple read requests and valuable connections. I highly recommend it!
~ Esther Shihabi
So today’s Tiny Talk is a bit different; I will be interviewing the founder of the Open-Door Playhouse podcast. She talks about her journey to creating the podcast and how it has profoundly changed the lives of so many creative artists when their craft was shuttered due to the COVID crisis.
A little over a year ago, I answered an opportunity to help produce a podcast that a writer was trying to get launched. The writer was Bernadette Armstrong, and she is not only a writer; she is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter, director, and filmmaker, and now a theatrical podcaster.
Her mission is to get her work out into the world while taking as many people with her as she can. She’s a powerhouse and the mother of many cats.
Today, September 15th, 2021, is the podcast’s first anniversary.
The interview you’re about to listen to was actually recorded for her podcast. Still, I thought I would share it with you on my podcast, too, because Bernadette personifies what it means to get your work out into the world where it belongs – and that is my war cry, if you haven’t noticed!
It’s what Bernadette practices and is committed to every day, no matter what life throws at her. Our work is so much bigger than just us. You never know whose life will be changed by your work or the opportunities you will create, not just for yourself but also for others.
Before I play the interview with Bernadette, I want to share with you a letter she received from one of the writers she connected with through Penn America, a prison program for incarcerated writers that Bernadette collaborated with.
Writing is both a passion and a hard-to-reach thorn, waking me in the dreary hours to jot down a thought or idea. Writing should serve a purpose, challenge and enrage, change paradigms.
As long as there’s one person on this earth who remembers you, it isn’t over.
Here’s what Daniel Lambert had to say about hearing his work on the Open-Door Podcast:
I just listened to Replacement Player and am absolutely blown away! I had no idea what to expect, but am thrilled with the level of professionalism and skill everyone involved demonstrated. Please express my gratitude to the actors; their timing and inflection were spot-on with how I adapted it, almost as if I was performing it myself.
Thank you for reaching out to me initially and having the vision to pick up Replacement Player. I have had plays staged and read, but this is my first professional accomplishment!
Prior to prison, I had great professional career success that I was very proud of and worked my ass off for. None of those can match the pride I feel having been published.
A personal note: I had to have Michelle stop the podcast because I became overly emotional about two minutes in. I was reading the script while listening and I was struck that something I helped design, under the worst possible conditions, would be enjoyed by people I’ll never meet. To a man, we all have a fear of success in prison. When you’re told that you’re less than, not good enough, and underserving repeatedly, it takes a mental toll on you. We are constantly scrutinized and criticized throughout our day, made to feel dirty. Scott and I proved them wrong.Dan
Oh, man, I get teary-eyed every time I read that!
Whenever that voice in your head tells you not to bother, or your projects will never amount to anything, or What’s the point? The entertainment world is rigged! – remember this heartfelt letter from Dan and remember this interview.
Bernadette’s story is the ultimate example of the powerful results of one woman’s decision to create something bigger than herself, something more powerful than COVID, through collaboration with other creative artists.
Open-Door Playhouse is always looking for new projects. It’s not just for playwrights, so if you’re a screenwriter or fiction writer or a wonderful poet, send in your work for consideration. It’s a great way to get your work out into the world as you continue to pursue your bigger projects.
Ready to get on the playing field? As a creative life coach and screenwriter, I can help you take your idea from concept to final draft so you can finally get your work out into the world where it belongs. Book a free consultation and find out how we can work together.
Should I develop this idea or that one? Should I finish this script or rewrite this other one? Do I work on a TV pilot, a feature, or do I write a stage play?
Welcome to this week’s tiny talk. Let’s discuss how to choose your next project or idea.
Many writers come to me for help figuring out what projects they should be working on. It can be exhausting to decide where to focus when most of these projects require six to 12 months, sometimes more, to see through to the end.
There’s always that little voice that says, What if I pick the wrong one?
It reminds me of trying to figure out what to watch on TV. Many new shows come out every day, and we still have a huge list of old ones we have not yet watched.
Like anything in life, we have to learn to manage our minds around decision-making, especially in this world of endless choices. Aside from putting all your ideas into a hat and picking one, here are two approaches you can try.
I’ll start with the pragmatic one and then share a simpler version that’s based more on “I feel it in my gut.” If you’re working with a writing partner or manager, I recommend using the pragmatic approach.
I learned this first approach from creativity author, Todd Henry, and I’ve tweaked it to be more specific to my clients.
You want to first identify your primary goals. If we’re talking about screenwriting projects, you want to get clear on what you plan to do with the project once finished.
Do you want to write a script that can win a contest? Do you want to write a script that could attract a manager? Write a script that an indie or smaller production company could option? Maybe you want to be a TV writer and focus only on that. Perhaps you want to write a script and shoot it yourself.
Or, it could be that you just want to write a screenplay because it’s on your bucket list, or you just want to see if you can do it. You want to try writing a screenplay to see if it’s something you want to pursue further.
So that’s the first step – write those main goals down.
Now take each idea and ask if that project aligns with one of your main goals. If it doesn’t, that’s okay; don’t toss it yet. Rate each idea or project on a scale of 1-10 in terms of how it aligns with your goals.
The second step is to take each idea and project and ask if it’s practical or not. Do you have the resources to complete the project? Do you have the time, the skills, the energy, the money to do it – and do it well?
If you find yourself saying, “Mmm, maybe,” you can look at that idea again a little later, but for now, simply rate it on a scale of 1-10 for practicality.
The third step is to ask yourself how excited you are about the project or idea.
Would it be fun to work on? Is it something you have a lot of energy for? Again, rate it on a scale of 1-10 for how excited and passionate you are about the project.
Now you should have a pretty good idea of the strengths and weaknesses of your project and how they align with your main goals.
This brings us to step four. This part is kind of fun and re-engages your creative mind with the cold, hard data.
Say you have an idea that’s not too practical but aligns with one of your main goals and is interesting to you. How could you adapt the idea to make it more practical to execute? You may want to write the next Titanic, but you don’t have the resources James Cameron had. What can you do to make it just as compelling but on a smaller scale?
If your project is aligned with your goals and is practical but not very interesting, how can you make it more interesting or exciting?
If it’s easy to execute but you’re just not passionate about it, maybe it’s time to let that one go.
Go through each of your ideas and take a look at how they add up and repeat this process for each one. This creates a system for evaluating your projects and effectively discussing them with others if you have a writing partner or a manager who has a say in the projects you choose.
It’s the method I often use with my clients when they’re trying to prioritize developing their ideas and finishing projects.
Now it’s time for the more heart-centered approach to project-picking, and it’s the one I tend to gravitate toward.
You could skip all of the above and just ask one question:
If I were on my deathbed five years from now, would I regret not having done this project?
If the answer is “no,” why is this project on your list?
If you would regret not having done this project, why?
The answer to these questions will give you deep insight into the goals you have chosen, to see if they still align with who you are and where you are at this point in life.
My goals have changed drastically over the past decade. I often found myself working on projects that were meant to fulfill a goal that I no longer cared about. I was trying to finish them from a place of pride, shame, or guilt.
That is never a good reason to choose a project.
I hope this tiny talk about choosing ideas and projects helps you prepare for your next creation.
In the show notes, you’ll find a link to book a free consult, and we can work through this process together. It’s what I do, and I love it!
Ready to get on the playing field? As a creative life coach and screenwriter, I can help you take your idea from concept to final draft so you can finally get your work out into the world where it belongs. Book a free consultation and find out how we can work together. It’s what I do, and I love it!
I recently had an “a-ha!” moment in my own life and realized that the lovely and well-intentioned thought of “Just one step at a time” was keeping me stuck. It was also keeping me blind from seeing where all the gold really was.
That’s what I’m going to talk about in today’s tiny talk. There’s this place called “the stretch” and you definitely don’t want to miss it.
For most of my life, I’ve been super focused on the result, the end goal, getting to the finish line, the next milestone, the next rung on the ladder. Taking it “one step at a time” but focusing so much on just getting to that step as quickly as possible. So much so, that I completely ignored and rushed past the spaces in between the steps.
Sometimes I would skip steps altogether only to face a monster that was so big, I would run all the way back to a previous step, or sometimes even further if the monster was scary enough.
The place between these steps is called “the stretch.”
It’s in the stretch where all the joy, hope, fear, scary things, amazing things, and opportunity can be found. It’s where the best relationships are built; it’s where we swap old beliefs for new ones.
It’s also where it can get extremely awkward and super uncomfortable.
In the stretch, you get to practice and hone your skills until what is clumsy, painful, and uncomfortable becomes normal and you’re ready to take your bow. You’re then ready to move on to the next step and the next set of adventures that move you toward your ultimate goal.
In the stretch, everything you need to make it successfully to the next step awaits you.
So, we want to focus our attention on the stretch between the steps. Spend some time there and find all the treasures and tools that are going to help you go the distance. Refuse to rush through and instead, choose to live in it.
If you do rush through to the next step, you will have missed that very important skill, that connection, that thought or habit that needs to be upgraded, that wonderful relationship or experience that will inspire you, the opportunity that could propel you into something you never dreamed possible.
In the rush to the top, we also end up slowing ourselves down because when we get to the next rung, we often can’t handle the discomfort that comes with it, so we end up self-sabotaging or falling back to where we started, or maybe even running back, searching for the thing we missed.
The key to the stretch is to live in it, to stay grounded in the practice and discomfort until we start to feel it become too comfortable.
The best way I have heard this described is in the idea that everyone’s brain has its own thermostat which governs the capacity to have or achieve what we want. The brain always seeks to be comfortable.
You can think of it like this: If someone opens your front door on a winter day and leaves it open, you’re going to get uncomfortable. Your house’s thermostat is going to kick on and bring it back to whatever temperature you have it set for – the temperature you’re comfortable with. This whole process is automatic these days.
Your brain is like your home’s thermostat and will always try to keep you at the level at which it’s comfortable. It’s why many of us writers don’t finish scripts, don’t market scripts, don’t enter contests, don’t share our work with others, don’t attempt to elevate our work or create relationships.
All of that can be very uncomfortable because your brain is on autopilot and always wants to retreat back into what is most comfortable.
How do you embrace the stretch?
You have to consciously spend time in the uncomfortable.
You know those video games where you go on an adventure, and pick up gold coins along the way, then you run into a little monster and have to slay him before he slays you? The further you go, the more skill you acquire, the bigger the rewards…but also, the bigger the dragons.
Living in the stretch is not a lot different. You practice and practice until you get competent at slaying the dragon, and then go on to your next big adventure.
Stay in the stretch until it becomes comfortable. That is when you know you’re ready to move to the next rung. You’re feeling a little too comfy.
Instead of flying through all the things, trying to cheat or finding hacks to go faster, learn to be okay with getting really uncomfortable – it’s the fastest way through, in all reality.
While you’re in the stretch, you want to pay attention to the thoughts you are having. Notice the mind chatter and ask yourself a few questions:
- What thoughts are you having?
- Are these thoughts possibly holding you back?
- Where are you getting stuck?
- How are you applying the things you’re learning?
- Who might you connect with in this stretch to help you to the next level?
Really take on the stretch, live in it, see what it’s trying to teach you and how you can grow.
There is also lots of fun to be had in the stretch. Breakthroughs, new relationships, new mentors, new ideas…so much goodness to be found here. It’s not all discomfort and dragon slaying. You don’t want to miss any of it.
How do you grow more comfortable in the stretch?
Live in the practice until you become comfortable in it.
Study the works of those who came before you in whatever it is you’re struggling with.
Ask yourself lots of questions and challenge your brain to start creating new beliefs about yourself that are going to serve you and move you forward.
If in the stretch you find yourself thinking you’re not good enough, too old, or whatever it is, challenge those thoughts and find better ones. If you don’t, you’re going to get to the next step and self-sabotage, get knocked back a few steps, or worse, give up.
Living in the stretch will slowly adjust the thermostat on your brain’s comfort level, but only if you consciously direct it to do so.
I’ll end this tiny talk with this great quote from Bruce Lipton. It’s kind of mind-blowing how robotic we humans can be.
“The function of the mind is to create coherence between our beliefs and the reality we experience. We generally perceive that we are running our lives with our wishes and our desires. But neuroscience reveals a startling fact.
We only run our lives with our creative, conscious mind about five percent of the time. Ninety-five percent of the time, our life is controlled by the beliefs and habits that are programmed in the subconscious mind.”
We say we want one thing, but we’re actually programmed to think a certain way that is probably different.
The solution is to increase the amount of time we run our lives from our creative conscious mind, and we do this by purposely living into the stretch, not trying to rush through it.
Get curious about everything in the stretch; it’s all there to serve and grow you, and remember, it’s also where the most joy and most wonderful breakthroughs happen. Intentionally get uncomfortable until you get really good at slaying that dragon, then pick up all your bonus points, have a village farewell party, and move on to the next ladder rung.
There is no rush.
Here are some self-coaching questions you can ask yourself while in the stretch:
- When I think about getting to the next milestone, at what point do I get really uncomfortable?
- What thoughts are creating discomfort for me about reaching my goal?
- Are those thoughts serving me?
- What other thoughts can I think that would serve me better?
- What keeps me from being comfortable with this skill?
- What specific steps can I take to increase my comfort level with where I am right now?
- What skills do I need to pick up in this stretch?
- Am I practicing these skills or just thinking about them intellectually?
- Is there someone who can help me find some of my blind spots – a mentor, friend, coach?
Ready to get on the playing field? As a creative life coach and screenwriter, I can help you take your idea from concept to final draft so you can finally get your work out into the world where it belongs. Book a free consultation and find out how we can work together.
This is the final part of my five-part series on how to deal with low motivation and stuckness.
- Distraction Actions
- Fixed Mindset
Today is about the DIY distraction, “Not Enough Time.”
You can read all the books and take all the courses about productivity and time management, but if you don’t have the proper mindset around time, you will go right back to your default ways of thinking. Or worse, you can do all the time management things and come out the other side feeling burnt out and left with a lack of joy in your life because of how you think about time.
We end up sacrificing all the things that are important to us to be more productive. Our physical health and mental health suffer. We get lots done…but we end up with high anxiety levels and doing “time-saving” strategies that are not sustainable. It ultimately results in a routine that can’t last, leaving you to crash and burn.
We tend to look at being busy as a badge of honor or we play the victim to it. When we think about time, we need to stop thinking of it as something we’re racing against or something that has control over us and instead look at it through the lens of intentional thinking and self-care.
This is your one life here on earth.
Before diving into time-saving strategies and productivity methods, you want to shift the way you think about time to be more intentional.
Here’s what intentional thinking about time looks like.
We want to go from:
- Busy to flow
- Frazzled to aligned action
- Unproductive stress to control over our time
- Anxiety and overwhelm to creating the results you want in your life
- Barely holding it all together to more time for yourself
That’s the first part. To start thinking in alignment with those intentions, we also need to change our default thoughts about time. There are time-shrinking thoughts and time-expanding thoughts.
Time-shrinking thoughts sound like this:
- There’s too much to do.
- I don’t have time.
- I wish I had more time.
- I’ll never get it all done.
- My time is not my own.
- There’s so much on my plate.
- Time keeps flying by.
- I don’t have control of my time.
- If only there were more hours in the day.
- I can’t keep up.
Take notice of when these thoughts creep in. For me, a lot of these thoughts automatically come up when I’m trying to balance my work with other things in life, like self-care and relationships.
Where are they familiar to you? Having an awareness of where these thoughts are coming from is key to developing a healthy relationship with time. They are just thoughts; they may seem accurate, but they’re not. Even if you do feel like you’re all over the place, it’s not serving you to identify with these time-shrinking thoughts.
Take control of what you do have control over. You have options, and you can choose.
So, here are some time-expanding thoughts:
- There is no hurry.
- I get to choose what is important to me.
- I am worthy of down time.
- I am a person who focuses and gets it done.
- I have all the time I need.
- I don’t have to do it all.
- I trust the way my life is unfolding.
- Just one thing and one moment at a time.
- I’m exactly where I need to be right now.
- I’ve got this.
- Time is just math.
- I make decisions and go all-in.
These are the kinds of thoughts that will promote a healthy relationship with time, and they’re intentional, not victim-y. You have to open up your mind to a different way and gently bring it back to the truth. These time-expansive thoughts are always available to you.
We all have the same 24 hours each day. Purposely lean toward what makes you feel more expansive, more in flow, and tell yourself the truth about what you choose to do or not do with your time.
Pick a few new time-expansive thoughts to become your default thoughts and practice them. Just knowing these things is not going to help you; you have to practice and retrain your brain or three days from now, you will go back to default thinking.
Here’s a couple of tips to help you do just that:
- Write down your new time-expansive thoughts, perspective, or approach you want to practice today.
- Remind yourself of them again at lunch or before you go to bed.
- Set a pop-up reminder on your phone so that you can be reminded of these new intentions in the middle of the day.
This is how you are going to switch out your time-shrinking thoughts with time-expansive thoughts. Stay in your own lane and brain. Don’t buy into the anxiety around you.
How do you want to think about time?
The more factual you are with your words, the less drama you’re going to have around time. “I value my time. I make good decisions. The important things will get done.”
When you really get this, productivity and time management can work for you, not the other way around; you’re not trying to be the perfect productivity machine. Your goal is not to create more time so you can fill it up with more items on your to-do list. No, it’s about making more time for you.
We fall into a trap around time and many other mindset obstacles because we want things to change outside before we agree to think differently. It never works that way.
You need to think differently now, and when you do, you will find that options will appear when it comes to time management that you were never able to see before or that were not available to you because of how you were specifically thinking about time.
There is no shortage of time management and productivity advice. But without this mindset piece, none of them are sustainable for long.
And that’s what I wanted to share with you about this DIY obstacle “Not Enough Time.”
I hope you enjoyed this five-part series on how we can overcome low motivation and that feeling of “stuckness” caused by obstacles that come up anywhere between starting and finishing a goal or project.
Obstacles don’t ever go away. You just get better at dealing with them. Focus on your wins, not the fact that more obstacles are coming. Don’t let yourself indulge in thinking that gets you nowhere.
As I said in part one of this series, we often surrender to obstacles because it’s much easier than managing our minds and our brains around them.
If you would like some coaching around motivation and getting unstuck, I can help you with that.
Shoot me an email or book a free consult and let’s chat about how you can take the next steps to get your work out into the world where it belongs and, most importantly, how to stay happy and healthy in the process.
Bye for now!
PS. The last day to enroll in the final quarter of my 2021 one-on-one coaching/mentorship program is September 1st. Sign up before that to get your hand-curated welcome package, inspired by your project! Make yourself proud and get it done in 2021. Get more details and sign up here.
In this five-part series, I’ve been talking about how we can overcome low motivation and that feeling of “stuckness” caused by obstacles that come up anywhere between starting and finishing a goal or project.
This week’s Tiny Talk is Part 4 of my five-part series about what I call “DIY obstacles.”
Last week we talked about the DIY obstacle of Fixed Mindset.
This week’s DIY obstacle is Perfectionism, which rides in on the back of the fixed mindset.
When you’re focused on doing something perfectly, you tend to highlight all that is not perfect, and that becomes the background music to which you write or create.
That’s just not very inspiring music, is it?!
Perfectionism is a DIY obstacle because you can’t get past the idea of not looking perfect, or the thought that you might fail, or that you might look stupid. The irony is that you avoid doing the things that will help you grow to the next level for fear of not being perfect in the process.
Perfectionism is a liar because it tells you your work is not good enough and convinces you not to share it until it is absolutely perfect.
But how will you know when it’s perfect? Who has the final word on whether it’s perfect or not?
Perfectionism is finally being called out for the liar that it is in the creative world. There are tons of books and quotes and podcasts on just how nasty it is. No longer are people wearing it as a badge of honor.
People are still paralyzed by it and not sure how to get out of its grip.
When you let go of having to be perfect or to produce something perfect, that is when you get out of your own way and become more productive. You can create the space for more creativity, growth, breakthroughs, and results that lead to mastery – which, by the way, is not perfection.
If you want to master anything in life, you have to be willing to do bad and mediocre work. If you can embrace that and even have fun with that concept, you’re going to be shocked at how much more productive and creative you are.
The good news is that the more you practice, grow, and create, the more your confidence grows, and the less power perfectionism has over you.
Letting go of perfectionism can actually be lots of fun. I want to share two tactics for overcoming the perfectionistic mindset. One is for beginning a project, and the second is for finishing it and sending it out into the world.
The first one is called “The Garbage Method” and it’s for getting started on a project and getting it through to that first draft. It was created by one of my favorite marketing coaches, Simone Grace Seol. She wrote an excellent book on creativity called Don’t Do Your Best: A Guide to the Project of Being Alive It’s brilliant.
Here’s how the garbage method works. Instead of committing to writing 500 words per day, commit to writing 500 garbage words each day. Instead of writing five scenes today, write five awful, on-the-nose, worst dialogue, overly wordy scene descriptions. Do it on purpose.
Get excited about writing your garbage words. Even, look forward to it. Quantity over quality here. And as Simone says, give yourself extra credit for doing it extra bad.
Okay, here’s why it works so well: It tricks your brain into thinking you’re just goofing around and deactivates your resistance.
And when you take the pressure off by opting for garbage instead of perfection, you’ve just given your brain permission to play, to relax, to be flexible. This is the space in which creativity, productivity, and magic thrive. It’s where all the good ideas are born.
But first, you have to be willing to go there.
If the idea of writing garbage does not sit well with you, start by writing on-the-nose instead; this will get you out of your head and the big broad strokes on paper. Just never create from a filter of perfectionism; you will burn out fast.
Create some garbage and create it on purpose. And have fun doing it. Creativity loves a brain that is having fun.
The second tactic is for the perfectionism obstacle that tends to happen when we’re trying to decide if our work is done or if it’s good enough to put out into the world. People can get stuck in this critical loop for decades and never let any of their work see the light of day.
To be clear, you don’t want to ever send out mediocre or sloppy C work…but be okay with B work. B work is still high-quality, and having high standards for your work is good. You don’t have to produce A+ work or reach perfection before putting your work out there. That is impractical and likely impossible.
So, here’s a process you can use to make sure you don’t get stuck in this endless loop of “How will I know it’s good enough to put out into the world?”
You get to decide when it’s good enough. Come up with a checklist or personal criteria for when it’s good enough. This will eliminate you overthinking it. Trust yourself. Have your own back. You can refine the criteria on your next project if necessary.
Here’s an example of my personal checklist for my screenplays:
- Does it cover all the business decisions?
- Does the story deliver the meaning and message powerfully?
- Can I give myself a B on all my main passes (dialogue, scene description, subtext, pacing, etc.)?
- Have I gotten good feedback or coverage from two or three trusted sources?
- Have I had it proofread and the formatting checked?
- Am I sold on this project myself?
- Do I believe there are at least 100 people out there who would want this project?
When this list is checked off, it’s done, and time to get it out into the world where it belongs.
I hope you found this helpful, and I don’t want you to waste another minute of your life on perfectionism. It’s a lie that will keep you stuck exactly where you are.
Next week we’ll talk about the final DIY obstacle Not Enough Time.
Bye for now!
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In this five-part series, I’ve been talking about how we can overcome low motivation and that feeling of “stuckness” caused by obstacles that come up anywhere between starting and finishing a goal or project.
This week’s Tiny Talk is Part 3 of my 5-part series about what I call “DIY obstacles.”
Whenever we learn something new, it’s easy to take it on intellectually or plan out on paper how we are going to conquer something. When it comes to taking action to put that plan into motion, we start with lots of motivation, but then at a certain point, we lose steam, get stuck, and abandon or self-sabotage our efforts to complete something.
One of the biggest reasons is because of a fixed mindset.
The best way to describe a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset is to share this quote from Carol Dweck’s book called Mindset:
“A growth mindset is when you understand that your abilities can be developed. In the fixed mindset, everything is about the outcome. If you fail – or if you’re not the best – it’s all been wasted. The growth mindset allows people to value what they’re doing regardless of the outcome.”
When I first heard this idea of a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset, I automatically assumed I had a growth mindset because I liked to learn and consume. Boy, was I wrong! Listen to another quote from the same book:
“Sure, people with the fixed mindset have read the books that say: Success is about being your best self, not about being better than others; failure is an opportunity, not a condemnation; effort is the key to success. But they can’t put this into practice because their basic mindset – their belief in fixed traits – is telling them something entirely different: that success is about being more gifted than others, that failure does measure you, and that effort is for those who can’t make it on talent.”
When we are learning something new or creating something we’ve never made before, our minds go through four stages of growth. We can get stuck in any aspect of this cycle and lose motivation if we have a fixed mindset.
Imagine a line drawn vertically down the middle of a piece of paper, then another one horizontally through the middle of the paper, so you have a four-quadrant matrix. (You can also Google “growth matrix” or “competence matrix,” and there are plenty of visuals.)
The first stage of growth, which would be at the top left quadrant of the matrix, is called “unconscious incompetence.” This sounds a little demeaning, but it’s not. It basically means ignorance is bliss. It’s a great mindset for dreaming and living in possibility, and it’s personally one of my favorite mindsets to marinate in. It’s the stage of growth where we’re not aware of a skill we need, or that we lack proficiency in something to achieve whatever that thing is we want to do.
Think of the moment you decided you wanted to write a screenplay – easy peasy, right? It will be fun; I’ll just write it, sell it and maybe even cast it with my favorite actors, and that will be my legacy. It probably did not even cross your mind that you needed to learn a whole lot of skills aside from how to format a screenplay.
The second quadrant is in the top right-hand corner of the matrix and it’s called “conscious incompetence.” This is the stage where we are now aware of the skills we need but are still not any good at them. You might learn here that screenplays have a structure and pacing and turning points. You learn about subtext, creating meaningful action; you learn there are hundreds of writing skills and techniques. This one can be fun, especially if you enjoy learning. It can also be a place where you get stuck because it can be super uncomfortable to be a beginner at something, especially if you start to think that this is too hard or that you’re not cut out for this.
Then there is the third quadrant at the bottom right of the four stages of growth – “conscious competence.” This is where you know all the things, but they’re really hard to do at the level you need to do them. This is where many of us do a lot of comparing and despairing. It’s the part where you have to create the habits that allow you to practice and master your craft and to keep showing up to practice, practice, practice.
Remember that it’s not what you know that makes you good at something. You become good at what you practice. But many believe they have the know-how, they did the thing…how come they’re not as good as their peer, they were in the same class? Or making statements like, “It’s not perfect, what’s the use of writing another screenplay? It takes too long…maybe I just need to take another class.” That’s not the right solution to the problem.
Lastly, we have the fourth quadrant at the bottom left of the matrix which completes the growth cycle – “unconscious competence.” This is when a skill becomes automatic to you. It’s something you usually notice in retrospect. The skill seems so natural and easy to you that it kind of takes you by surprise when someone compliments you on it or asks how you do it.
Your mindset is going to make a huge difference in your ability to make it past the second and third phases of the growth cycle, which is often where those with a fixed mindset lose motivation and get stuck. They will start inserting thoughts like, “What’s the point? I’ll never be good enough; I just can’t write great dialogue.”
A growth mindset can weather the discomfort of learning a new skill and is willing to go through the additional discomfort of mastering those skills. They entertain thoughts like:
- “I can do hard things. I love being challenged.”
- “I am willing to be uncomfortable.”
- “I can always improve. Mistakes and feedback help me to learn and grow.”
A fixed mindset sounds permanent but it’s not; you can learn to have a growth mindset the same way you go through a growth cycle to learn any skill.
There are many ways you can cultivate a growth mindset. You can start by identifying some new thoughts or beliefs you would like to have around the thing that you feel stuck on or have lost motivation for.
If you can’t think of any new thoughts, or the ones you do think of just don’t resonate with you, ask yourself how you want to feel about your project or goal first, then ask what thoughts will help you feel that way. Sometimes it’s easier to access your feelings first.
Think of yourself as the person who has already overcome this obstacle or barrier you’re facing and journal about what you would be feeling, doing, and thinking; what habits would you probably have; and how would you be showing up differently than you are now.
Finally, choose three new growth mindset thoughts and practice them. To feed these new beliefs so they grow stronger, you need to create habits that will, over time, create the evidence that these new thoughts are true.
Think of a tiny doable habit you can practice that will support that new thought. Here’s a simple example:
Original thought: This is too hard.
New thought: I can do hard things.
Habit to support the new thought: Practice doing the hard thing for just five minutes every day.
Make the new habit so small that you will definitely do it.
I hope you’re enjoying this series on DIY obstacles and if you want to go deeper and get some coaching on any of them, I would love to help you. Book a free consult to find out how.
I’m going to end this podcast with one last quote from Carol Dweck’s book Mindset:
“The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.”
As a creative life coach, I can help you achieve project breakthroughs and offer ongoing support in getting your work to the finish line. Book a free consultation here and find out how we can work together to get your projects out into the world where they belong.
Do you have a LOT of ideas for projects and nothing completed to show for it?
Maybe you find yourself sitting down to work on your project but then become paralyzed, wondering what to work on?
Are you putting your energy into so many things that you’re not getting very far with any of them?
Are you constantly coming up with ideas or strategizing the many possibilities in which the idea can manifest?
One thing is for sure: The more you procrastinate about choosing where to focus, the more the stress builds, and the more indecisiveness becomes an obstacle to reaching your goals and realizing your dreams.
This is part two of a five-part series on “DIY obstacles,” which are obstacles we create on our own that get in the way of us completing our projects and moving toward our dreams and desires.
This tiny talk is about the DIY obstacle best known as indecision, typically created by decision fatigue and fear of the unknown.
Decision fatigue is caused by having to navigate an overwhelming number of decisions, and this eventually wears you down and results in poor quality decision-making. It may also cause you to avoid making decisions altogether, leading to low motivation and a feeling of being stuck.
You can do so many things to reduce decision fatigue and you will instantly notice how much more focus you have on the bigger, more important things going on for you.
Too many decisions add a level of stress that we don’t have to have in our lives.
The easiest way to deal with decision fatigue is to create simple rituals and practical constraints around everyday decisions. This way, they don’t drain your brain when you get a chance to work on important projects, and you can better focus on making high-quality decisions that will help you reach your goals and live the life you want to live.
Constraints might sound limiting and controlling but what is really happening is you are taking control of what the world is giving you. You define the constraints; the constraints don’t define you.
Here are some places to consider in your own life that might be conducive to creating constraints and rituals around so you can take back your mental energy, increase your motivation, and help you get unstuck.
Two huge areas of life that many of us flail through on autopilot and waste precious mental energy on are our decisions around what to eat and what to wear. You can put constraints around the decision-making process for both of these areas.
Choose a go-to work uniform or a color-coordinated wardrobe; maybe you only buy three colors? You can also buy all your clothing from one particular store or one brand. That would be extreme for some people but maybe not for others. There is something everyone can do to minimize decision fatigue in the closet. Figure out what that is for you and put it into place.
For meals, have the same one or two things for breakfast and lunch every day, and maybe ten or so nutritious go-to meals for dinner, and then just add in special touches. If you love to cook, you can save your creative cooking experiments for the weekend or days off. I love to cook, but not when I have to make a whole bunch of decisions and only have an hour to do so.
You can plan and prep your meals for the entire week so you’re not having to decide what and when to eat and cook.
If you can afford it, try a meal delivery service. I do this at the beginning of each month because that is when I try to get the heaviest lifting done in my business, and the more time and mental energy I can save, the better. Right now, I’m using a company called Sunbasket.
For social media, put constraints around the amount of time you spend on it. You could decide just to use one platform instead of being on all of them.
You can reduce decisions around finances by automating as many transactions as possible and using only one bank instead of three or four. Commit to only spending money on one day of the week.
Creating morning and evening rituals is a form of constraint that allows you to prioritize self-care and not have to try to figure out when and how you will take care of yourself. Planning what you’re going to work on the night before is also super helpful.
For me, a side benefit in doing this is that it reduces the amount of morning anxiety I have so I can focus that precious morning mental energy on meaningful tasks as that is when I perform at my best. I’m not freaking about what I should focus on, and I’m not worried about forgetting something because I already planned it out – I just need to show up and do it.
For projects, you’re working on deciding on the three main things you want to accomplish for the year, then the quarter, then the month, and weeks. In my opinion, there is no better way to get things done and stay focused.
Create theme days. Mondays could be research days; Tuesdays work on character. Wednesday is for marketing, and Thursday is learning day. Whatever appeals to you.
This same concept applies to an actual project that you’re working on, too. What can you eliminate or simplify to make room for what is most important about that project? What additional constraints can you impose to make the big idea of it even more powerful?
The action step here is to identify which parts of your personal, business, and creative areas of life are tripping you up in the decision fatigue arena. It’s these little everyday things that drain our mental energy and suck up our time.
Make a game out of making things more simple and elegant. To accomplish this, you want to think of what you can subtract from your life, not what you can add. Subtract the stuff that is preventing you from performing at your highest level. Where are you giving yourself way too many options? You can apply your unique constraints to these areas.
The other way indecision becomes an obstacle in our lives is when we avoid making decisions because of fear of the unknown or lack of certainty in the outcome. Usually, we are worried about failing, doing it wrong, or some other unknown consequence that might or might not happen if we try. Instead of deciding to take a new action or try something different, we end up making the same decision over and over again and are no further along than if we had not made any decision at all.
If you find yourself in this spot, ask why you need certainty before making a decision. If you don’t like your answer, get some coaching around the issue that comes up.
Let’s say I want to finish my screenplay in six months. Instead of making some high-quality decisions to make that inevitable, I tell myself I’ll play it by ear – which is another way of saying you’ll let the circumstances control the outcome. That is a decision but not a very high-quality one.
It comes back to what I said earlier about constraints; they sound limiting and controlling, but when you define the constraints, the constraints don’t define you.
Here are some ideas to navigate this obstacle of fear of the unknown when making a decision.
- Make decisions from where you want to be, not from where you currently are. The person you are now does not have a clue, or you would already be there. A good question to ask yourself would be, “If I knew what to do, what would my decision be?”
- Make decisions that are aligned with your goals. “Will this move me closer to where I want to be or further from where I want to be?”
- Look at opportunities through the lens of your core values. Do the options present align with and support those values?
- Trust your intuition. How does your body feel when faced with a big decision? Listen to it. Trust your gut; it will not lead you astray.
- Let your personal values guide your decisions. Let those core values help you decide.
- Give yourself a deadline (for big decisions, give yourself 7-10 days).
- Ask yourself what you would most regret NOT doing.
When you do make a decision, go all-in on it and keep going. Even if that decision ends up being the wrong one, you’ve learned something, you’ve grown more into the person who will reach that goal or dream, and you’ll be way more motivated and unstuck than someone who just decided to stay in indecision.
Here are some action steps you can take right now to minimize low-value decisions by reducing things down to the simplest form:
- Brainstorm any frustrations or annoyances you currently have in your life.
- Choose one of them to work on.
- Brainstorm some ideas or actions you can take and apply the concept of adding constraints.
I could talk about this stuff for days on end and love it! But because this is a tiny talk – I need to put some constraints on the content…. 🙂
Join me next week for Part 3 on the DIY obstacle, a fixed mindset.
A creativity coach helps you focus on the things that will make the biggest difference in moving your projects forward. Book a free consultation here and find out how we can work together to get your project out into the world where it belongs.
In this five-part series, I’m going to talk about how we can overcome low motivation and that feeling of “stuckness” caused by obstacles that come up anywhere between starting and finishing a goal or project.
We often surrender to obstacles because it’s much easier than managing our minds and our brains around them.
That’s because our brains naturally gravitate toward what is easy and comfortable. I know mine does, anyway!
In this tiny talk series, I’m going to talk about “DIY obstacles.”
Imagine your project is in a little building of its own and you have to get in your car every day to get to it and work on it. Maybe you don’t have to imagine that – maybe you literally do that.
A DIY obstacle would be something your brain concocts to keep you from getting to your project. If someone literally put up a concrete barricade, or you got a call from the school to pick up your sick kid, those would be “OPS obstacles” – other people’s stuff, or if you prefer a more colorful version of the word “stuff,” use that.
This series will cover five DIY obstacles that I think a lot of creative people can relate to:
- Distraction Actions
- Fixed Mindset
- Not Enough Time
My guess is that you may have heard a lot of what I’m going to share in the next five tiny talks. Instead of shutting down at that point, I want you to reframe that reaction into a valuable question.
How can I apply this in my life today?
For today, I’m going to cover the obstacle of “distraction actions” and give you some tips on how to get on the other side of them so you can move your projects forward and reach your goals.
So, what is distraction action?
Distraction action feels useful but it’s not. For the obvious reason, it’s distracting you from reaching your goals and working on the things that are going to really move things forward.
Distraction action is often impulsive. If you made plans to work on your project and then, at the last minute, decide you want to do the dishes, clean out the garage, or do anything but show up for what you said you were going to do, that’s a distraction action.
What’s really happening is that you’re avoiding discomfort, the possibility of failure, or wallowing in the indecision and ambiguity which we’ll talk about next week.
Here are some common distraction actions:
- Doing chores
- Social media
- Watching videos
- Researching rabbit holes
- Overdosing on educational content/websites, courses, books (my favorite distraction action)…and these often lead to indecision and even more distraction actions!
These are all just actions, and a lot of them are empowering, enjoyable, even necessary. But when we’re using them to avoid showing up for what we say is important to us, then they become disempowering, draining your motivation and keeping you stuck. We’ve chosen to do these things over our projects for the simple reason that our brains would rather choose the easy, comfortable thing.
The opposite of distraction action is focused, forward action, which is risky, often doesn’t have a payoff for weeks, months, or even years, and at times can be very uncomfortable. Of course, our brains would rather go research, eat food, or take another class.
It doesn’t mean anything bad about you, or that you’re broken; it just means your brain is making default decisions.
Here are some tips to deal with distraction actions:
Be solid on why this project or goal is so important to you. Make a list – pull it out every time you need a reminder or are just feeling stuck. Every morning, I write out my goals and why they are important to me.
There is so much information, so many requests, so many shiny objects coming at us every day, it’s too easy to forget what’s important to us and why, so I think it’s a valuable practice to connect every day with what is important to you before starting your day. It takes less than five minutes.
Plan when you’re going to work on your project ahead of time. This is just like anything else – you plan to go to work, watch your favorite show, be somewhere at a certain time, pick someone up at the airport. So, plan the time you will work on your project.
What if you plan and still get distracted? You can quiet your brain by scheduling that thing you were about to do – the distraction action – for afterward. Just tell your brain, “No problem, let’s complete this task because I said I would, and I’m learning to become the kind of person who shows up for what I say I’m going to do. When I get it done, then I can do the shopping, eating, playing, researching, whatever it is.” This way, you’re not feeling like you’re depriving yourself or giving up something you enjoy. It sounds silly but it works. I often do this because my default is being defiant and resistant when it comes to schedules.
Create a Plan B if you choose to do the distraction action. Reschedule your project time to replace your favorite show or on the weekend. Whatever it is, make it a painful option so you’re more likely to just get to it. The key to Plan B is there is no Plan C.
Decide ahead of time what your exceptions are so that if a friend calls and asks if you want to go for a drink or to a movie, you don’t cave in. Think about a job…what reasons would you just up and leave your job for the day? It would have to be an emergency in most cases. Treat your scheduled time for your project in the same way.
Always remember that it’s your choice. There’s no magic spell making you obey or a pill you can take to convince yourself to show up for what you say is important to you.
Be honest with yourself. If the reasons you want to show up for your project no longer ring true, and you really don’t want to complete this project, it’s time to let it go.
Life is too short for that kind of self-torment.
And the final one: be willing to be uncomfortable when you’re disrupting patterns that are engrained in your brain.
I hope you find these helpful and that you apply some or all of them the next time you find yourself choosing distraction actions over your projects, dreams, and goals.
I’m now offering a three-month Fast-Track Coaching Package that includes six bi-weekly 50-minute calls with unlimited feedback on your project. It’s perfect for those wanting to finish a project or get one started without a long term long-term commitment. Book a free consultation to see how we can work together and get your project out into the world where it belongs.
Relationships are the best form of value you can create, not just in your business but in your personal life.
Strong connections create success.
Every person you meet comes with a chance to exchange value, whether in the form of a friend, business contact, or colleague. An exchange of value can be as simple as a smile or a shared laugh, or it could be the opportunity of a lifetime.
We need to stop thinking of exchanging value with another human being as just a numerical transaction or a mafia-type “You owe me one” mentality.
Why not just add value to someone’s life because you can? You have nothing to lose by doing so, and just the act of adding value to another’s life adds value to your own life. It’s the best thing in the world.
When you’re building personal relationships and business connections, you don’t need a checkbook to exchange value with others. You just need a heart and a willingness to be vulnerable.
Here are five ideas to help you build fantastic relationships and strong connections.
Don’t think of a relationship as a one-and-done deal.
Make it your intention to create connections and relationships without an agenda and trust that the universe will take care of the rest. Relationships and the act of making connections are investments with infinite potential to bring returns, whether in a beautiful friendship, business relationship, or your personal life. That return may be immediate, not till tomorrow, or maybe it will come a year, five years, or a decade from now.
It’s not our business to know the how, when, or why of relationship returns. Think of it as a powerful mindset to stay connected to others without strings or expectations.
There’s a real temptation to start getting in your head when you’re marketing, networking, or dating, to want a transaction to happen right away or know if the relationship will somehow be of value to you.
Instead, be curious about how it would change your life and the life of others if you shared your work, passions, and joy with others, with no agenda except to connect and add value to their lives.
Just be you.
How do you act when you’re around people you feel comfortable with? This is the place you want to get to; let yourself be that way with everyone you meet.
Quit building fake personas. This is what sucks the energy out of us introverts. We often twist ourselves into someone we’re not to try to fit in, or be liked…and it’s exhausting.
Sometimes we think we need to overcompensate to be liked, or that we need to impress, or brag about our accomplishments, or one-up the other person.
You don’t have to prove anything. You just need to be you.
One of my favorite thoughts is, “I have nothing to prove and everything to give.” Use that thought the next time you feel socially awkward.
Be more interested than interesting.
People join networks to get people interested in them – “What can I get out of this?” is the common thought process.
That’s why they feel so yucky and useless to many of us. Everyone is there for themselves and has an agenda.
If you want to stand out, do the opposite. Be interested in what you can give, not what you can get. That’s the kind of energy that draws people to you.
You don’t even have to do anything – it’s great! You never need to be concerned about a social situation, wondering if the other person will ask about you, or worrying about when to bring up your screenplay or a project you want to share.
When you show someone you are genuinely interested in them, they will want to reciprocate and ask about you. And, it will be because you started the exchange by being interested rather than trying so hard to be interesting.
Never be concerned about your turn to speak.
Listen intently. When you’re not listening, you are thinking about how you look, how you can talk about your screenplay, or figuring out how to respond.
Practice the “Camera Technique.”
I learned this technique from one of my life coaches. It’s helped me immensely at social events to get out of my head.
Imagine you have a camera in your brain, and it’s pointed inward at all the crazy insecure thoughts. Then, flip the “camera” outward and instead, focus on what is happening around you – focus on the person you’re talking to, what they’re saying, and on the present moment.
Another technique you could use is to pretend you have a warm radiant light on your head, one that shines outward like a spotlight into the room and onto others. When you engage with an individual, let that warm light focus on just that person as if they were the only person in the room. Not in a weird creepy way, of course!
We opened with adding value to the lives of others. If you can connect like this with someone, you are going to add so much value to their lives. To truly listen to someone and forget about yourself is the greatest gift you can give, I think, which perfectly sets us up for number five.
Trade Judgment for Curiosity
Listen to others without judgment. This one can be challenging, but just try to notice when you might be judging what someone is saying and trade those thoughts for curiosity. Listen to what they’re saying with the intent of understanding.
It doesn’t mean you have to pretend you agree with them when you don’t. It doesn’t mean you have to do what they want you to do. It simply means listening just to understand them.
When it’s your turn, they are much more likely to be receptive to your point of view.
If you notice that your efforts at first seem disingenuous, and you find your mind gets triggered and sneaks off to form a judgment and retaliation, go easy on yourself. This one does take some practice.
A creativity coach is your very own human sounding board, with no agenda but to see you succeed. Book a free consult here and find out how we can work together and get your projects out into the world where they belong.