How to Regain Your Concentration in Our Distracted & Distracting World

Concentrate on this!

Yeah, being blunt is our thing. Sorry. Anyway:

It is difficult to imagine life before our personal and professional worlds were so dominated and “switched on” via smartphones and the other devices that make us accessible and, crucially, so easily distractible and interruptible every second of the day. This constant fragmentation of our time and concentration has become the new normal, to which we have adapted with ease, but there is a downside: more and more experts are telling us that these interruptions and distractions have eroded our ability to concentrate.

We have known for a long time that repeated interruptions affect concentration. In 2005, research carried out by Dr Glenn Wilson at London’s Institute of Psychiatry found that persistent interruptions and distractions at work had a profound effect. Those distracted by emails and phone calls saw a 10-point fall in their IQ, twice that found in studies on the impact of smoking marijuana. More than half of the 1,100 participants said they always responded to an email immediately or as soon as possible, while 21% admitted they would interrupt a meeting to do so. Constant interruptions can have the same effect as the loss of a night’s sleep.

Nicholas Carr picked up on this again in an article in the Atlantic in 2008, before going on to publish his book The Shallows two years later. “Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy,” he wrote. “My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case any more. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.”

The impact of interruptions on individual productivity can also be catastrophic. In 2002, it was reported that, on average, we experience an interruption every eight minutes or about seven or eight per hour. In an eight-hour day, that is about 60 interruptions. The average interruption takes about five minutes, so that is about five hours out of eight. And if it takes around 15 minutes to resume the interrupted activity at a good level of concentration, this means that we are never concentrating very well….

Read it all at THEGUARDIAN.COM

How to Network & Collaborate (Successfully!) Online

by Bri Castellini

How to find your community

Sign up for industry newsletters and email lists

For filmmaking in particular, it’s not hard to find newsletters that are relevant to you. Newsletters are a great way to figure out where your peers are hanging out on a regular basis, get updates on upcoming events (online and off), and who in your industry you should be paying attention to. And might I just drop in to say that if you sign up for the Stareable newsletter 1 you’ll also receive a 32 page eBook on marketing? Something to think about.

Listen to podcasts

You’ll find out about new and interesting people, projects, and organizations, and most podcasts make it easy to find their hosts and guests online. You may not get to connect with them directly, but you may notice certain people they interact with/certain organizations they retweet when there’s a job posting or an event. And might I drop in again to suggest the podcast Forget The Box 1, with 22 episodes and 32 guests, is a good one to start with?

Identify the community’s preferred social media/platform

Just like when you’re trying to find an audience for your work, trying to find a community of peers requires you to do some social media digging. I’ve found that Twitter is the writer and filmmaker haven, whereas Instagram is the actor and cinematographer haven and Tumblr [was] an artist’s. Facebook is still king for a lot of hiring in a lot of industries, because it’s had a head start, and you’ll likely find at least 5 groups that explicitly accept people of your particular demographic and artistic interest. Plus, I hear this community called Stareable has a great forum with hundreds of filmmakers from all over the world who gather to help each other out, share resources, and more!

See if there are special events to jump in on

I joined the web series community (and as a result met great friends, worked on great projects, and got a job at Stareable) largely because of the weekly Twitter event #webserieschat, hosted by my [now] pal @snobbyrobot. Every week, he picks a topic relevant to web series creators and moderates an online discussion in the hashtag, and it’s great. I learned so much from listening to other creators talk, and met so many wonderful people as a result of our conversations, but it only happened because I identified a community I wanted to join, what their chosen platform was, and then actually got involved. If you know of other special events (like Stareable’s own Shameless Self Promo Fridays, where you can share a shameless ask for followers and views), let me know in the comments!

Long-distance collaboration ideas

We’ve actually written an article before on long-distance producing, but today I wanted to focus specifically on the minor, medium, and major ways you can creatively support new friends and peers from afar, either to test the waters as collaborators or to make more concrete online connections.


If you’ve just met your new online friend, or the available time-commitment is small, here are a few minor ways you can help (or be helped) from afar:


If you’re ready to take it to the next level, or one of you has a bit more time:


If this is the real deal, and you want to legitimately collaborate from afar:

  • Co-write a project and decide on one of your teams to film it
  • Co-write a project and use your unique locations to trade off episodes (a la The Uncanny Upshurs1)
  • Have one person write and one person execute, depending on skillsets
  • Collaborate on an extended universe project for one of your existing shows/projects

There are tons of other ways you can get involved with projects outside of immediate transit distance, but my point here is this: don’t let your location keep you down. You legitimately can start your filmmaking career from anywhere in the world, and can work and collaborate with talented people no matter where either of you is based. Is it easier to build a network of collaborators and peers and work opportunities if you’re in a hub like LA? Yes, obviously. But is it absolutely necessary? Not at all. Don’t be discouraged- put yourself out there.

Bri Castellini is an indie filmmaker and Community Director at Stareable, our favorite web series hub. Watch the remarkable Ms. Castellini’s award-winning web series, Brains, HERE. See Sam And Pat Are Depressed HERE. This post first appeared on Stareable’s most worthwhile Community Forum.

How To Stop Being An Unhappy Writer

Are you an unhappy writer? Do you accept the situation because you believe it’s simply the price you have to pay for being as creative as you are? Well, guess what, kiddo? It isn’t!

Let Lucy V Hay explain:

by Lucy V Hay

Unhappy writers seem to be everywhere on social media. I’m not talking about recently rejected writers who need a little reassurance and moral support, either. (That is a good idea by the way – join Bang2writers and post away).

No, unhappy writers are those who have lost sight of the REASONS they wanted to be writers in the first place. Reading their threads and comments on social media, they will express frustration and anger. They will wonder why they can’t catch a break … Rage about how ‘lesser’ writers get a break … How ‘bad’ various franchises, reboots, TV shows and movies are …

But guess what?? NONE of this makes an unhappy writer feel better! Here’s 5 things that CAN:

1) Recognise it’s not about ‘breaking in’

Writers get unhappy because they think they are on the ‘outside’ of something. But they’re not. There is no ‘industry’: just people grouping together, collaborating, making stuff. There’s no magic destination where everything is great and every project is greenlit. There is no golden ticket. MORE: 43 Famous Writers share Their Secrets On How To Be Happy 

2) Don’t seek permission …

Unhappy writers don’t realise they can do whatever they want. Want to make a short film? Start a blog? Publish a book? You CAN do all of these things – and more. Why NOT you? Look into crowd funding. Find out about platforms. Discover how self publishing works. There’s so much info out there on how to do this, much of it free. All you have to do is set a goal and work out how to get it done. Honestly! No, it won’t be easy. Yes, you will have to make sacrifices. But ultimately, just recognise it’s about taking into your OWN hands. Don’t wait to be picked, pick yourself.

3) … Or validation!

Writers look to outsiders to get their validation. They will measure their success by stuff they have literally no control over….

Read it all at BANG2WRITE.COM

JK Rowling on “The Fringe Benefits of Failure”

“You know it don’t come easy.”

Ringo Star

And that, friends, is the whole point:

JK Rowling speaks at Harvard, circa 2011 but still the Truth, yeah?

How To Become A Substance Addicted Hollywood Writer

Don’t let your mothers read this one, newbies. But definitely read David Silverman’s wise words yourselves – and remember, knowledge – even if it’s scary as hell – ultimately will give you power:

For those who don’t recognize him, here’s Edgar Allan Poe

by David Silverman, MA, LMFT

It’s relatively easy. First you get a job as a screenwriter or TV writer. You get to deal with deadlines, rejection, and a roller-coaster of ups and downs in your career. You might encounter heartache, or agonize over where your next job is coming from.  You could be the flavor of the month one day and forgotten the next.

On the other hand, you might just become successful, buy a house in the Hollywood Hills, drive a Lamborghini, and chase after beautiful starlets. You might have wild parties where your friends and acquaintances share drugs, or get hammered and carry on long into the night.

Whether you bottom out or become wealthy, you’ll find there’s a rich tradition around writing in an altered state and partying with other writers.

There was a long tradition of writers drinking in Hollywood. Everyone likes tradition.

Back in the day, the infamous hard-boiled detective novelist, Raymond Chandler could be seen drinking at the Formosa. Chandler went on to write the Oscar nominated The Blue Dalia and got stuck at some point. He’s said to have gone on an eight-day bender, which helped him break through the slump.

In the 1930’s Herman Mankiewiz had the reputation as a reckless drunkard who picked fights with actors and studio executives alike. Mankiewiz would one day write such classics as Duck Soup, The Wizard of Oz, and – he even won the Oscar for Citizen Kane.

Robert Benchley, George S. Kaufman and Robert Sherman were all known to “drink their lunch” at the Algonquin Hotel, and are now known for writing classic screenplays and Pulitzer Prize winning plays.

Once you’re a writer, you’ll be surrounded by intoxicants at parties, and even at work.

I remember an Executive Producer of a certain TV show I worked on, who smoked “a pipe,” during our rewrites. One day, he dropped his “pipe tobacco” on the floor and it was clearly pot.

He finally admitted he was smoking pot all year at the rewrites. Being the boss, nobody was going to do anything about it. Interestingly, he told us that the “hide the pot in the tobacco pouch” trick was something he learned from Rodney Dangerfield. When you realize your boss is getting baked, why not join him?

When you find out how little respect you get as a writer in Hollywood, you might easily find yourself “self-medicating.”

In Hollywood, the writer is at the bottom of the totem pole. Actors are important, directors are important, they both have power to change the story, and rewrite the lines. The actor brings people into the theater. Not the writer. The director can have the last word on a film. Not the writer. Writers are not famous. They are, however, quite expendable.

After all, anybody can write. Who remembers who wrote “Casablanca?,” or “Gone With the Wind?,” or “Silence of the Lambs?,” Everyone remembers the stars, Bogart, Bergman, Clark Gable, Vivian Leigh, Jody Foster and Anthony Hopkins.

Once you decide you can make a living by writing for TV or film, the roller-coaster ride begins. You’ll live with insane deadlines, paralyzing creative blocks, out of control bosses, anxiety, resentfulness and sometimes even depression. You’ll have to constantly try to reinvent yourself, stay “twenty-one” forever, prove you’re still “hot,” otherwise, it’s “what have you done lately?”

Read it all at PsychCentral.Com