Creativity Boosts: Adjusting Your Focus

We’re not sure what the pic has to do with the article, but – we kid you not – this is about writing:

Conquer Big Creative Projects Using Past, Present, and Future Focus
by Elizabeth Grace Saunders

In the past 25 days, I have written five chapters for my first book, which currently stands at 35,554 words of text. This writing has happened around also taking three out-of-town trips, working with clients, writing my newsletter, completing guest posts, giving virtual training courses, keeping in touch with family and friends, and still sleeping an average of 6.5 hours a night…

At first, I feared that I might lose my typically peaceful approach to work because of the enormity of the project and the tight publisher’s deadline. But by using the techniques described below, I’ve found it possible to manage a huge increase in my workload without becoming frantic…

Past Focus: When to Look Back

Big Picture: Looking backward plays a critical role in making your overall project plan. Before you begin, take some time to review any similar creative work. For example, if you were an illustrator taking on a new commission to illustrate a brochure, you might think back to a previous project in which you had to generate a similar volume of work. Then, based on the hard numbers from this past experience, you can estimate about how long you think it will take you to complete your current project and block out the time accordingly.

Day-to-Day: Once you have your overall plan in place, assess your actual versus estimated progress on a daily or weekly basis and adjust the plan accordingly. For instance, you could make a goal of finishing 1 of 10 illustrations this week and set aside 8 hours to do so based on your previous experience. If you get to the end of the week and haven’t gotten the work done even though you put in 8 hours, you can decide how to allocate your hours the following week to finish the first drawing and keep on schedule for the other 9.

Present Focus: When to Get Lost in the Work

Big Picture: If you need to fit a huge project into a short timeframe…you have to…invest [your time] in your current top priorities. That usually means saying, “No,” to anything other than must-do activities. I know this can be challenging so I’m using myself as an example to show it is possible: Although I have kept on top of all the essential items to keep my business running, I said, “No,” to an offer of a monthly retainer to write for someone else’s newsletter and, “No,” to putting on a time management training that fell too close to my book deadline. My present focus helped me to avoid taking on anything that would divert my energy from what’s truly most important now.

Day-to-Day: While it’s important to…set boundaries around outside distractions, you must also ensure that your focus doesn’t stray from your present work… If you’re a graphic designer with a client website to finish, you’ll need to choose not to make that optional update to your personal web portfolio right now, instead putting a reminder in your calendar to do it after your current deadline…

Future Focus: When to Build a Bridge

Big Picture: Having a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow plays an absolutely essential role in keeping you motivated when you’re having a really tough day, For me, one future-focus energy giver involves remembering my higher goal for the book, which is to empower more people to take back control of how they invest their time. Also, I’ve planned a REAL vacation, i.e. not working AT ALL, for the week after I turn in my manuscript. This highly satisfying and rejuvenating payoff immediately following my deadline provides an extra boost and gives me the psychological freedom to honestly tell my brain that there is a clear end in sight.

Day-to-Day: On a micro-level, you can use future focus when you notice that you’re hesitating to…move on to the next portion of your work. If finishing seems like closing off options…start to build the bridge before you’ve arrived at the precipice. Let’s say you’ve just finished producing a conference, but there are a lot of loose ends to tie up. On a practical level, “building a bridge” might mean giving yourself permission to start to brainstorm potential speakers for the next conference before you’ve wrapped up all of the mundane details for this year’s event. After doing this simple exercise, you usually have a greater capability to circle back and finish up your present work and flow effortlessly onto the next step.

Read it all

For some reason, we found this difficult to read, but when we pressed on, keeping our past, present, and future in mind, we found it easy to understand. To some of us here at TVWriter™ the article simply puts into words something we’ve done instinctively for, well, forever. But to others of us it was a very worthwhile revelation.

Joss Whedon’s Guide to Avenging Screenwriting

Yeah, the title’s a stretch, but…you know.

Joss Whedon’s Top 10 Writing Tips
by Catherine Bray

Joss Whedon is most famous for creating Buffy the Vampire Slayer, its spin-off Angel and the short-lived but much-loved Firefly series. But the writer and director has also worked unseen as a script doctor on movies ranging from Speed to Toy Story. Here, he shares his tips on the art of screenwriting.

1. FINISH IT
Actually finishing it is what I’m gonna put in as step one. You may laugh at this, but it’s true. I have so many friends who have written two-thirds of a screenplay, and then re-written it for about three years. Finishing a screenplay is first of all truly difficult, and secondly really liberating. Even if it’s not perfect, even if you know you’re gonna have to go back into it, type to the end. You have to have a little closure.

2. STRUCTURE
Structure means knowing where you’re going; making sure you don’t meander about. Some great films have been made by meandering people, like Terrence Malick and Robert Altman, but it’s not as well done today and I don’t recommend it. I’m a structure nut. I actually make charts. Where are the jokes? The thrills? The romance? Who knows what, and when? You need these things to happen at the right times, and that’s what you build your structure around: the way you want your audience to feel. Charts, graphs, coloured pens, anything that means you don’t go in blind is useful.

3. HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY
This really should be number one. Even if you’re writing a Die Hard rip-off, have something to say about Die Hard rip-offs. The number of movies that are not about what they purport to be about is staggering. It’s rare, especially in genres, to find a movie with an idea and not just, ‘This’ll lead to many fine set-pieces’. The Island evolves into a car-chase movie, and the moments of joy are when they have clone moments and you say, ‘What does it feel like to be those guys?’

4. EVERYBODY HAS A REASON TO LIVE
Everybody has a perspective. Everybody in your scene, including the thug flanking your bad guy, has a reason. They have their own voice, their own identity, their own history. If anyone speaks in such a way that they’re just setting up the next person’s lines, then you don’t get dialogue: you get soundbites. Not everybody has to be funny; not everybody has to be cute; not everybody has to be delightful, and not everybody has to speak, but if you don’t know who everybody is and why they’re there, why they’re feeling what they’re feeling and why they’re doing what they’re doing, then you’re in trouble.

Read it all

This was first published in 2009, and we found it by a lucky accident while web-surfing the other day. And, no, we’re not about to get snarky with or about anything the Jossman has to say. Because there’s absolutely nothing to get snarky about.

The Book No Writer Should Ever Need…

…Because we’re all so clever already. But just in case:

Not our book but useful nevertheless…especially in showbiz

Insults & Comebacks For All Occasions

Need insults and comebacks? The Lines for All Occasions book Insults & Comebacks is the right choice. Arm yourself with barbs targeting everything from looks to age to intelligence, and you’ll always be ready with an appropriate – or completely inappropriate – comeback.

  • Pocket book with one-liners on a variety of topics
  • Over 500 insults and comebacks
  • Hardcover
  • Size: 3-1/2″ x 5-3/4″ (8.9 cm x 14.6 cm); 112 pages

Order here (not affiliated with TVWriter™)

Let’s face it, writers. Every one of us should at the very least have the potential to write this kind of book. Because all you have to do is go to lunch once in H’wood and you discover – usually the hard way – that this is how everyone you need to hang out with talks…when they’re being nice…

Learn How to Write by Watching Good Stuff

Amazon Prime wants everyone to know that it’s now streaming FRINGE and THE WEST WING. (And nobody else is, nah, nah.)

These are two of the best written shows ever on TV, yet written entirely differently. Inspiring this advice to new television writers:

  • Watch
  • Listen
  • Get hold of some scripts for the shows and compare so you can see what parts of the actual writing worked and what parts didn’t…and make sure you understand why

This Week’s Best Pitching Advice

Proving, in case you doubted it for second, that showbiz is everywhere:

Pitch Any Idea in 15 Seconds
by Thorin Klosowski

Ever needed to quickly convince a friend to go to your favorite restaurant instead of theirs? Or maybe you’re trying to sell an idea to someone? A well crafted pitch can convince people in a short amount of time, and Forbes outlines exactly how to do it with a message map.

Forbes concentrates on using a quick pitch to sell products, but it’s just as applicable to selling an idea. They suggest using a message map to craft the pitch and breaking it down into three steps:

  1. Create a Twitter-friendly headline: Basically, create a short, one sentence pitch of your idea. For example, “Sloppy Joe’s BBQ Shack sells wings, beer, and Oreo-based desserts.”
  2. Support the headline with three key benefits: These are the three reasons why the person should care about your idea. To continue our example above, “The shack has a cheap happy hour, they were voted the best wings by Your Favorite Magazine, and they have clean bathrooms.”
  3. Reinforce the three benefits with stories, statistics, and examples: The above two steps should get you through most simple pitches, but if you need to extend it slightly, you can reinforce the idea with some personal notes. This probably takes you past 15 seconds, so keep it short and to the point.

Read it all

And don’t forget to watch this: