Author: Jake D

Someday? How about NOW.

Someday? How about NOW.

“Don’t you worry, your time will come.” “Oh, it just hasn’t happened for you yet.” “It’ll happen when you least expect it, you’ll see.” There are many variations of this phrase that we all know too well. So, whether we are in our 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, or 60s, how do we deal with goals, states of being, or desires that seem so out of our control?

While I don’t have all of the answers, what I’ve discovered is this: we must commit to the quest of happiness in our current state of being. Too often we get caught up in constant and tiresome efforts to find eventual happiness. Someday this, one day that. I recently chatted with my dearest and closet friend about the “single life” dilemma. “You’ll find your person someday.” “Once you stop looking, they’ll be right in front of you.” While I don’t entirely disagree with those theories, we cannot always be living in a state of “somedays.” This. THIS is the challenge. A struggle that I, too, face. While we work toward our dreams, what are we doing to find joy right NOW? How are we being present with our current selves?

Here is what it comes down to: Awareness and presence.  There is only one way to stop the worry, to stop the uneasiness, to stop the pain. The reality is that we really do not have a clue what will happen. You might not find your person for a very long time. Or, you may grow and change and find out you’d rather travel and see the world. OR, you might find someone in three years who opens doors to things that were once unimaginable. Bottom line? Forget all of that. Make small decisions right NOW that bring you joy. The rest will come when it is ready. I just finished watching 30 minutes worth of live videos of Mariah Carey on You Tube. Does this correlate directly to my dream career? Not at all. However, it makes me smile. It brings me joy, and it is a choice that I make for myself. So for now? Book a vacation. Write a short film. Watch your favorite movie. Try a new activity, join a new group that meets Mondays at 7:30. Go on a date, take a day off, buy a new piece of artwork. Light a candle. After all, these things are in our control. And in turn, we’ve chosen joy when we commit to these things.

As you approach this holiday season, try eliminating your state of worry. Don’t be happy “eventually.” Choose positivity, and more importantly, SPREAD IT. Talk to your cousin that you’ve lost touch with, inspire your nephew. Show your grandmother pictures from your year. Go to a work Christmas party. Tell someone a joke. Read a silly magazine. Share your passion, and as Shania Twain would say lately, live right NOW. Give a hungry person 5 dollars, binge-watch your favorite show, or try a new recipe. These decisions make us smile. So….what will you commit to?

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Revealing a Character: The Decisions

Revealing a Character: The Decisions

Memorable, ground-breaking characters. Hmm, let’s think. Harry Potter, Matilda, Olivia Benson, Meredith Grey, Jack Sparrow, Olivia Pope, Forest Gump….we could go on for hours. Books, Television, Films. Now, before you go off on me for not mentioning an A-list fictional character, I’ll share some thoughts I’ve been contemplating as I wrap up my weekend writing marathon.

I feel as though it is a pretty well-shared opinion that a deep, multi-dimensional character has a WANT. A desire, a goal, a challenging task.  A battle, an obstacle, or an enemy is usually what comes next. We as writers establish these fictional realms with these two things in mind: The WANT and the OBSTACLE. But, I then ask, what about the decisions?

I speak mostly for the TV pilot writers out there. I, for one, am new at the craft. Learning more about it every day. As I create my characters, I can without a doubt talk for hours about their goals, their hopes, and what is getting in the way. But then, I realize…I need an Act Two, Three, and Four. This is where the decisions happen. No matter if it is in a pilot, a book, or season 6 of a successful cable series, it is the DECISION that enhances our character. The decision that leads them either closer or farther away from their ultimate goal. How our character acts under pressure, in a bar with friends, at a fork in the road. You see, within the obstacle there are many little ones. We face them every day in real life. But how we decide to deal with these obstacles – the CHOICES we make – the ACTIONS we take – THAT is when our character shines through. It’s not only about what our character wants, but it is also about how he or she decides to act in pursuit of such a want. 

As I do in many of my posts, I’ll bridge how I approach writing with how I approach life. My new chapter as a screenwriter has an obvious obstacle: The gates of Hollywood. The doors of a writers’ room. The calendar invite of a network executive. The overflowing inbox of a showrunner. THESE are my obstacles. But again, how will I decide to face them? What decisions will I make in order to get me closer to my goal? This is where my strength, my determination, and my fast-typing fingers will make themselves known.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m going to continue to pretend that I’m qualified to comment on the techniques of screenwriting. I’ll continue to assume greatness and brilliance at the start of each day. And, most importantly, I’ll act like I belong here typing these thoughts. Because again, what is the alternative? To remain silent?

 

When we stop hoping, a weight lifts.

When we stop hoping, a weight lifts.

I know what you’re thinking….what kind of blog post title is THAT? Stop hoping? If you’ve not already clicked the back button, then hear me out: It’s time we stop hoping for things to happen and start declaring them to be inevitably true. Allow me to elaborate.

For the past two years, I have hoped and dreamed of living in Los Angeles as a working screenwriter, composing and scripting stories that change lives as much as they have mine. I would get home just in time to check Twitter, following every television writer I could find. Liking, retweeting, messaging, and wishing. I always had the same thought: I hope I can write a story like him or her one day…live in LA, get my badge, park in the garage, walk on set, and arrive at my job. Walk into the writers room, holding a coffee, and get out the whiteboard marker. I kept hoping, dreaming, wishing….but was I actually DOING? Was I getting closer to this goal, or was I “too busy”?

Now, as I sit here typing “Fade Out” on my second original TV pilot, there is still a lot of hoping happening over here. But it is a different kind of hope. I look back to July. Step 1: Bite the bullet, move to LA. Step 2: Work tirelessly, because what was the alternative? Step 3: Stop hoping, and start believing it to be true. The advice I’ll never forget came last month from my current boss, an extraordinary producer and woman who made her own opportunities and works endlessly to fulfill her goals: “Jake, you need to stop hoping. Don’t wish that one day you will be one of them. Starting imagining yourself in a writer’s room. Do it. Just imagine that you will be there. It’s absolutely possible.”

So, I leave you with this: The minute we get off Twitter, the minute we stop wanting to emulate ones we deem “successful,” the minute we will assume success for ourselves. In this minute, we become solely our own person. Does that mean we can’t have idols? Not at all. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes from cover to cover, and she’s the reason I started writing. But when we challenge everything we think we know to be possible, we get excited for that alarm clock in the morning. We stop sitting at a coffee shop checking our likes on Instagram. We realize that, instead, chatting with someone in line might bring about an opportunity next month when they remember your smile. A weight lifts when your hopes become realities that you have assumed, realities you’re determined to make happen. But once you’ve assumed this truth, there’s no turning back. You commit, you sweat, you cry, you smile, you laugh, and you pretend that you were meant to be in every hallway you walk down.

As I start an ambitious spec script for Grey’s Anatomy, I don’t “hope” that one day it leaves my computer. I make certain it does. I assume it will. I step into the next day, having no clue what it will bring, but expecting it to be genius. Because at the end of the day, what is the alternative?