Tag: inspiration

Discomfort, and eventually… Growth.

Discomfort, and eventually… Growth.

“Our biggest growth stems from when we are uncomfortable.” Not my words, actually, but I heard them last night while at a nice gathering of various young artists in the entertainment industry. My friend and production manager said these words to me when I told her that I resigned from my job and moved to Los Angeles with a computer and a dream. I feel like that is a saying, isn’t it? A suitcase and a dream…a kid and a dream…something like that. Well, that happened. And now, I sit in a California coffee shop and work on my script. Luckily, I am not alone.

As of today, my writing has begun to serve a new purpose: comfortable discomfort. I know, ridiculous. Allow me to explain. I’m sure we have all received advice at some point to be “risk takers” and “bold believers.” It can become hard to explain to even myself sometimes. A decision to leave all loved ones and all familiarity for something so uncertain. So that is when we have to ask – what is the alternative? The alternative is to remain comfortable. A nice salary, a nice group of friends, a full refrigerator, and probably a paid vacation or two. Writing, however, has become my comfortable discomfort. The thing that I do that is risky, unpredictable, and at times, inexplicable to many. So although I chose the discomfort, it comforts me to know I’m giving it a try.

So in my wordy reflection on this sunny Saturday — what is your comfortable discomfort? What is something that you NEED in your life that also brings out your messy, unscheduled, unraveled side? All of the craziness, all of the uncertainty…it is how we grow. It doesn’t have to be moving across the country or giving up something drastic, but it does have to be something that allows us to fail. We can’t appreciate success without feeling like a disaster at some point on the journey.

So, take a leap. Be fearful, but do it anyway. Be uncomfortable, so that you can find comfort with yourself. All it takes is the decision to start.

A Writer’s Secret Ingredient? Quality Time.

A Writer’s Secret Ingredient? Quality Time.

Isolation. It is what many might assume a writer needs. Time, a quiet space, focused attitude, no distractions, etc. Sure, those things are necessary when we are ready to write something down. But do we rely solely on our imagination and our keyboard keys? I would say not.

It has been said that “write what you know” is some of the worst advice to give to a novice screenwriter like myself. I completely understand this argument, to an extent. A writer must have imagination to create a fictional realm that will intrigue and inspire an audience. But here’s the thing: From where do we draw imaginative ideas? Are these truly from scratch? Not quite.

Our imagination is rooted in personal experience. Shonda Rhimes, a writer I look up to a great deal, spent time in hospital rooms and was fascinated by the atmosphere and dynamics. Thus, she imagined her own hospital. 12.5 years later, Season 14 will premiere on ABC. The same can be said for all of my fellow writers. Our imagination is an extension of what we learn when we spend quality time. Quality time absorbing the imperfections of humanity. I was celebrating the 4th of July earlier this week with a group of family and friends. So many conversations, emotions, stories, experiences, challenges, and triumphs were shared. It was a simple set up, but such rich conversation. This quality time is what inspires us to write.

Quality time is what inspires us to tell stories that connect with an audience. To remain isolated is to remain inexperienced in the struggle that is every day relationships with strangers and loved ones. We must value the lessons we learn from quality time and use them to impact an audience. After all, everyone’s got a story.

Tears of Clarity…and pursuit.

Tears of Clarity…and pursuit.

When the topic of “good” writing for television comes up, I always ask one question: Would you rather watch motivated characters triumph over tragedy, or would you rather witness someone solve a crime or a case? Maybe you enjoy both. Maybe they aren’t mutually exclusive. There really is no correct answer, but in all honesty, all primetime television can be categorized under those two umbrellas. So, why do YOU become invested in a show?

Let’s talk This Is Us for a moment. Hands down the largest hit of the previous primetime season by a significant margin. Why? Well, many would say this: “It’s a show about normal people solving problems.” Sure, you could say that. But actually, I would argue the opposite. It is not simple at all. Dan Fogelman found a refreshing, impactful way to portray how our past experiences influence our ability to walk through life as imperfect humans. No one is simple, and no one is normal. Obesity, insecurity, infidelity, dishonesty, and love – these are elements of struggle that the show tackles. Sure, it’s all fiction. But well-rounded characters that are motivated to make their lives better? That, my friends, is non-fiction. That is clarity. Clarity that we are not alone in this pursuit of happiness. 

Lastly, we close with an iconic, critically acclaimed drama that lived 6 years at NBC: Parenthood. No “viewer discretion advised” warning needed. No cliffhangers. No shocking murders. Briefly, let’s name a few storylines: teen pregnancy, Autism, financial troubles, infidelity, family feuding, parenting, and forgiveness. Oh, and when season 4 comes around, we can add breast cancer, career changes, and divorce once you reach Season 5. Many people who might pick crime dramas or case dramas would ask me: “why would you put yourself through Parenthood? Too sad. Why would you want to cry watching TV?” My answer to them was simple: They are tears of clarity. Tears of motivation and empathy. Every single one of us can identify and empathize with one of the themes listed above, and THAT is why we watch. More imperfect examples of people powering through tragedy that might just make you approach yours a little differently.

So, all in all, isn’t that what every writer wants? A story that reminds a reader or audience member that he or she is not alone. A story that provides clarity for someone who needs a friend. A leading character who often mirrors the mistakes we make on our own journey. As Bob Dylan tells us in Parenthood’s theme, “may you always be courageous, stand upright, and be strong.” Yes, Bob, we will do our best.