Tag: Shonda Rhimes

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?

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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.

Storytelling. Hope. Companionship.

Storytelling. Hope. Companionship.

Well, hello. My name is Jake. I like to call myself a storyteller. In other words, I’m a kindergarten teacher who sings, writes television on his laptop, tells jokes at parties, and learns choreography by pop groups like Fifth Harmony. Oh, and apparently now I am a blogger. This blog is about the power of live, scripted television. The concept that a single human can sit down and concoct a fictional realm that millions emotionally invest in. Not only do they invest, but they do so in the moment, at the scheduled time, with wine or whiskey and friends. One day, one day, my story will join the ranks of Michael Crichton (ER), Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal) , Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing) and so many more. Because live television celebrates how a story can create a family – a family of humans that want to know they are not alone.

“The age of Netflix. I’d rather binge.” Hmm, more power to you. But it is my goal to find those that prefer to see it FIRST, to see it LIVE, and to pour more red wine on the second commercial. Sometimes, let’s face it, you refill EVERY commercial. Live, scripted television is necessary. We are family of humans celebrating fictional human that supposedly portray our own problems. It is the thrill of watching them fail, succeed, and fail again that keeps us coming back. The HOPE we feel when a character overcomes something seemingly impossible. The ADRENALINE we feel when a near-disastrous situation keeps our hearts racing so we wait through the commercial with anxiety. We are in this together, right?

So, I want to open the door. The door that celebrates, critiques, and debates the power of a pilot. Of a midseason finale. Of a premiere. Or a miniseries. Who’s with me?