Tonight, I beat you, Resistance.

…you minx, you.GoTS4trailerDanyDragon

Even though I pride myself on my productivity, I’ll be the first to admit that it can be hard to convince yourself to make time to write. I talk a lot about “Resistance.” It’s a very real energy that fights very hard against you being creative. Even though it’s a great tool to recognize what you’re scared of (and often, therefore, what you should attack head-on), what I often fail to talk about is just how difficult a struggle it can put up.

I am usually good about making time to be creative. I am not often good about taking advantage of it. There are various external and internal factors that come into play before I sit down feeling inspired.

But some days I do it. Even if it’s not perfect and it’s not as good as I hoped and it’s not as much as I hoped… I get it done.

And I always take time to remind myself how good it feels when I slay the dragon. So that I can be reminded of that feeling the next time Resistance tries to convince me to be distracted. I remind myself how good it feels at the end of the tunnel, and I push through.

So don’t forget that sometimes, when you’re fighting the good fight, you get tired. And that’s ok. You can retreat and recoup for a minute. But don’t you ever ever ever ever ever let that minx get the better of you for good.

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(PYT) Member Appreciation Day

bikiniDisclaimer: I don’t know this chick. I just googled “PYT” and she had abs so I figured good enough.

The other day, my gym had “Member Appreciation Day.” I had seen the signs up for it but didn’t think much of it. I like to be left alone at the gym. And when I’m running errands. And when I’m at coffee shops. I’m mostly a hermit who can sometimes trick people into believing she’s social.

I only noticed because a trainer came up to me after I did a set. He asked me if I liked the exercise I was doing, because he had a variation for the same muscle group that was even more challenging. He called my exercise “skull crushers” (which made me feel pretty badass) and showed me another tricep exercise using my bodyweight and gravity. I was my usual quiet gym self, barely mumbling a thank you as I reluctantly did what he showed me. I shyly looked off and said thank you so he would go away. He smiled and found another gym member who was working on squats. He then worked with her for quite some time on different exercises. I even saw him helping her stretch a while later. Before I left, he was working with yet another gym member and showing her some exercises.

I thought it was odd someone was wandering around giving tips and pointers, but then saw a sign for “Member Appreciation Day” and put two and two together. Then, I realized that the man was only hovering and helping young, female members of the gym. He had a very specific way of showing his “appreciation.”

I can’t prove that he was biased. But I do know that the other two women he was working with seemed a lot friendlier than I was, and he was with them for a whole lot longer than he was with me. And that there were a ton of men everywhere… who seemed to need no help at all.

I appreciate the appreciation… but I’m onto you, buddy. I’m onto your little games.

And also if I had known you were hitting on me, I would have been so much friendlier! Next time just make it more obvious!

Attitude Adjustment

attitudeI had to check myself before I wrecked myself the other day.

It was the first Saturday of the New Year and I went to the gym in late morning. And, to no surprise, it was packed.

And, unfortunately also no surprise, I immediately became a brat about it.

As I walked in and looked at the crowds of people on the machines and on the equipment, I got testy. I kept thinking somehow they were in my way. I felt so self-righteous that this gym was my gym. And that they were in my way. And how dare they even consider slightly inconveniencing me.

In short, I was a little biatch about it.

But halfway through my workout (when the endorphins started kicking in and I was calmer than before), I realized I was the one with the problem. Here are a bunch of people who, sure, don’t really know what they’re doing yet at the gym. But you’ve got to start somewhere. They were not at all getting in my way. It’s not like I go there with a really clear training plan of certain exercises I have to hit and certain goals that have to be attained. Usually I go with a body group that I’m going to focus on for the day. And then I look around and see what’s available.

These people weren’t my enemies. They were my new friends.

Sure, many of them may not stick around past February. But some of them will. Some of these people will have made it their New Years Resolution to get in shape and go to the gym all the time, and this will be the very exciting start of that journey for them. These are more people I now have something in common with. New people with whom I can talk working out with. New people who can complain about the lazy people who don’t return their free weights with.

It’s so easy to think you’re entitled to something. So much of our world today makes you believe you are entitled to whatever you want in the exact circumstances you want it and exactly when you want it. IWWIWWIWI, I believe is what it’s called (I Want What I Want When I Want It). I wanted to have the gym completely quiet and to myself. I wanted to be able to choose any time and go without any convenience to me. I wanted to have access to all the equipment I could possibly want for my workout at any given time even if I wasn’t using it or didn’t end up needing it.

Entitlement is gross.

I’m not proud of my attitude that day. But I am glad to be reminded that it’s so easy to fall back into a negative mindset. It’s easy to forget that other people are not your enemy. I live in Los Angeles…like millions of other people. If I start getting frustrated at crowds or traffic or whatever, I’ll never be satisfied in this city. Or any city. In fact, if I start wanting everything in my environment to be exactly how I want it without any distractions, I might as well move to a tiny hermit shack in Montana and hide from the world.

I’m not proud to say that I’ve considered this at times.

Then I remember, I love people. I love LA. I love being out of my comfort zone and having shared experiences and the excitement of a crowd. The only reason there’s even a gym close to me is because there are lots of other people who are members. I don’t keep it alive on my tiny membership fee alone. If there weren’t lots of people who belonged, I’d have to go somewhere else.

We need each other.

So I have to wait an extra few minutes for the leg press machine in January because some girl is doing 20 sets of 10 lbs. Whatever. No big deal. She’s gotta start somewhere. And I’m not going anywhere. So I’ll wait.

And I’ll be sure to check myself before I wreck myself.

I’m Going In

October was an odd month for me. Lots of ups and downs. Lots of being really in touch with my gut and lots of waking up in Cavecold anxiety-provoked sweats because something was off but I didn’t know what.

Maybe I sound dramatic. But that’s my style. So deal.

It really was an odd month. A bunch of strange things that kept making me feel more “off” than usual. For various reasons that I’m not going to get into here.

Needless to say, it was a bit of a wash of a month for me in terms of my positivity and productivity.

And I kinda just let myself wallow a little bit. And I don’t regret it. Because I didn’t want to push myself. As a woman who can easily push down her emotions and let good old denial take the reigns, I have to be careful to not just ignore how I’m feeling because it’s inconvenient and not productive.

I was tired and sad. So I let myself be tired and sad.

I was lucky that one of my bestest friends in the world and one of the most positive people I know happen to also be going through a weird month. I wasn’t lucky because I wished that on her by any means. But we both agreed it was kinda nice to have someone to wallow with. It made us both feel a little less alone.

But we decided November is the cut off. Once November starts, the name of the game is productivity, positivity, and proactivity. We’re going to distract ourselves into thinking we’re back on track. And maybe by doing so, we’ll actually get back on track.

I stayed in on Halloween and spent the whole time writing emails and making an ambitious schedule and setting clear goals for the rest of the year. And journaling. God I journaled the shit outta those emotions.

And I woke up November 1 excited and ready. I’m no longer going to wallow. I exorcised those demons on All Hallows Eve. It’s time to focus on me and focus on the things I love most- creativity and entertainment. I call this “going in” because I’m about to turn my focus into hyperdrive. I’m gonna be on a bleeping mission for the next several weeks. And I’m gonna accomplish a boat load.

I’m going into the cave of wonder and focus. If I’m not out by the holidays… just know I went down doing what I love.

Noir… now what?

I recently wrote and registered my very first feature screenplay (eeks!). It’s an absurdest, comedic noir. The main character,msmatthewson Margaret Mathewson, already has a twitter handle (@MsMatthewson). I registered with the WGA, it’s pending with the patent office right now, and I sent myself a copy. I’ve been sending copies to a few friends of mine who may help me produce it.

But I’ll be honest. I have no idea what to do next.

I know it needs money. Real money this time. I want this script to be done right and I’m tired of calling in favors from all my creative friends. Of course I’m grateful to even have creative friends who I can call in favors from… but I want this sucker to be done right. I want to be able to pay people so they bring their A-game. I want to be able to pay myself at least a little so I can spend more time concentrating on creating a great product rather than doing it in my (spare) free time.

Like I said, I want it done right.

And like I said, I have no idea what to do next.

But here’s the thing. I like not knowing what I’m doing. I like a good challenge. I like to be out of my comfort zone. And I like learning.

So I’ve done the only thing I can do… set up an action plan and a list of goals and start. I’ve got a list of books that I know are helpful to learn independent film production. I know some resources on the web that I can look up to learn how to learn more about film production. I can ask around and reach out to people. I have a goal for when I want to start production on this thing. And it’s coming up. Which means I have to figure out how the hell I’m gonna get the money to do it.

But I’ve done this before. Many times. So this is just another one of those times. I know it’ll take a lot of steps and a lot of hard work and a lot of uncomfortable moments where I’m out of my element and a lot of note-taking and reaching out and learning.

And I can’t wait.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a movie to figure out how to produce.

Happy Birthday, TMI!

I’ve been doing shows with a group called TMI Hollywood for almost two years now. Since they started in August of 2012.tmi

Sunday, they celebrate these two years of incredible humor, hard work, and lots of ridiculous sillies.

For two years, they’ve booked a guest host and put up a completely new show every single week based on the celebrity gossip and Hollywood happenings in the past week. It takes an incredible amount of hard work and dedication to run this well-oiled (usually) machine.

I lucked out when I went to that audition and lucked out to snag a spot in that cast. I’ve been even luckier to have stuck with it for the past two years and continue to be a part of the ever-growing and extremely talented community.

If you’re around LA on Sunday, August 10, come check out the show at the Second City Hollywood.

If you’re not, they always stream them live online at the website (and then upload the full show video to YouTube the next day).

And there’s always awesome pictures on their Facebook page and great tweets on their Twitter.

I’m grateful to know them and to get to work and play with them constantly.

Happy birthday, my obnoxious comedy lovers. Here’s to many more!

Productive Workout

dead menI needed to do two things yesterday. I needed to watch a specific stylized movie, “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid” because I’m working on a short film noir screenplay. And I needed to workout. And I didn’t have time for both if I did them separately.

So I combined them.

I got in my workout gear, turned on my fan (because it’s summer in LA and I don’t have air conditioning) and I watched my movie while working out.

And I giggled. And I sweat. And I was productive.

To be fair, I used to be mildly obsessed with this movie- so it was really just a refresher as I watched it. If it had been the first time I’d ever seen it, I’d probably not be distracted by working out. It’s worth your full attention.

It wasn’t the best workout I’ve ever had. But it was a lot better than if I had chosen to just watch the movie and not go to the gym. Because… let’s be honest, if I had made it an either/or thing… I would not have worked out at all.

Spambots Love Me

robotNot to brag, y’all, but one of my posts, Grandpa Fight, is getting TONS of comments. From people all over the world. Who feel the need to tell me they love the content on my site in broken english. And who feel the need to encourage me to check out their site and product that could really make a difference in my life.

At first I was excited about all the comments. But that’s because I’m naive. I don’t always understand something until it’s too obvious and often too late. I started realizing they were all variations of each other. So they’re all spam bots and not real people who liked my posts and commented on my writing.

Alas and alack.

I’ll be honest- if they keep making it through my spam filters, I’m gonna start writing back. Because writing makes me feel good. Even if it’s just to a robot. Who knows, maybe it’ll make a spambot’s day. And maybe they’ll stop spamming and find out what they really want in this life. And they’ll go do it. And the world will be a better place with one more happy robot pursuing their robot dreams.

Or maybe I just want an entertaining distraction. Who knows.

 

Resistance is Futile

borgSteven Pressfield, one of my favorite modern writers, writes about this idea of “Resistance” as a prevailing universal force that keeps us from accomplishing that which is most important to us. His basic point is, when you’re doing something worthwhile and creating, you will feel tons of resistance. And that’s natural. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In this case, the act of creating- even though not always a highly physical action- will create resistance.

It seeps into everything. You really want to write that chapter in your book but you somehow spend the whole night on Twitter. Your apartment suddenly becomes in dire need of a thorough cleaning the same night you set aside to start your screenplay. You sit down to write a blog and instead look at pictures of Jay Z and Beyonce.

Reading and learning about this concept has changed my life. Once I realized that what I was doing was sabotaging my own creativity, I could use the resistance to my advantage. I could learn that every time I find myself not doing something, I just have to be aware that I’m not doing it and take note of what that something is. Because clearly it’s important.

For example, when I was writing my book and web series at the same time, I would force myself to sit down and have long writing sessions. I would set aside clear times where I went off the grid. And I would stare at a blank piece of paper with no idea what was going to come. I’d give myself every advantage to be productive and I would still think of creative things to do other than write. But I realized that I was resisting. Which meant I was doing something important. So I’d push through and write anyway. Not because it was the best stuff I’ve ever written. But because I had to show myself that I could beat resistance.

It’s the same with my physical fitness. I like running distance races not because I plan on winning anything, but because I like training my physical body not to give up and to push through. Lots of times when I write it’s just to force myself to focus- not because I think it’s the most profound thing I’ll ever write. I just want to practice pushing through. I do open mics for comedy not because I expect my new agent to be waiting for me in the audience, but because I want to practice pushing through the nerves of standing in front of people and saying stuff (that often isn’t funny…yet).

Lately, I’ve felt a lot of resistance. At first I thought maybe it was just a reaction to the fact that my web series is in post-production so there’s not a whole lot I can do for it (which is not true- there’s still lots to be done on my end. Tons, actually. Erg.). But I’ve realized it’s because I’m at a new phase of creation. I need to revamp my book. That will take a lot of creativity and discipline. I’m working on several submissions. That will take a lot of creativity and discipline. I’ve got a few new projects on the docket which will- you guessed it- take a lot of creativity and discipline.

So I’m resisting. I don’t make time to sit. I peruse dumb pictures on BuzzFeed or Facebook. I don’t focus. I throw too much out there.

But I see it now. So I’m gonna do something about it. Because clearly these things that need to be created are gonna be amazing. Otherwise I wouldn’t be resisting them.

Ms. In the Biz Article

I love writing for Ms. In the Biz. I think they’re an awesome online community of inspiring women working hard to make their dreams come true.

Here’s a link to my latest article for them. I hope you take the time to read it and peruse other great articles on the site.

Let Go Of These 3 Things…