As I often do when I’m out of ideas, I turned to Twitter this month for some prompts for today’s blog. Instead of just picking one, I decided to do all of them, in order of receiving them.
From Amanda Taylor: “Is it important to keep creating content when you don’t have ideas?”
I think this question is a really personal one- nobody can prescribe an answer to anyone else, and there isn’t really a right or wrong answer. For me, the answer is… it depends. In my July video, “I Failed,” I mentioned how I had to take a month off of writing because my life was in so much chaos trying to be creative was actively stressing me out. It was ultimately the best decision I could have made- it took the pressure off, I got some space from my insecurities, and in all honestly, I didn’t take the WHOLE month off, I just stopped scheduling myself writing assignments, and instead only wrote when I felt like it.
In general it’s good for me to give myself writing assignments- write 10 pages of X, write outline for Y, etc- but sometimes a break is necessary. However, in that no-writing month, I wrote a crapton of blogs for the Stareable blog, for TVWriter.com, for The Bridge BK, and The Financial Diet. I also kept up with this blog, because like hell was I going to fail a New Years Resolution just because I was having a bad month.
TL;DR: It depends on why you’re creating content, and what kind of content you’re creating. I’m not going to rally a production crew for a “meh” script, or pressure myself to do something that just isn’t connecting. But I do advocate for creating SOMETHING, even if it’s as small as a personal vlog, or a blog, or a cartoon, or whatever your particular creative outlet is.
From Monica West: “Sometimes figuring out what you want is complicated – why?”
I’m gonna apply this question to career and art, because that seems like the trend this blog is taking. Monica and I actually spoke about this not long ago, in regards to me not knowing what the hell I was doing in my career anymore. She asked me what my ultimate career goal was, and I didn’t have a concrete answer for her, because my ultimate career goal is “something creative related to film and writing that pays my bills and lets me go visit my family sometimes.”
She told me that wasn’t good enough, which, fair. But it’s complicated. I moved to New York thinking I would learn how to be a TV writer, make some high level industry contacts, and start moving upwards in that world. But my program wasn’t exactly the writing boot camp I expected, my industry contacts weren’t exactly hiring, and I learned that the producing aspect of my MFA in Writing and Producing for Television was actually kind of awesome. When I started indie producing, a whole new world opened up, and I was no longer fully content with the idea of a writing-only career. I wanted to produce, I wanted to direct, and maybe I even wanted to act. That makes things complicated.
I think figuring out what you want in an artistic career is complicated in the same way deciding on a major can be complicated. If you’re interested in more than one thing, it can be difficult to know where to place your efforts, especially if you’d be semi-equally satisfied in either direction. Especially if one direction might eventually open doors to the other down the road. If I commit to writing, and “make it,” there are potentially opportunities to direct and produce down the line. Or I could fail and work as a barista the rest of my life. If I commit to producing, and “make it,” there are definitely writing and directing opportunities later on. Or I could fail and throw myself off a bridge. (…into an inner tube and have a chill time but not get anywhere in the entertainment industry)
It’s complicated because so much of the entertainment industry is people you know, and connections you make, and there are a lot of ways to meet and connect with people and sometimes the best way to get ahead is to go down a slightly different path and enter from a window instead of the front door. You never know, so making a decision one way or another is terrifying, because it might mean missing an opportunity elsewhere.
From Jules Pigott: “If you could film a web series and cast anybody in the world, who would it be and why?”
Ok so the easy answer is Brains seasons 3-6, casting Sam Elliot as Damian’s dad in season 6, casting the dude who plays Kirsch in Carmilla as an army guy also in season 6, casting Natasha Negovanlis and Elise Bauman as Ze Carroway and Ash Perez in seasons 5 and 6, and casting someone amazing as Billy Jack’s mom.
The harder answer… is hard because I have lots of ideas for new shows but not many totally fleshed out because of money and producibility. But I’m assuming your question assumes I have the resources for whatever cast I want and therefore resources for whatever kind of show I want. With that assumption, I’d want to do a detective show of some kind with Shiri Appleby (who Chris Cherry believes would be a great protagonist for my writing style), Annie Briggs and Elise Bauman, Samira Wiley, Judy Greer, Milo Ventimiglia, Lauren Graham, Sarah Chalke, Echo Kellum, Channing Tatum, and Tom Cruise. I have no idea what kind of show that would be but I want to work with these people and so many more, so I’m sure I could come up with something.
From Rebecca Frost: “What’s the best self-help/coping exercise you utilize in your life?”
Working myself to the bone probably isn’t the right answer, huh? For me, it’s making lists, paying attention to momentum, and alone time. Lists help me keep track of my life and progress and give me a little thrill when I can cross something off of them, a reward for hard work or a hard day. Momentum is how I can get through those lists, which for me means getting my productive start to the day as early as possible and riding that momentum until I complete all my daily tasks, because it alleviates the guilt of not working later on when I’m more mentally and emotionally spent and I can just watch twelve consecutive hours of Scrubs. Alone time is those hours of Scrubs. I know myself well enough to know that, while I love my friends and family and my partner, in order to properly recharge from a day I need at least two hours of alone-time with a book or a TV show. Even when I’m home for a visit or I’m travelling and don’t do much productive work, I can feel myself needing to escape to my room, which to some may look like I’m wasting my vacation. But for me, I know I’ll be irritable and unhappy if I don’t have that quiet recharge time.
Important note: watching TV with another person doesn’t count. For instance, when I’m home visiting my mom, we watch a lot of movies and TV together because we have similar taste and like to watch cute guys shooting guns and punching people, because Feminism. And while it might seem insane, that doesn’t recharge me. After we’re done, I’ll need another hour or two of watching something without her to feel recharged. About 95% of my every day energy is spent speaking to or being around other people, whether that’s for work or socializing or incidental interactions on public transportation, no matter how close I feel to them, and no matter how low-impact our time together is (see: quietly watching TV together). Quinn, bless him, learned this pretty early, and now I can tell him to leave me alone for a little while because I need my alone time and he won’t get offended.
Important note 2: I wasn’t being flippant when I mentioned Scrubs. I rewatch Scrubs in its entirety about twice a year, if not more. It is my ultimate comfort show. When I’m overwhelmed, be it with sadness, stress, excitement, or anticipation, I watch Scrubs. I rewatched Scrubs when I got accepted into graduate school in New York, and I rewatched it after spending 18 hours in the ER with my alcoholic former roommate. It works for all moods.
From Jonathan Kaplan: “Go to some current cultural top ten charts and write some short snap judgement reviews for the ones you’ve never seen”
I decided to use this list of the top 10 grossing movies of 2017 so far.
1. Beauty and the Beast– Haven’t seen. I like the leads, but it looks… fine, I guess?
2. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2– Haven’t seen. I’ve heard it’s kinda sexist but also a solid flick, so I’m sure I’ll watch it as soon as it’s on Netflix.
3. Wonder Woman– Saw it, liked it ok. I felt it was written weakly overall but origin stories are hard so I’m holding out hope for the sequel. (side note: I thought Zootopia was a better version of the type of story/characters Wonder Woman wanted to be. I may write a blog about that at some point)
4. Logan– Haven’t seen, but I’ve heard great things, so I’m looking forward to seeing it eventually.
5. The Fate of the Furious– Haven’t seen, probably will never see, but as per usual these movies look fun as hell.
6. The LEGO Batman Movie– Haven’t seen, heard great things, will probably watch when it’s on Netflix and I have a couple hours to kill.
7. Get Out– Saw it, loved it. Beautifully shot and executed.
8. The Boss Baby– Haven’t seen, probably never will. Is Alec Baldwin ok?
9. Kong: Skull Island– Haven’t seen, didn’t realize it was a thing. Looks dumb.
10. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales– Haven’t seen, and also, fuck Johnny Depp? Also x2 one Pirates movie was enough, and they should have left it alone. Alzo x3 seriously though fuck Johnny Depp.