If you're doing anything worthwhile (and I mean anything), you're going to hear 'no' a lot.
No - it's not what we're looking for.
No - the timing isn't right.
No - we're not ready for this yet.
No - you are out of your flipping mind.
You can be crushed by No. It seems so permanent and heavy. Immovable.
But maybe we can look at it a different way. Because life really is about odds and oddsmakers, maybe every No helps build the ladder to Yes. The roulette wheel spins, but only if you're at the table.
Which means it might be good to give thanks to the No. Just moments before trying again.
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Many of you know I finished a novel, Devil's Candy, about a screenwriter who sells his screenplay to a producer, the producer gets murdered, and the screenwriter gets framed for that murder.
So I've started to email a few agents about it and have found out a few lessons the hard way:
- No friggin' attachments in your pitch, ever.
- Read EXACTLY how to pitch each individual agent as each has their own requirements.
- Do NOT send out form letters. Do your research, explore the agent, and see what she wants and likes. If you find out your agent loves pizza, there's your potential opening to hook her into the rest of your pitch.
- Be respectful: agents (like you) are busy. They don't owe you anything. They'll get back to you when, and if, they can.
That all said, it's a numbers game. You have to do the outreach and the work. Writing the book is only half the battle.
I've reached out to 11 agents so far. 1 has agreed to read my first 50 pages.
I often share the tools I use to get my one hour of writing a day in the can. Here's one I've found I can't live without;
I've experimented with a few timers in the past (and time trackers like Toggl), and this is the best one I've found so far.
PROS: You set up an Interval (I like to do two 25 minute intervals with a 5 minute break), hit Go, and the rest is pretty self-explanatory. An alarm goes off when the interval is over, then gives you 5 minutes to surf the web or do one armed push-ups, then you're back in the saddle again. Boom. You nailed it.
CONS: I wish you could set up different intervals for different projects. Plus, I wish you could set your own custom alarm. That way, I can blast the Game of Thrones soundtrack every 25 minutes to pump me up (and thoroughly annoy those around me).
Got any tools you're using right now you love? Lay them on me.
I had the pleasure of being on 'The Unabashedly Real and Creative Podcast' hosted by Jared Kessler.
There's some stuff of value in here, I think. Take a listen and let me know your thoughts - but at the end of the day 'Do the Work' remains the mantra. And don't forget to subscribe, or the Gods of the Blank Page shall descend down upon you.
Join me in reclaiming our existence.
I re-committed last year to write one hour a day, every day. I was going to see how long I could keep the streak alive, inspired by Jerry Seinfeld, and as I started to gain momentum I thought I'd share some of what I've learned.
My advice is very simple: find the one thing you love to do, and do it an hour a day. Sounds so simple, doesn't it? You'd be surprised at the enemies, real and imagined, standing in your way.
But here's 5 ways you can get started:
- Decide What Do You Want to Do - Maybe it's playing music with your kids, or gardening more, or writing, interior design, drawing. Don't worry about outcomes, just pick the one thing that floats your boat. I don't want to minimize how hard this can be, but noone else can figure that out but you.
- Pick a Day to Start - I want you to look at your calendar and commit. Maybe this is today, maybe it's next Monday. Then I want you to outline how the perfect week looks to you - and where the hour fits in. Then plan it out. On most days, my hour is 7:30AM - 8:30AM, but sometimes when I know my better half is working late, I move this to the evening. But it has to be planned in advance, or the resistance will win. Guaranteed. PROTIP: Let the people closest to you know what you're doing. Say you would appreciate their support. Better yet, invite them in.
- Download this Sheet - See the picture above. This is my streak. Jerry Seinfeld was once asked how he created so much, and he said he NEVER broke the streak. He wrote jokes every day. No exceptions. This has done pretty well by him.
- The magic of 'Yes, and...' versus 'Yes, but...' This is an old improv trick. Open yourself to the universe, and instead of saying 'Yes, but...' (which implies resistance to all things good) you can say 'Yes, and..." to build on ideas and provide bigger solutions. And it also implies less internal judgment (I'm still working on this one). Internal judgment might be your biggest roadblock.
- Go. You don't need permission to make it happen. Just start. Pick up the pencil or the guitar and create something. Don't judge, just do. Put the 'Yes, and...' into action. Write a poem to yourself.
A lot of people have talked about the power of INTENTION. That's all this is, I'm no mastermind. But since I've been dialing in on #FindTheHour a lot of great things have happened. Awards, films coming together, a novel that is wrapping up, a lot of pieces that would not otherwise exist. And that is what this is all about, existence.
If you need anything, let me know. I don't have many of the answers and you probably have some great ideas too. Share them. I want to #FindTheHour along with you. Who knows what kind of cool shit could happen?
Next Post: Killing the Beast that is Resistance.
Streak Count of writing ONE HOUR A DAY: 52 days.
Music to write by: New LCD Soundsystem, yo!
The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. - F. Scott Fitzgerald
With the shootings that occurred in Florida last week that left 17 people dead, the inevitable always happens: people sound the alarms and fortify their positions. Trenches are dug a little deeper and we frame things in terms that are black and white.
If you're PRO-GUN CONTROL, you must be against the SECOND AMENDMENT.
If you love guns, you must not care about the children.
But Fitzgerald had it right: true intelligence is the ability to hold contradictory ideas at the same time. The ability to see grays and nuance. The skill of sharpening the spear while at the same time showing compassion.
That's what art is about, great art. And good writing. The purpose isn't to provoke people into a place that is unyielding as much as it is to inspire us around new ways of thinking.
At times like these, we all think words, and the world, has failed us. Which is true. While at the same time proving once again that these efforts are needed now more than ever.
If you feel obliged to help people smarter than I am carry on the conversation, then perhaps donate to everytown.org.
Maybe you've heard of the Distribution Paradox. Most people think that when Wal*Mart calls to place an order for a product they are selling, this is a good thing. And it can be.
The challenge is, this order often forces you to scale - maybe faster than you really want to or can really afford. You might have to buy new equipment or hire new people, or....
Expenses immediately mount. And many a company has flamed out and not been able to deliver under the pressure.
Perfection can be like that too. The demands of getting 100% on your next creative project can add pressures that cave it completely. Rewriting, reworking, tinkering, can be both boon and bane. We have to know when to let it go - because that's what the pros do (who are still in business): they deliver.
Perfection is a myth and a moving target, anyway. The goal is progress.
Want to raise high the roofbeams and read the first 3 chapters of my novel 'Devil's Candy'? Of course you do.
The challenge we all have is time. We create more time when we find the courage to say 'No' to things. It's hard. Feelings get hurt. FOMO is real.
But if we keep track of where we want to be, it's easier to qualify what we're willing to do: does it get us closer to our goal? Does it inspire us?
If the answer to what you should be doing next doesn't move you, you probably already know which direction you should head off in.
Want to get down and dirty with the first 3 chapters of my novel 'Devil's Candy'? Of course you do.
Knowing what we want in life can be tricky. It pins us to an outcome we suddenly become accountable for.
I know that this this year I'm working towards a book launch. The Resistance (my self-doubt) says 'Great, that's all the world needs, another book.' I listen to The Resistance more than I should.
I've started. I've written the query letter, which I'll post here on Thursday. I've created the spreadsheet of agents and people I want to send this to. And, I've started sending:
The first three chapters of the book are in their hands. They'll take the blowtorch to it I'm sure, or most likely I won't hear back from them at all. But every NO in whatever form is that much closer to a YES. That's the only way to look at it.
Want to read the first 3 chapters of my novel 'Devil's Candy'? Of course you do.
There's a certain truth to dreams. We visualize outcomes, and they can happen if the work is done. If the time is spent. If talk becomes action.
It's understood: putting the chips down on something imagined isn't logical or even wise. The empirical brain says 'no - the risks are too high'. The empirical brain says 'stop'.
Maybe these are the voices of parents, or grandparents, or school. Maybe this a voice born from economic necessity - after all most of us need to make a living. Rent is always due.
But the Blue Sky Brain, that's what we must answer to in the end. For there are few songs and poems written about people who are practical. Who always wait for when the time is right.
The tools I'm planning to use:
- Google to search for book agents and the like. The Interwebs is my savior.
- A Fleet of Graphgear 500 mechanical pencils.
- The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published.
- Paper-Oh Quadro A4 Pad for scheming (I'll share the plans as they are developed)
- Social (Insta, Facebook, LinkedIn)
- Toggl for keeping track of #FindtheHour
This is just a start. They're loose pieces right now. But I'll be piecing them together, one bird at a time.
After a month of false starts, illness, and a myriad of excuses, I'm back in the saddle.
Today is Day 1. My goal: getting my book published.
I'll be sharing my journey here. I'll be pushing the edges.
The first thing I did was buy this.
Follow me - maybe we can put the pieces together.
We all have great plans. I had these crazy visions of hitting 2018 hard right out of the gates and blowing it up these first two weeks.
Then reality struck. And as we all know, reality can be a bitch. I got crazy sick and barely found the energy to get my paying job done. I walked around with my fly open, too spaced to notice. I coughed and coughed and....
What happens when life intervenes, and your momentum is broken?
You start again. One small step.
If you can't #findthehour, find 10 minutes. Lots of dreaming can happen in that much time.
What do you want to point to in 2018? You tell me your's, I'll tell you mine.