The world likes to separate us. 

Into classes, politics, religions. 

We're stratified and defined based on algorithms or data or....

We see 'other' often before we see ourselves. 

But empathy is the greatest gift. Turning 'you' into 'us' our greatest skill. 

Something to try today. 

Posted
AuthorChris Donaldson

The biggest challenge I have is chasing shiny objects. In my own frenetic mind, there are a 1000 things I should be doing at this exact moment. 

I'm trying to kill the myth of multi-tasking. But t's a crazy zombie that always resurfaces, blood on it's lips, whispering sweet nothings in my ear. Faster.... faster.  

Speed is the enemy of quality. And quality is the repetition of making the Best Next Move, over and over again. A few misses will happen, for sure, but focusing on the next choice, the next fork in the road, the next concrete thing that can be accomplished - this is how goodness is achieved. 

I'm working on ignoring the squirrels that want me to chase them in a all directions. I'm doing my best to put aside the emails that are trying to set my agenda. I'm focusing instead on the one thing, the ONE thing, that will get me closer to the who, what, how, and why of the person I want to be. 

Be present. That's a good place to start. 

 

 

Posted
AuthorChris Donaldson
 
 
 
Posted
AuthorChris Donaldson
 
 
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This is the time of year when I start getting resumes from filmmakers just graduating from college and wanting to break into the biz.

I give a full breakdown of how I think you should approach the job search over at my company site, Hand Crank Films. Check it!

Posted
AuthorChris Donaldson

One of our intrepid Production Managers at Hand Crank Films, Avielle Heath, forwarded me this article about multi-tasking that rang a very familiar bell. Five minutes ago, multi-tasking was all the rage. If you weren't responding to your email, fielding a call, ordering a cappucino and having a conversation with a co-worker while planning your next vacation, you were not working fast enough. Plain and simple. Job postings everywhere made 'multi-tasking' a pre-requisite to success. 

But a funny thing happened on the way to the brass ring. I for one have come to realize that the thing lacking from my work and my life is pretty straight-forward: focus. The ability to dig deep into something and take the time to understand it. To listen. To understand. And then, perhaps, to act. 

The resistance tells us we need a 'to-do' lists a mile long. That we are measured in quantity. That speed is a virtue. That check-marks are our most important asset. I've believed it, and lost many opportunities because of it. And that's too bad. 

ACTION ITEM:  One thing I've tried to do is take some time every Sunday to outline my 'Model Week'. During this outlining process of the Model Week, I mark the 3 big objectives I need to get done in any given day. That may include something as simple as 'Start  :30 Script' on Monday and 'Finish :30 Script on Friday, with all the necessary steps in between. If I get my 3 things done everyday, then the rest is gravy. I try not to rush to look for the next thing I can spit out the door. I try to use the in-between time to understand the job at hand. And, most importantly, to Think Bigger. 

It's tricky stuff to be sure, but try it next time. Living in the weeds makes you think smaller. No exceptions. 

That's the beauty of great film, fine prose, poems that are music. These things pull you into the moment. Grab you. Force you go deep as well as wide. You can live your days like that too. 

And that very well may include a phone stack or three in your future. 

Posted
AuthorChris Donaldson
CategoriesLife and Media
 
 
 
Posted
AuthorChris Donaldson
 
 
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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.  

Want to sign up for the newsletter? Of course you do.

Posted
AuthorChris Donaldson

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. 

Onward.  

Posted
AuthorChris Donaldson

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. 

 

 

Posted
AuthorChris Donaldson
 
 
Posted
AuthorChris Donaldson

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. 

 
 
Posted
AuthorChris Donaldson
 
 
  Download the sheet . It's magic. 

Download the sheet. It's magic. 

 

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:

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.  
  3. 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. 
  4. 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. 
  5. 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.

Go.

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. 

 

LOG-IN ENTRY:

Streak Count of writing ONE HOUR A DAY: 52 days.
#FindTheHour

Music to write by: New LCD Soundsystem, yo! 

Stay frosty. 

#POV. 

Posted
AuthorChris Donaldson
 
 The man at work. 

The man at work. 

 

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

 

 

 

Posted
AuthorChris Donaldson