Monday, May 9, 2011

Eye of the Beholder and All that Nonsense

So I keep having to postpone giving my own flashy awards.  SOME people who shall not be named but who I am currently looking at POINTEDLY, are taking foreeeeeeeever to announce big exciting news that needs to be bragged about to ALL the interwebs, and until they announce it, I can't brag about it!

So, you know.  Hurry that up.  And if you think I'm talking about you, I probably am.  There's like, five of you.  What's the point of having massively talented world-conquering friends if you can't use their accomplishments to shock, awe and amaze people as though they were your own?  You're all fired, you hear me?


So since none of you will let me brag about you yet, I guess I'll just have to brag about myself and sound like a total egotistical tool, so THANKS A LOT GUYS.  JEEZ.  So anyways, one of those fancy callbacks I was talking about a couple weeks ago resulted in me getting a part in a movie shooting in New York.  So June 30th, they're flying me out to New York for three days to shoot my part.  Anyone going to be in New York then?  We can hang out in my trailer!

I'm just kidding.  I'm not getting a trailer.  They're spending all their money on just flying me out there.  I'll be sleeping in Central Park or the subways, like all the other actors who live in New York.

Hah!  ZING!

Excuse me.  I've had too much sugar today.  Aaaaaanyways, I'm super stoked, because I love to travel.  One of the things I've always wanted most from an acting career is being able to travel due to it, and this is the first time I've ever been paid to fly somewhere or stay somewhere else during a shoot.  Unless you count that pilot I did where they put us all up in hotels down in Irvine for the shoot, but I don't.  It was Irvine.  Who counts Irvine for anything?  So yeah.  New York, baby!  Just don't ask me what the movie's about.  Or who else is in it.  Or like, what the name is.  They don't tell me that stuff.

Seriously.  They haven't even sent me the script yet.  Oh Hollywood.

Now that THAT unpleasantness is over and done with, on to more important things.  Our topic of the day!

So I used to suffer from serious clinical depression right?  Yeah, I know, way to bring down the mood, huh?  But no, is okay.  Was long time ago.  But it was like hereditary and due to interesting young adult life and it was all very much too much and made me want to curl into a ball all the time except for when I was being self destructive and never get out of bed and mostly eat lots of ice cream and go waaaaaaaah why does the universe hate me?!

It was all very dramatic.  It's almost like I'm an actor or something.

But anyways, drugs didn't work cuz apparently I'm a freak of nature.  Who knew, right?  So the only way to kick the habit of you know, sucking at life, was to alter my outlook.  It was all very Zen.  But it worked!  I revel in an overabundance of pep these days!  All totally natural!  No artificial flavors or preservatives whatsoever!  And you can too!  Just drink the Kool-Aid, my children!

Ahem.  Sorry.  Wrong speech.  ANYWAYS.  One of the most fundamental contributors of depression, and easiest parts to beat, is that we start looking at all the PILES and LOADS of obstacles, difficulties and handicaps weighing us down.  We make mountains out of molehills and stare up at them with wide, panicked eyes and go, how am I supposed to get over that?!  It's too big!  And so we don't even try.


And it applies to day to day life too, not just giant chemical misfires in your brain.  How many of you have ever stopped somewhere around 20K into your new manuscript and thought to yourself, omg, this is impossible!  I have SO MUCH MORE to write!  I'm never going to finish!  Oh sure, you put it away for a time and you come back to it later and start again, cuz you're a determined little sucker, but it takes it out of you, doesn't it?  Saps some of your strength, a little of your drive?

But what if you look at it just a little differently?  Don't think of your manuscript as one giant mega-beast of 90,000 words, but instead see it as a collection of scenes and subplots and character moments, each as important as the last.  Like dozens of little short stories, or windows into your characters' lives, all strung together to make up one greater whole.  Suddenly, its not quite so unmanageable.  Bang out a thousand words one day, and you didn't just write 1/90th of a novel, with 89 more days like that to go.  You wrote a short story, banged out a whole complete THING that you don't have to worry about anymore until your novel is done.  And everyday is just another short story finished, or more you've learned about your character, and you're not even thinking about it like a race with a distant finish line anymore.  Each day is its own little race, and you win every time.  And then before you know it, you add up all those little stories and moments and look at them together in a big picture window, and voila!  You finished your novel without even realizing it!

You have TRICKED yourself!  Isn't it great?  Outsmarting yourself and your own writer craziness is fun!  Everyone try!

Another useful mind game to play on yourself when you think you're not being productive enough, or as productive as you'd like, is to write down everything you do during the day, as you do it.  Everything, from the little to the big.  Write it down, and cross it off, like writing a To Do list as you do things instead of ahead of time.  Work out in the morning or go for a run?  Write it down. Cross it off.  Take a shower?  Counts.  Feed the kids?  Totally productive.  Write 1,000 words of your manuscript?  Hell yeah you did.

You can break it down into the little things too.  Instead of just writing 'worked on book', get specific.  Write 'explored Character X's backstory' and cross it off.  'Outlined action sequence for next chapter.'  On the list, with a giant X through it.  'Kiss scene', 'kill scene', 'everybody dance now' scene....list 'em individually and check, check, check.

Doesn't even have to just be physical things either.  Mental or emotional goals you succeed at during the day can go on the list as well.  'Didn't drink soday today' is an accomplishment, as is 'refrained from having my mother-in-law shipped off to the loony bin just to get her out of my house.'  Write 'em down, cross them off!

Then at the end of the day, just before you go to bed, look at everything you did.  Don't even read the list, just look at ALL THE THINGS YOU DID and crossed off.  Pretty awesome.  And the best part?  Cross your items off really well so you can't really read them too well and then leave them out for your roommates, friends or significant others to find and feel intimidated by your amazing-fantabulousness.

"Honey?  What's this?"

"Oh, just my To Do list for today."

"Your To Do list?  Just for today?  You really did all this today?"

"Mm-hmm.  Why?  What'd you do?"

Be warned.  Obnoxious smugness IS an occasional side effect of using this technique.  Just remember.  It's for the greater good.


  1. WOwOWEEE WoW! You're effervescent energy is so intoxicating! (Alliteration ZAP). Congrats on the trip to New York, Mr. FAMOUS! You should stalk ... er ... track down an agent or two while you're there, no?

    I love the idea of the already done list. That way, you feel the sense of accomplishment before you even jot down your things. You smartie. I'm totally going to try this.

    And also, thanks for the reminder of how I USED to write books. I was once of the mindset of one scene at a time and it worked really well. With my book out on sub, seems like I forgot that; I'm so engrossed in hopping over to my email to check for any news I hardly get any wordage in, much less a scene.

    Inspiring post, K my man. I'm so glad you beat that depression. Honestly, I can't imagine you as anything but witty and encouraging.

    BTW, about those peeps who have good news?? What right do they have to withhold details? Don't they know we're living vicariously through them?

    Hmm. Who might they be ... those wascally white wabbits? Curiouser and curiouser. ;)

  2. OMG, your blog is freakin' hilarious! Fun read with so much energy, I feel like I just downed a double shot of espresso! Thanks a lot! Now I gotta go write... I got a list to check off! ;)

  3. I'm all for it. Down with the meds! I'm gonna stalk you when you are in NYC. I prowl around the SoHo area for a living.

  4. Hee, you're on quite the alliterative kick today Anita! I like it! And *hugs* for the agony of being on sub. I know the first rule of fight club is you don't talk about being on sub, but hang in there! Good things to those who wait! Lol, as for the depression, it was this thing I tried in college. You know how everyone experiments then. Heh. Wasn't really my thing though. And I KNOW! Wascally wabbits indeed.

    @Carissa - Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it! I am always happy to be a substitute for espresso!

    @Jenny - zomg would you be my stalkerazzi?! You don't even need a camera, just a long tube like device that seems like it could be camera-esque! All the best stalkerazzi are crazy anyways, everyone knows that!

  5. Yet again it seems appropriate to bust out some Mark Twain: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”

    And, um...1000 words a day? I'm happy if I get half that. You just go with your bad self.

    Congrats on getting a free trip to NYC! Who cares if you have to sleep in a little closet on the subway a la Will Smith in Pursuit of Happiness?! Baby steps, my friend.

    *waves to Anita and Jenny*

    Oh, and Jenny? Thanks a LOT for the pie award. I really don't know 15 people that blog, let alone 15 people that I want to give my pie to.


  6. Kalen! Congrats on the acting gig! I'm jealous you're going to New York! I've never been there! Love the crossing off items on list! You make me want to use exclamation marks! More marks!!

    Ok, enough. I'm getting dizzy. Nice post. Goodluck with your thing, acting, whatever it is you actors do. :)

  7. Congrats on being awesome, er, getting the acting gig in New York! Kind of jealous over here but I'm sure you'll be too busy working to have any fun, right? (If this is a blatant lie feel free to not taunt me with stories of the epic time you'll be having.)

    I'm with everyone else who can't imagine sadKalen. It just, I don't even, just no. I'm digging the idea of a to-do list of things you've already done, even though mine would mainly consist of such beauties as 'did not rip the time-space continuum' and 'exchanged oxygen for carbon dioxide'.

    And now I want to know all the exciting news that people aren't sharing and I don't even know what I don't know that I'm missing. *head asplodes*
    - Sophia.

  8. Kalen, if your manuscript is anywhere near as entertaining as your blog posts, I do hope to read it one day.

    Congrats on the part! Funny how they don't even tell you the name of it. I live in NYC! If I happen by you I'll say hello. :)

  9. @Marewolf - gosh that Mark Twain was a smart old geezer, wasn't it? He should be famous or something!

    @cherie - SEE?!? Aren't exclamation marks addicting?! My CPs are always having to edit them out of my MS's, and I'm like Vas? Vas is this? No! We need MORE exclamation marks! MORE MORE MOAAAAAR!

    @Sophia - Not ripping the space/time continuum is an AWESOME accomplishment! I heartily endorse it and insist you keep not doing that every day! And exchanging carbon dioxide for oxygen! That one I forget to do occasionally!

    @ LJ - Aww, thanks! Okay, since you said nice things about me and hosted an awesome contest, I'll see what I can do about getting my manuscripts published so you can read them someday. But you have to remember, I'm ONLY DOING IT FOR YOU.

    You're welcome.

  10. Ha! Thanks so much. I feel special.

  11. Kalen! Please be my big brother. Congrats on the pitch (hehe. I saw that it was my pitch. Stinker.) contest! Yay! T-5 days til end of Epic Revise-Off 2011. Or, since it's us, Epic Revise-Off May 2011.

  12. Yaaaaay East Coast trip! I'd try and convince you to take the train down to DC, but, uh, I guess they won't want to fly you back out of Reagan, will they? Bastards!! But awesome on the part, anyhow <3

    I love tricking myself. I do it all the time. I'm pretty sure it's the only reason I'm still alive, actually. OMG DRAMATIC!! (Not really, it's just that I was good at convincing myself I didn't really need to eat after all at one point. Ha!)