I woke up this morning to a Go into the Story email that talked about how the Zero Draft Thirty Challenge is about to start up again. I tried this once a couple of years back, but wasn’t able to finish. Recently, I’ve been prepping for a new feature script and I tried to start the outline a couple of times, but I wasn’t able to focus on it the way I wanted to. When I saw that this challenge was happening again, I jumped at the chance to finally commit to getting a first draft done.
It’s a story that I’ve been wanting to write for a long time, but it just hit too close to home and I’ve been afraid to write it. I’m never going to be able to get out from that place of fear. When you write you expose part of yourself. Why not write about it while the emotions are still present? I’ve always looked at writing as being therapeutic. Maybe this is what I need to help me heal…
For the rest of this week, I’ll be outlining this script so I can hit the ground running when September 1st gets here. Anybody else plan to join?
This weekend I spent a lot of time trying to figure out where my focus needs to be. Sometimes my thoughts can be all over the place and unfortunately this act can stall my productivity. There are so many ideas I want to try and tackle, but I came to the conclusion that I need to juggle only one or two projects at a time.
So, what’s my motivation to get these projects done?
Deadlines! I’m using screenwriting competition deadlines to kick my productivity into high gear. The main two competitions I have on my radar is the Nicholl Fellowships and the ATX Pitch Competition. The ATX Pitch Competition is the earlier deadline, they usually open up for submissions around November and you have to submit a writing sample along with a ninety second video pitch. I did this once a few years back, but didn’t make it to the next round. I’m going to try again with my latest project that made it to the second round for the Macro Episodic Lab. It’s my favorite concept so far and it’s very personal, so I’m hoping this will stand out amongst the other submissions.
If I do make it to the finals I’ll get to go back to Austin and pitch my show in front of the judges and a live audience. I have participated in a pitch competition before back in 2015 at the Austin Film Festival and that experience was very nerve-racking.
Here’s some of the post from my 2015 blog:
I still can’t believe I pitched my single camera half hour comedy drama script in front of a live audience that included ICM agent, Rebecca Ewing and writer/executive producer of Shameless, Nancy Pimental. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to go through with it. Even up to the last minute.
I was already feeling overwhelmed by the AFF experience, so the idea of pitching was literally terrifying to me. I hadn’t done public speaking in over ten years, but I was hoping my previous theater experience from high school would kick in to help me get over my fear.
I even went to the pitch session before my session, to show support for fellow Story Broad members and I wanted an idea of what I was in for. I sat in that pitch session and immediately got dry mouth for the entire session. I had never experienced dry mouth due to nervousness. I was already freaking out that I was going to have to pitch soon.
How and the hell was I going to pitch with dry mouth? I tried water, mints and gum. Nothing worked.
Now I had to get ready to pitch and I still was nervous and had dry mouth. They randomly selected what order you went in and I was number four. I actually didn’t mind that number since I didn’t want to go first, but I did want to get it over with as quickly as possible and not endure another pitch session with dry mouth.
I had my best friend, cheering me on and I felt confident that I was going to be able to get through it until I saw the judges walk in. My nerves kicked in to overdrive.
My inner monologue:
I’m not going to be able to do this. There’s the door. Run. Get the hell out of here!
My number was almost up. I chewed on one last piece of gum that was making my mouth feel even worse. One last swig of water and it was game time.
I gave my brief intro, including my name, title and genre. I spoke the first few sentences before I hit the first joke in my pitch and I honestly had no idea what to expect once I told this joke. I thought I would get a few chuckles. Maybe they would just give a polite smile to show sympathy for me. What if no one laughed?
It was the complete opposite. I told my joke and the entire room burst out laughing, even the judges! Holy shit! What just happened?
Let me explain this moment to you. I am an introverted person. I’m in my head all the time. I had only practiced my pitch with my voice recorder. The only laughs I’ve ever gotten in person were from a few family members, but I always thought they were being polite. So imagine that you are in my shoes and you just got that response from a room full of strangers. Holy shit!
Now you probably think that I slayed the rest of that pitch. (Do kids still use slayed?)
Gather around my friends, let me tell you how hearing that response completely threw me off my pitch game. I was in complete shock and it made me draw a blank for a few seconds. I was able to pick it back up, but I let my nerves get the best of me. I was able to complete the pitch, but I did have a few moments of panic come over me and the judges had to tell me to breathe. It was that damn laughter!
When it was over, the judges gave me great feedback and I was able to explain that the laughter threw me off. Nancy Pimental told me it would probably be a good idea to practice in front of people and not just in front of the mirror. They both liked the idea and didn’t hold back on what worked for them and what didn’t work.
After I sat back down, I was greeted by my smiling b.f.f. and two attendees sitting by us, who really enjoyed my pitch. I was so relieved it was over and extremely emotional from that experience as a whole, but what kept playing in my head was that laughter. I was literally on the verge of tears. I had to hold them back for the rest of the session. I knew there wasn’t a chance of me being called to the next round due to my nervous delivery. After everyone was done, I was even approached by a few other pitch participants who really enjoyed my pitch and said they would want to see my show.
Again, reading this 2015 blog post puts me right back in that room and the terrified feeling is still there. You’re probably wondering why I would want to put myself in that same position again. Although it was terrifying it was an amazing experience and it was a reminder that the idea I had was there, but the execution and delivery needed work.
That’s what this writing career is about…
The progress you make during the journey.
The first time I joined Twitter was back in October 2011. I had no idea what Twitter was, but apparently it was the place to be. I barely knew any writers online. Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing.
I was never one of those people who went back to read old tweets, but I thought it would be really cool to go back into the archives to see what I was posting about. Over the years I had an on-again/off-again relationship with Twitter. So I probably had 3 accounts total, but my original account was the only archive that I saved. I had a total of 2,594 tweets/replies/retweets, before I officially closed the account back on July 21st, 2016.
I’m not going to post every single one of them, especially replies since you only can see one side of the conversation.
(Original Tweet: 10-19-11) Writing…..my true outlet……time to make it happen (Clearly, I had no idea how to tweet)
(Original Tweet: 10-19-11) Goal: 3 tv pilots….2 spec scripts…..2 screenplays….only the beginning (I was definitely determined)
(Original Tweet: 10-19-11) #WalkingDead spec script….making it happen (Walking Dead was my very first script)
(Original Tweet: 10-19-11) Over thinking can be my downfall at times. Great advice I heard recently..”just shut the f**k up and do it!” (I have no idea where this advice came from)
(Original Tweet: 10-20-11) #WalkingDead marathon, reading a script and taking notes. Wish everyday could be like this….would be a lot more productive:) (I wish I had more days like this)
(Original Tweet: 10-19-11) Found “the wizard of oz” and “the rocky horror picture show” scripts at my library! Who would have thought?! (This was before I knew about all of the scripts online. Such a newbie.)
(Original Tweet: 10-22-11) #LiesPeopleAlwaysTell….”I’m listening.” Are you really hearing what I’m saying or are you going through the motions? (I wonder if this hashtag was trending and I was trying to be like the cool kids?)
(Original Tweet: 10-22-11) @girlonguy I’ve been waiting for this episode! Huge fan of #WalkingDead. Downloading now:) (I still listen to the old episodes of this podcast. So what I needed to hear at the time. May have to go revisit it.)
(Original Tweet: 10-23-11) #writing now….can’t pretend to sleep any longer (So many restless nights)
(Original Tweet: 10-24-11) #WalkingDead!!!!!! (I love my enthusiasm back then, I need to find that fire again.)
Obviously, I know I don’t own the rights to this property and what I’m basically writing would be considered fan fiction, but you don’t understand my love for the franchise. Don’t get me wrong, not every film in this series was a masterpiece, but the original vision that Wes Craven had and put together what Robert Englund did with the Freddy Krueger character. They created something so special and it was instrumental in why I fell in love with movies.
I want to write something that honors that original vision, but also puts some kind of twist on it. It will be something I can read and enjoy or maybe if I’m lucky enough I’ll get to use it as a writing sample. This is definitely a passion project. Right now, I’m reading two books to get inside of the minds of the people who were behind the original film and doing research on top of that. I absolutely can’t wait to start writing this project.
March 29th, 2012, I officially started voice recording my screenwriting journey. I have to admit that I have never made any of these recordings public, let alone go back and listen to any of them. Lately, writing has been a struggle for me and I didn’t know how to get back to the way things used to be in the beginning of this journey when there was so much hope. You go into this hoping that you’ll break into the industry soon, but as years pass by and rejection emails become a norm, the light at the end of the tunnel can tend to get dim. You don’t want to give up, but the doubt slowing starts to creep in.
It’s been a rough couple of years for me. I haven’t been writing as much as I would like. This year I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting and trying to get to the reason why I feel like I’m having a huge case of writer’s block. The desire to be a writer is still there. I still have no plan B.
I recently decided to listen to my first voice recording and it reignited something in me that had been missing for a long time. Posted below is a snippet of the recording. Hopefully, this will motivate some of you who have maybe lost your way or just need a little #motivationalmonday. Don’t give up. Keep fighting for what you want. Cry through it if you have to. I did during this recording and I did while listening to it again.
I’m motivated now more than ever to pursue this career. Why not follow this journey with me? Let’s see what happens…