Brain Training

A year ago, I was sitting in a workshop with Marilyn Horowitz, a film professor at NYU. She remarked on the challenging journey that is screenwriting life and encouraged us to tip the scales by writing ourselves “a happy little story” every day.

Not a happy story for some character. Not someone else’s happy little story…
A happy story for me!

Bob Ross photo from BuzzFeed

Happy little trees aren’t just for Bob Ross anymore.

Because believe it or not, we writers are not by nature the cheerfullest bunch. At least, not generally. I tend to be quite cheerful in person, perhaps annoyingly so at times, and I have the highest confidence in friends and acquaintances who confess to me their aspirations to greatness.

But when it comes to my own screenwriting goals, all my cheer can go right out the window. And it’s winter, so the window’s not even open. So now I have a bruised ego and a broken window.

See how quickly this can get ugly?

This module in my screenwriting class has been all about training our brains with a philosophy of success. Any creative endeavor is sure to generate criticism and even rejection. As part of the learning process, this is tough to take! Our best defense is to cultivate a healthy mindset and believe that these months of brainstorming concepts and outlining characters and choosing plot devices will not be spent in vain.

A screenplay is a big deal to write! It takes a ton of organization and structural awareness. You change something in the second act, it reverberates through the first and third as well. And woe to you if you make it past page 110 and suddenly realize your concept is all wrong.

What keeps us going is faith. And faith has to be based on something solid. That’s what separates Confidence from Wishful Thinking.

So write yourself a happy little story today. Think about all your wildest dreams and what it would take for them to come true. Look at new things you’ve tried successfully in the past and what it took to achieve those goals. Make a plan and stick to it.

Perseverance, my friends. That is what it’s all about. NOT the hokey pokey.