Updated Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Save Better Off Ted

I'm not usually one to shill for a show. But shows that I actively enjoy are a rare kettle of fish these days.

So here I am.

Shilling.

Let's just get it right out there: I love Better Off Ted.

It's a show that somehow manages to make me belly laugh at least once an episode. It's subversive and fresh and the living embodiment of all those other buzzwords that people in the biz tend to throw around.




But, like so many other shows, being funny just don't count for as much as you'd think.

Especially when your network can't seem to get rid of you fast enough.

Word on the street is that this show is dying... and fast. ABC's been burning off episodes like jet fuel at a pyro convention and a whole lot of people are missing out on what I will handily declare 'One of The 5 BEST Shows On Television right now'.



So, please, before this show disappears into the void, take a look at these videos. Set your PVRs, or head to iTunes and donate 30 mins of your time to watch this show.

You won't be disappointed.



Cheers!
Brandon

PS:
This is a video of outtakes from one of the more recent episodes. The language was... neutered for TV. Not so much for the Web. Warning!!! This video has (a lot of) swears and vulgar/disturbing language in it!


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

There's another way to look at it

The Hollywood Reporter has a neat article that shows how Avatar isn't even in the top 25 when it comes to actual tickets purchased.

Personally, I think this is a far better way to evaluate a movie -- especially with 3D ticket prices hovering around the $15-18 mark.

The full article (top 20) can be found here.

Here's the Top 10 from the list (with my comments) below:

1 "Gone With the Wind" (1939) 202,044,600
2 "Star Wars" (1977) 178,119,600
3 "The Sound of Music" (1965) 142,415,400
4 "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" (1982) 141,854,300
5 "The Ten Commandments" (1956) 131,000,000
6 "Titanic" (1997) 128,345,900
7 "Jaws" (1975) 128,078,800
8 "Doctor Zhivago" (1965) 124,135,500
9 "The Exorcist" (1973) 110,568,700
10 "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937) 109,000,000

Now, some of these I can completely understand.

Gone With The Wind is just one of those movies that'll never get de-throned (if you put those figures into current day context). I figure it was pretty much the first 'event' film... and certainly hearing Clark Gable uttering the word 'damn' (scandalous!... well, back then) probably added to the draw.

Star Wars... well, it spawned an entire culture and ultimately gave us Emo Vader and Jar Jar Binks. Truly the Universe is a thing of balance.

The Sound of Music is one of those films that I enjoyed when I saw it but didn't really remember much outside of the 'do re mi' song. Though at 142.5 million-ish ticket sales, it would appear that people of the 60's were far more into musicals than I could've possibly imagined.

E.T - this movie introduced me to Reese's Pieces. Alas, I only ever saw it on VHS.

The Ten Commandments is one of those 'classic' movies I've just never liked. As far as I'm concerned this movie's on the list 'cause it's got a hard Christian angle and Charlton Heston. Which... yeah, apparently did the trick for a whole heck of a lot of people.

Titanic. Oh man. This girl I was dating at the time, she saw it 15 freaking times. A fact I'd only discovered as I took her out to viewing #16. Seemed like a simple idea, but man... To this day, I've never been in a movie where I've heard so many teenage girls openly weeping. My date at the time? Apparently leading the pack. Single-handedly one of the most surreal experiences of my teenage years.

Jaws is one of those movies (like Psycho) that I wish I could've seen in the actual time period it was released. It still holds up as one of my faves, but man, how wicked would it be to see this film without being a jaded lil' movie-going so-and-so??

Doctor Zhivago is apparently one of the great Romance movies. I've still yet to see this... Ladies, gents? How does it hold up?

The Exorcist. I first saw this movie on a dark and stormy Halloween night. NOT the way to do it. Especially when you're only 18 and think you're all tough and stuff. Nightmares, oh the nightmares. I wonder if those ticket sales count all the people who walked out and/or asked for their money back? 'Cause apparently this flick scared the bejeezus out of a whole generation.

Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs. Aka, my first Disney Movie -- I can completely understand why this flick is in the top 10. This flick must've been absolutely mesmerizing for people of the time... I can only imagine how much higher this number would be if they counted all the lil' rascals who snuck their way in.

Overall, a great lil' list... are there any on there that surprise you?

Cheers!
Brandon

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Taking Notes

I've gotten all the notes back on my spec pilot and, for the most part, they're pretty good.

'Good' as in useful, even if not entirely positive.

I know I used to cringe (or worse) when I got a 'bad' note. It's not always an easy thing to take; Especially the straight-forward, brutal kind of honesty I ask for.

The kind that makes the lil' boy in me want to do that whole fetal-position-spin-in-a-circle-thing.

And, no, I'm not a masochist. (Tho' sometimes I wonder...)

Truth be told, I'm still not entirely comfortable with the feelings that tag along with 'brutal honesty' but I can't argue with the results.

I've found that when people are encouraged to talk freely, they say all sorts of interesting things; they let it get personal. They get emotional.

And, to me, emotion is good -- better if it comes with all sorts of technical insights (better act outs, etc), but emotional impact lets me know I'm on the right track.

Though, more often than not, it tells me where I'm weak.

As I'm prepping my 2nd draft of this thing I'm looking over my scratch pad and... wow... there's quite a lot to run with here -- which leads me to my second point:

Finding the common denominators.

I've found that I can get 5 different sets of notes and each of them can have wildly different ideas of what works and what doesn't.

What some love, others hate.

And yet, often there are similarities; 3 out of 5 will like this or (if I'm lucky) 4 will think that plot point needs to be expanded upon.

Often it's not quite that cut and dry... and that's why the fun part is in figuring out which suggestions help me tell the best version of the story I'm trying to tell.

'Cause there's always that bit of 'I'd totally do it this way' or 'You should do this'; usually they're valid (and welcome) suggestions... but sometimes they can distract from whatever bee is buzzing around in my head.

The hard part is making that distinction between what's a 'great idea' and what's a 'great idea for the show I'm trying to put together'.

Sometimes that distinction is isn't easy to see. Sometimes I gotta just pick up a shovel and go exploring.

Find out the hard way.

That means a whole lot of scenes that'll never see the light of day or cool lines of dialogue that'll end up not working. Characters made and lost or changed irrevocably with a few bangs on the delete key.

Sometimes it means getting lost in the woods or hitting a dead end or getting trapped in a causal-loop.

Mostly it means getting my hands deep into the script while trying to remember why I wrote this damned thing and cursing myself for not thinking of that in the first place.

In short: It's really a whole lot of fun.

Cheers!
Brandon

P.S: Hey, remember that new Oh Canada! Video I was talking about? It's officially up -- unfortunately Much Music is all against embedding videos, so you get a rather boring link instead.

Check it out here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Aww Dammit




He's makin' me tear up at work.

I missed Friday night's final show 'cause I was out chumming with some great writer-pals at The Paddock.

Luckily, I happened upon Denis' transcript on his blog.

But the actual video... man... it just hits that much harder.

THAT my friends, is class. THAT is what we need more of in this world.

And, gawd damn, if he ain't the kind of role model I wish I had when I was growing up.

You have my sword, sir.

Cheers,
Brandon

Friday, January 22, 2010

It Trickles

Well, the word is starting to trickle it's way back to me -- my dear readers have had their time with the first draft of my spec pilot and the news is... not horrible.

Which, hey, I'll take it.

My biggest fear was that I'd over (or under) shot this thing and would need a full-on page 1 to even think about doing this concept justice.


The good news is that, yeah, I probably don't need that.

The bad news is that I'm definitely going to have to do some structural work here.

I always find it funny that the characters I think are working well are never the ones that actually end up making the grade. In this case, most of my main characters have been reported as 'archetypes' while my secondary characters are having way more pull to them.

Also, a whole important subplot that I thought 'wow, this is going to be so cool' is, well, sucking pretty hardcore. I'd put so much work into getting this big dramatic reveal out the door that I didn't really stop to ask 'hey, step back from this for a sec and see how this works big-picture-style'.

That, folks, is why you have to have a dedicated team of trusted readers. People who you know are not screwing with you (even when you secretly hope they are). They call you on your shit and say 'Hey, really? You though this was going to work?' (usually a lot more nicer than that).

The rest of the feedback's coming this weekend, the ol' writer's group is getting together for the first time since the New Year. I have to admit that I'm rather intrigued to see what they thought as well.

Until then I just have to console myself with one of the true immutable laws of the universe:

First drafts suck.

However, they're also that all-important building block, that first peg in the ground -- the tip that sets the ball in motion inside your subconscious while you're busy buttering toast or fixing your car or sewing buttons on jumpsuits.

In truth, hardest thing to get over after stinky first draft is... well... myself.

'Cause it's easy to get lost in what I did wrong, where I screwed up or how I will ultimately die alone and un-produced as a wretched failure of a human being.

It's infinitely harder to kick that lil' bugger in the junk (really, wretched failure of a human being?!) sit back down at the keyboard and put on the ol' construction hat.

Still, it's gotta be done... and it's only one tiny step in the larger process ahead... so might as well get to it.

Or, as was bequeathed to me from the hallowed words of my most-honoured ancestors:

"Suck it up and get back to work"

Yes, I guess the 'basking' phase is officially over.

Cheers,
Brandon

Thursday, January 21, 2010

If you're looking to kill some time

The wonderful thing about this industry is that overwhelming sense of 'hurry up and wait'.

Being someone who's never been known as 'patient', yeah, it's always a rough thing for me.

What? You mean the world doesn't move at my pace? Things take time?

Oh.

So, yeah, it's one of my ongoing battles.

I'd like to think I'm getting better...

Anyways, while we wait, here's some fun distractions:

A list of the best flash games of the last decade.

I don't agree with every winner, but every single one of them is fun and addictive to play. Also: fantastic for killing inordinate amounts of time.

Which, yeah, isn't always a good thing.

So... uh... use sparingly.

Cheers!
Brandon

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

UPDATED: Oh Canada!




You're going to be hearing a lot of this song over the next little while (if you haven't been already).

I first heard it back on So You Think You Can Dance Canada -- there was an amazing dancer who auditioned to it and all the judges were left speechless by the song (I think the dancer got a pass too).

Well, apparently it struck a chord 'cause it's gonna be getting a huge pump as the Olympics get up and running.

There's a new video out (I just watched it) but it's not up online yet - I'll post it when it is.

The song is written by a really cool East-coast rapper named Classified. I met him a few years back when I was wrangling for the MMVA's and he'd been invited to come hang out and enjoy the award he won. (I think it was Best Rap Video...?)

Truly a down-to-earth guy, he showed up with his wife and -- in a place that was full of jaded musicians -- was genuinely excited to be there. I took him up to the VIP section so he could chill and have some drinks and he marveled then at what could happen in a year.

Apparently he'd shown up the year before and they'd barred him from the stairwell.

Anyways, I've got nothing but good wishes for this guy -- and I'm glad we've finally got us a decent song to lead us into the Olympics.

Something that inspires a little, you know, Pride.

Cheers!
Brandon

EDIT: Video's still not out yet, but here's a home-made video by some kids who were extras in the video shoot. Apparently it's coming out on MuchMusic soon -- actually, check that, I've heard through the grapevine you're going to see it on Muchmusic.com as soon as this this afternoon.

So yeah, keep an eye out for it. But until then: Here's some behind the scenes footage.



Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Web Dramas UNITE!

The always-awesome Jill Golick has news that the Independent Production Fund will be financing dramatic webseries!

Hoo-ah!

I (like most) have been working on my own little web-series concept for a while now and this is exactly the kind of good news I like to hear.

Maybe, just maybe, it'll facilitate some wicked new Canadian web series.

And they'll be the launching point for a whole whack of new, Canadian web-celebs.

And hey, at the very least it'll allow a whole bunch of stressed-out Canadian creatives the opportunity to brain-dump, experiment and express a few things that just won't fly on the 'tube.

Which is a good thing.

'Cause if there's one thing Canada's not short on, it's Canadian creatives chomping at the bit to make stuff.

Truth be told, I'm pretty excited about the possibilities.

And I can't wait to see what comes out of the pipe.

Here's hopin' for the best!

Cheers,
Brandon

Monday, January 18, 2010

Ni Hao Ma?

On the long list of things that are my 'personal projects', learning Mandarin has been -- perhaps -- the most frustrating.

It's been a slow and not-altogether-steady process, with small bits of progress along the way.

If I had to try and nail it down, I'd say that trying to wrap my head around how the language works has been the most persistent stumbling block.

What goes where? How do I form a sentence? You know... grammar stuff -- well, besides my obvious lack of vocabulary (and complete inability to articulate proper 'tones').

Now, I'm sure I've heard it explained to me before, from a couple different people... but try as I might, it just doesn't click into place.

I've managed to get a few phrases down pat, a couple words and the base numbers... but I'm nowhere near conversation-ready.

Which really frustrates me because I actually have a tangible goal that I want to accomplish here:

I want to talk to my father-in-law.

See, he doesn't really speak much English, but I think he's a damn-cool guy. He's an amazing cook and sort of a techie in his own right. He's polite and kind and, heck, I really want to just sit down and... chat with him... y'know?

We've sort of worked out our niche together so far, mostly bits and pieces of English and a whole lot of hand signals.

But it's not enough, and it frustrates me on days like yesterday when I just feel that need to say "How the hell are ya, man? What's your life been like? What do you think about the world?"

I've heard that English is supposed to be the hardest language to learn, and maybe it is, but damn... Mandarin's no walk in the park either.

Thankfully, my wife's been a total champ about helping me through the wonderful world of 'tones' and special characters (x's sound like 'shi'). I drive her up the wall tho' because I can replicate the exact sound after she says it, but the moment I go to use it in a sentence, well... yeah... it turns to into a gore-fest as I proceed to massacre the language.

Still, I keep plugging away at it -- I'm working out a sort of lesson plan to try and implement over the next few months to see if I can get some base phrases down pat and maybe not sound like an utter dork.

Yeah, it's a process. A long, slow, agonizing process.

But I think it'll be worth it in the end.

Cheers,
Brandon

P.S:

For those interested, here's some basic Mandarin. Try and say them quickly (like 1/2 a second-ish).

Hello = Ni Hao (Say: Knee Haow)

How Are You? = Ni Hao Ma? (Knee Haow Mah?)

Thank You = Xie Xie (Shay-Shay)

Hot off the presses, my wife just sent this to me:


Friday, January 15, 2010

Dun Dun DONE!

And so, today, at 1:25pm, a script was borne out into the world.

Kicking and screaming and, well, ugly as all hell.

Its a mess.

But it's MY mess.

My beautiful mess.

I've named it "Pipeline" - and, with much teachin' and schoolin', perhaps a bit (a lot) of plastic surgery, one day it will grow into a powerful force for some truly awesome TV.

I hope.

This was not an easy birth -- the damned thing just wouldn't come out of me. Sure, it'd kick from time to time, just to remind me that it was there, but try as I might, it wouldn't budge.

Somehow, someway, something shifted.

Maybe it rotated itself inside my cranial cavity.

Maybe it was that blow to the head I took when I tried to mount that stripper pole on New Years (<-- That did not actually happen).

Whatever it was, it decided it wasn't going to wait anymore.

I got the urge, those first pangs, probably last Friday. I think. I pulled up an old outline that I'd written quite some time ago, re-read it then trashed most of it.

The idea had mutated since then. Whatever those original pages had been about, it wasn't my show anymore.

So I got down to it over the weekend. Re-wrote almost the whole outline.

This Monday, I got down to work proper.

And here I am, 5 days later... barely clearing 3 hours a day... with my own lil' baby script.

Such a tiny lil' thing to call my own.

My sweet, little "Pipeline"...

Pity about what comes next.

'Cause they say we have to kill our babies. We're writers. And that's just the way it must be.

And maybe it is.

But for now, let's just sit here a moment.

Count the tiny toes and the puffy lil' fingers.

Enjoy it.

Bask.

'Cause Monday I sharpen the axe.

Cheers,
Brandon

Thursday, January 14, 2010

That Moment

This morning was kind of a breakthrough for me, a nice little moment spent in the silence, converting the notes in my outline into actual scenes and dialogue.

Now, truth be told, it wasn't a huge scene -- maybe a half a page -- but the words that came out of their mouths were not my own.

There, huddled in a blanket, laptop nestled on my lap as the sun peeked over the city, I realized that I was listening in on a moment that held meaning to them.

It didn't last all that long, barely a blip on the timeline of what I've been writing, but considering that this is only my first draft... well, hey... I'll take it.

Hell, sometimes I'll get to a 3rd draft before my characters start talking... sometimes -- at least in a couple cases so far -- they never do.

But when it happens, I gotta admit: I get a charge out of that moment.

In a way, it's one of the reasons I write... those little moments, those fractions of a second where I don't know where the words are coming from. Where I get surprised by what comes next.

Where the characters I'm writing stand up and walk on their own, even if it's just for that one moment before my stupid fingers (or 'ideas') come in and screw it all up.

So yeah... that's got me pretty psyched.

That said, it looks like Friday night is going to be the end point for this draft -- I'd originally thought I'd have it ready for Friday morning but I got choked up by a plot point I hadn't really thought through. It's all better now, it makes sense and I've moved on... but damn, when you're only writing 3 hours a day... every second counts.

I'm going to try and cheat a bit by shutting myself in and working away tonight... hopefully that'll get me back on track.

Cheers!
Brandon

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Waking Up

This whole 'waking up at 6am' thing is actually working out alright so far... I'm a touch more tired during the day -- and by 11pm, I'm officially in 'yawn' mode -- but I can't complain about the results thus far.

Slowly, before my very eyes (and beneath some very worn keys) a story is unfolding.

There are spots that, already, I'm not happy with and parts that I know I can do better but I keep on truckin'. Go as far as I can for as long as I can. Get it down in pixels and worry about the reconstructive surgery later.

It's a mental state that flies right in the face of my traditional 'get it right the first time' thought process -- you know, the one I got drilled into my head back in school.

Side Note:

A very special thanks to the Art teacher in high school to told me that "If you can't get it right the first try, then you're wasting everyone's time".

Now, for some reason, out of all the things I learned and forgot in school, that crappy piece of 'learnin'' is what I ended up hanging on to.

Gee, thanks.

Bastard.

Anyway, it's taken me a long time to get past that lil' nugget. To understand that CRAFT takes time, and yeah, a whole lot of screw-ups. You screw up, you learn -- screw up more, learn more.

It all goes into the complex neuro-pathways of 'If, then, but' that make up our wonderful decision-making processes.

In layman's terms, it's called 'experience'.

And luckily enough, as frustrating as last year turned out to be, it helped me gain an important understanding of how I work and how to get the very best out of myself.

Also: How to silence that tinny voice in my head that tells me to "you suck at this, go play video games"; How to push myself further even when "I don't wanna" and how to stave off my own internal need for immediate satisfaction.

The last 3 are still 'works in progress'... but, again, progress is being made.

For now, my main goal is simply this:

Get it done, worry about everything else later.

Cheers!
Brandon

Monday, January 11, 2010

Chuck's Back!

I watched last night's double-wide Chuck season 3 premiere with my breath firmly held in that space between my lungs and my throat.

See, one of the inevitable things about writing a spec for a season that doesn't yet exist is that, well, you're gonna get it wrong.

Luckily, I wasn't as far off as I thought I'd be.

Some spoilers ahead (for the series in general... not just the episode).

...

...

...

I think the biggest hit to my current spec script was the news that Anna had flown the coop with some prep chef, leaving Chuck and Morgan as roommates. In my script, I'd extrapolated that Morgan and Anna would've been off living together.

That sucks.

Back when I was writing the script, I'd heard rumours that Julia Ling (Anna) wouldn't be back but I took a shot and fit her in anyways. I like having Morgan and Anna together, I think they make a great comedic team... it's a shame that she's gone.

Co-Creator Chris Fedak has since confirmed that Anna won't be in the original 13 episodes, but may end up being in the extra eps that were ordered.

Here's hoping she makes a comeback.

Spec script-wise, yeah, that's a bit of a problem... something I should probably fix. The hardest part in that is that Anna is one of the main motivators of my B plot, which ends up tying into my A plot... so yeah, that's going to make things complicated when I do another draft of this thing.

On the bright side, I did end up calling a few things that went down in the premiere - Chuck ending up getting spy-training from Casey, the new intersect being highly-unpredictable, the somber state of the Buy-More and a few other little things.

Didn't call Emmett's death tho'... and DAMN! Well-played, sirs! I think I giggled a bit.

Does that make me a bad person? :P

I did like the connection that the Intersect 2.0 was unstable because Chuck himself is rather, well, unstable... tho' I can see the whole 'Sarah being his stabilizer' thing getting annoying rather fast.

That said, I did like the ultimate reveal of why Chuck ditched Sarah at the train station... tho' it did seem a bit 'tv'-ish. Why not just explain his feelings at the station if he felt so strongly?

Sure, maybe he needed time to process, but it's not like the meeting was suddenly sprung on him. In what they showed us, he made a pretty conscious decision to walk away from her.

Anyways, yeah. Still, it was a nice moment to close out the 2nd episode.

I think the biggest problem with what I've seen from the episodes so far is that, well, they haven't been all that much 'Fun'. I know it wasn't exactly easy to pull 'fun' out of the situations they were in, but... I don't know...

Hopefully, now that they've pretty much restored things back to base-line -- with Chuck and Morgan back working at the BuyMore and the team back together -- they can start to have fun with the characters again.

There's a new episode lined up for tonight that features one of my favourite tertiary characters: Captain Awesome. I really liked what they did with him near the end of season 2, hopefully they pick that ball up and run with it.

In other news:

I've been writing away like a madman on the first draft of a spec pilot for my newest original series. This baby's been gestating for quite some time so I'm glad that the actual 'birthing' is clipping along at such a nice pace. Fingers crossed, I'll have a first draft done by Friday.

Pretty damn cool!

Cheers,
Brandon

P.S: Damn, I love that poster!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Battlestar Revisited

So, I figured the first of my scripts I'd put up is one that I really slaved over back in the day.

I'm such a fan of Battlestar Galactica that I went head-over-heels trying to get this script right -- well, that and fit in every character I could. I did an insane amount of research and watched a ton of episodes just to prepare.

All because of one little idea.

A glaring hole I noticed, storywise, in between Season 2 and 3.

So I dove in, head first.

Now, I've heard that you shouldn't write specs about shows you love 'cause it's hard to be objective. And, yes, that's true. However, I think if you can get all your fan-love out in the first draft and then manage to separate yourself enough to be objective in the second (not easy), then you can end up with a really solid show.

Something that has a real heart beating behind the structure and technique and, well, craft.

Which is what I like to think I accomplished with 'Reign'. It's not perfect, and it's aged a little bit, but having just given it another read through this morning, I'm still very happy with it.

So, anyways, have at it. The link's up there over on the right-hand side, click away, download/read the PDF. Let me know what you think... especially if you're a BSG fan.

As a side note:

One of the cooler things about this script was that it was the first official spec that I ever wrote... and I covered the joys of writing this puppy right here on my blog, as it became part of my application process to apply to the CFC.

If you're interested, you can read about the genesis of the script here

You can check out my first-ever attempt at a beat-sheet here

You can read one of the first scenes I wrote here

And my lil' victory dance at getting the first draft done here

Yes, I still get rather excitable about finishing my first drafts... I tend to let myself bask a bit 'cause afterward comes the painful realization of what comes next.

But yeah, until then... just bask.

Cheers!
Brandon

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Flirting With Change

I've been thinking about changing things up around here, bit by bit, for a while now.

And I think one of the simplest changes is that I'm going to start posting some of my work here in downloadable form.

It'll be stuff that I'm proud of, stuff that only a very few have ever read. Most of it'll be of the older persuasion, but I figure, hey -- why not?

Maybe I'll throw up a current spec or two as well.

I figure it's time to clear out the cobwebs of my old storage so I can make room for some new content.

Might even throw up some of my earlier stuff, from when I was still figuring this whole thing out. It's not all that pretty, but it's a view to some very rough beginnings -- ahh, the joys of screenwriting in Word.

Anyways, it's just a small update for right now... possibly bigger things to come in the future.

Cheers!
Brandon

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Unexpected Benefits

I think I've managed to suss out one of the little benefits of this whole 'schedule' thing... and it's actually kind of neat.

Before, I'd sit there and write whenever I could and afterward I'd always end up feeling guilty 'cause I couldn't do more. (Or, you know, that I'd go a whole week or so before my next sit down).

Now that I've got a scheduled 'writing time'... hell, any time I manage to get some extra writing in, it's all bonus.

Sure, it seems like a small thing but damn if it doesn't put a positive spin on things and shoot me full of all sorts of warm, writer-ly feelings.

Things are getting done.

And any time I start to waver, or grumble, I just look to the words I've now pen-tattooed on the side of my hand:

No Excuses.

And I get my butt back to work.

This actually worked out well today 'cause I felt those feelings when it was time for me to go to the gym.

See, I'm still sore from Monday and tired 'cause my body's still getting used to waking up at 6am and --

No Excuses.

So off I went, did a nice lunch workout - sweated like a roasting ham - hit the showers and got back in the saddle.

That's when I noticed my little pen-tattoo had been scrubbed off.

So I wrote it back on.

Yep, chalk one up for the slow and steady march of progress.

Cheers!
Brandon

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

A Fresh Start (aka The Schedule)

Part of trying to get a handle on this whole 'being disciplined' thing means tightening the reigns a bit for the foreseeable future.

Getting life on a track and setting up some serious (hopefully positive) habits.

Thus: My daily schedule for the foreseeable future.

5:50am -- Wake up, drink a freezing cold glass of water (I find this works better than coffee anyway). Sit down, write 'till 9am.

9 am -- Get ready for work, 10 min shower and out the door.

9:30am -- Arrive at work, do work things until lunch.

12pm to 1pm -- Monday, Wednesday, Friday: Hit the gym, try and get this body burning calories instead of accruing. Tuesday, Thursday: Extra writing/reading time. Might take up reading more TV scripts in my spare time.

1pm -- More work. Work, work, work. Out the door for 6pm.

6:30pm -- Get home, help prepare dinner.

7pm to 11pm -- Dishes then watch some TV with the wife. Off to bed by 11pm so I can get a good 6-7 hours of sleep before my 6am alarm.

Yeah, I know... bed by 11.... ugh. But hey, I gotta say: I'm really digging the silence that comes with an early start.

Weekends, since I'm still quite fond of a bit of chaos in my life, will be mostly unplanned -- especially since, well, so much tends to happen then. But I know that usually my Saturday mornings are quiet... so I can probably sneak some writing time in there as well.

All things considered, at the minimum, my new schedule will allow for a pretty decent 15 hours a week of writing -- not including whatever else I manage to sneak in over the week.

Considering how things've been rather 'seat of my pants' as of late, this should be quite an upgrade.

I'm sure it'll get fine-tuned and overhauled down the road... but hey, it's a start.

Cheers,
Brandon

Monday, January 04, 2010

No Excuses

I actually managed to get some reading done this holiday season, made it through two books and they both had a pretty positive impact on me.

They were 'Bird by Bird' and 'The War of Art'.

Interestingly enough, what I got out of both books was simple yet profound in its own sort of way:

Just sit the hell down and write already. Do it every day. No excuses.

It's the 'no excuses' part that really stuck with me 'cause the more I thought about 2009, the more it seemed to sum things up. 2009 was probably my least-productive year so far, it felt that I was constantly unfocused and flailing... more importantly, I seemed to have an excuse for everything.

Work not completed, gym memberships lying fallow, coasting on a whole list of topics and generally being a mopey SOB about all the stuff not done.

In short: I wasted a whole hell of a lot of time. I let my failures stack up inside my own head, decided not to roll with the punches, allowed myself to stay down when I was knocked down.

Sure, the whole thing wasn't a wash -- I got married, I climbed the CN Tower, met countless amazing people. But in my own head, I just couldn't get it together and the farther I got into the year, the worse it was. By December I just felt like a jumbled mess. Confused, unfocused, worried.

Even worse, in the end, the storm was going off all in my head. Nothing getting written down, nothing getting sorted through -- just crap crashing into crap crashing into crap inside my skull.

What I needed was that kick in the ass. That ol' internal re-centering. The books helped but it was my own realization of the problem where everything clicked. The mercury congealed.

Do the work. No Excuses.

And so, here I am.

I've talked about my own inner battles with Discipline before, trying to keep myself on the straight and narrow. And I've realized that that's the trick: Trying.

Do or Do Not. There is no Try. (Thanks Yoda).

No Excuses.

Just sit down, do the work, get'r done.

Hallelujah.

Welcome to 2010.

Cheers,
Brandon