I Really Love To Do What I Love To Do

I hate thinking myself an artist. It sounds pretentious and probably is. A little voice in my head tells me, “Hey, what about contributing to society?” or “Why should expressing yourself be your job? Why shouldn’t everyone also get an equal opportunity to do so?”

Then I remember how art has impacted my life. How my friend’s short film about relationships led to me having an honest conversation with Jenine about ours. How Disney’s Frozen, believe it or not, restored my relationship with my dad. That may seem silly but it’s true. Art has not only entertained me, but inspired, changing me into who I am today.

I’m reading Stephen King’s On Writing. I read it when I was a teenager, but don’t remember a word. It’s my favorite type of book: the type that re-energizes my passion for stories so much that I have to stop reading and start writing myself.

I published a novel back in 2014. After writing, editing, designing the cover, formatting the interior, and self-publishing the damn thing, I burned out. Told myself I was going to take a break. Besides blog posts and a few short film scripts, I haven’t written much in the past four years.

The problem is many of my ideas are based in fear. I started writing “The Mansion” because I knew Goosebumps was a best-selling series and I wanted to write a best-selling series, only to discover that I didn’t like Goosebumps.

This past week, I watched two short films that changed my life. Both made by friends. “Ella” by Dan Chen and “Our Last Normal Conversation” by Cole Bacani. The latter isn’t even finished yet. Both films were profoundly personal and that surprised me. I didn’t know you could do that. I didn’t know you could simply tell your own story and make human connections through film. I thought you needed explosions or a movie star to keep audiences interested.

But that’s what art is. It’s about connection. I realized I needed to stop trying to entertain people and start connecting with them. That’s why I’m more proud of certain blog posts I wrote in an hour instead of a four hundred page novel.

Sometimes I get confused and think that I don’t like creating art. It’d be safer to get the filmmaker’s version of a corporate job. Again, more fear-based thinking. The best art works against logic. If it’s safe, it’s stupid. And I’m done being safe.

I don’t know what I’m going to create next. I’m finishing up a short film called “A Roomba’s Tale” but after that, who knows. My only goal is to make something outside my comfort zone, something new, something bold. Something personal. I’ll keep you guys updated.

Josh out.

Things I’m Learning About Stories

If I’m going to keep up blogging once a week, I need to change things up. It usually takes me about two hours to write and publish a post. That’s too slow. So this is going to be a highlight reel of recent things I’m learning, specifically about storytelling.

Be open to anything. 

Fear kills creativity. Too many times I shy away from an idea because I don’t fully understand it or how to execute it. I have too many questions. Will it be interesting? Will people like it? Hate it? Will this be a giant waste of time?

These fear-based questions that prevent me from being truly creative and bold with my stories. Or worse, they prevent me from telling a story entirely.

Pace your edit. 

Rushedstoriesarentgoodstories. Youredeliveringanexperiencenotjustinformation.

Editing is important, but there’s a difference between editing and ripping the soul out of your movie. Sometimes a five second establishing wide shot isn’t enough to bring your audience into the scene.

Take one of my favorite scenes of all time, the argument between Bob and Helen in the Incredibles:

It takes a full twenty-two seconds for Bob to enter the house and start fighting with his wife. It’s not just him walking around either. That’d be boring. He sees a piece of cake, is enticed, then eats it. Okay, maybe that does sound boring in writing. So why is it there and why is it important?

There’s something about simply being with a character that helps the audience empathize. When writing, it’s important to have both the boring moments along with the intense to create contrast.

Ugh, I feel like explaining this concept further, but this is supposed to be highlights, people. But here’s one last prime example of what I’m talking about.

So here we have a scene with just the antagonist. He’s a murderer. We don’t like him. So why, when the car stops sinking midway, do we feel tension? Shouldn’t we want him to fail?

We were with Norman as he sank the car. We were with him as he tried to hide the evidence. Storytelling can take you to unexpected places and allow you to experience emotions with people with whom you wouldn’t normally associate. And that’s power.

Sorry if this feels more like clip notes and less like an actual blog, but honestly this is mostly for myself as I try to understand narratives better.

Stories are about two things: empathy and danger.

This is pretty straight-forward.

If you don’t care, you won’t be interested. Empathy.

If nothing important is happening, you won’t be interested. Danger.

Yeah. That’s about it.

Josh out.

I Don’t Have Time

Man, oh man. In a perfect world, I could relax in a cabin somewhere in the Poconos, sip a glass of orange juice, and just write to my heart’s content. With lots of naps in between. I would wait for inspiration to hit.

I have jobs. Freelance gigs. I have responsibilities. Things I promised others. There are a couple things on my toodoo list that are a couple months old. Ouch. What’s preventing me from just…doing it? Laziness? That’s it, right? Just…laziness.

I was supposed to apply to Buzzfeed as a visual effects artist several months ago. I haven’t. I need to revamp my resume for that to happen. And that’s just not…interesting to do.

You suck. You really, really suck, Josh. You can’t do a simple thing like revamp your resume for SEVERAL MONTHS?

After I finish writing this post, I’m probably not going to revamp my resume. I could. I totally could. It’s within the realm of possibility. That’s one of my favorite things to say, that something is within the realm of possibility. It reminds me the only thing preventing me from making something happen is myself.

I feel like I don’t have time. The reality is I have the same amount of time as everyone else. And it’s time to start moving.

Josh out.

Motivated For Thirty Days

Wow. I did it. I blogged every day for an entire month. Woot.

This all started with a podcast. Two successful screenwriters talked about how they got into the business, indirectly mentioning how they both used to blog every day. That didn’t sound too hard.

Listening to said podcast happened to coincide with watching a Youtube interview with Akira Kurosawa, whose films I still have to watch. Yes, I can see my filmmaking cred floating away before my eyes. If someone can recommend one of his films to me, that’d be great.

Anyhoo, Akira’s advice to aspiring filmmakers was write. Commit to the monotonous task of writing one word at a time. Filmmaking is expensive. Two bucks for a pen and some paper is not. Writing will help you understand good storytelling. You can make many mistakes writing, while you only can make so many mistakes in film before someone goes, “Hey, maybe let’s not hire this guy again.”

So this blog was supposed to help motivate me to write a screenplay. I needed to get over my fear of putting words on a page, always worrying if it’s “good enough” or not. JUST WRITE, YA MORON. Well, I haven’t started my script yet. I have a synopsis and some ideas.

I’ll keep you guys updated as I progress. I’m headed to Vegas for the first time this weekend. Probably will have something interesting to blog about. Or vlog.

Josh out.

Starting Day With Emotional Prayer

Early on in my blog, I wrote a post about jumping out bed. I’m a hypocrite. I’ve woken up around noon every day this week.

I have a sign on my bedroom ceiling, aligned with where my head would be as I sleep. It reads:

Did you just wake up? PRAY TO START YOUR DAY, YOU SINNER

prayer sign

I’m not joking. It’s effective fifty percent of the time.

Not gonna lie, when I write these posts, I stare at my laptop for a good five minutes, trying to think of a topic. Unless I have one already in my head. That’s always nice. But if I’m writing every day, I can’t patiently wait for inspiration to hit me. I have to hit it. Where am I going with this? NO IDEA.

My point is, today is one of those days where I felt uninspired. Then I remembered. I’m having a boring day due to inactivity. So I need to be active. But I don’t feel like being active. So I should pray.

Yup, that’s pretty much my thought process. I took out my guitar and started strumming some praise songs. For me, praying isn’t limited to getting on my knees and asking God to bless my day. It includes singing worship songs. Being silent in His presence (note to self: do this one more often).

Okay, now it’s time to hit the prayer list. I have a bunch of sticky notes on my wall with a prayer item on each one. Hm. Odd. I suddenly felt overwhelmed. By sticky notes.

Just pick one. I chose to pray blessings over my parents today. Cool. Now time to continue my day.

Every time I start my day with prayer, it’s already a good day. So why don’t I do this every day? Well, I try. It’s not instinctive, unfortunately. To me, prayer is humbling myself before God, letting Him know that I can’t do life without Him.

But I don’t like being humbled sometimes. I get impatient. I have ACDC, no ADD, whatever it’s called. I don’t want to admit that I need God because I’m a proactive protagonist and can do whatever I want.

Except that whatever I want usually entails sleeping in until noon.

It’s a habit I’m building. Still working on it. I’ll keep you guys updated with how it goes.

Josh out.

P.S. If the title seems oddly worded, it’s because I used this site to analyze the emotional marketing value of my blog posts: http://www.aminstitute.com/headline/ 

My original title was “Starting My Day With Prayer.” That only scored 20%. This title scored 40%, which apparently most professional copywriters will get. Woohoo. Let all my future titles be dictated by a computer. If this blog gets a lot more traffic, maybe there’s something to it.

What Do You Think Of This Movie Idea?

I think I’m going to write a feature film screenplay. Been toying around with a couple ideas. My biggest struggle is choosing an idea and sticking with one. Here, I’ll tell you what it was:

A self-righteous cop discovers a parallel universe where he murdered his own daughter. He goes to exact justice on his alternate self.

Not too shabby, right? It’d be a cool action thriller. Throw in some crazy action scenes, build a solid character arc, add a dash of humor, and voila, I should have a decent script, right?

Wrong. Within minutes of trying to write this thing, I was already bored. I was almost surprised with how quickly boredom overcame me.

I tried starting with an outline. Um, okay…what should the first scene be? No idea. Let’s think about the ending. Brian had this cool idea where the parallel universe isn’t actually a parallel universe. It’s the same universe, but in the future by a year or so. Meaning that in a year, that cop becomes so corrupted he kills his own offspring, and his past self is unwittingly hunting him down. Wow! That’s cool!

Now I have to build up to that. Uh…gee. I think I need some side characters. Ooh, I had this idea for a character who’s a lousy criminal bum in one reality, but the equivalent of Mother Teresa in another. And the cop would have to work with him to take down himself.

Why a parallel universe though? How is that discovered? I feel like I would do so many other things besides hunt down my evil self if a parallel universe was discovered. Ugh. I’m discovering plot holes in my plot before it even exists.

I don’t know, what do you guys think of this idea? Give me some feedback in the comment section below, if you wish. Is it too serious? I don’t think I’m good at writing serious dramas; I’m way better at comedies. But this isn’t exactly a comedy.

Josh out.

THE MANSION NOW AVAILABLE – FREE ON AMAZON KINDLE

It’s 1 AM and I don’t have the energy to write a full blog post. But I do have enough energy to tell you that THE MANSION is now free on Amazon Kindle from April 2 -6, 2018.

CLICK BELOW TO GET IT:

http://a.co/1cpHXcg

Pretty cool, eh? Can’t beat free.

I wonder how many people will read this thing now that it’s free. Before you had to pay the steep price of ten dollars to consume my magnum opus.

Alright, I’ve said enough. Please download my book for Kindle. Please. I will love you forever.

Josh out.