Sunday, July 25, 2010

Getting Rid of your Distractions

This may sound like a harsh or ridiculous advice especially if you have been living a life of luxury, the definition of luxury and distraction is relative, but you do what you have to do to pursue your writing career path. You can always start with simple physical attachment to things that can easily sway your from writing. To some, giving up TV is achievable at the snap of the finger but to another it may be the most difficult task ever. I refuse to have a television in my home for many reasons. When I was much younger I find the remote TV control addictive. One of the things I used to do when I was at home was to turn on the TV and go channel surfing for hours even if there is nothing that I want to watch. It was exactly the same with the internet when it was first was introduced. Surfing seems like a fun thing to do but it does take up a lot of your precious time while dulling your senses. Instead of following the TV stations which set schedules of their programs I only watch movies and TV series that I like whenever I want.

Games, whether online or offline is yet another temptress that can bewitch you like a vampire and bleed you dry. Game players will know what I'm talking about. Again some may say it's a form of stress relief but others might disagree. I remember purchasing my first laptop that comes with free games. Since they were already installed I played the games almost every other day for a few months before deciding to get rid of them. Though it broke my heart to uninstall the card games that I enjoyed playing because I knew it would be better for my sanity and writing vocation.

There are many other distractions and obstacles that can fall onto the path of a writer and to overcome them can be as bad as doing it cold turkey. What if there is a person in your life that is the greatest distraction of all you may ask? Emotional attachment is yet another impediment you have to deal with even if you are not too crazy about the idea. Of course you don't go around getting rid of people close to you in your life. But an understanding can be achieved when there is communication.

The one thing that some of us writers ignore is the fact that writing is a full time job or work or call it what you want. Yes, you can write in between meals, first thing in the morning or the last thing you do at night but it still demands time from you. Time to sit down and write what you set your mind on without being distracted. If you can work with the TV blasting away, fine. If you can work while someone is talking to you, great! If you write without a cinch in a room full of people partying away, well that's amazing. But if you can't then you can tell yourself all you want about the greatest novel you will be writing but it will never see the light of day anytime soon.

When you think about it, the distraction is actually you yourself. It's all about how you perceive yourself. How you handle your frustrations and anger, how you come to terms with your emotional upheavals and how you deal with them. If you believe in the myth of the writer's block then it will always be there barricading your every move. If you believe smoking, drinking or getting high will help write the next word, then it will actually work for you. You are the only one who will know best why you do what you do because ultimately no one can do it like you do.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

On the 5th of July

On March 22nd I was given the task to finish 12 - 22 minutes scripts for a children's educational  animation series and the deadline was 25th of June.

I thought it would be okay since I have about a week to finish each script, more or less. But when I sat in front of my laptop to begin the journey I realized writing for children is one thing. Writing an educational children's series is another. And writing for children about science with an animated pace and humor is completely a whole new ballgame.

With discipline, I seated myself everyday for the next 3 months to write and write and write. There were times when everything was good but there were times when nothing went my way. One of the worst experiences in writing educational materials is the research, which isn't too hard, but the contradictory conclusions, debatable theories and opinionated ideas were of no help. While one scientist or researcher believes in one thing, another says something altogether. I had to filter all the findings and decide on the safest or more accurate hypothesis.

Another tough nut to crack is the one liners, humor or comic relief. And on top of that, mind you, it's for kids. Luckily, after writing several scripts I feel so blessed to have watched hundreds and thousands of movies and series and read tons of materials that helped with my writing. I could repeat the same formula for each episode but I wanted more, just like how I want more from the TV series I watch.

Some scripts took me only a few sittings but some took weeks. Whenever a script passed the deadline I had to start the next one to even out the flow. I did not have the pleasure to wait around for ideas to fall from the sky when I was groping in the dark, I had to write everyday no matter what. Some days, some really bad days, I wrote only a line. Yes, one single line. But the good days could fill up to ten pages.

Although I completed all the scripts on the given deadline I wasn't satisfied with the last three and extended another 2 weeks to polish and fine tune what was missing. And on this day, on the 5th of July, I sent the last three scripts and completed my contract of twelve.

I have never been happier and exhausted from the brain draining sessions everyday. Waking, sleeping and dreaming about the plots, punch lines and messages to get across. If you've been there, you would know how I feel. The elation, the ecstasy, the Rapture.

Though it was challenging, took a big chunk out of my life and drove me up the walls at times, I am so thrilled I managed to handle this genre and got a good feedback for them too. The first thing I did was to celebrate the joy with friends. The second thing I did was to go back to my hometown to veg out, and the third is to blog again. And I'm wondering what next? I know I have another series of children's books to look into, an indie movie script, a new short story collection and a novel that is begging to be written. What can I say? To relax in between scripts I play code breaker puzzles, scrabble, text twist and sudoku.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Book review: Parasyte

Parasyte is as similar and as close to John Carpenter's The Thing as it can get. After the worm-like parasites reaches the human brain it controls the host and is able to shape shift into human faces or beastly carnivorous creatures.

Shinichi's parasite was stopped at his left hand before it could invade any other parts of his body and became kind of a symbiote instead. While the entire town is infested with the parasites who are devouring the human victims, Shinichi and Migi are trying to avoid anymore trouble than they could handle.

Although the books are filled with cliffhangers, showdowns and lots of thrills and spills, the story did seem a little too long winded before it could reach the end.

Book review: Old Man Logan

Old Man Logan has one of the best art I have ever come across recently. Written by Mark Millar, who also wrote Wanted and Kick-Ass, the story is set in the future where the superheroes finally fell and earth is now run by villains where life can only be as despicable as it can get.

One of the few surviving heroes is Logan who has a wife and two kids to care for and his days of being Wolverine is gone. He now lives like an ordinary man on Hulkland that is run by the in-breeding descendants of Hulk and She-Hulk.

The first issue was remarkable beyond anticipation. The art was absolutely superb and the plot was intriguing and mind blowing. But soon, as the issues ran on to the final eighth it was merely predictable. The one thing that is worth every page turning is Steve McNiven's penciling and Dexter Vines' inking.

On the whole, it's a brilliant comic with an alternate version of what life would be when the heroes fall.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Book review: New York: Life in the Big City

(March 6, 1917 – January 3, 2005)

Will Eisner's New York: Life in the Big City is a must read for small town folks and big city dwellers. His keen observation of human life in general is remarkable. The only other artist/writer that I know of who notices the little things in life and is a good story teller is Hayao Miyazaki.

Most of the stories in New York City are bittersweet. I like especially The Building, which in itself is already a movie that is told with humor and heart. I have never seen such a heartwarming comic or graphic novel that is entertaining, inspiring and thought provoking.

There are many isntances in his tales that I could identify with. Set in the reality of everyday life, the stories also evoke memories, events and moments we encounter in the most honest to goodness manner.

The Will Eisner Comic Industry Award or Eisner Award was established in his honor. It is one of the highest awards for the comic book writers and artists.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Conscience of a Writer's Mind

When I get into my writing mode, there is no stopping me even if I want to. My daily habitual routine of waking up with something to write astounds me. But once in a while I fall off the track when there is an unexpected distraction, like falling sick or going for a long holiday. If I don't write at least a word or a sentence a day I may go on like this for about a week or less and then my mind would begin an onslaught in my head that will not leave me alone. Either early in the morning when I wake or late at night when I sleep, or even in my dreams I see words, lots and lots of them in my mind’s eye. I would even go that far to claim that they are haunting me.

Story ideas, plots and concepts for new articles bombard my entire being like an attack on enemy camp. I could literally see myself writing away even with my eyes closed as the epical words arrange themselves to form sentences and paragraphs like what I am writing now. This writing article came to my head even before I could sit down to write it.

Like any other creative people, it comes to a point where you just have to do what you love to do otherwise, as suggested by Stephen King's story - Sometimes They Come Back - to bother you until it’s done.

When this urge to write is not fulfilled, I get restless and anxious, as though I'm having withdrawal symptoms. There are also times when my hand itches to paint a single stroke on the art paper or sketch up beastly things on my book that I cannot deny. If I don't do it as commanded I may get peeved or jittery for not having to express myself in words or in art.

I don't know what other writers experience in their writing career but I know some writer blogs everyday and some professionals complete 10 pages or a chapter to fulfill their quota. When you come to this stage of reflexive passion you will know what I mean. But to get there, be true to your love and you will find yourself being that creative person you’ve always wanted to be.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Taking Advantage of the Worst Case Scenario

When I was sick recently, for about a week plus with flu, a slight fever, headache, body aches, sore throat and incessant coughing spells, I was completely out of form with no writing done at all. For the first few days I trudged through the days and nights trying to heal my body from the punishing anguish. As I wallowed in self pity and rolled in sorrow I kept wondering how long I could hold on. But every time I get a chance to sit down with my pen and paper I would write or sketch out ideas just for the heck of it.

Most of them didn't make much sense but when I got better I saw a little more pattern to them and started stitching them up into stories. One of the ideas I came up with was a girl taking revenge on an entire town with her mutated virus strain. And then of course the plot kept changing and developing and now I have something which is more likable to me with the title call Dian. Whether it becomes a psychological horror short story, novel or script I have yet to decide.

Other concepts that flowed into my pounding head were also about a group of people getting caught in a thunderstorm and realizing there is more to their coming together than just a mere coincidence. They each have a flashback of a little girl who flash into their mind more terrifying than anything they could imagine. Tentatively I am titling it as The House at the end of Damn Street.

There are also a few other stories that came about from my self incarceration since I am too weak to hang out anywhere. Because I couldn't even sit in front of the computer for too long or surf aimlessly I had to resort to the couch and look out the window and think of plots and devises.

Writing long hand, even a quick synopsis or outline, can be quite productive especially when there are no other things to take my mind of a certain subject. With the laptop and worst with the internet I usually work on several things at the same time and some times get distracted, unless I have a job with a deadline.

I was a little devastated when I didn't produce anything for a while but then I realized I had the time to think of ideas while recovering and that was a little more satisfying. There's always a moment to seize if you are familiar with the old style of writing with a pen and a paper and they can be your life saver when you need them the most. So no matter where you are, how you are feeling, writing doesn’t need to come to a complete halt.