Keep Writing. Don't Dwell on Cooper Road, Missouri


5 REASONS YOU SHOULD KEEP WRITING


1) A WRITER WRITES. That’s what you do. It’s who you are. You can’t NOT write – your passion and inner need demand it. You write therefore you are. So write.

2) PRACTICE MAKES YOU A BETTER WRITER. Basketball players don’t just play in the games, they show up to practice. Woody Allen said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” He didn’t do so badly for himself. Show up. And write.

3)  “WHAT ELSE DO YOU HAVE?” Writing is subjective. Someone may not like one of your scripts, but love another. Have an arsenal. Then keep growing it. Besides, we’ve all heard the stories of the writer who got a ton of buzz off one script but then having nothing else to show, disappeared. Have something else. Write.

4) 10,000 HOURS. It takes 10,000 to become an expert at your sport/craft/job/what-have-you. If you haven’t read Malcolm Gladwell’s book, OUTLIERS, do it. Then put in your 10,000 hours and write.

5) DO OR DIE. No, this isn’t about how you’ll die if you don’t write because you’re so passionate about it. That’s reason #1. Do or die means you woke up at 30, 40, 50… plus… and realized, “Holy #*!% – I have no other skills! I’ve gotta make this happen. Or else…” Make it happen. Write.

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WHY YOU SHOULD NOT DWELL ON COOPER ROAD, MISSOURI

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When rejection happens, don’t dwell on it. Keep writing. There’s an old Chinese saying that translates to something like, “Failure is the mother of success.” As a writer you will experience rejection. Even after you’re successful. You can’t win with every script. So don’t worry about rejection. Don’t fear it. Understand it. Embrace it. Know that success is around the corner, and it only takes one yes to change your life.

I’m pretty good at remaining positive despite circumstances, but it’s easier said than done. Recently, I got a good reminder about not dwelling on bumps in the road.

My writing partner and I had been on a bit of a roll and after a string of positive responses over a few of our recent projects, we received a less than stellar reaction over a new script we wrote from an “important industry guy.” This same script had also garnered a lot of positive feedback by the few who had seen it, which only made the fall harder. We were really excited about the important industry guy reading it and of course were hoping for all things great and fabulous to come from it. So when we heard that the important industry guy wasn’t as enamored with the script as he had been with the first one, naturally we succumbed to…

THE FIVE STAGES OF WRITERS’ GRIEF:

1. GUT-WRENCHING DISAPPOINTMENT – Our hearts sink. Not what we were expecting. At all. Bummer. Jumbo bummer. Pass the Pinot Noir.

2. HYSTERICAL PANIC-SLASH-FEAR – Oh God, we shouldn’t be going out with this script. We need to fix it. Tomorrow. Now. How soon can you get here? Maybe we should just write a brand new script. Let’s fix this one first. Okay. Oh no. What? Maybe it’s not fixable. What are we gonna do? Our lives are over. Our script sucks. We suck. What if everyone hates our script? What if everyone hates US. I hate us. Seriously, open that Pinot Noir.

3. SINKING INTO THE DEEPEST DARKEST PIT OF DEPRESSION – All that hard work and for what? Why bother? Maybe we should just close our laptops, move to Colorado – you become a Sherpa, I’ll open a chakra charging station – we’ll change our names, live off the land. Wait. I’ve never been to Colorado. Me neither. I heard it’s beautiful. Let’s Google it. Mountains! Lots of ’em. You know I can’t sleep at high altitudes… This Pinot’s pretty good.

4. REASONING & BARTERING WITH WHOMEVER WILL LISTEN – It’s one person’s opinion. It’s subjective. Jury’s still out. Let’s wait and see what else we hear back. We might need to go back in and fix a few things. But for now, maybe this important industry person will like the other project we send…

At about that point, the thought of sending important industry guy another project spurs another cycle, albeit hypothetical, of Disappointment, Hysteria, Depression and Reason.

However, in between the entire above gamut of emotions, my writing partner and I send off the other project… as well as a slew of emails with a trusted advisor. And our advisor did not see this development as grimly as we did. Here’s what she said, in a nutshell:

You are on a roll. This was just one small bump in the road.

After cycling through four of the five stages a few more times I went to bed. I was still a bit bummed in the morning. But whatever – I took my two dogs, Onion and Cujo for a walk to clear my head and re-read that line about the bump in the road on my iphone. Bizarrely, “bump in the road” was linked in the email, and I accidentally clicked on it. And in an instant, my imap pops up and pinpoints the bump in the road as located on Cooper Road in Missouri.

In my mind, I expected Cooper Road to look like this…

Turns out it’s in a pretty lush, woodsy area…

… which doesn’t look so bad. Which is dangerous. Sometimes it feels good to dwell on the negative. Bad idea. We were 1,729 miles off course.

At any rate, I had to laugh. Cooper Road, Missouri! Really? That’s where our bump in the road is? Screw it. America’s big. We’ll just go around the bump or find a new road.

And that’s when the final stage came…

5. ACCEPTANCE – What’s going to happen is beyond our control. All we can do is our best. We’re going to keep writing. We’re not going to rewrite the script just yet. We’re not going to start a new “panic” script just yet. We’re going to stick to our game plan… finish what we’re currently working on… And see how this plays out. There’s always another road.

Coda: The next evening while my partner and I were writing we got another email:

Important industry guy likes your other script much more…. Very happy with it.

My advice to you is to do the same. If you run into a bump along your path, don’t dwell on it. Go around it. Or get off Cooper Road altogether. Whatever you do, keep on going. Keep on writing.

It only takes one yes to change your life.