Tag Archives: Ideas

Should I Keep Writing?

When I was six years old, I spent countless hours alone in my room playing this game I’d made up. I’d take one of those small plastic “bubbles” – the kind that held those cheap little treasures that you’d get for a quarter at the grocery store – and throw it onto my bed. A second later, I’d launch all of the stuffed animals from my sizable collection onto the bed after it. See, the “bubble” wasn’t a bubble; it was a football. And my many stuffed animals were football players involved in a free-for-all to recover the game-clinching fumble. (Obviously).

The moment the dogpile was complete, I’d slowly sift through the (adorable) wreckage and see which stuffed animal had prevailed at the bottom of the pile¹. That lucky “beast” would be hoisted into the air triumphantly, as I announced the results to the “crowd”. (Although, full disclosure: the fix was in. Kermit the Frog, a.k.a. my favorite stuffed animal, won at least 90% of the time due to his long green arms…and the fact that I always threw him on the bed first.)Kermit the Frog celebrates 50 years in show business

Now, obviously my childish antics were far from unusual. I mean, show me a little kid, and I’ll show you a tiny crazy person who talks to themselves non-stop and gets lost in their imagination. But the thing about me is, well…

…I never really grew out of that phase. It’s 30 years later, and while I no longer have a stuffed animal collection, I still spend an inordinate amount of time talking to myself², as I drift off into an imaginary world of my own creation. Sure, life (and responsibility) can get in the way sometimes, but chances are, if I’m driving, showering, lying awake in bed, or just staring off into the distance, my mind is somewhere else. It’s trying to envision a world that isn’t but could be. It’s trying to figure out how Kermit (or more likely, the current “hero du jour”) is going to emerge victorious this time. It’s trying to tell a story.

For the longest time, I saw this as a quirk — an amusing glitch in my programming. It’s only recently that I came to realize: it is the program. It’s hard-wired into the way my brain processes (and makes sense of) the world. As you might expect, this has had some rather far-reaching implications when it comes to my life…

…but the reason that it’s been coming up for me a lot lately is that it answers a nagging question:

Should I keep writing?

If you read last week’s post, you know that it hasn’t exactly been non-stop hookers and ice cream around here lately. In fact, it’s gotten pretty dark. Writing for an audience that hasn’t really materialized (yet) can do that to a person. You can start to feel like you’re tilting at windmills.tilting at windmills

So, you start to wonder… Am I wasting my time pursuing this? Am I delusional about how talented I am? Is anyone (outside of my family and friends) ever going to give a shit about what I write?

If you think about these questions long and hard enough, you can’t help but fantasize about a world where you don’t have to answer such difficult questions. A world where life is unburdened by ambition and expectation and hope. But that’s about the time that you have to face another question:

Well, if I didn’t write, what would I do instead?

And that’s where things get a little bit clearer. That’s when I remember Kermit the Frog and the pile of stuffed animals. Or writing and performing a “Wayne’s World” sketch at Lilli Milton’s 13th birthday party. Or spending all of my free time in college sitting on the floor of the bookstore reading interviews with great filmmakers. Or going five straight days without speaking to another human being, but never noticing because I was so engrossed in a rewrite of my script.

“Being” a writer? It isn’t something I do. It’s something I am. I mean, shit, an alligator can stand on its feet and ring your doorbell all day long; that doesn’t mean it’s gonna stop being an alligator.

The reality is I don’t get to know if I’ll ever be Kermit and emerge from the pile victorious. But I do know one thing. I can’t imagine a world where I ever stop playing.

-MPM

¹“Prevailed” is probably a pretty generous term to describe part of a stuffed animal touching a plastic bubble. But the stakes felt pretty high at the time.
²Although I have gotten just a LITTLE bit better about keeping that dialogue INSIDE my head.

Storytelling 101: The Debrief

This, my friends, is a story without a whole lot of suspense, I’m afraid. Once upon a time, there was a teenage boy who discovered his passion for writing thanks to the encouragement of three high school mentors¹. And then, almost 20 years later (a.k.a. this past Thursday), said boy (now a man) walked back onto the campus of said high school and did his best to help 29 seventh and eighth graders discover if they might have a passion for it, too. A good time was had by all.a-good-time-was-had-by-all

So…yeah, the class went well. In fact, if first and second-hand reports are to be believed, the kids absolutely loved it². And me? Well, I had a blast. Which doesn’t make for much of a story, of course³. But there were a few fun anecdotes and details that I thought were worth sharing…

First Period

In the syllabus I’d laid out, I’d planned on having the kids introduce themselves by sharing their favorite movie (and then using those movie titles for a game). But instead, I decided to streamline things and have them introduce themselves by telling the class the story of their favorite movie — until someone could guess the title. This worked quite well, and it also let me learn a little bit about their collective taste.

Many favorites were not surprises (i.e. Finding Nemo, Shrek, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, etc.) A few were, none more so than Madea’s Witness Protection. The funniest/saddest moment came when one girl prefaced her choice by saying it was “an old movie”, and then proceeded to describe the plot of 2001’s Ocean’s 11. Great taste, but damn did I feel old. Another girl’s “old movie” actually lived up to its billing: West Side Story.

I think the biggest surprise, however, was the movies they didn’t pick. Nary a one of them named a comic book movie (no Avengers, No X-Men, No Deadpools, No Dark Knights) or a Star Wars film. Who’d a thunk it?

Second Period

From there, we segued into the definition of a story. And to pound this point home, I showed them the epic opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The verdict: it may be 30+ years since that movie came out, but that shit still holds up. They were all captivated.

I doubled-down on the movie clips by showing them the opening sequence from Up (to illustrate the importance of making the audience care about your characters). Up, of course, they recognized before I even hit play on the clip, and it was met with a chorus of groans that would’ve made you think we were about to do geometry proofs.

“But this is like the saddest thing ever!” they said in almost collective unison. But, of course, that was the point. And they were every bit as responsive to the clip once I pressed play.

Third Period

Next up was the Vernon Hardapple game, where I gave each group (4-5 kids) a picture and asked them to tell me the story of what was going on in it. This was the picture:main.original.640x0c

What they didn’t know (at least up front), was that they all had the same picture. So, it was fun to see the many versions of the story that they came up with. In retrospect, having a photo with a gun involved painted them into a bit of an imaginative corner, and the result was some dark fucking stories. There was enough death, secret agenting, and tragedy to make for a pretty good art house spy film.

The hilarious part was that the only two groups who told a story with a happy/redemptive ending were made up of all girls. But I have to say that the redemptive turn at the end of their stories was far more compelling for at least this audience member.

Break

I spent the break doing what any good teacher would do: investigating their snack choices. For those scoring at home, there was a preponderance of “bars” and a bit of fresh fruit here or there. Two other important things I learned: they were (genuinely) having a great time, and the boy who smuggled an Area 69 joke into his improv story, and was decked out in all Warriors gear, did not want the team to sign Kevin Durant.

Fourth Period

In what was undoubtedly the most successful/fun game of the day, the kids really brought it during our modified version of The Tonight Show staple, “True Confessions.” My favorite “truth or lie” interrogation centered on an Alex P. Keaton look-a-like, who was wearing an argyle sweater (on a late June day no less), and told the story of meeting former President Jimmy Carter at a book signing (no shocker: the kid was telling the truth).maxresdefault

The game’s big winner was Nicole, however, who told the story of having her finger broken at a community pool, when someone dropped a large piece of concrete on it. 95% of the class thought she was telling the truth (myself included), but that little rascal: she was lying through her braces-laden teeth. I’ll tell you one thing right now: I wouldn’t want to be that girl’s parents over the next 5-6 years, because she’s going to get away with murder.

Fifth Period

Due to time constraints (and me having a decent feel of the room by that point), we ditched The Moth-esque storytelling exercise I’d had planned. Instead, we finished off the day with some “Build a Story” improv’ing. We started with longer intervals between storytellers, and then brought things to a crescendo by having them piece a story together one word at a time. I’d assumed that the one-word-at-a-time version would be more difficult, but it actually proved much easier for them, as the pressure of only having to come up with one word (rather than multiple sentences) was far more manageable.

Bottom line: they had fun and actually learned something. For me, it was a great opportunity to engage with the creative process in a new and collaborative way. And while I think I’d likely prefer (moving forward) to work with kids a little older, I’ll definitely be back next year to do it again…

…assuming they’ll have me, of course.

-MPM

¹Many thanks to the Murder’s Row that was/is Lippi, Navone, & Thompson.
²More than a few of these reports included the words, “favorite class of the whole program”.
³At least for the blog’s sake, a major crash and burn might have been fun.
Remember, we were in Marin County, CA – a.k.a. The Whitest Place on Earth.
Sorry, kiddo, it happened! And it’s fucking amazing!
Which was confirmed when I had them rattle off the key points I’d made throughout the morning.

Storytelling 101: The Syllabus

So, there’s this eccentric billionaire, who decides to throw the most lavish party the world has ever known. Guests fly in from all over the world to attend. We’re talking celebrities, foreign dignitaries, titans of industry, you name it. And the only thing more impressive than the guest list is the spread the billionaire puts out from them: the freshest lobster, a sushi bar manned by Jiro himself, caviar, champagne, you name it.splashd-fitzgerald-withtitle

Once the party is well under way, the billionaire asks everyone to join him outside, and the guests gather around the Olympic sized swimming pool in his backyard. And this isn’t just any swimming pool; it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before: it’s filled with every kind of dangerous aquatic creature you can think of. There are piranhas, and crocodiles, and even a few sharks swimming around in this pool. It’s like a nightmare come to life.

Once he has all of his guests’ attention, the eccentric billionaire, who’s had a few flutes of champagne at this point, makes an announcement: “I will give anything to the person who is brave enough to jump into this pool and swim to the other side.”
A buzz goes through the crowd, as all of the guests begin whispering to one another about this crazy billionaire and his crazy proposition. But, of course, no one steps forward to take him up on his offer.

“I’m serious,” the billionaire says, “anything you want in the world will be yours: money, a new car, a house. You name it!”

Suddenly, there’s a loud splash, and everyone looks over to see a man swimming for his life across the pool. Miraculously, the man manages to dodge the sharks, fend off the piranhas, and out-swim the crocodiles to the other side. And somehow, he makes it out of the pool in one piece. The entire crowd is awestruck and erupts in a huge cheer. They’ve just witnessed the impossible.

Delighted, the billionaire rushes over to this brave man with a warm towel and a huge smile. “I can’t believe it,” the billionaire says, “you did it! And because I am a man of my word, I will give you anything your heart desires. So, what will it be, my friend? A briefcase full of cash? My house? My beautiful daughter’s hand in marriage?”

The man, still visibly shaken, finally manages to get to his feet and catch his breath. And when he does, he looks the billionaire dead in the eye, and he says, “All I want is to know the name of the asshole who pushed me in the pool!”

*

It never hurts to start with a joke, right? Though in this case, the joke in question isn’t just meant to grab a quick laugh or curry favor with my audience. It will hopefully help to illustrate the subject at hand: storytelling.

As you might recall, I’ll be teaching a four-hour workshop on storytelling this week for a group of 30 high-achieving middle-schoolers¹. And as Pixar wizard Andrew Stanton so artfully points out in his TED talk on the subject, storytelling is joke-telling. Everything you’re saying is servicing a singular goal. In the case of a joke, it’s a punchline, of course; but with a story, it’s a theme or idea that confirms some truth about who we are as human beings (even if that truth is being personified by fish).FINDING NEMO 3D

This class I’m teaching is no different. It’s my (very meta) opportunity to tell them the story of storytelling. To (hopefully) have them come away with a better understanding of why we tell stories, what makes a good story, and how they can tell one that might actually hold an audience’s attention.

Obviously, this is a rather ambitious objective when we have just four short hours together (especially since I’m dealing with the collective attention span of a class full of 13-year-olds on a warm summer day). But, I hope that the syllabus I’ve come up with (laid out below) is fun and fast-paced enough to keep them on their toes, while at the same time exposing them to the most fundamental tenants of effective storytelling.

Storytelling Syllabus

First Period: Getting to Know You
We’ll follow up my introductory joke/mission statement with a getting to know you exercise. We’ll go around the room and everyone will introduce themselves and tell the class what their favorite movie is.

As we do this, I’ll write down each movie on a scrap of paper. And when we’re done with introductions, we’ll start our first game of the day: Movie Password. The game is simple. Each volunteer “contestant” will have 60 seconds to get the class to name as many movies as possible (written on the scraps of paper) based solely on their description of the story. No character names. No words from the movie’s title. Just the story.

Second Period: The Definition of a Story
When we’re done with the game, I’ll choose a few of their favorite movies and use them to illustrate what all stories have in common:

A character wants something badly. But they’re having difficulty getting it.

And to really pound this point home, I’ll show them as classic and clear an example of this (in scene form) as there’s ever been: the opening from Raiders of the Lost Ark:

Indy’s goal couldn’t be clearer: get the gold idol. BUT there’s (literally) one obstacle after another standing in his way. So much so that, eventually, his goal shifts from “get the gold idol” to STAY THE FUCK ALIVE!

Of course, as important as a goal — and obstacles standing in the way of achieving that goal — are to a story, there’s something else that’s every bit as necessary: the audience has to care. Whether it’s emotionally (preferred), intellectually, or aesthetically (or, in a perfect world, all three), you have to make your audience care about your character and the pursuit of their goal.

And what better example is there of a movie getting us emotionally engaged in a character’s story than the opening of Up? And to think, they do it without a single word of dialogue²:

Third Period: Character

After a quick exploration of how the filmmakers made us care about Carl, we’ll talk about what makes a great character. We don’t have to like the person, but we do have to understand and relate to them.

To get some practice creating characters of our own, we’ll play the Vernon Hardapple Game. What’s that? You’ve never heard of the Vernon Hardapple Game? Well, allow Michael Douglas, Iron Man, and the o.g. Spider-Man to demonstrate how it works (starting at the 1:25 mark):

The kids will be separated into small groups, and I’ll give each of them a picture of someone. Their job will be to construct a story about that person: who they are, what they do for a living, what their family might be like, etc. And when they’re done, they’ll share their character’s story with the rest of the class…

…but what the kids (hopefully) won’t know until their presentations is that they’ve all been working off of the same photo. So, we’ll get to see how the same photo can produce lots of (great) stories.

Fourth Period: It’s All in the Details

So, what makes a great character? It’s the same thing that makes a great story: the details. The difference between a great movie or book and a forgettable one always comes down to the details. In other words, specificity.

And, of course, in our own lives, a great example of this is when we get in trouble with our parents. If you don’t have a good explanation for why you broke curfew, or why you didn’t clean your room, or why you got a D- on your history test, you’re going to get in trouble. But the story can’t be TOO crazy, of course, otherwise, your parents will see right through it. Just like Goldilocks’ favorite bed, the story has to be jusssst right.

To have some fun with this idea, we’ll play a modified version of The Tonight Show’s “True Confessions” game. Like the one played here by Jimmy Fallon, John Oliver, and J-Law:

We’ll take a few volunteer “contestants” from the crowd, and have the rest of the class ask them questions about their “confession” before deciding whether they’re telling the truth or not.

Fifth Period – Telling Your Story

In an effort to start piecing together what we’ve learned (and loosen them up a bit more), we’ll play a classic improv storytelling game called “Build a Story”, which you can see executed by a group of kids and they’re incredibly enthusiastic instructor³ here:

And this will lead us to climax of our story: a mini-version of The Moth (not to be confused with this version of The Moth), where the students will take turns getting up in front of the class, and telling a short story from their own lives (based on a few possible prompts). Kind of like this one:

My hope is, that by waiting to force them into the role of storyteller until the end, they’ll hopefully be comfortable enough with each other to be a bit more forthcoming. But we shall see…

For a full report on how it all goes, check back next week. Until then…

-MPM

¹And ironically, I’m about as nervous as I was for my first day of middle school.

²Definitely have some tissues at the ready before watching this clip. It’s gonna get a little dusty in here…

³I can assure you that I will be nowhere near this enthusiastic.

The Truth (and Myth) of “Write What You Know”

If you’re a writer (and even if you’re not), you’ve no doubt heard the maxim, “write what you know”. But as is the case with many pithy sayings, taking these words too literally can lead to disastrous results. I mean, let’s be honest, for most of us, the list of things we’ve experienced first-hand (i.e. “know”) would amount to one or two interesting books/movies/puppet shows at the absolute most. The vast majority of our lives are spent sleeping, sitting in traffic, eating unremarkable meals, staring at our phones, working, and having conversations with our friends and family about all of these mundane things. In other words, if your everyday life was the plot of a story you were reading/watching, you’d be fast asleep in less than 10 minutes.Calvin and Hobbes comic on write what you know

But I’m not saying that we should take “write what you know” and throw it off the end of a pier. Because there is great wisdom in the maxim if we use a much less literal interpretation. In fact, the saying might even benefit from a small re-write¹. Something like:

“Write what you know…emotionally.”

Or better yet:

“Write what you’ve felt.”

It doesn’t matter whether you’re writing a stream of consciousness novel or the next Marvel movie, the writer’s job is to explore what it means to be a human being. And the human experience is – and always will be – defined by our emotional response to the world around us. Our ability to feel things – or sometimes: our inability to avoid feeling things – is what separates us from everything else on the planet (e.g. plants, animals, mountains, oceans, Styrofoam cups, et al.) In fact, our emotions/feelings are such an indispensable part of what it means to be alive that we often project our emotions/feelings onto plants, animals, Styrofoam cups, and perhaps most famously, volleyballs.

But we don’t have to have been stranded on a desert island for four years to know what loneliness feels like, anymore than we have to be a mutant with superpowers to know what it’s like to feel alienated.Xmen poster

Because people (often) seek out stories to escape the mundanity of everyday life, writers need to construct plots that are dripping with imagination and ingenuity. Plot, after all, is what gets the reader/viewer “in the door”; whether it’s through a movie trailer or the blurb on the inside cover of a book. But aside from the occasional paint-by-numbers mystery or trashy-for-the-sake-of-being-trashy romance novel, plot is never going to be what holds the viewer/reader’s attention. Whether they’re conscious of it or not, the two things that truly engage an audience are relatable characters² and the relationships those characters share with one another.

And that’s where “writing what you know” comes into play. Because the only way to write relatable characters and character relationships that feel authentic is for the writer(s) to draw on their own emotional history.

Whenever I think about this subject, I’m reminded of screenwriter Bob Gale’s impetus for writing Back to the Future. He didn’t set out to write a time travel epic or to explore the differences between being a teenager in the 50’s versus 80’s. The idea came when he was flipping through his father’s high school yearbook, and he thought to himself, “God, there is just no way that my old man and I would be friends if we went to school together.”³

And sure, if you think about BTTF today, I’m sure the first things to pop into your head are the DeLorean, or Marty disappearing in the family photo, or Doc’s favorite two words in the English language. But I would argue that the reason that movie still holds up today (more than 30 years after it was made) is the universality of its emotional core: a boy trying to understand what makes his father (and mother, for that matter) tick. Because while none of us have ever traveled back in time, we all have parents, and I think I speak for all of us when I say that we’re still trying to figure them out.

And this, of course, is just one of about a million emotional chords that resonate within all of us. Our job as writers is simply to choose one close to our own hearts and pour it out onto the page. After all, you know what they say:Quotefancy-4904-3840x2160

-MPM

¹Just as nearly all writing can.
²Notice I didn’t use the word “likeable”.
³Of course I’m paraphrasing here.

Rewriting Step Twelve

There’s this parable a mentor of mine once shared that has always stuck with me. It goes something like this…

A man is walking down the road holding a gold coin in each of his hands. The man worked hard to earn his coins, so he grips them both tightly to ensure that a) he doesn’t drop them and that b) no one can take them from him.

A little further down the road, however, the man comes upon a field that is littered with gold coins. I mean, we’re talking like a Scrooge McDuck swimming pool of wealth¹: gold coins as far as the eye can see.scrooge swimming in money

There’s only one problem: the man’s grip on the two coins that he already has is so tight that it’s impossible for him to pick up any new ones. [Insert Price is Right loser music here.]

So, yeah, you probably don’t need me to tell you the moral of the story, but just in case the links above sent you down a YouTube click-hole that ended with five consecutive installments of Carpool Karaoke, I’ll make it simple for you: you’ll never be able to acquire more (wealth, love, opportunity, et al.) in life if you spend all of your energy trying to protect what you already have.

Sure, it’s possible that if you loosen the grip on what you have, someone might come along and take it from you. But if you trust (yourself, the world, the universe, et al.) enough to let go, you open yourself up to even greater possibilities.

I’ve been thinking about the story (and its underlying message) a lot lately, though not because I’m holding any actual gold. As a matter of fact, it’s the exact opposite: it’s what’s out of my hands that has it on my mind.

As you might recall, I’m in the familiar position of waiting to hear back about a project I’ve recently completed. And the longer I go without a substantive update, the more I can feel myself tightening. It’s not just my grip around some metaphorical coins, either; it’s my entire body slowly curling up into the fetal position, closing itself off from any potential danger or harm.fetal-man

Ashamed as I am to admit it, it’s a feeling that I’ve become well-acquainted with over the years, as it’s the twelfth and final step in “My 12 Step Creative Process²”:

Step 1 – Out of a sudden burst of inspiration (not unlike The Big Bang) comes a new idea, around which a universe of possibilities can form.

Step 2 – That universe (i.e. all of the characters and story details) slowly comes into focus over time. (*Note: this process typically proves most fruitful when I’m showering, driving, people-watching, actively brainstorming with a friend, and/or in the moments immediately after I walk away from my computer or before I fall asleep.)

Step 3 – I excitedly pitch others (i.e. friends, managers, rando’s on BART) on my semi-formed idea in order to gauge interest. (*Note: only proceed to Step 4 if Step 3 isn’t met with crushing silence and/or the phrase, “Huh?”)

Step 4 – Open a new document and immediately save it (even though it’s still blank) under the project’s working title and let a sense of accomplishment wash over me.

Step 5 – Stare at the blinking cursor atop said document until drops of blood form on my forehead³.

Step 6Masturbate furiously to help alleviate the intense anxiety I’m feeling about “having to write something extraordinary”.

Step 7 – Slowly but surely get a few sentences down on the page. And very slowly build from there…

Step 8 – …once momentum is (finally) achieved, do everything in my power to keep my ass in the chair until said momentum is extinguished (and I hopefully have some pages).

Step 9 – Finish the fucking thing.

Step 10 – Pretend to be excited about the notes given to me by others…and then very slowly let go of the idea that my story is “extraordinary”, before using said notes to help make the story better. (*Note: this will typically involve repeating Steps 2 through 9, but particularly Step 6.)

Step 11 – Release the finished product “into the wild” to see what people think and immediately commence Step 12.

Step 12 – Curl up into the fetal position to ward off any potential passes, criticism, or negativity.

It’s taken some time (and plenty of tissues), but I’ve slowly come to accept the fact that at least 10 (and probably 11) of these steps simply come with the territory. I’ve just heard too many other writers describe their processes similarly to think I’m abnormal (at least for a writer, which granted, isn’t saying much).

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Step 12. Because the truth is, if we were to personify Step 12, it would look an awful lot like the man from the parable: so worried about the bad things that could happen to him that he closes himself off to the good things that may be just around the corner.

I mentioned this a couple of weeks back, but it bears repeating in this context: we all acknowledge that creating anything of value requires an openness and vulnerability on the part of the creator; what we often forget, however, is that we have to remain open and vulnerable even after we release our creations into the world. For me, this second part has always produced far more anxiety, because it can feel an awful lot like leaving your face exposed during a heavyweight fight…or a Ted Cruz concession speech. I mean, you’re just asking the world to cold-cock you, aren’t you?

 

…or are you?

Sure, it can feel that way sometimes, especially when you’ve endured your fair share of rejection. But do I really believe that my dreams are Millhouse (weak, feeble, and pathetic) and the universe is Nelson (just waiting to beat the shit out of ‘em)? I don’t know, man. That sure makes me sound like the schizophrenic homeless guy who’s always marching up and down my street, screaming that the world is out to get him.

Isn’t it possible that the world is just a tiny bit more receptive than that? That the decision-makers in Hollywood and the publishing world, who could be reading my material this very second, are looking for a reason to say, “Yes”? That they want nothing more than to read the byproduct of “My 12 Step Creative Process⁸” and fucking love it?

Maybe I’m just falling victim to the rhetorical nature of the questions, but you know what? I think the answer to all three of them is a loud, resounding “Yes”. And if that’s the case then Step 12 has to be re-written.

It should probably go something like this…

Step 12 – Exercising as much patience as is humanly possible, slowly let the audience for your story come into focus, never forgetting to stay engaged, excited, and open. Be prepared to share even more of yourself when the time comes. And in the meantime, resort to Step 6 as needed.

-MPM

¹I’m taking some creative liberties with the parable to allow for some sweet YouTube linkage.
²Trademark pending. (But I’m confident that it’ll come through, because I have to be be the first person to ever come up with a 12-Step Program, right?)
³Shout-out to Ernie Hemingway, who I’m paraphrasing here.
Redacted for confidentiality reasons.
Also redacted.
Pun not intended, sicko.
Okay, it was intended that time. #sorrynotsorry
Trademark still pending. I’m really starting to get worried, you guys…

Here’s an Idea…

The next time you have a great idea for a story, don’t bother writing it down.

Yes, you read that right. Don’t, as in, do NOT.

idea_have_write_down

I know what you’re thinking: what on Earth would possess someone to say something so cynical, or stupid, or both? Well, it’s simple really. You don’t need to.

Between the Notes app on my phone and the many notebooks and legal pads scattered throughout my apartment, I probably have upwards of 150 story ideas that I’ve jotted down over the years. And while they vary in length from a few words to multiple paragraphs, they all have one thing in common: my excitement about each and every one of them peaked the moment I wrote them down.

When you have a great idea (and by that I mean one worth devoting months, or even years of your life to), you’ll know it. Immediately. You don’t need to write it down anymore than you need to jot down the name of that mind-blowingly gorgeous cashier at the bakery on the corner who flirts with you every morning when you buy your breakfast croissant. [It’s Casey, dammit! And the only way you’d ever forget that is if Casey’s (as of yet unconfirmed, but let’s face it, highly probable) boyfriend inflicted some serious head trauma using his (as of yet unconfirmed, but let’s face it, highly probable) mixed martial arts skills.]

My point is that the great ideas stick, okay? They’ll excite you. They’ll nag at you. And they’ll slowly chew away at your insides until one of three things happen:

1) You write the fucking thing.

2) You find out that someone else has already written the fucking thing.

or

3) Casey’s boyfriend fucking paralyzes you from the neck down (but hey, even then, maybe you’ve got the next Diving Bell and the Butterfly on your hands, who knows?)

diving-bell-1

So… The next time you have a great idea for a story? Just relax. It’s okay, really. Take that nap you’ve been dreaming about all afternoon. Or wash those dishes you’ve been putting off since Monday. Or hell, go say hi to Casey for all I care (I mean, she’s bound to see the light eventually, right?)

If your idea is truly great, it’ll still be there when you wake up. It’ll still be there after you wash that last bowl. And yes, it’ll even still be there when they roll you out of the hospital in your shiny new wheelchair.

Promise.

-MPM