Balls of Steel: Seize the Day… and the Opportunity

We are raised to plan for the future. Upon our birth, our parents start squirreling away money for a college fund, fantasizing about their offspring becoming doctors, lawyers… I’m sure, rarely artists.

Regardless, they optimistically make plans for us and for our rosy future.

But what if there is no future? What if ‘future’ is something we are never guaranteed?

Because guess what? We aren’t. ‘Future’ does not exist. There is only today. Just today. ‘Future’ is merely a hope. You can’t bank on hope.

Imagine if you went to bed each night not knowing if you would wake in the morning. Really, that is what we do… we just don’t realize it. Every night we lay our heads on our pillows, drifting off to sleep, taking for granted our eyes will pop open hours later, refreshed and ready.

I’d like you to stop taking tomorrow for granted. I’d like you to think of each morning your eyes open wide as a gift of another day of life.

What will you do with it?

Will you piss it away, procrastinating, rationalizing tomorrow is another day, and you’ll just get that screenplay started then, and go back to playing video games or dinking around on Twitter?

Tomorrow may never come.

Read that again:  Tomorrow… may… never… come.

Those four words have haunted my life these past five months since I lost my best friend in an instant. I always thought we had tomorrow. I always thought we had time to outline that script or take that carriage ride through Central Park. Those 26 innocent people who died in Newtown, CT thought they had a lifetime of tomorrows too, as did their families.

2012 taught me the hardest lesson of all: No one is guaranteed tomorrow. It’s what you do today that matters.

If there is ever a piece of advice I want you to take from my columns, it is the following:

  • Stop procrastinating.
  • Stop making excuses.
  • Stop waiting to live your life.
  • Stop waiting to feel.
  • Take a risk. A real risk.

That girl you see on the subway every morning but are afraid to talk to… go get her. The story idea you’ve had for years, and pay lip service to… put it on the page, even if only a paragraph outline. The friend you haven’t called in forever because you had some dumb fight you can’t even remember the details of… pick up the phone. The career you say you want as a writer… do something about it. Today. Right now.

Today isn’t the first day of the rest of your life, it’s the only day you have. Remember, there is no future. What have you got to lose? Feel that sense of urgency. Feel the ticking clock.

You do it for your characters, now do it for yourself.

Tick, tick, tick.

As Robert McKee says, a person’s character is defined by how s/he behaves under pressure. This is I, pushing up the pressure gauge and forcing you to make a choice. Whatever choice you make will determine any sense of satisfaction you feel as you lay your head down to rest tonight.

I dare you to have a satisfying day, knowing you lived your life fully and left no stone unturned.

Spend today doing something you’ve been putting off. Start with something simple. Write for one hour. Oh, you need something to write? OK, allow me to help.

While dinking around on Twitter one day (I admit, I dink), I saw a tweet by Dana Brunetti, President of Trigger Street Productions, announcing Jameson First Shot 2013, a contest where three short film scripts are chosen for production, and this year, instead of Kevin Spacey, will star Willem Dafoe.

Kevin Spacey and Dana Brunetti ~ click image to watch

Call me crazy, but you could spend today writing the no-more-than seven page script for submission (a full list of rules can be found here). It’s an incredible opportunity you cannot and should not pass up. Seriously. Seven pages. You can’t do that? Pfft.

The deadline is January 1st, so get crackin’.

Oh yeah, I’m double-dog daring you. Why? Because if you aren’t trying, you aren’t living. You’re just wasting your breath. Breath someone else would love to have. A life someone else no longer has to live. You have yours. Don’t waste it. Not even a day.

Of one thing I am certain in this world and that is there are no do-overs. Not a single one. I can’t tell you how many times I have said these past five months, “If I could just go back in time…”

I can’t. You can’t. You have today. Only today. Don’t wait for a New Year’s resolution to change your life. Make every single day count.

“Can’t” should never be in your vocabulary.

Grab hold of today and live, and if your eyes pop open tomorrow morning, smile brightly and own that day too. The best part of embracing each day is, if your eyes don’t open tomorrow, everyone in your life will know you truly lived to your fullest potential. That is an amazing gift to leave behind for those who love you. Priceless.

Consider this my two cents from tough lessons learned this year. I’m not making resolutions any more. I’m simply going to be all I can be. Every. Freakin’. Day.

Watch ScriptMag Editor Share Her Advice on Facing Your Writing Fears

Jeanne Veillette Bowerman shares her personal story of facing her fears in order to propel her writing and her career. Click on the image below to watch Jeanne’s advice. In just eight minutes, you might have a whole new perspective.

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17 thoughts on “Balls of Steel: Seize the Day… and the Opportunity

  1. Hunter

    “I’d like you to stop taking tomorrow for granted. I’d like you to think of each morning your eyes open wide as a gift of another day of life.

    What will you do with it?”

    Powerful words, Jeanne. Thank you!

  2. Ken English

    I was sent a link to Scriptmag by a friend in the TV industry because I told him I wanted to see some of the sites he liked. I happened to click on Jeanne’s post. It turns out, her message was focused on the topic of making every day count because we’re promised tomorrow. My friend, Ray Pelletier, Sr. didn’t wake up one morning in 2007 because of complications from a routine hernia operation. He used to say “we’re not promised tomorrow.” His take on “Today is the Day” was to treat every day as January 1st. He would say “Every day is the beginning of a new year.” I doubt if Jeanne and Ray every met, but they would have been good friends. They share the same philosophy on life. I encourage you to consider joining them by treating everyday as January 1st.

  3. Leona Heraty

    Well said, Jeanne!

    I’m so sorry to hear about your friend. I believe the best way to honor your friend is for you to live your life to the fullest everyday, as we all must do.

    Here’s a great quote I want to share with everyone:

    To change one’s life: Start immediately. Do it flamboyantly. No exceptions. ~William James

    Happy New Year 2013 everyone! Now, let’s get busy writing! 🙂

  4. Jan

    Amen Jeanne. Six months ago TODAY, right about NOW, I underwent major surgery to remove a rare giant tumor adhered to my heart, lungs and esophagus. I no longer take waking up tomorrow for granted. When I do, I repeat my new mantra: I’m doing new things. And expecting different results.

  5. Edward Case

    Thanks for this article! Just read it this afternoon and wrote a script for Trigger Street this afternoon! 7 pages exactly. Kind of scary just hammering something out like that, but damn the torpedoes in the New Year, right?

    Thanks for all the coaching, Jeanne!

  6. Dr Jc

    Fantastic article. You should consider being a writer. You have a way with words. Thanks. I did something I have never done before, I clipped the article and put it on my bulletin board. I’ll even use it at one of my friends funerals this Saturday. He was too young to die and some in his family are still not talking to each other. What a waste! He’s be screaming your words at them. Stop messing about. Make it right. You don’t have tomorrow. Carpe.

  7. Perry Hall

    Jeanne,
    I did’nt know you are a Biblical scholar. Living today and not looking back is a good synopsis of what the good book says. Hold no ill feelings and move forward. When someone tries to offend you walk away and never ever think that you are anything but, MADE IN GOD’S IMAGE and have the power of the HOLY SPIRIT in you.
    By the way GOD loves the movies so we got to make some.
    Captain
    HAPPY NEW YEAR!

  8. Art

    It’s me again. I read your article last night, got sleep around 10;00pm.. woke up around 7;00 am. when everybody sleeps on my town, and you know what? I wrote a complete outline for a new script.

    Thank you so much Jeanne. I didn’t expect that your article had the force to activate my inner feelings so great.

    Thank you dear again, keep articling.

    Art

  9. Unknown ScreenwriterUnk

    Words to put into action… Even if we accomplish ONE EXTRA THING A DAY than what we’re used to, good things can come from it.

    This is one of the reasons I rarely sleep… It gets addicting to ACCOMPLISH things.

    Great article, Writer of Things.

    Unk

  10. Christina DeMarco

    Jeanne I feel like you’re invading my brain. Holy crap, you said everything that I’ve been struggling with for my whole life and more so in the last few months. Yesterday without thought I opened a file of a story I had written revised and put away, waiting for the right time to submit it to Trigger Street (I got the credits for short story submission) anyway, thanks for kicking me in the ass with your article. You always have the words I need to hear.
    Happy New Year! Xo

  11. Karl

    I’m an American, living in Canada = non-eligible. I guess I can go back to procrastinating.

    J/K. Sucks, but I will continue to write, regardless of my residency. Russia? South Africa? (scratches head)

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