On Twitter, I’m known as the “Twitter Pimp Angel.” I tweet links of support for my friends and fellow writers, and I also subject them to my “Pimp Tip of the Day.”
Recently, I tweeted the above advice. While most retweeted it, supporting my sentiment and sharing it with their followers, one person tweeted back, saying I was cold, insensitive, and not understanding of the human psyche.
To him, I say, “Get real!”
Change is essential to life, and recognizing the need to change is even more essential for evolution. This applies to both our writing and our lives.
If change wasn’t essential, how would characters evolve? If change wasn’t essential, every story ever written would be boring as hell. If change wasn’t essential, we’d still be living in caves, eating raw meat and grunting to communicate.
If you don’t like your circumstances, change them. It really is that straightforward.
That goes for your career too.
If you’re a drama writer and have found no success, try writing a romantic comedy, horror or action script. Or take a stab at writing a spec script for TV, a web series or a short film. You may have untapped talents you’re wasting.
We always hear, “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.” But what if it is broken? What if the way you’ve been conducting your life, or your career, simply doesn’t work and makes you miserable? Then, you have to fix it.
The only way to fix it is to change what you’re doing. Because if what you’re doing makes you miserable, it ain’t working.
I know it’s scary to do something unfamiliar, but you have to face your fears or you’ll be stuck in this misery forever. What’s the worst that can happen by trying to write a new genre? If you suck at writing comedy, you simply go back to writing drama.
But at least you tried, and in trying, you will have learned something. Even one tiny bit of learning is a new brick on the path to a different destiny.
The trick to change is being brave enough to take that first step. The very first time you decide to do what is best for you is the hardest. After that, it gets easier, until one day, it becomes second nature. When that happens, you won’t even recognize your old way of thinking. You will have evolved into a new you.
Let’s start at the first step:
You’re at your day job, gathered around the water cooler, whining about your boss or your workload. When you sit back at your desk, ask yourself what you’d love to do for a living, then start plotting a path to get there.
If your dream is to be a full-time writer, then jot down a plan of action, something like this:
- Start a blog.
- Commit to writing every single day, even if only 30 minutes.
- Learn your craft by taking online classes.
- Set a goal, such as writing a first draft of a script in six months.
- Use a pitchfest to give yourself a target date to polish the script.
Seems simple, but I know it’s not. Why? Because I’ve done it, both in my professional life and in my personal life. These past couple of years have been a total reinvention of Jeanne. There have been days of feeling empowered and days I want to crawl back in my bed, unable to imagine life on the other side.
Pushing through those rough days is the hardest.
Just breathe. You can do this, and you can use these emotions and angst in your writing.
Think about what it’s like for you to push through a problem and reach a goal. Then use that in your characters. Throw insurmountable obstacles in their way. Challenge them. Push them until they’re about to crack.
No one changes unless they’re going to crack.
After all, that’s what life does to us. It hits us over the head repeatedly with a 2×4 until we learn we need to forge a different path to succeed.
If your protagonist is miserable and just whines to his friends, how is that going to improve his circumstances? He’ll still go home to the same unhappy relationship and be back with his buddies the next day moaning about his wife.
How’s that working for him? I’d guess, not so well.
What’s worse is it’s boring as hell to read or watch! I don’t want to waste two hours of my life watching a character who isn’t doing a damn thing to achieve his goals and be happy. Frankly, people in real life who just sit in their misery, day in and day out, year after year, bore the hell out of me too.
Now, imagine watching the character who stops bitching about his wife and looks within himself, asking what his role is in his own unhappiness. He might see why he set himself up for misery and begin a process of change.
That character, I’d not only be delighted to watch, but I’d also be rooting for him to succeed.
We have to be accountable for our own happiness. So do our characters. Push yourself. Push them. It’ll make you a better writer and a happier person.
Change. It’ll do you, and your characters, good.
You might also enjoy these posts:
- Balls of Steel: Challenge Yourself to Change
- Get a New Story: Why You Don’t Need Big Blocks of Time to Write
- Beyond the Page: Funny Changes Everything