So everybody at home, I'd love you to download the quiz, Get Curious About Your Writing Process and just jot down the first thoughts that you have to that. It'll make this class so much more personable and powerful and just right on for what you need. And everybody in the audience has already done it so come along with us and let's get going. So once upon a time there was a young woman living in the City in Angels. She was on a quest and that quest was to be a successful screenwriter. And she was failing at that quest and she was writing the same pages of the screenplay over and over and over again and she was so stuck and she was so miserable and she was so depressed. She was drinking so much wine at night and she had a friend and the friend had decided to be a writer oh just about the year before and she was selling things and she was having success and our heroine was incredibly jealous of this friend. And she went to her and she said, why, why am I, why is it ...
not working for me? Why am I so miserable, why am I so stuck? Why can't I write? And her friend thought and she kind of leaned back and she went, well writing is really easy for me. Gosh, I love to write, I can't go more than a couple of days without writing. I think that you're not really a writer because it's so hard for you. Well ugh right (grunts)? Twist the knife, I don't want to twist it on top of the audio mic. Of course the person I'm talking about was me. It's been 1986, I was fresh out of film school and that story really motivates everything that I wanna share with you today. So how many of you struggle with self-doubt as writers? Raise your hand, yeah? Who am I to say this? Procrastination? Like even getting to the writing in the first place? How about, squirrel, right? Lack of focus, yeah? Suddenly you're watching Netflix and you don't even know how you got there (laughs)? Or whatever your thing is, Facebook, you know, online games. Yeah, so I wanna help you with what I find has worked for me and many many students I've worked with over the last 30 years of doing this. So I started out writing plays and screenplays in middle school and those moody short stories. Did anyone write those moody short stories? Maybe you're still writing them? Then I went to USC Film School, pursued screenwriting as we've heard, didn't go so well. And out of that time, and I'll tell you that story later, came the personal growth books that I wrote. And I wrote seven or eight of those depending on, there's a gift edition in one, sometimes I forget to count it. I have two and a half novels in the drawer. I'm in my fourth year of writing a memoir. I've written an online newsletter, a blog, almost every week since 2000. Written a national magazine column for two different magazines. I've written a lot of different forms. It's the way I made my living since for about 30 years, sometimes 1992, I can never count the years right. But most importantly is how I made sense of the world. It's how I understand, what I believe, what I think, what I feel and how I feel I've had an impact. And clearly from that story I told you a moment ago, I've also really struggled. Writing has never been easy for me. It's never been like it was for my friend and so I had quit writing when she told me I wasn't really a writer because I'm stubborn (laughs). I'm super stubborn and super gritty. And so I started studying. Like how can I make this easier? What can I make better about this? Why was it so hard and then about 15, 18 years ago, I started teaching writing and writing retreats, online classes and stuff so that really what informs what what we're gonna talk about today. But really there's two main ideas I wanna start with here. If you've ever struggled with any aspect of writing, can you see I'm starting to preach to you, it never means anything, it's not proof you cannot do this. It's not proof you aren't a writer. I so wish you would have been able to tell me that that day when my friend told me the not truth (chuckles). Right, I want you to so get this in your bodies, hopefully through all of Writing Week and through this class today. It's never proof of anything except you might need a little tweak. You might need a tweak to your writing process. You might need a tweak to how you work and that's what we're gonna work with. Writing to me is first an inside job, right? It's how we work with our minds. It's how we work with our neurobiology. It's the stories that we tell ourselves about being a writer, more even than craft. I love craft, I think craft is super important. I study craft almost everyday but it's the inside job part that I wanna talk to you about today. I love this quote from Roxanne Gray. Do you all know her work, critical, social critic, short story writer, essayist, not a memoirist. What I wish I could have told myself when I was hopeless about my writing prospects is that I should have defined artistic success in ways that weren't shaped by forces beyond my control. That is what we're gonna get into right now and I'm gonna give you lots of practical way to do it because if we live with success out there in what you think it is for me or what you think it is or what it's gonna be next year, it'll drive you crazy and it'll make it really difficult to get the writing done, alright? It's not that we don't want those things. Of course we do, they're in the room with us, we want them but we're gonna keep turning away to what we can do, what we can control and ground ourselves there.