How one damn-good Netflix series marks one woman’s creative rock bottom.
I'm an Ideas Person.
This typically translates to:
I'm an underachiever.
It's true: I have indeed been both of these. But I recently got a slap in the face: A walloping, shocking, wake-up slap.
You see, in 2013 I had a brilliant idea for a screenplay. Titled: "Self-Help: The Movie," it was the story of a woman who comically but touchingly evolves out of self-denial and self-abuse, and into self-acceptance and self-love. This process is externalized--made visible and concrete--through the relationship she develops with a literal second-self: A clone.
By the end of 2013, I'd written 76 pages of the script. I studied screenwriting from Aristotle's poetics to Aaron Sorkin's Masterclass. I hashed out my characters and my story-arc. My script was good: well-paced, witty, playfully obedient to the rules of storytelling.
But I didn't finish it.
No, I kept my 70%-done, once-in-a-lifetime, million-dollar idea on the back-burner for SIX YEARS. I always intended to go back and finish it, of course, and I did work on it a bit here-and-there...
until, two months ago, when I saw this:
Nails scraped down a chalkboard as I scrolled through the article. This was my movie. This was...MY movie!
But, it wasn't mine anymore.
I didn't do right by it.
It left me for someone else, someone better, and I deserved it.
A Massively Worse Kind of Failure
This isn't the first time this happened to me.
There was the college thesis I wanted to expand into a book, (with a lot of passionate support from my professors!)
Didn't finish it.
There was the memoir of the year I lived in "The WhiteBus," my 1971 Volkswagon camper van; a tale of travel, transience, wild romance and self-discovery.
Didn't finish it.
There was this and there was that. The list goes on.
But the screenplay takes the cake.
This was no humble scrap of success I'd let shrivel on the vine. This was no self-published memoir. This was It. Fame! Fortune! Glamour!
The gods of creativity gifted me a key to the queendom of artistic success, and I knew it, and I didn't use it.
And that's not even the worst part!
The worst part is this:
I've been failing to live up to my potential for 30 years.
I DO have great ideas, and the skills and talents to execute on them. I've just been too lazy to apply myself. It's pure laziness: Over-indulgence in the comforts of modern mediocrity.
It's a failure of character.
A failure to develop self-discipline and basic goal-achievement skills.
It's a failure to take myself seriously.
A failure to honor my own potential.
A failure to live up to my best self.
And I just can't be a failure anymore.
The Gut-Wrenching Upswing
I admit, I certainly stopped by for a drink at the self-pity party down at Bottom first. But, ironically akin to Paul Rudd’s character, (who, in my version, I envisioned played by Amanda Seyfried,) I’m newly set on a path of self-improvement.
I can’t pretend like I’m sitting on ANOTHER once-in-a-lifetime, million-dollar idea just yet.
But I can start with what I do have.
A humble collage-art project.
My goals are simple:
Develop discipline and consistency.
Do right by a creative project I believe in. (Set a goal and see it through!)
Transform from a flaky creative-type into a polished, proficient artist.
Develop my personal brand, (like a professional).
Make and share inspiring, empowering content with the world.
To achieve these goals I've designed for myself a 100-Day Creative Challenge!
More than a week has passed since creating and accepting this challenge, and progress is coming.
Success: Making It My Business
These widely-beloved mini-collages have a formula:
The idea is, you look at these lovely words, the image stirs up an emotion, and you realize, OH RIGHT! Goodness, truth, wisdom, love--that's my primary business, as a human being here on Earth.
"Make It Your Business" - I get it!
Now all I have to do is post one per day for 100 days, and I will have achieved a medium-sized-goal on my path of long-term creative identity rehabilitation.
(Today marks day 10/100 and I’m very happy so far.)
Why This Will Work:
A formula makes it easy to create at scale.
A consistent aesthetic makes it Instagramable.
Instagram is the tool for developing a brand, and posting the 100-day challenge to social media holds me accountable.
Every day I create something new and unique. This alone is a very important ingredient to creative success.
I’m genuinely contributing something valuable to the world. A genuine message of positivity is always a valuable contribution.
I also add to each post a blog elaborating on the theme of the card. It gives me a daily moment of reflection and expression, opening me up to offer the best of my mind and heart to the world.
And that's not even the best part!
The best part is this:
I've decided to live up to my potential. One day at a time.
I DO have great ideas, and I AM applying myself to them.
I am meant to live in the service of artistic purpose and the Greater Good.
And now, I am.