The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Joss Wheden and Lifewriting #1: "Finish It."

Frankly, I think Joss Wheden’s “Avengers” is as re-watchable as “Star Wars”.  His orchestration of these iconic characters was simply superb.  It is easy to forget how easily it could have turned into puree of bat guano, and instead, was as pure an evocation of the experience of being 12 years old and reading a Marvel Comics Annual as I can imagine.    What a gift!
The “Lifewriting” principle is simple: to treat your life as if it is a story that you are writing.  This enables you to gain perspective, take life less seriously, and transfer conceptual/creative tools from one arena to another.  Also, because the “Hero’s Journey” contains a syntax of action and thought that can be applied to story, the process of writing story, and life itself, it is a lovely way to simplify life if you are a writer: a writing structure that can structure your life!   
When the creator of a massively popular and successful film shares his hints on how to create scripts, there is a wonderful opportunity: to apply Musashi’s “Know the Ways of All Professions” principle and see how said thoughts apply across the board.   Let’s apply Wheden’s 10 principles, and see how they work, shall we?

“Actually finishing it is what I’m gonna put in as step one. You may laugh at this, but it’s true. I have so many friends who have written two-thirds of a screenplay, and then re-written it for about three years. Finishing a screenplay is first of all truly difficult, and secondly really liberating. Even if it’s not perfect, even if you know you’re gonna have to go back into it, type to the end. You have to have a little closure.”
Yeah.  Finish “it”.  Do it, even if your first draft, or first effort is imperfect.
1) Body.  Finish your written plan to transform, heal, and nurture your body. There will NEVER be a “perfect” diet or exercise program that works for everyone, that all the “experts” will agree on.  Ultimately, you will be responsible for selecting and testing your theories and practices.  And you will have to live with the results.  But get started, notice your results, keep your eyes on the goal, keep studying people who have gotten better results from you.    Finish the week’s workouts and eating patterns.   Record your results.  Polish, polish, polish.
2) Career.  Finish your plans to align your career and your core values.    Finish your daily tasks: do all you can do, every day, to move toward your goals, and the years take care of themselves.  Finish designing your “Secret Formula” plan. Finish reading that book: you need to be constantly learning new techniques and principles.    The “gods” in any profession are often considered “intuitive geniuses” by those who are outsiders.  The more knowledgable you are about ANY field, the more you see the actual work and sacrifice involved.   Finish your 10,000 hours.  If you aren’t willing, find something you ARE willing to spend 10,000 hours on.  Those hours will pass, whether you have invested them, or wasted them.  It’s up to you.
3) Relationships.  Finish your daily meditations, even if they are imperfect.  Finish your “Soulmate” pattern, clearly defining what your heart seeks in a partner.  Finish getting your initial feedback from the closest examples you can find: don’t let your fear of hearing bad news stop you.  Actually ask for dates outside your comfort zone.  Clarify your perceptions.   Deal with your fear and blame and resentment that the opposite gender makes demands of potential partners--just like you do.   And they probably aren’t the same demands you make...but that doesn’t mean they are any less reasonable.    Understand the foibles of humanity without placing yourself above them, or having the irrational reaction that if we aren’t BETTER than animals we must be LESS.  Jeeze, that tweaks me.
4) Finances.   Finish your basic financial plan.   Balancing your checkbook weekly.  Actually establish a percentage of EVERY DOLLAR YOU EARN that you will put into an untouchable account BEFORE you pay your bills.   And watch the results you get.  It will be murderously hard to do this, harder than establishing a pattern of exercising BEFORE you eat breakfast, doing your 1000 words first thing in the morning, or loving yourself as a primary position.    We are trained to take care of others first.  Programmed to do the imperative rather than the generative.   If you don’t break those habits, you’ll be hanging on by your fingernails all your life.
Finish it. Do it.  Make the commitment. Then polish, tinker, research, redo, compare, consult, create, and repair.    Do it.    Perfectionism is procrastination masquerading as quality control.
Do it, damn it.



Unknown said...

That "finances" section... It bothers Me because I see a way where We Humans can eliminate the need to exchange to survive, shifting the work "ethic" to a Betterment Ethic, allowing Us ALL to prove Our worth doing what We love to do - or choosing worthlessness with no skin off and Other's nose.

Thing is, if We don't know We can choose to do this...We likely won't. I offer You a starting point to investigate how this is now (and just now in the whole scheme of things) available:


"ALL money systems promote the most psychopathic to the top of the money/power heap - THEY will do ANYTHING to get there."
"The love of money is the root of all evil; remove the soil in which the root grows..."
"If the universe is made of mostly "dark" energy...can We use it to run Our cars?"
"If You want peace, take the PROFIT out of war."

Steven Barnes said...

What you need to do is create a small community of people THRIVING using your approach, and then others will be interested in modeling it. LOTS of ideas sound great on paper. There are always issues once one applies them to the "real world."

Everything I've accomplished I've done by modeling someone who could do it better. And could demonstrate it, in the real world. There are others who are willing to try something that has never been tried. Gather some of those, make it shine, and show us.