Typewriters and the Art of Attentiveness

heminwaytypeAfter several years of writing scripts, I’ve decided to go back to writing fiction and, let me tell you, I’m finding that my prose muscles are really out of shape. (Terrible metaphor, I know, but it feels exactly like I’m going on a run after several years of being a couch potato.) That spare script style has made it hard for me to set a scene in full sensory detail. But what’s made it most difficult is the fact that I’m so easily distracted nowadays: by email, by friends, by a constant stream of, well, information. And when I do sit down to write, I find my attention wandering. My usual tactic when this happens is to take out the airport card on my laptop and lock my phone away. When things are really bad, I just write longhand. Then I read this article about typewriters and how they aid attentiveness.

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The Real Formula for a Hit Script

A few days ago, The New York Times published an article about a guy who claims to have come up with an algorithm that will predict whether or not your script will be a box office hit. Among his pearls of wisdom is the following statement:

“Demons in horror movies can target people or be summoned,” Mr. Bruzzese said in a gravelly voice, by way of example. “If it’s a targeting demon, you are likely to have much higher opening-weekend sales than if it’s summoned. So get rid of that Ouija Board scene.”

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9 Ways to Reignite Your Passion for a Project

Skull studies from Leonardo Da Vinci's notebooks
Skull studies from Leonardo Da Vinci’s notebooks

If you’ve ever run a long race then you know about “the wall,” that dreadful moment in which your energy flags, your body hurts, and the finish line feels a thousand miles away. You’ve already logged in too many miles to give up, but gathering the extra strength necessary to cross the finish line feels, well, impossible. What’s funny is that no one talks about a “creative wall,” since every creative person has felt her passion wilt during a long and difficult project at one time or another. Sometimes it can be really hard to keep going when you’re going through a seemingly endless grind.

The New Year is a perfect time to get your mojo back, baby dolls! Because you know that you have to be in it to win it, even if at times you feel like plunking your fanny on the couch and pigging out on popcorn while watching marathon sessions of trash reality TV. And so here are some tips to get that fire relit.

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6 Sources for Story Ideas When the Well Runs Dry

You know how it is. There are days when your head is buzzing with great stories… And then there are days when your mind goes blank. You’ve run out of ideas. Now what?

Woodcut from an 1840 edition of Jack the Giant Killer, reprinted in Iona and Peter Opie’s The Classic Fairy Tales
Woodcut from an 1840 edition of Jack the Giant Killer, reprinted in Iona and Peter Opie’s The Classic Fairy Tales

My first suggestion is to stop surfing the internet. It’s a fantastic resource if you want to find out what everyone else is reading, what’s going viral, what’s the pulse of the people. But when you’re looking for a story that’s unique, strange, or that just hasn’t been told, a search engine won’t help you much, if only because, what drives the web is traffic. And you’re looking for something off the beaten path. Yup.

It’s time to opt out of the virtual and go back to actual reality by getting a hold of the following three-dimensional sources:

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12 Ways to Make Yourself Write When You’re Not Feeling It

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“The first draft of anything is shit.”
–Ernest Hemingway

Writing is one of those things that, like exercise, we avoid even though we know we’ll feel so much better once it’s over. Why do we hear so much about writer’s block, but hardly ever about dancer’s freeze, or composer’s silence, or any other kind of artistic paralysis? Any ideas? Whatever the reason, we’ve all experienced that reluctance to  sit at our desks and put words on paper.

Here are some thoughts on overcoming that resistance:
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