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Stop Obsessing Over Criticism: 3 Steps to Emotional Resilience for Writers

It’s ironic.

Writing and freelancing are careers that require an enormous amount of resilience. But what I’ve found, through my interactions with writers and other creatives, is that we are some of the least emotionally resilient people out there. Many of us are sensitive and emotional — it comes with the gift of creativity.

We feel life on a deeper level, and we are moved to express ourselves because of this. We should accept our sensitive natures as something that makes us unique, but when it gets in the way of a successful writing career, we need to take notice.

As professional writers, it’s vitally important  we don’t crumble at the occurrence, or even just the thought of rejection. Our livelihoods depend on our ability to press on through adversity.

But how do we change our fundamental nature? While it’s unlikely  we’ll be able to change our inherent personality traits, we can learn to recognize them when they get in the way — and in some cases, even use them to our advantage.

Here are three steps to cultivating stronger emotional resilience.

1. Realize when you’re “hooked”

I’ll admit it: I have a stereotypical writer’s brain. Dreamy, anxious, slightly obsessive.

I recently received some constructive, but slightly discouraging feedback on a piece I wrote. It was one of those times I thought I’d done really well, but actually missed the mark. I was disappointed in myself, and that’s normal — but my brain took it to the next level.

It happens to me all the time — I hear a less than positive comment about my work, and I mark it as the inevitable end of my career — the final proof needed to affirm my belief I am not good enough to do this writing thing.

The initial, small negative thought usually snowballs into a huge one: Bad writing. Bad writer. Bad person. (Okay, I admit I may be more than slightly obsessive.)

At this point, I was what author and psychologist Susan David, PhD, would call, “hooked.”

In her book, Emotional Agility, David explains that we are often unaware of when we become “hooked” by a negative thought loop. Like a broken record, the same old story plays over and over:

I’m such a failure. I never do anything right.

My life is a mess. I always have bad luck.

These types of thoughts can become so habitual we hardly notice them — they’ve become part of our mental environment. But these thoughts all have common themes, and you can learn to recognize them when you make the effort.

For example, thinking in absolutes — using word like “always,” “never,” and “forever.”

If you recognize yourself using one of these words, it’s time to do what Susan David calls, “stepping out.”

Reframe each phrase:

Change “I’m a failure” to “I’m having the thought that I’m a failure.”

This creates a space in between the thought, and our emotional reaction.

“I’m a failure,” is stated like fact — one we’re liable to start believing if we think it enough.

“I’m having the thought that I am a failure,” reveals the true nature of this phrase as nothing more than a thought — and one that isn’t necessarily true.

2. Ask, “Are these thoughts serving me?”

There is always one point during my negative ruminations that a small but firm, rational voice says, “Enough already.”

In my brooding about the criticism, I did have a moment of clarity. I thought,

Is obsessing over this helping me get where I want to be?

I thought about what I truly wanted — a healthy career in writing, doing what I love.

Obsessing over this negative feedback and believing all of my discouraging, insecure thoughts was actually causing me to back pedal. While my brain was hijacked by negativity, my creativity was blocked. I wasn’t able to write or be productive.

Not because of the criticism about my writing, because of the thoughts I was having about the criticism.

If your thoughts aren’t serving you, allow yourself to let them go. This is easier said than done, of course, but with practice, letting go of useless negative thoughts can keep you from sliding into fear-based habits like avoidance and procrastination.

3. Focus on your values, and forget everything else

Failing to accomplish a specific goal can be incredibly disappointing. But what if you forgot about your goals for a minute and focused on your values?

Values are more than just a moral code. They are what you want your life to be about, some examples being compassion, loyalty or balance. The difference between a goal and a value is that goals can be objectively attained or accomplished. Values cannot.

Steven C. Hayes, Ph.D, professor of psychology and author of the book, Get Out of Your Mind, and Into Your Life, explains it this way:

“Values are never possessed as objects, because they are qualities of unfolding actions, not of particular things.”

Here are three of my core values: Honesty, authenticity, creativity.

Looking back at my recent meltdown, it’s true that I did not meet my goal of getting my writing approved of by an editor. But in taking the time, energy and intention to write, was I not living out my core value of creativity? By taking the risk of exposing my personal art to the world, wasn’t I staying true to my values of honesty and authenticity?

The time and effort I used to write that piece, with all its imperfections, wasn’t wasted. It was used in the service of my deepest values.

Framing it this way, how could I possible feel like a failure?

The bottom line: When you learn to view your thoughts as just thoughts, and focus on what matters most in your life, you can be free from the negative thought patterns that don’t serve you, and handle criticism with grace.

After all, criticism means you’ve used your words to create something, and isn’t that what the craft of writing is all about?

How do you “unhook” from negative thoughts? Share your ideas in the comments!

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you purchase through our links, you’re supporting The Write Life — and we thank you for that!

The post Stop Obsessing Over Criticism: 3 Steps to Emotional Resilience for Writers appeared first on The Write Life.


Source: Writer Life

By | 2017-08-01T18:44:42+00:00 August 1st, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |

What a Great Logline Looks Like: July 2017 Edition

The July Logline Competition results are in! Check out these great examples of how to write a logline:


Our winner is Matthew Barker with his logline for ASSASSIN QUEEN, an action adventure:

Elizabeth I, warrior queen and deadly assassin, plots to murder her former lover — the new king of France — before he can send his undead army to England for her head.”

This story is bold, exciting, and a lot of fun. It’s easy to imagine this as a big summer blockbuster that attracts all sorts of audiences. And we love how compact this logline is — so clear and direct!

About Matthew (matthew@matthewbarker.com.au – matthewbarker.com.au  – Facebook – Twitter)

Matthew Barker is an Australian screenwriter with feature and television projects in development.  Since winning the Australian Writers’ Guild’s “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” national screenwriting competition for his feature script OUT OF NOWHERE, he has had other scripts place well in international competitions and programs, including being shortlisted the Australians in Film GatewayLA Screenplay Program 2015 for the script TROY TOWN.  That script was a quarter- and semi-finalist in The Blood List’s 2014 New Blood Screenwriting Contest, shortlisted in Stage32’s 2015 Happy Writers Screenplay Contest, and also shortlisted in the 2015 Spotlight Screenplay Contest.  Matthew is currently working on new scripts and pitching completed ones internationally.


First, we have Malayeshia Hubbard with her logline for THE MOURNING AFTER, a dark comedy:

Two bored suburbanite neighbors in an ongoing affair scramble to come up with an alibi that won’t lead to divorce for one and jail time for the other following the accidental murder of the woman’s husband.

This is one of those “why didn’t I think of that” ideas. It’s so simple, and yet it feels original. The opportunities for great dark comedy are clear. Plus, you’ve got to love that title.

About Malayeshia (malayeshiah@gmail.com – @malayeshiaah)

Malayeshia Hubbard is a writer and college student from Charleston, South Carolina. Although she has a penchant for writing poetry, she likes the challenge that comes from writing full-length works of both screenplays and stage plays. Malayeshia credits the cast of the Twilight Saga for her latent interest in film at the ripe old age of 12.

Next, we have Jacob Appel with his logline for MISSING, an anthology series:

Recently released from prison after getting his murder conviction overturned, a struggling and highly aggressive LA detective finally lands a missing persons case: the lawyer who prosecuted him.

We love how simple and high concept this story is. It feels timely, and it’s easy to imagine a big audience for a show like this.

About Jacob (jacobappel26@aol.com)

Jacob Appel is a high school student who is passionate about writing for TV. He hopes to one day get a job as a TV writer on an existing show and eventually create his own show. Jacob’s favorite subjects are English and history, because he likes to improve his writing, and history always has some good stories.

The June Logline Competition is now open! We have wonderful prizes from Script Pipeline, Virtual Pitchfest, WeScreenplay, The Hollywood Pitching Bible, and Talentville. Get your loglines in for detailed feedback and a chance at great prizes.

Contest Logo 1 copy

Source: LA-Screenwriter

By | 2017-08-01T18:44:47+00:00 July 31st, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |

How This Indie Author Landed a Barnes & Noble Book Signing

If you’re a self-published author, the dream of holding an in-person book signing at a Barnes & Noble bookstore probably seems farfetched.

Yes, the giant retailer sells almost 200 million physical books a year and regularly conducts author events in its stores, but these book events seem to cater only to published authors.     

But guess what?

I’m an indie author with one self-published book. As unbelievable as it may seem, my first book signing five months after the book’s release was held inside a Barnes & Noble. I successfully sold a number of books and gained loyal readers.

How did I do it?

By not letting all the what-ifs hiding in my apprehensive author’s mind get in the way. In the end, my determination and patience paid off.

If you’re a self-published author looking for an opportunity to hold a book signing at a Barnes and Noble store, here are a few helpful tips to get your foot in the door.

1. Adopt a positive mindset

Novice writers tend to be scared of how people will react to their work and are not too keen on taking the possibility of being rejected.

As a result, they shy away from opportunities to be discovered and recognized for something that they’ve worked so hard to create. Let go of your negativity and explore every opportunity to showcase your work with enthusiasm and determination despite the outcome.

After all, if you have no confidence in your own work, how will you convince others to trust what you’ve written?

2. Find your store

First, you need to choose which Barnes & Noble store will work best for you and your invited guests.  

When you determine your location, contact the store to find out if it has upcoming author events on its calendar or if the store is willing to accommodate an event.

3. Contact the store’s Community Business Development Manager (CBDM)

Barnes and Noble has a section on their website for publishers and authors with specific instructions for how to be considered for an author event.

It’s important to note that as a self-published author, you may feel deterred because the page only refers to published authors. However, as you continue to read, the site gives authors an option to contact the individual store’s Community Business Development Manager (CBDM) or store manager.

In my case, I spoke to the store manager first, and then my inquiry was passed on to the CBDM.

When you get in touch with the CBDM, introduce yourself, let them know you’re interested in hosting an event and find out if the store is open to reviewing book signing proposals. If the store accommodates author events, you can offer to drop by the store and personally submit your proposal to the CBDM.

Be sure to ask the CBDM at your store how they’d prefer to receive proposals; following directions is key.

4. Prepare your book signing proposal

There are many ways to submit a proposal, and creativity has no limits.

If the CBDM does not have a preferred proposal format, you’re free to be as creative as you’d like. You could submit your book proposal in digital or printed format depending on how you want to present your ideas. If you’re lucky, the CBDM may invite you to come to the store so you can discuss your proposal in person.  

For my proposal, I chose to submit a media kit using a simple PowerPoint presentation in print format. I utilized the sales copywriter in me by creating a teaser for my book on the first page. I  included a blurb, a synopsis, customer reviews (since my book had been out for a few months already), colorful postcards, bookmarks and my book’s website, social media accounts and blogs the book had been featured on.

Don’t forget to include a copy of your book with the proposal and don’t expect itto be returned.

Sending a thank you card to the CBDM for giving you an opportunity to submit a proposal regardless of the outcome is a good way to express your gratitude and establish a positive relationship with a Barnes & Noble store in your area.

5. Be patient and proactive

Patience is key.

It took almost three months to hear from the CBDM at my local Barnes & Noble. When I finally heard back, I received an email with the date of the event and instructions on how the event would be handled.

I called the CBDM immediately and we discussed the process in more detail. In case you do not get feedback from your CBDM, you may follow up two weeks after you’ve submitted your proposal. That’s what I did! I followed up two weeks after submitting my proposal, and continued to follow up via email once a week for three weeks until I received a response.

At the same time, while you’re waiting to hear from the CBDM, you have the option to contact other B&N stores that may accommodate your proposal.

Hosting a book signing at a bookstore, especially with a giant retailer like Barnes & Noble, not only gives you a feeling of pride and self-fulfillment, but also adds credibility to your work as an author.

My book signing at Barnes & Noble has earned me a positive reputation as an indie author among my book’s established and new followers, as well as those who have developed an interest in my book after the event.

I met readers who shared their views about the plots and characters of my book as well as fun, interesting and valuable insights on storytelling that I can incorporate in my future work as an author. I also met other authors who shared their experiences, including their struggles and achievements, that have continuously encouraged me to work harder knowing I’m not alone in this journey.

On top of it all, I was able to share my experience with others, aspiring authors particularly, who may need a bit of inspiration so they are encouraged to take a chance on their writing.  

Have you ever considered contacting a local bookstore to host a book event? Let us know in the comments below.

The post How This Indie Author Landed a Barnes & Noble Book Signing appeared first on The Write Life.


Source: Writer Life

By | 2017-07-31T05:46:55+00:00 July 31st, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |

'Dunkirk' Holds Off 'Emoji' and 'Atomic Blonde' for Second Weekend at #1

After the dust settled, it wasn’t much of a fight. Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk finished atop the weekend box office for the second week in a row with Sony’s new animated feature, The Emoji Movie, settling for second place. The weekend’s other new wide release was Focus Features’ Atomic Blonde, which fell a little short of expectations. Universal’s R-rated comedy Girls Trip, however, had a stellar second weekend, finishing in third place with over $20 million, delivering on the promise of i…
Source: Box Office Mojo

By | 2017-08-01T18:44:54+00:00 July 30th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |

HBO’s ‘All Def Comedy’ To Return As Series In December

HBO has picked up Russell SimmonsAll Def Comedy stand-up series for a six-episode season that will kick of in December, the network said today. The order comes after HBO aired an All Def Comedy one-off special in November, part of Simmons’ overall first-look deal with the premium cabler.
The shows will be taped October 10-11 at the Avalon Theatre in Los Angeles, and will be hosted by Tony Rock. Like Simmons and HBO’s original Def Comedy Jam, the series will feature…
Source: DeadLine

By | 2017-07-28T13:50:29+00:00 July 28th, 2017|Categories: All Def Comedy, Breaking News, HBO, Russell Simmons|Tags: |

PERSON TO PERSON: A Conversation with Writer/Director Dustin Guy Defa

Abbi Jacobson and Michael Cera in PERSON TO PERSON, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

by Angela Bourassa (@angelabourassa1)

The ensemble movie has become a mainstay at the theater around holidays, and such films often share their titles with the holiday they premiere on — Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve… Then there was the movie that started it all: Love Actually. Each of these films features a wide variety of loosely connected stories all focused around a central theme.

Person to Person, which premieres today from Magnolia Pictures, falls into this ensemble category, but it subverts everything you’ve come to expect from these sorts of films. Written, directed, and edited by Dustin Guy Defa, Person to Person‘s storylines don’t always relate, not every character connects to every other character, and yet somehow the movie feels like a complete statement about human connection.

LA Screenwriter’s Angela Bourassa spoke with Dustin Guy Defa about how he approached the structure of this film, writing genuine dialogue, and the benefits and drawbacks of complete creative control.

Angela Bourassa: This film seems to defy conventional structure, even for an ensemble film. I kept expecting all of the storylines to link together in the end, but most of them didn’t. Can you tell me a bit about how you structured this? Why did you choose to defy convention?

Dustin Guy Defa: I got excited about the prospect of making an ensemble movie where all the storylines don’t intersect, because I haven’t seen that type of movie before. I wondered if I could pull it off, and also if I could make the audience not anticipate that kind of intersection, at least until after the movie was over. Then I wanted to push myself even further and put a lot of people in the movie who normally wouldn’t be in a film together. Different tones, too. Could I make the whole thing work as a cohesive piece even with these challenges? That’s what I set off to do. From there I developed the characters so that thematically they would at least interweave. Each of them has a different level of connection to other people — either a loss of connection, a threat of losing a connection, or a desperation to have a connection with another person — that runs through all of them, and that’s how I decided to structure and develop the film so that it could stay one whole piece.

Angela Bourassa: You first shot this as a short in 2009. Did you always want to expand this into a feature?

Dustin Guy Defa: The intention was never that this was an extension of the short. I made the short mostly because I wanted to put my good friend Bene Coopersmith in a movie. And definitely when that succeeded I had the desire to work with Bene again, and that’s how I started to develop this film, but the feature was originally called something else and I’ve always thought of it as a completely different piece. It’s only now because the title is the same — and of course that Bene is in it, and there is a similar tone to the short — that it appears that the feature is an extension. It is, yes, but not as much as it appears.

Angela Bourassa: How did this story begin in your mind? Did you start with a few characters or with a unifying theme that you wanted to address?

Dustin Guy Defa: It was always about the desire to connect with someone, or to reconnect with someone, or to keep a connection with someone intact. Friendship was something I wanted to explore, too. I started with Bene, but once I started to work on the other characters, I developed them all at the same time. The outline was extensive, and each story I worked on at the same time, linearly, and I did that to keep the film cohesive.

Director Dustin Guy Defa on the set of PERSON TO PERSON, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

Angela Bourassa: Are you usually a big outliner? How many drafts did you go through?

Dustin Guy Defa: This one needed a tight outline, and I worked on that for awhile. Then I wrote the first draft. The first draft took the longest, and then after that I think there were three more drafts. But the film was really there with that first draft. I did do a lot of changes, but I’d say the film is still about 60% of that first draft.

Angela Bourassa: There’s something truly unique about the dialogue that I can’t quite put my finger on. The characters seem to break the old screenwriting rules quite a bit and say exactly what they’re feeling, but they do it in a way that feels genuine. How did you approach the dialogue?

Dustin Guy Defa: I’ve worked very hard to craft the way I want to write dialogue. I love dialogue so much, which may lead me to make things a little more cinematic-driven than realism-driven, if that makes sense. I’m probably heavily influence by Woody Allen and Todd Solondz with my dialogue, but I try not to think about that too much. I try to find my own thing, and I feel like I’m getting there. I’m trying to create my own kinds of characters who talk differently than I’ve seen in other films.

Tavi Gevinson in PERSON TO PERSON, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

Angela Bourassa: Wendy is by far my favorite character. Can you tell me a bit about how you developed her story and her voice?

Dustin Guy Defa: That character is very close to who I was as a teenager, except for I didn’t talk as much. Which might seem contradictory because Wendy talks so much. But still, the way she sees the world, in a big way that’s to me a special kind of paradoxical teenager way — thinking that you understand the world at large but still struggling with your tiny problems which seem as big as the world, too — I love that stuff.

Angela Bourassa: You wrote, directed, and edited this film. That’s the dream. What was it like having so much control over your own film? How did you look for outside feedback (or did you)?

Dustin Guy Defa: I love each of those processes (most of the time). When I write and direct, the edit is always in my mind, which helps everything work better. The edit, though, was too lonely and when finally I had someone come in to help for a few days, it was a great big breath of fresh air that was needed. I think next time I’ll not be the main editor. I need that other person to bounce off ideas off of with.

Person to Person hits theaters today. It is also available on iTunes, On Demand, and on Amazon Video.


Angela Bourassa is the founder and Editor in Chief of LA Screenwriter.

Source: LA-Screenwriter

By | 2017-07-28T13:50:27+00:00 July 28th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |