Talking About Writing, Y’know?

[Originally posted July 6, 2018]

The Solo Project – Day 2

Episode 2! In this one, I talk about making excuses for my inaction, social media as part of my writing career, and why The Disaster Artist frightens me. Also, I spend quite a bit of time talking about the writing process and why forcing myself to do it is probably a good thing.

Transcript(ish) of The Solo Project – Day 2

Hey! This is J. Brandon Lowry and you’re listening to my podcast mini-series: The Solo Project.

So, it’s Day 2 of the Solo Project and I’m staring down the barrel of another lonely evening. These nights are definitely going to be the hardest, I think. I’m just so isolated here by myself at my mother-in-law’s home in Florida. It’s night two and I still have no internet, no phone, no nothing. So really, I have no contact with the outside world unless I actually go into the outside world. And, you know, I’m not really going to do that, am I? This is a bit of a new experience for me. Thankfully this lonely night is coming at the end of a decent day.

This morning I set some goals for myself. Just some things that I wanted to do, wanted to get done. While going back over it, trying to figure out whether or not I actually lived up to be the person I wanted to be today, I don’t think I did. Not 100% anyway. Do I ever? I don’t know. Some days I do, I think. But today wasn’t one of those days.

For example, I wanted to get some exercise today, but I kept finding excuses not to do it. For whatever reason, I just kept thinking things like “Now is not the time. I’m not hydrated enough. I need to drink more water,” or “I just ate so now I can’t do it.” And the shitty part about it all was that I knew I was doing it while I was doing it. I’d catch myself. I would say, “You’re making an excuse right now. You just need to do it! Get your ass in gear and get it done.” And unfortunately, that didn’t really help. I don’t know what to do to fix it. I know the answer is that I just need to make myself actually do the things I say I’m going to do. But how do you do that? How do I make that happen? That’s the bit I’ve got to work on. I guess that’s sort of the point of The Solo Project. It’s about finding that person every day. Finding that guy who puts those excuses aside and just gets it done.

I succeeded in other ways today though. There is one particular writing project that I have been putting off for quite some time. There was no real reason to be putting off, especially now that the novel is done. It’s a series of adventure stories that I’ve had in mind for quite a while. But again, it’s been the same thing. I keep finding excuses not to do it. I make excuses like “I haven’t done enough research, so I don’t know what I’m writing about” or “Maybe this is going to piss some people off.” Or the big excuse, the really big one, is that I don’t know what’s going to happen six chapters in. I sat down and wrote out an outline quite a while ago of the first six parts of the story. But then after that, it’s kind of a question mark. I don’t know where it’s going to go.

This is something that I faced over and over again with the novel. I would come to a new chapter and I would have no idea of what it was going to be. I’d be sitting there staring at a blank page knowing that I’ve got to put 1500 words down by the end of the night. And yet I have no idea which characters are even in this chapter, or what’s supposed to happen, or where they’re going to end up. On those nights, I was able to just sit there and start typing. By the end of the night, there would be something there. It didn’t matter if that something was going to be kept in it’s final form or not, but I just sat down and I did it. And that’s what I had to do today, with my serialized novel.

I didn’t get 1500 words. I got 830, which is pretty decent. I plan to publish it on Medium and, in general, people don’t like to read things that are more than about 1200-1400 words long, so really, I’m about where I need to be in order to make today’s session Part One. I’m pretty happy with that. I don’t think I’m going to end up keeping all of those words though, but at least I got them on paper.

I also spent a little bit of time in my main character’s head today. I find that that’s one of the most difficult things to do. It’s putting yourself in that place, and once you do and the more time you spend there, the more you get to know this person. The character and the story really start to come alive and the writing starts to flow more quickly. So that was a win. I got that done.

I got all my social media work done today. Social media is part of my job now. It’s weird, but true. As a writer (if I can call myself that yet), I basically have three things I need to do. One, I need to lead an interesting life. Two, I need to use that life as fuel to tell stories. And three, I have to market the shit out of myself so that people know my stories exist. I feel like I’ve been nailing part one. It’s not every day that you leave behind your job, all of your possessions, and your home country to travel the world on a minimum budget. So that’s pretty good. That’s working out for me so far.

The stories seem to be coming along quite well too. My following on Medium is building up. I feel like I’m building a reputation as a decent story teller, which makes me feel good. It’s encouraging to feel that I’m actually on a track where maybe I really can do this. Maybe I can really make something of my writing. So that’s really nice.

But it’s the marketing stuff, man. I have never been an attention-seeker. At least, I have never thought of myself as an attention seeker. Going out there and interacting with people on Twitter, Facebook , and Medium with the purpose of just trying to let other people know that you are alive, that you have something to say, and that they should pay attention to you just feels so alien. It cuts against who I feel like I am. I have always seen this attention-seeking behavior as petty and driven by insecurity, and I hate that it is part of what I have to do to succeed. But, if nobody knows that you’re writing stories, then you’re never going sell stories. If I want to make a living at this, I have to sell them. Ultimately, I am in the business of selling stories, not telling stories.

I got down to the library today, got myself some internet, and did some Twittering and Facebooking. I just need to keep building that audience. The interesting part about the social medial work is that there are so many other writers that are wrapped up in this same dream. We all want the same thing. While marketing, I’m really starting to get to know them as people. Its really interesting to see the other like-minded writers out there who want to do the same thing I do. There are some people out there that I would genuinely like to meet in real life, hang out with, and get to know a little better. I learned that not only just through the stories that they tell, but also by the way they market themselves.

What else did I do today? I just finished watching The Disaster Artist. If you don’t know what this is, it’s a movie about the making of a movie, a cult classic called The Room. I’ve never seen The Room, but apparently it is so bad that it ends up being amazing. It’s one of those weird movies that was just done so poorly that it just transcends how terrible it is and becomes a magical experience (reportedly). The Disaster Artist is about the guys who made The Room, Tommy Wiseau and Gregory Sestero.

On the one hand, the movie is really kind of inspiring. Tommy and his buddy Greg go out to Hollywood in hopes of becoming actors, but when their acting careers doesn’t take off, they decide to make their own movie. Tommy is independently wealthy and therefore has the money to make his own movie, so he writes a script and does basically everything himself. In the end, he and Greg make an awesomely terrible movie. It’s inspirational from the fact that they never gave up. Even when someone flat out says “It’s not going to happen for you. Not in a million years.” They made their own movie. It took a long time (13 years), but now he’s famous. He’s the subject of a real Hollywood movie and his movie, The Room, apparently sells out in theaters all over the country the same way Rocky Horror Picture Show does.

On the other hand it is a bit depressing to see someone who believes in themselves so much that they are completely oblivious to the fact that maybe they shouldn’t be doing this. I think most people who try for these big, creative dreams fail in the end. They don’t fail spectacularly like the way Tommy did. Most people fail the regular way. Some of these people are the sort that don’t understand how bad they are. I’m sure there are lots of people who are really good but just never get that big break, but I can’t help but think about all of these other people who are pushing and pushing and maybe should just stop. That level of unearned confidence is depressing and scary. Am I that oblivious? Am I that guy that is just so bad and being buoyed by people who say, “You’re a good writer. I really like your stories!” Mostly by people who care about me, but are they, essentially, just being nice? It’s hard to know sometimes.

It was a really good movie. It makes you think. It was a kind of fuel to keep me going. Even though Tommy’s movie didn’t turn out the way he wanted it to (a serious drama), people still loved it. Who knows. Maybe I will fail spectacularly.

I’ve got to wake up early tomorrow to drive to South Carolina for a house sit. I’m hoping the move will improve my nights significantly. I’ll have internet (Netflix) to keep me company and a bulldog named Winston. We’ll see how it goes.

Thanks for listening and get some sleep.

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