Stop denying compliments

You’re a really nice person for coming to read my blog, and I really appreciate it.

I just wanted you to know that. You deserve to hear nice things about yourself.

feel good

It’s been a really good week or so for me on the compliment front as two previously unknown people have taken a moment to offer nice comments about my magazine writing.

In reference to a past commentary, Diane wanted me to know:

You’re a superb writer—love the line “One need only look at any war-torn region of the world today to realize that in the middle of a conflict, bullets take precedence over bandages.”

Similarly, Martina offered me her thoughts on a recent interview I conducted:

This was a great interview and a pleasure to listen to it. I don’t hear too many interviews with writers and editors so well prepared.

I tell you this not to say that you should love my work too, but rather to note that it wasn’t that long ago when I would have completely dismissed these lovely comments. Not because I am a dick, but because I am not worthy of such praise.

Throughout my life, I have had a lot of self-worth and self-image problems…still do, to be completely honest. I couldn’t believe that anyone would like me or my work because I and it had no value. Anything nice they had to say was just an effort to…I dunno…I have no idea why they said it.

But it wasn’t true. If it wasn’t a lie, it was a mistake.

As I’ve gotten better with myself over the last several years, I’ve noticed a lot of other people share this problem. They can’t, or perhaps more accurately won’t take a compliment.

dont deny

Please stop! Let people offer you their compliments. And then, say “Thank you.”

Simply say “Thank you” when someone gives you a compliment…no eye roll, no looking away or down, no self-deprecation. Just take it and acknowledge it! It sounds trite, but it isn’t.

A big part of being able to move past self-worth and self-image issues and slowly diminish their impact in my life has been the idea of accepting compliments from other people as more than politeness.

If it works for you as it did for me, at first you just go through the motions…but then slowly, as you take the compliments in and hear them more often–really, really hear them–you begin to think they may be based on something…they may be true. I’m sure they are.

I gave a dear friend of mine similar advice yesterday when she blogged about her vulnerability.

I then proceeded to give her about half-a-dozen compliments in short order to demonstrate my love and appreciation for her, to let her know she was worthy of praise.

COMPLIMENT1

Without knowing which of you is reading when, it is a little difficult for me to do the same right now, other than to let you know that you too are worthy of praise.

So let people praise you…and then, just say “Thank you”.

thank-you-note

(These beautiful images are the property of their owners and are used here without permission, but deepest appreciation.)

 

First d(r)aft

Three days. I have three days to come up with another 10 pages from my latest screenplay for a reading and critique in my screenwriting class. And I have nothing.

Well, that’s not technically true. I have something. I have the architecture of my screenplay written out…I know where I want to go and what steps I need to take, broadly speaking, to get there.

But those are just a series of incomplete sentences that barely fill a page. I need 10 pages of a screenplay. I need narrative (not too much, as is my wont) and dialogue, and yet everything I write right now reads like crap. Absolute, utter drivel.

Welcome to the first draft.

I love to brainstorm and come up with new ideas. Ideas for new screenplays. Ideas for scenes within those screenplays.

Brainstorming is exciting. Everything is possible, so I am at my most creative. Nothing comes off the table, and every idea leads to several others.

I love to plan. I like to arrange those ideas into a semblance of order…it is quite literally the assembly of a puzzle. What if I moved this scene from the first part of Act II to just before the climax? How does that change the story?

But at some point, I have to stop brainstorming and planning. I have to start writing. I have to take those incomplete sentences and turn them into coherent scenes of people interacting with people—directly and indirectly—to accomplish goals and thwart those of others.

And even that description of the process sounds interesting. But then I begin typing and my words take on the feel and smell of two-week old cod.

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If the mom character was any stiffer, you could iron shirts on her. Why not just have the son respond “Oh yeah!” and euthanize all of your creative ambitions?

You want the boat captain to do what? Even the most psychotic of fishermen wouldn’t contemplate that idiotic move! What was your research: old Popeye cartoons?

You suck! You suck! You suck!

Okay. Feel better now? Had your little tantrum. Your little pity party. Ready to move forward? Take a deep breath.

This is your first draft, and it’s gonna suck. That’s what first drafts do. But it’s the first draft that sucks, not you.

The idea is still sound. Story improvements you can’t see right now will arise in the workshopping process. The dialogue can be massaged and the narrative edited…in your second draft. You can move some of the scenes around to enhance the conflict…in your third draft.

The only thing about what you are doing today that is anywhere near a final draft is the name of the screenwriting software. [NOTE TO FINAL DRAFT: Give some thought to changing the name of your software. Too much pressure for some of us to handle.]

You’ll be fine. Your story will be fine.

Just start typing…