Planning For Success Part II

Planning For Success Part II

Winter Doldrums?

 

Do you find winter to be your most creative season?

It always has been for me. There’s something about being more at home and quiet that ramps up my creative energy to flow into more artistic pursuits.

Maybe because I’m more still I listen more? Who knows. But my best writing, ideas and projects have all had their origins in this time from January to April.

Getting back to my previous post, February is when I’m in the thick of it. Ideas are coming so fast and furious they sweep me away. Like most of us, January’s work on planning our year get down and dirty in February.

The rubber meets the road. It’s do or die.

Sometimes I do… and some years I die. That’s honest.

BUT when I DO – when I take ACTION – it’s a great year!

My whole year is determined by what I do or don’t do in the first quarter.

Is that true for you too?

 

Scripting and Planning Only Go So Far

 

Like actors that blossom when they stand up and step into their character, what makes or breaks us is the discipline to take action and build momentum.

In other words, our routines can make or break us.

I’m working with two writers right now. Both are very talented and full of ideas for the new musical they’re writing.

  • Writer A is mainly a songwriter and performer. He’s never written a musical before, but has a routine in place of coming to the computer every day after he gets his daughter to school. We meet every week like clockwork, on the same day at the same time, interrupted only when he occasionally has to tour. After six months he has an exciting Act One and is working on Act Two.
  • Writer B has extensive musical theater experience as a performer, director and producer. She has a wonderful idea for a new musical and is determined to see it on stage. However, more often than not our weekly sessions are moved or often rescheduled to the next week. Life seems to constantly interrupt her daily writing schedule, rendering it haphazard or nonexistent. After three months of working together she’s still struggling to write her outline.

Your Routine Frees You To Fly

 

I’m the last one to deny that often I’ve been more Writer B than Writer A. But even so, I recognize that my routines make or break me. It’s not what I do now and then that determines my life, but the action I take consistently that creates success, or not.

Writer A is his own hero. He is creating his future as he sees it in his mind.

Determine your own priorities and responsibilities. I know you know this – I’m now acting like that nagging voice in your own head that sounds like your mother. (Annoying, I know.)

If you want to see your plays onstage you must take regular and consistent ACTION to make that happen. No one can do this for you. You can pay someone, but really, it is your baby and it’s up to you.

A Checklist for Success

 

  1. Write every day at the same time in the same place. Establish a routine that works for you. Make it consistent, day in and day out.

Plan for your own success daily. Once you finish one play start the next one, so when an agent or producer inevitably asks to see your other work you have something to show them.

  1. Feed your creativity regularly. Keep a journal or notebook to capture your great ideas before the wind blows them away to someone else. Do interesting things every week to inspire and delight you.

Happiness is a wonderful inspiration of creativity. Keep your inner artist happy.

  1. Network, network, network. Meet people in the industry and learn about what they do. Make friends with people from every walk of life – they feed your writing and may possibly become your chief supporters in the future.

You never know where your next coincidence will come from.

  1. Submit, submit, submit. It’s a numbers game. Keep it a game by challenging yourself to collect the most rejections of anyone you know.

Because the reality is that the more you submit, the more opportunities you’ll create.

  1. Keep learning and growing. Like an actor must continually keep his instrument tuned and available by taking classes and learning different styles of acting, dance, vocal techniques, etc., a writer also must continually keep learning and advancing in his art. Writer’s groups and workshops in person and online are available everywhere. Take advantage of them.

Not only do workshops provide inspiration and knowledge, but they also provide built-in discipline in the form of assignments AND you meet really interesting people from many different walks of life.

 

 

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Create More Time

Create More Time

How are you doing so far on your 2019 goals?

Some people regard discipline as a chore. To me, it is a kind of order that sets me free to fly.” – Julie Andrews

January set me back. There’s nothing like life happening to you to keep you humble.

Between the excitement, confusion and work adapting to life with two new puppies (adorable as they are, it is work), teaching two intersession Winter classes at Stony Brook and becoming very ill with the virus du jour that’s going around – well, let’s just say that at the end of January I am very far behind on my January goals.

It’s a good thing I plan my goals out quarterly, or I would be completely discouraged.

Are you anything like me? Are you already so far behind on your 2019 goals that you want to just hit the reset button?

 

Handling Overwhelm

 

There are a couple of things that help me to refocus when I’m about to just throw in the towel and give up.

  1. I plan my goals for the year quarterly, not monthly. This allows life to happen to me and keeps me from over-planning the year out in advance. Fewer goals keep the overwhelm in check, and still allows me to feel successful.
  2. I’ve been meditating consistently since the end of 2016. I can’t tell you how much healing and self-discovery it has brought me. When life threatens to overwhelm me, I am able now to step back and recognize that this is a step on the journey and to relax.
  3. My MasterMind group, my entrepreneur Master Class group and my accountability partners keep me on track. I’m able to be honest about my overwhelm with people who have been there and can offer real support and solutions.
  4. Committing to build this community online keeps me honest. I can’t give up, because this is the gritty journey we’ve committed to as artists and entrepreneurs. It comes as part of the package, and I’m right there in the thick of it just like everyone else.

 

Time Discipline

 

If I look back at my goals over the last few years the most consistent goal has been “Time Management.” Since I list the same goal year after year, it’s pretty evident that I still haven’t mastered it yet.

As I begin 2019 as a full time entrepreneur-artist, I am solely responsible for how I spend my time. Yikes.

Last week I met the incredible super-productive guru Ari Meisel of Less Doing, who totally inspired me and revealed more productivity solutions than I could keep up with. Some of his  suggestions I’m going to implement immediately, such as using Trello as my CRM and making more use of productivity apps such as IFTT and Zapier, but really, I learned that my time management and productivity problems come down to the need to manage my own mindset.

 

The Need for Routine

 

I read somewhere that every successful writer creates time to write. They don’t just sit down and write when inspiration hits, they create a routine every morning or evening to write for a specific amount of time whether they feel inspired or not.

It’s this creation of a routine that I’m finding priceless.

We’re all creature of habit. I’m now creating a habit that works for me instead of against me. Each morning I get my Starbucks coffee and sit to meditate (my Calm app tracks my sessions for me) because that’s just my habit. A painless and easy “check” to start my day off right. In her outstanding book The Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp also recounts the necessity of routine, saying, “By making the start of the sequence automatic, [artists] replace doubt and fear with comfort and routine.” For Tharp, her routine jumpstarts her creativity.

It’s not just humans who need this structure and routine. As I research how to raise and house train these puppies, the experts always stress the need to create a daily schedule. Their day should have a consistent flow of eating, going outside and playing to help their little systems adapt to our schedule. A structure frees them and us to coexist more peacefully, something I’m appreciating very much indeed!

Wolves are disciplined not only when they hunt but also when they travel, when they play, and when they eat. Nature doesn’t view discipline as a negative thing. Discipline is DNA. Discipline is survival.”
― Cesar Millan, Cesar’s Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems

In creating that routine to housebreak them, I’m reminded of my own need to discipline my time and activities. It’s not just for the puppies!

 

Creating a Routine is a Process

 

So now for 2019, my new schedule flows like this:

  • 6:30 Wake up, get everyone out the door (including walking puppies)
  • 7:00 Feed puppies, household chores
  • 8:00 Morning meditation with coffee
  • 9:00 Writing
  • 12:00 Exercise
  • 1:00  Clients
  • Somewhere between 5-6 I’ll break for dinner
  • After dinner I allow myself some freedom 🙂

 

How do you feel about this? Do you find that having a disciplined time to write helps keep you on track?

I’d love to hear your thoughts! We’re all in this together.

Share it with us here in the comments as we support each other on this journey.

Are you interested in joining a community that has your back, holds you accountable to you goals and inspires you on the way?

Email me at cate@createtheater.com to know more.

 

It’s a New Year, So Let Go

It’s a New Year, So Let Go

What do you need to leave behind this year?

 

As 2018 draws towards its close, like most of us, I’m doing some reflection on the past year.

For many years – almost a decade in fact – I’ve spent the last week of the year as a personal retreat space to heal, to review the past lessons the year has taught me and to make a plan to forge ahead into a new life – a new year, bright and shiny with promise.

Do you do this too?

I’ve found that there’s something about the quiet and darkness of the winter, and the ceasing of normal activity between Christmas and New Year’s, that’s truly sacred. I lick my wounds, rejoice over my successes, and get in touch with my authentic self to make a plan to continue the journey I was meant to live.

There’s always been something about the prospect of a clean slate and a fresh start that has inspired me. But one thing that’s emerged time and time again within the promise of the New Year is the need to leave the past year behind and to let go.

Letting go of what didn’t work, what wasn’t meant to be, of what we can’t change.

  • Letting go of regret.
  • Letting go of loss.
  • Letting go of the fear.
  • Letting go of so many things, but mainly letting go of the person you don’t want to be any more.

Because it’s only when we let go that we open ourselves up to all that’s still to come.

It’s only when we let go that we allow ourselves to move forward instead of backward.

It’s only when we let go of what isn’t working in our lives that we can actually remember who we are and what we came for.

 

So Enough

 

Enough of the past. Enough of what didn’t work. Enough of all the trying, the endless second-guessing, the crawling, the begging, the pleasing, the endless beating ourselves up, lamenting what we could have had if only we had done or said something different.

Enough.

When we hang on to what was, we miss out on what is. We miss who we truly are and what we truly want out of life. We miss why we are here on this planet and the reason for our beautiful creativity and talent, our huge hearts and our innate love of life.

Personally, 2019 celebrates the ten year search for meaning for me.

New Year’s Day 2009 found me totally lost, unhappy, overweight, diminished and truthfully in despair. What had happened to that beautiful young theater artist with so much passion and so many plans? What happened to the gifts I knew I had? I knew that I had allowed myself to die inside.

I had a family I loved more than anything, that consumed me completely. We had a beautiful big home on the North Shore of Long Island. I was teaching theater, writing a bit, working at a professional theater company doing marketing and sales. I toiled on day after day, always so super busy taking care of everyone and everything around me – that I forgot I had a being and a spirit, and my life meant something, too.

My life counted for something! It had to! But what? I knew I had to find out and do things differently, or I would continue to die inside, living for everyone else and taking care of everyone else but me.

At the beginning of 2009 I had a reckoning with myself. A journey that was literally “do or die.”

I made a choice to live. I made a choice to discover why I was here, and what I was meant to do.

I needed to cast off the life that was killing me, no matter how “perfect” it looked on the outside.

So…. I prayed, I consumed self-help books voraciously, and I remembered the vivacious little girl that I had been. The young theater artist who received so much encouragement years ago from mentors and professors, who had so much passion and ideas for creating the life she knew she wanted.

And…. I jumped.

My Aha Moment

 

I thought of that little girl from Cincinnati a few weeks ago as I was at a star-studded opening night party for a big Broadway show. Truly, it was the most glamorous event that I’ve ever been to – I even had my makeup done before the show! And I had the most wonderful time, feeling comfortable in my own skin, knowing so many others in the room, and I looked around the room and realized – this is where I belong.

I did it. I did it for that little girl. I kept my promises to her.

How did I do it?

By letting go of what didn’t work. By making a commitment to love and cherish myself just as much as I did the others around me. By honoring my dreams and intuition and strong impulses.

I did it by using the knowledge of how to create theater magic onstage to tranform my own real life off stage.

But I first had to let go of almost everything in my life that wasn’t working.

A lot wasn’t working.

 

What do you need to let go of? Let it go here and now. 

 

Step into the authentic you this year. Make the magic happen in your own life.

I am launching another MasterMind group this year, to help other magnificent creators move their projects and their life forward. I am also launching a beta group for high performers looking to transform their real lives from the inside out, just as I did mine.

Email me at cate@createtheater.com if you’re interested in changing things up for yourself this year.

Looking back at 2018, what do you need to let go of once and for all? Share it with us here in the comments as we support each other on this journey of letting go.

Planning For Your Success Part 1

Planning For Your Success Part 1

We’ve all heard the phrase “Failing to plan is planning to fail.

What does that mean for us as we begin to think ahead for 2019?

I am a spring/summer person. Born in May, spring not only gives us flowers, warmth, sunlight and new life, but brings along the promise of summer. Summer is fun, vacation, endless sunny days with warm weather spent on the beach or on the back porch with a good book. It means barbeques and volleyball and picnics and time spent enjoying yourself with friends and family.

Then there’s fall…..

Fall is glorious, but it’s the last rallying of nature before the final cycle of winter sets in. It’s taken me many years to appreciate the gifts of winter, and I admit I’m still not totally there. If only life could be an endless summer (without moving to FL or CA)! But since I’m speaking metaphorically, winter is part of our life cycle experience. Like sleep, it’s meant for the renewal of life in order to move forward.

I can appreciate that, and incorporate winter’s lessons to rally my own internal resources. I’ve learned to grow as an artist and as a person in the beautiful respite from the daily hustle called “winter break.”

You know what I mean; it’s when everyone seems to shut down regular life to turn their attention to what really matters. The holidays, close friends, family, introspection. Meditation. Winter’s darkness encourages quiet evenings at home in pursuit of comfort, reading, and taking care of ourselves and our loved ones.

 

What Gifts Are You Giving to Yourself?

 

Amidst the holiday bustle is a parallel intention of showing and giving love to those we love the most.

Are you on your own love list? What gift can you give to yourself this season to show love to yourself? Do you think about that? For many years I was last on my own list, if I even made the list at all.

My love for my family and friends is so strong that I struggle with what to give them. I never have had the resources to truly give the gifts that would help the most: payment for a year of college, a decent car to drive, a clean bill of health from their doctor. Instead I try to create a beautiful family memory of love and connection, and give what I can to surprise and delight them within my budget.

What “dream gift” could you offer yourself this year? What gift given to yourself could surprise and delight you the most? You have the capacity to envision an amazing year for yourself right now, so that this time next year you can acknowledge the gift with gratitude and love. You have the power to give yourself an amazing 2019!

 

The Power of Pre-Paving

 

What if you had the magical ability to write out a scene – and poof! – it would actually happen?

You have that power. Creatively envisioning your future, or scripting out your experience, isn’t exactly magic, but comes darn close.

if you were a character in a play, what would you write for your 2019?

Let’s get to work here and take action.

It may take some time, so I’ve built this series over four blog posts to digest at your leisure over the holidays week by week.

 

Step 1: Your Stasis

 

As every writer knows, the “world of the play” needs to be established first in order for the audience to understand the setting, time period, the main characters in the play and their basic motivations at the beginning. We need to see onstage where the characters live and breathe and see their place in their world.

So, where are you right now?

YOU are the main character in your own play. You know where you live, the culture and times within which you live. You understand how you live and breathe and “have your being” within your own world, and understand your basic motivations and needs. You need to live, have a purpose, make money somehow, be connected to a community or family, etc.

BUT your main character (you) also needs a BIG DREAM to propel themselves into the future (and the rest of the story).

What is your big dream?

What is your super-objective that is big enough to overcome tremendous obstacles and give you the internal power to go the distance? What does “go the distance” even mean to you?

Let’s get to work.

This is going to require some homework from you. Most of my script coaching clients love it when I give them homework and deadlines – it keeps them honest to themselves, to do the thing that may not be done if they didn’t need to hand it in to me! So stay true to yourself and actually do the work, not just “think” the work.

Step 1 is to find an hour a day, preferably at the very beginning or very end of the day, to sit with yourself and give yourself a priceless gift – the delivery of your own dream.

 

Your homework for the week is to understand your hero.

Understand that you are the Hero in your own play.

  • What does your hero look like?
  • How does he or she dress? (I’ll use the feminine going forward since I identify female, but guys, feel free to substitute!)
  • What does their home look like? Where do they work?
  • Do they live alone, or with people? Who are they? What are they like?
  • What do they wake up and do every day?
  • What do they eat on a regular basis?
  • What is their primary emotional experience?
  • Did your hero make certain decisions to arrive where they are at the beginning of the play (now)?
  • Is your Hero living her own life, or a life centered around others?
  • Does your hero experience any pain on a regular basis?
  • When your hero looks into the mirror, is she happy with what she sees? What is her internal dialogue?

Write It Out

Script out your character’s internal dialogue this week, all week, for at least a half an hour each day. Try to keep to the hour as a daily discipline.

  • If you’ve ever tried this exercise you know how much you’ll discover about your characters. Here we’re doing a modified version of the mirror exercise and automated writing techniques in order to get at your Hero’s core.
  • If you resist – and you may – just use this time for quiet meditation (which I swear by myself, since daily meditation has changed my life).
  • At a certain point during the week you’ll switch gears and begin to envision your Hero with her dreams for the future. This is good! You are getting to her DDD (deep driving desires) that will propel her action forward into the rest of the play.

That’s it!

As you explore the external world of your Hero (your own outside world), at some point you’ll click into her own deepest desires. You’ll learn what excites her, what revs up her engines in life and what doesn’t. You’ll see things that she resists, that exhaust her, and that she just doesn’t want to do any more.

Then stop.

Exist in this exercise all week, observing your main character’s world and her participation in it. Get to know her internal world as she looks into the mirror. See what she sees.

Write it down without editing anything out. That’s important – you want your character to be honest with you. Write it all down, the good, the bad and everything in between.

Have fun with this, be disciplined in meeting yourself every day for an hour, and get set for Part 2 next Thursday.

Have a great week!