Monday, May 08, 2006

Knowing the problem is part of the solution

Some fantastic advice here from Hollywood script coach Skip Press:
"If you know what the real problem is, you'll know
instantly what to do, and you won't have the problem long. People who
constantly whine about this or that, blaming someone else, another
group of people, a politcal party, a President, or "Hollywood" aren't
really getting at the solution, they're just complaining about
symptoms and they haven't looked deep enough yet to find the real
root of the problem, so that it can be handled."
I'm on Skip's YahooGroup, Hollywoodwriters. He's a guy who's not afraid to share his own personal experiences to help others. There's no personal-professional line here, it's whole people helping whole people. I think more and more of business is going to get like that as we go on.

Here's the full message, republished with Skip's permission:

"This is a post about people but it's also about scripts. And it's
also about me, so if you get offended about that and think I talk
about my own life too much, just leave the group, because I've lost
my tolerance for being "thoughtful" (meaning, catering to people's
often silly emotions).

In an effort to thoroughly fix anything I might be doing wrong
personally in my treatment of people after my ex filed for divorce a
couple of years ago, I explored all sorts of things, including
hypnotherapy and healing techniques like this one -

I found the latter extremely helpful and the guy who developed it
very smart. I plan to do a long workshop to learn more about it, but
in using the method I've helped a lot of people in very effective and
lasting ways, including my ex.

One thing Yuen points out is that if you know what the problem really
is, you don't have the problem. You see the solution and fix it,
often instantly.

I've seen this work in scripts. In the case of every single feature I
sold, I put a final polish on the script based on an epiphany I had
about the story. In productions I've done, there was ALWAYS a crucial
"this could be the end of this" moment which, when pushed through,
revealed something that needed to be fixed. It was always similar to
the script midpoint "leap of faith" that heroes and heroines take to
transform/empower themselves in great movies.

I've never had much luck with people who live their lives in fear. I
don't deal well with "private" people because I've generally found
them not to be prudent but terrified if not downright nuts.

There's an old term "Who dares, wins." I've found it takes that in a
writing career, if you want to make a living at it. In life, in
relationships, I've found that "fortune favors the bold" too.

In the past week I tried another hypnotherapy session with someone
who has been very helpful in the past. It was about what major
project I should push through to sell for a lot of money. The session
was OK, but then I shifted and picked a love story to finish even
though I was a little uncertain about picking that one.

Later, I got angry about that pick and emailed the hypnotherapist and
talked to her on the phone about how I thought the session was
basically b.s. and that I'd picked that project because for some
stupid reason I'd been in a place for a long time where I thought I
had to cater to women (and women readers, this was a book we were
talking about). One term for it is propitiation - a "please like me"
weak, begging type of attitude.

I realized I was totally crippling myself with such an attitude and
that many, many times in my life I've triumphed by simply going
forward with what I chose to do, no matter what adverse opinions I
got from people I knew.

In short, I could see what needed to be done and went about doing it,
knowing unshakably I was right.

So that's the end of hypnotherapy for me and I told her so (she
wasn't real happy about that). I didn't fail to thank her for what
had worked in the past, though, and since I was paying for it, c'est
la vie.

In movies I admire, from To Kill A Mockingbird to Lawrence of Arabia
to Die Hard to Braveheart, strong characters do tough things
necessary for society no matter what the potential harm personally.
They have vision and see what needs to be done and do it.

Ultimately, I think people really like that and want that. I think
most people truly want to be that bold and effective. I don't think
enough people have the guts to be that way and that's a big reason
why they live frustrated lives.

So my point of view has permanently shifted. As you know if you've
been on this group any length of time, I've had some very down
moments in my life. Still, I get through them with the help of
friends and my own inventiveness and maybe the grace of God.

If you have a script or a story or a novel or a book that you're just
not quite scoring with, maybe what I've been through will help you.
What's the essence of it? That's like saying, what are YOU really all
about? Some times it takes a process (like a lot of rewriting) to
discover that essence. Some times it takes growing up personally.

And here's another thing. Over the weekend I had lunch with a friend
and told her about one last vestige of post-divorce problems I'd had
and she remarked that it sounded like guilt to her, like I felt
guilty about sleeping with someone other than my ex, despite
everything. She was right. I had a set of realizations about guilt
I've felt in various periods of my life, thinking I might be somehow
responsible, like when my dad went nuts and screwed up our family. I
was reminded of the basic "solution" that happens when you do the
Yuen method on someone - it always boils down to something they
couldn't do anything about, and they flipped the switch to "off" in
that particular area of their life and thereafter had trouble with.

So that applies to writing, too. If you hit a point in a script where
you feel you just can't do anything about it - a plot, the time to
write, etc. - you might say screw it and walk away.

That's not being a problem solver. If you'll just set it aside and
decide that the right thing to do about that script or your writing
career in general will come along, it will, as long as you don't give
up on it. You can solve ANY writing problem, believe me.

Funny, the next day after having those realizations about guilt I
learned of a new book by Shelby Steele about "white guilt" and
realized he was right about something that's heavily crippled
American society. It's a very thought-provoking book. It's funny how
the microcosm and the macrocosm seem to come together when you find
the right thing as I did.

I don't think I'll ever be in an anything but equal mode with women
ever again. Guess this was all a very hard lesson I had to learn. I
also know that I'll never feel a need to weaken myself in a
professional situation again. I already told one production company I
had a project with that I wasn't doing business with them any more. I
decided I don't like their methods and I don't trust them. Unlike in
the past, I will not question my decision because I know my instinct
is right."


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