Clearing The Fog In My Mind

coping, mental health, writing, humor, Modern PhilosopherWe all fall into funks at one time or another, Modern Philosophers, but not necessarily for the same reasons.

Mine are usually related to one of three things:

My inability to support myself as a full time writer.

My frustration at being perpetually single.

Financial stress.

With those forces working against me, it can be quite the struggle to clear the dark clouds to let in the sunshine.

I’ve found that running is a great coping skill, but at times, there aren’t enough miles on the planet to clear the fog in my mind.

Lately, however, I have been in a very good place.  I’m still running five days a week, but it has been the addition of a steady diet of writing this TV series inspired by my time at college that has really made a difference.

Even though I’m writing this show on a purely speculative basis, I’m so immersed in the project that I feel like a full time writer.

I’ve already written three full episodes, and I’m hard at work on the outline for episode four.  It took me about a week to write both the Pilot and Episode Two, but I cranked out Episode Three in just two days last weekend.

That is how quickly the ideas are flowing, and how excited I am to get the stories out of my head and into script form.

Every episode starts as an outline, which is definitely something new for me, but the only way to handle a project this size.  Over the course of the week, I tinker with the outline.  Usually this means that more scenes get added as I work out the flow and structure of the episode in my head.

coping, mental health, writing, humor, Modern PhilosopherWhat also happens, though, is that this week long “percolation process” allows me to write very specific notes about every scene.  As I’ve shared with you before, when I’m running or on a long walk, my writing project plays out in my mind like a movie, or in this case, a television episode.

I actually see the characters moving in the scene, and hear their dialogue.  All those actions make it into the script as screen direction.  I make very specific notes about the dialogue so it isn’t forgotten.

I run five days a week, and go for long walks several times a day, which means that my mind is constantly at work writing the episode.  By time I actually sit down with my laptop, all I need to do is move the story from my mind to the page.

Even then, though, my work isn’t done.  As I’m writing, the characters continue to speak to me, and the story leads me in directions I never expected.

Take Episode Three, for example.  I knew one of the first scenes began with the two main characters talking about a very specific subject.  The outline then stated that the character based on my friend Fitz enters the room and joins the conversation.

While I was writing the scene, a hilarious entrance for Fitz’s character popped into my head.  That went right into the script, and I just kept going.

Two scenes that were not in the completed outline made it into Episode Three because inspiration hit while I was writing.

To circle around to the beginning of this post, it’s impossible for me to be in a funk when I’m this creative.  My mind is overflowing with story ideas, so there’s no room for the thoughts that summon the black clouds.

coping, mental health, writing, humor, Modern PhilosopherEven if this series never gets made, I have found a great way to clear the mental fog, and keep myself in a very positive frame of mind.

Not only has this been a blast to write, but it has also been so much fun reconnecting with my friends Fitz and Dave.  They read every episode and pepper me with feedback.

In an email the other day, Fitz wrote: “I take issue with my character being portrayed as a man whore. Then again, it is very important to be accurate.”

Being able to talk to them about the episodes makes me feel like a writer with a production team.  Just shooting the $%^& with them inspires further story ideas.  I truly can’t believe how much I’d forgotten about my time at NYU, and it has been like a little time travel adventure going back to the dorm and reliving some of the best years of my life.

Of course, this doesn’t solve the problem of my being single.  Then again, I’ve created a best friend for my lead character, and she is basically an amalgam of all the cool, platonic female friends I’ve had over the years.

So in my mind, at least, I’ve had some really great company over the past few weeks.

This is Maine, and crazy things happen.  Maybe a bolt of lightning will strike my computer and magically bring the best friend character to life.  I’ve seen Weird Science, so there is a precedent for something like this to happen!

Weird Science, writing, humor, Modern PhilosopherDon’t worry.  I haven’t fallen that far down the rabbit hole.  But I do leave my laptop out on the porch when the forecast calls for heavy rain and lightning.  You know, just in case.

The take away from all this, of course, is that I’m in a very positive place right now and focused on an even better future.

I have emailed all three episodes to my producer, and I’m very impatiently awaiting his feedback.  Maybe I need to write Episode Four now to keep myself distracted…

About Austin

Native New Yorker who's fled to the quiet life in Maine. I write movies, root for the Yankees, and shovel lots of snow.
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6 Responses to Clearing The Fog In My Mind

  1. Ocean Bream says:

    Hey, this sounds really great! I think your episodes sound grand, not because I know what’s in them, haha, as obviously I don’t, but because nobody writes better than when they are fully focused on and immersed within a project! So well done 🙂 and good luck!

  2. markbialczak says:

    Positivity brings good things, Austin. Way to go.

  3. ksbeth says:

    i’m so glad to read this, austin. as mark said, positivity brings good things )

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