“(With) a grain of salt“, (or “a pinch of salt“) is an idiom of the English language, which means to view something with skepticism or not to interpret something literally.
Oh, and for those of you who still struggle with the definition:
1) In a literal manner or sense; exactly.
“the driver took it literally when asked to go straight across the traffic circle”
However, if there is a one, there has to be a two, right?
2) Used for emphasis or to express strong feeling while not being literally true.
“I have received literally thousands of letters”
So, with that, take this literally…or take this literally which doesn’t mean literally…
To begin, some influential and dated statistics:
Every day, 240 People Die From Some Form Of Alcoholism.
Every day, 200 People Die From Some Form Of Addiction.
Every year, 480,000 People Die From Tobacco. That’s more than the population of 60 countries including the Bahamas and Guadaloupe.
Pussies…This isn’t you. You’re no “statistic”. And this my friend is dedicated and inspired by you!
This is the How-To Guide on not only surviving as an alcoholic and/or addict–This is how you thrive as one!
Step 1) Plastic Bed Sheets.
If your goal is to drink to black out status, and why wouldn’t it be? These are imperative. Unless some of you are forward thinkers and made the wise decision of finding a mattress on the side of the road with urine, and God knows what stains already soaked throughout–Then you’re rock solid my friend.
Otherwise, plastic bed sheets are typically found in the child or senior section of your local superstore. Now, purchasing the premium ones are a waste of much-needed money. The plastic liner will eventually melt in the dryer. Spend wisely. You’re going to be buying plenty more in the days, weeks, months, and years to come.
Oh, if all else fails and you didn’t have time between benders to swing by Walmart–use garbage bags. However, scented bags will cause your bedroom to smell like a goddamn thrift shop with a cat who shits Nag Champa. And even though you’re bed will eventually become your own personal litter box, you don’t need to celebrate it.
PS: If you have a lady in the bed with you when you just so happen to let it flow…Blame her or the “Pee the bed fairy”.
Step 2) A Dark Comforter.
While many prefer blackout curtains. However, you have a bed covered in Hefty bags–Liz Claiborne curtains don’t mesh with your motif.
Head to Walmart-hell, you’re already there buying plastic sheets- find a black, Indigo Blue, or Mahogany Red Better Homes comforter, get some push pins and drape it over your frosted window. (Bonus: It is great for retaining heat because what’s an electricity bill?) I promise (Like that holds any weight) not one single ray of light will disturb your well-deserved Three in the PM slumber after a difficult night of hard-drinking.
Keep in mind though, if you’re anything like me, you’re going to piss the bed, like, a lot.
And sometimes, it ain’t always number one if you catch my drift mi compadre.
Ya, did I say one dark comforter? Why don’t you go ahead and make that two dark comforters.
Step 3) Uninspiring Career
Speaking of money, you’re not going to possess much if any of it. Especially if you’re in your early 20’s or late 40’s. So, preferably, find a job working nights in an environment which will not only permit, but encourage sweatpants. Try for a hot enough atmosphere where you can potentially sweat out the previous nights or current days booze.
My personal favorite–pizzerias. No joke. I’ve worked at five of them. I treat pizza joints like Lebron treats basketball franchises. Except for the whole being drunk and high stuff. Other than that, no difference.
Another other bonus working at a pizza place is all the free pie you can eat which will help the sobering up process. Plus, if the off chance your boss wants you to work a Saturday morning, no worries because it’s a fucking pizza joint. Do you honestly care if you show up with a .21 BAC and blood crusted nostril(s)? Didn’t think so.
WARNING: Unless you’re pizza delivery driver going into a car dealership.
Car dealers are a constant on Saturdays for lunch deliveries. By this point, you haven’t slept in solid 36 hours, your buzz is slowly wearing off, and you’re realizing you’re heading to a showroom filled with guys trained in soliciting your car keys–Potential disaster is looming.
My suggestion: calm down buckaroo. Take in a deep breath of some suck it the fuck up flavored air, exhale your boozed breathed cowardice, and for the love of everything pure and holy, don’t, I repeat, DO NOT pull a DJ Tanner in the middle of the goddamn showroom!
You’ve got a highly coveted five dollar tip on the line! Start behaving like it!
Step 4) Credit Cards
While you’re “meaningfully” employed, take advantage of this by collecting as many credit cards as humanly possible. Remember, when filling out your credit card application, they ask for total household income. Not just your own. So, hopefully, you’ve sandbagged a couple successful roommates who have their shit together. (Pretentious cocksuckers) Drastically increasing your odds of acquiring a higher limit card. Remember though, these cards need to have cash advance funds available. This is paramount.
Now, you’re thinking two things I’m sure:
Isn’t the interest rate on these as high as a Dollar General credit card? Yes, the answer is yes. Seriously, who the fuck cares? Cocaine ain’t cheap. Crack ruins your teeth. And heroin, well, that shit makes you look like you have Hepititus with an eating disorder. And it’s not as if you’re going to pay this shit back anyway…
How the hell are you going to remember the pin code for all these cards when you’re 9 scotch and amarettos deep (More on this drink of choice in a moment)?
Good question. It’s called writing this shit down. However, if you’re like me, what you lack in self-control sure as shit is made up for in memory retention. My Capital One pin could be equal in length as a nuclear launch code. But if half a gram of baby laxative laced blow is on the line–you bet your sweet ass I’ll remember it.
Side note on strong memories though–They can be a bit of a bitch. From time to time you’ll have flashbacks of what happened the night, week, month, or year before. Grow up, swallow that pain down, digest it, shit it out, and go create some new memories to regret.
Step 5) A Drink That Makes It Look Like You’ve Got Money And Sophistication
Only consuming a 12 pack of Miller Lite on a quotidian basis is not only amateur, it’s something a guy named Rusty does while chain-smoking Pall Malls. Not you, you’re special. Allow me to elaborate.
1) You polish of the last of your dozen. You hop fbehind the wheel of your inspection lacking Cadillac. Light up a heater. Dial your dealer. Saunter into the local convenient store with a sloshed swagger. You plop another 12 pack of ML Smoothies and use the same line on the cutie counter-girl you used a solid two-hours prior except this time you’re eyes are blood-shot and your lips are saturated with hops and barley. Expecting her to be flattered, she replies in her self-inflicted Kathleen Turner voice. A result of smoking Parliaments since birth:
“You an alcoholic?”
The wise move is to proudly say yes. Then ask if she’s heard of a One-Night Keg Stand? But you, you’re allergic to rational response. You take the alternative route and point out how she works at the local Quickie Mart for minimum wage. Then you predict her future of six kids with six different guys and grocery shopping every first and fifteenth of the month.
Then drive home hoping to avoid detection from the local Five-O.
2) It takes too long to get blackout drunk and your time is valuable. Clearly.
3) It fills the bladder with an obscene amount of water ensuring the soaking of your aforementioned bed. Ya, is pissing your bed inevitable? Sure, but you can at least try.
4) For those occassions you go out to drink, you look like cheap douche at the bar simply sipping on a pounder glass of foam.
Conclusion: Find a drink, a hard drink, and marry that drink. Drinking heavy liquor nightly will assure you going home and jerking off because no lady with any semblance of dignity would be seen walking out with somone as sloppy as you. #WINNING!
And if you do somehow pull off a miracle and bring home a lady who is probably as drunk as you…Keep your expectations low because your dick is as punch drunk as 1981 Muhammad Ali. Ironicially, this same lifeless organ will somehow find a way to take a piss while you’re wrapped in your ebony comforter and 400 thread count Hefty bags.
If you’re wondering what my cocktail of dubious pleasure is: the Godfather, Scotch & Amaretto. Wondering if that meant I became more “Italian” as the night progressed? You bet your pucchiacca it does!
Step Six) Don’t Buy This!
Finally, the last thing you need to be a successful alcoholic and/or addict is actually something you don’t need…A gun.
A gun only speeds up what you’re doing–Killing yourself via voluntary cancer.
Sure there are other things you need to have:
A couple lighters. Nothing worse than needing a lighter at 4 in the AM! Especially when you want to smoke your coke. (More on this in a bullet point or two).
A spare pack of cigarettes. Not because you’re collecting Marlboro Miles or Camel Cash (Are those still a thing? Remember the days when the fine people at Big Tobacco would actually incentivize you to smoke? God, those were the days.). But because, if you’re a pro, which you are! You’ll be pulling 12-hour drinking sessions like it’s your dream career. If you smoke an average of two cigarettes per half hour…That equals math and a necessary second pack of Marb Reds.
You’ll need some tinfoil. Not for a shiny new beanie because you’re going batshit from consumption, powdered insomnia, and an absurd amount of phone calls from credit card collectors. But for you to smoke your coke (Freebase and/or foilies) due to your nostril getting gunked up with whatever your dealer stomped or cut the cocaine you’ve paid way too much for. Not to mention you probably snorted some fecal matter and lost dreams off the back of the urinal at your favorite depressing dive. Granted, one may be so inclined to simply call it a night once blood is slowly dripping from your nose. Not you though! You’re there, the cocaine is there, it’s serendipity.
Back to the gun though, don’t have one.
Eventually you will fall asleep and/or pass out. Not before calling every girl in your phone between the hours of 3 to 6 am thinking NOW is the moment you’ll finally be attractive to them. Then, around 8 am, when the rest of your friends are sending their littles off to school for the day–You’ll drift off, and the game of: “Will I Wake Up?” begins.
Much to your surprise though, you do wake. Soaked, with an empty pack of smokes, a cell phone filled with an obscene amount of outgoing phone calls, pennieless, alone…
And at this moment, this gun is filled with much more courage than you.
Every year, 45,000 people commit suicide. That’s approximately 124 a day.
Not you though! You’re a champion’s champion! You’re love child of Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods.
Except for the whole being white, smelling like piss, yellow teeth, maroon snot, and a hand trembling like Michael J. Fox.
Fortunately, by not having that gun, you have provided yourself the opportunity to repeat this all over again. And again. And again. And again. Ain’t that right Phil?
Because ma didn’t raise a quitter…
Because this is the only thing you’ve ever been good at.
Not too long ago, in a vulgar blog post of mine–I wrote about the impact emotions have over decision making. For those of you who never saw it, are visiting this site for the first time, or simply read about three lines and walked out of the movie theater as fast as the Senior Couple did during the opening of “Wolf Of Wall Street”…
Emotional Intelligence is defined as the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.
Many of us are convinced we possess whatever it is Dictionary.com just said. But imagine a world in which you didn’t. Envision possessing the exact opposite.
Having no capacity.
To be unaware.
Possessing zero control.
Incapable to express one’s emotions.
And when it comes to the concept of relationships…Well, asking for my insight and/or advice is like asking Stevie Wonder what he thinks about the Mona Lisa.
Yet, when I was informed about a study done by Dr. Antonio Damasio, a study where he found humans who lacked the ability to possess emotion were also incapable of making decisions…
The marketer/the salesperson/the serial online dater in me did a triple axel worthy of Tonya Harding…
Shortly after absorbing such knowledge and nailing said axel–I sprinted…Walked home and my chorizo like fingers pecked away about how fantastic this revelation was.
How this was pure marketing gold!
Once finished, and without proofreading, because who has time for that shit–I submitted said blog to the advertising agency SIX Marketing.
Only to be informed it was a ways away and made little to no sense.
It was cast aside and I decided to write the “R Rated Version” I linked above. (Where I somehow correlated masturbation to buying stuff…)
However, a young lady at SIX continued to tell me there is something there and asked for me to describe what the blog was specifically about. (If you haven’t noticed, I get sidetracked, go off on tangents, and have Tourettes like moments worthy of the guy who screams “Bob Saget”!)
When I finished talking, she literally said–
“Write exactly what you just told me!”
So, with that, here is a blog I’m quite fond of.
A blog about the impact our emotions hold over the things we do.
Ya, about 3 years ago, when I wrote my first blog–About overreaction Monday during the NFL regular season–I simply viewed blogging as a stage with an audience.
I fell in love.
And yes, this blog was God-Awful.
(I actually have gone back through many of my previous posts to optimize them for the sake of increasing my…You don’t care. However, if you were to click on the maiden voyage of my blogging expedition–The content has been changed…drastically. While staying true to it’s God-Awful original form.)
Eventually, I discovered it as a megaphone for my venomous, vulgar voice to scream out about my:
Neil Patel is a New York Times Best Seller and is held in the highest regard as one of the top marketers in the world. His blogs generate 1.1 million monthly views! MONTHLY! So, when he posts an article, one, me, is inclined to read, study, and utilize it.
As it turns out, Neil created a website at a young age and hired people to help him maximize it. Instead, they robbed him blind.
“Wisdom acquired by the pains of experience.” – Keith Hannigan, One Paragraph Prior
I actually had an exchange with Neil via Facebook.
My question was how can I increase views on the aforementioned blog page I constantly update, write on, and don’t get paid for.
He threw me a great suggestion and I, in turn, wrote a blog based on his advice.
Now, I didn’t receive nearly as many views as I hoped and/or anticipated. Truth be told, I felt the writing…well…sucked.
A year ago, I made a commitment to the craft I coveted based on lessons learned from the year prior:
I Hired A Screenwriting Coach Lee Jessup. Here Is The Story Of Why.
My receding salt and peppered haired, pint-sized body hopped on a plane to San Jose, CA in hopes of emotional enlightenment. Okay, that’s a crock of shit. I saw this documentary on Netflix called “I Am Not Your Guru”, and staying true to my impulsive nature I mastered at a young age–I bought a ticket to the live event: “Unleash the Power Within”.
For those of you interested in what this journey consisted of, please feel free to read the series of blogs I posted directly after, outlining my four-day, firewalking, self-help adventure with Tony Robbins.
For those who don’t:
Kiss my ass you pretentious, sanctimonious douche.
How does this relate to my screenwriting coach you may be scratching your head wondering as you prepare yourself to close the browser while cursing my name?
Because one thing mentioned over and over at said event:
“Find those who have done what you want to do, grab them, hold onto them, and pick their brain as if you’re a zombie on the Walking Dead!”
Okay, it wasn’t put exactly in those oh so eloquent words. But you get the point.
Essentially and more so, in reality, they wanted you to hire one of their life-coaches at quite a substantial financial investment.
I will never forget the line during my “complimentary consultation” (AKA: The Drug Dealer Method. Give them a taste for free. They’ll be back.)
“Oh, miss, you do realize I sell air for a living? You’re going to need to come with much heavier shit than that.”
A year later, I had written a series of screenplays with nothing to show for it. Reading blogs (So much better than my own), reading scripts, watching movies, watching YouTube videos, and spending money on Script Coverage Services was like, well…
Driving cross country without a GPS.
I planned my next adventure to Tony Robbins. The infamous Date With Destiny. Contemplated whether or not I should hire one of his coaches, continued on my Don Quixote of the Online Dating world excursion, all the while working in an industry which seemed to be dissipating as fast as the lining of my stomach.
Then, then I wondered to myself:
“Self, is there a type of coach who specializes in the world I covet with great convinction and compulsion?”
Magically, my fingers unconsciously did something they’ve should have done a long time ago…
They Googled the term:
Lee Jessup was the name on top of the list. And it wasn’t because she had a Google Adwords campaign running.
My researching efforts were nothing short of stellar. (Stalker Certified!)
If only displayed this much effort in school, I wouldn’t currently be living in my Uncle and Aunts house in Canton, GA. (Whole nother story.)
After reading tons of reviews and testimonials, watching YouTube videos of Lee, and even listening to a few Screenwriting Podcast interviews she was the subject of…I reached out to Lee, herself.
She couldn’t have been more affable.
Patient, kind, yet spoke with authority letting me know essentially:
“Use me, don’t use me, ultimately it’s up to you.” (Not an actual quote, but I can read between the lines. Have you not read any of my blogs about my dating life?)
I signed up and I trembled with anticipation waiting for the night we talked.
This Is What Lee Jessup Screenwriting Coach Provided
The first night, Lee had me fill out some extensive questionnaires which were clearly made for much more accomplished writers than I. She also provided 20 industry spec scripts to read which were creating buzz throughout the industry.
One was about Elon Musk (something tells me that ain’t getting made anytime soon), one was about Maid Marion from Robin Hood which recently sold, and one was about a VHS tape of a game of one on one between Magic and Michael to find out who was the best of the best back in 1992.
Lee then hooked me up with Andrew Hilton as a script consultant, Corey Mandell as my writing teacher, told me about Stage32.com who recently posted a blog I wrote about lessons I’ve learned so far trying to accomplish this lottery-like odds of a dream.
And more than anything, Lee has been my GPS guiding me through what’s legit and what is nothing but nonsense in a world filled with it. More so than the typical day to day.
Delusions Of Screenwriting Grandeur
Lee posts blogs frequently about what she sees, hears, and reads. People she talks to–whether they are existing, working writer clients, industry experts like the aforementioned Andrew Hilton, or guys like me, hoping to one day get it right.
Lee doesn’t mince words, So, when a blog starts off with:
“Warning: This blog post is going to be delving into some sensitive stuff. Which means that some of its readers may feel that I’m trampling all over (if not straight out poo-pooing) some of their successes. That is not at all my intention. But this blog post needs to be written none-the-less. Even though some of the writers reading it will be offended. I am going to have to take that chance. Because of a few recent experiences, it just has to be written.”
You can be sure as shit this is going to be raw, real, and honest.
A trinity which a hopefully longlasting relationship is built upon.
So, this is my own little thank you, to Lee.
While of course trying to generate engagement on my own blogging site!
(Other than when I write about my online dating fails..)
If you’re looking into becoming a professional screenwriter, or need a little kick in the ass:
Read this post, (here is the link again.) and contact Lee Jessup today at leejessup.com, and let her be the GPS to your screenwriting career.
“Hi, my name is Keith and I have no desire at all to be an actor”.
Sitting in a horseshoe of folding chairs last night, surrounded by a variety of attractiveness, sanity, age, race, and sex–I was the odd man out. As if I was eavesdropping on an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
Because I was sitting in a room filled with aspiring squires. All with on thing in common: To be told they have a chance to be what they’ve always dreamed. an actor or actress.
And then there was me…
“Hi my name is Keith and I have no desire at all to be an actor.”
Air wasn’t sucked out of the room…But you bet your sweet ass all eyes were suddenly on me. Instead of being the person eavesdropping on an AA meeting–I was the guy showing up declaring,
“Hi, my name is Keith and I am shitfaced right now.”
In my mind, they were all saying: “Kiss my ass you sanctimonious, pretentious douche!”
The teacher, actually the substitute-teacher, was an obscenely handsome man with a southern accent worthy of Clemens saying “misremembered”.
His name was Drew, and I stared at him harder than chunky gay man stares at a pink frosted donut with sprinkles.
Reason being, during his introduction, he rattled off his resume which was pretty cool until he said…
My mind created an IMDB search with as much specificity as an “Interracial First Time Lesbian Massage Seduction” Google query.
EUREKA! I found him quicker than Nev and Max can find out whether or not the person emailing you is a 40-year-old “freelancer” living with his pious uncle and aunt…
Back to my “Barry” moment. Remember the episode of Breaking Bad where Jesse was free-styling over his old buddy playing the bass? Yup, the bass playing playboy was my teacher! (No video available. Damn you, Gilligan!)
Anyway, after my moment of star-gazing subsided, I did a scene.
Can’t make this shit up, the guy I played, was a guy who was excited about using Tinder…Oh, if this class even knew…
At the end of the class, the absurdly pretty (You know, there was this movie by Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park called Orgazmo. In it, Stone played a character who kept saying the line “I dont want to sound like a queer or nothin”. I get it, the line hasn’t aged very well. But check out the film and just know before I mention my freakishly good-looking teacher again…I’m saying the line I’m no longer permitted to say. I digress.) He, the disgustingly dreamy thespian told us to
“Watch a film, and read the script while doing so.”
Suddenly I remembered:
“Oh shit, I promised to share with you guys and gals this fantastic page called “Script to Screen”.
So with that, I’d be remised if I didn’t share this scene from one of my all-time favorite films and books. (By the way, note to all of you thinking about going on a dating site. They will ask you to list your favorite books and films. My suggestion, no matter how much you like this movie, let it go.)
What IS the difference between blogging and writing and why must you care? (You shouldn’t…I just needed a topic to write about and I got this email so…)
Many would say nothing. There is no difference.
However, those who have had to undertake the task of doing one while it was actually the other would confess plenty.
“Hi, my name is Keith and I’m an idiot who thinks a blog is an article and an article is a blog.”
“Hi, Keith, welcome.”
Yes, I just completely wrote this as I was about to “share” in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
Here’s to hoping the seat awaiting my short, furry ass inHell is one of those sweet recliners with a cooler. Which, because it’s hell, will be filled with booze. And knowing Lucifer, (He’s just misunderstood.) he will make it so my T-Rex arms aren’t long enough to reach while Rosanne strips to “I’m Too Sexy”…for eternity.
Back to me being an idiot.
First and foremost, blogs don’t tell a story. Okay, they do, sorta. But to a storyteller, they don’t.
Have you ever heard anyone tell a story who was awful at it? It’s like the guy who struggles to tell a joke.
They miss key points, there is no background, and your mind instantly drifts thinking about how it’s been a long time since you drank an Orangina. You wonder, “Do they make Oranginas anymore? I used to hate the pulp as a kid. Pulp isn’t so bad as an adult. Matter of fact, I kinda enjoy it when the restaurant has orange juice with pulp as opposed. It’s like beverage and then a meal. I bet I would love oranginas now.”
Next thing you know you snap out of your “where to find an Orangina” mental Google search. And the unfortunate soul trying their damndest to tell you their tale is sweating as if they just finished a sauna while doing 100 burpees and desperately need an “atta boy” followed by a slap on the ass.
There was a point in here somewhere, but like a story in a blog–it’s non-existent.
Blogs inform. Typically around 300 words. (Good fucking luck keeping me that short…Not physically you unoriginal prick.) Lots of pics, keywords, and links.
Whereas an article is a long-winded storyteller who will take you down one path, veer off course, and eventually come back. Hoping those who slogged through it smile with grace thanking yourself for reading. And in some cases, you hug the writer thanking them for being them.
But I’m new at this, so let’s do what a blog is supposed to do: Provide expertise.
A few posts ago, taking the advice from SEO Guru Neil Patel–I wrote a post about the differences between Freelance Blogging Vs. Freelance Writing.
Reason being, he (Neil) told me the way to increase readership/engagement was to tell my story about being a freelance blogger and freelance writer. (Expertise)
At last count, 23 people viewed said post. (Great fucking advice Neil. And obviously, it has nothing to do with the lack of said expertise……………….)
Surely more will come after reading this…Think I’m kidding?
Prior to leaving my career to venture into the unknown “prosperous land of freelancing” (Which is like saying I’m taking a vacation to Damascus.) — I researched those who had made similar decisions and, you know, were actually successful at it.
Funny aside–you list yourself as a “Freelance” anything on LinkedIn and you know who friend requests you?
Freelance whatever you’re freelancing in.
As if you’ve been contracted by Lockheed Martin to be their content writer at $5000 a word and you just can’t do it. As if these lost LinkedIn souls are hoping you to say; “Please, by all means, take this highly lucrative job from me”.
These are what we commonly refer to as “red flags” in the dating world. Fortunately, (unfortunately) I own a sweet pair rose-colored Ray-Bans. (And clearly I never take the goddamn things off.)
Eventually, my stalking-specific and porn-precise Google Search skills paid off and I stumbled onto “Leaving Work Behind“. A site devoted to informing and assisting freelance writers and bloggers.
Do I find them to be a reputable source? Hell if I know. (Considering I walked away from a fairly high paying job, I really should…I really should know.) Whatever, I’m rocking my Ray-Bans and depending on the day and degree of depression: I’ll find inspiration in a fortune cookie or in an Instagram meme I love so very much…
With that, here is a recent article Leaving Work Behind sent me.
By all means, judge for yourself–And if you think it’s stupid and/or a massive waste of your “Candy Crush, Clash of the Clans, Fortnite” playing time…
Kiss my ass you sanctimonious, pretentious, douche.
INT. RADIO STATION – DAY
CHYRON: APRIL 6TH, 2018
A small gathering of radio personalities and salespeople sit around a table enjoying pizza and tales of yesterday. They range from the sentimental (like helping lonely seniors during the holidays) to the absurd (like the time a DJ mispronounced the name Kuntz in front of a mall filled with Black Friday Shoppers. ) A banner hangs saying “Good luck Keith.” Hugs are shared and Keith (30’s) has tears of joy with a smile of relief and hope.
INT. KEITH’S APARTMENT – NIGHT
CHYRON: TWO DAYS LATER
Keith sits in the dark. The only light comes from his laptop sitting in front of him. Tears are in his eyes once again. This time, they are tears of despair and a countenance of regret and fright. The only words typed on his screen are.
What did I just do?
“If only I had the time, would I make it?”
Am I the only one who had this thought race through his mind like a jackrabbit on cocaine?
We write, day after day, thinking we are doing so much more than the next person. The next person being our competition. Sure, we have a job. We’re paying the bills. But our passion, our dream, is to one day see the words we’ve written actually spoken on the silver screen, out of the mouth of someone way too pretty.
“If only I had the time, would I make it?”
Makes me think of the Mark Twain quote: “To succeed in life you need two things: ignorance and confidence.”
Well, I’ve got those down. Now I just need to be successful.
What I’m about to share with you isn’t a tale of rags to riches. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. And by quite, I mean the exact. It’s the exact opposite. It’s a story of a man (me) who went from a promising, exponentially growing career to barely being able to pay the bills and living with his father.
What I’m about to share with you are 5 lessons I’ve learned, lessons I’m learning, and lessons I will continue to learn. Hopefully by the end of this, you may or may not have learned something. But more so, you’ve read something which makes you think, “Oh, thank God, it’s not just me!”
Here Are My Screenwriting Tips: 5 Lessons Learned From Being An Aspring Screenwriter:
1) Learn the Business
I knew absolutely NOTHING about the craft. And screenwriting is a craft. We’ll get to that next, but first, I would look for a consultant. Sure, there are plenty of books out there. There are a TON. However, I remember getting all excited about buying my first laptop years ago just for a friend to say: “By the time you get it home, it’s already outdated.”
The same can be said about the industry. It’s a fluid, rapidly changing business. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the R Rated comedies of the early 2000’s. Do you honestly think they are getting made in todays social climate? Learn the business. I recommend my coach, Lee Jessup. Why?
Quick story: I sent out a script to one of the plethora of screenplay coverage services out there. I get it back, and it’s GLOWING. I get a “Consider,” and am told there is nothing to change about this, and this is perfect, and that is amazing and blah, blah, blah…Sound familiar?
I tell this to Lee. She tells me flat-out, “If you got a consider, we’re sending this script out.” But, before we’re popping Cristal, she wants someone she knows and trust to look at it. Enter The Screenplay Mechanic, Andrew Hilton. Andrew first proclaims that I do possess some skill, however, my story is not even close. He provides specific reasons why, while also gifting some immensely helpful insight.
Moral of the story? Talk to someone who knows the industry. Because once you do, you’ll get the truth. Not to mention Lee told me about Stage 32, so, there’s that. (More on that in a bit.)
2) Learn the Craft
Have you ever read someone else’s script that, for a lack of caring, sucks? It’s brutal. It actually hurts your eyes to read, it’s that atrocious. Thank god that’s not you, right?
Then you read, lets say, something by William Goldman. It’s beautiful. The flow, the way it looks on the page, the rhythm. It’s perfect. Then you read yours, and you realize yours has more in common with the former than the latter.
Go find a teacher! For the love of everything pure and holy, find a teacher. Or, like me, talk to a coach who will recommend one. Lee told me about Corey Mandell. Corey, a man who has provided classes on Stage 32, is a marvelous instructor, who, like Lee, is inside the industry. He provides tools, techniques, and exercises that you won’t find on a bookshelf, with a Google search, or on YouTube.
While I’m not saying taking his class will promise you representation, I am saying that I now look at things I thought were fantastic, scripts of mind that advanced in National Competitions, and I see problems I never saw before.
Don’t get me wrong, it may make you sick like it did me. Remember when Neo saw the world after he was informed of “The Matrix” and saw things totally differently? It’s not that extreme, but it’s pretty fucking close! And for me, that’s priceless.
3) Practice, Practice, Practice, and Then Practice Some More
I took the Master Class with Aaron Sorkin who joked about those who think they will simply sit down and beautiful writing will flow out of them and it will be brilliant and wonderful.
As he puts it, “What you’re describing is finger painting.” If you’re a fan of sports, go look up the practice schedule of Steph Curry, Tom Brady, or Michael Jordan. If you’re into music, go see what the Beatles had to put up with before they invaded America. Better yet, read Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers” and discover the work behind the rule of 10,000 hours.
Trust me, sitting down and writing can be a horrible experience. It will test your love, it will test your resolve, and it will test your psyche. You will discover pretty quickly whether or not you have what it takes to do this. Because this shit ain’t easy.
And I’ll tell you, I attended a screenwriting conference, and if there was one consistent theme being preached by assortment and variety of panelists, it was, “This shit ain’t easy!”
But I love that. I don’t want it to be easy. Nothing fulfilling ever is, now is it?
4) Read Scripts
I was at the aforementioned screenwriting conference sitting in front of a writer who has her own show and has written scripts to a couple of my all time favorite movies.
I mean, I sat with Pete Rose and talked baseball for 20 minutes like I was talking to my best friend. I’ve been in front of Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza the day before they got inducted into the Hall of Fame. And I’ve worked on a movie set with Anna Nicole Smith and Joanie “Chyna” Laurer. (May they both rest).
So, you would think I wouldn’t be all that intimidated by a woman you couldn’t pick out of a lineup of two. Wrong.
In a moment of desperation, I grabbed her arm looked at her with eyes filled with fear and terror and asked: “How do I write like you?” She leaned in, and whispered, “You will, just read scripts.”
Writers read, plain and simple.
Read great scripts and learn why they are great. Read good scripts and learn why they aren’t great. And read really, shitty scripts, and figure out what they did wrong.
Scripts are a Google search away, so you have no excuses. I actually became a reader for the Atlanta Film Festival. I’ve read twelve so far and some have been decent, but the majority have been quite awful. I’m dying for a great one. A great one will inspire me. And hopefully reading a great one will inspire you.
Remember how Lee told me about Stage 32? She said, “Keith, writing is only half of it, the other half is knowing people.”
And never was that so evident then at the screenwriters conference I attended. If the theme of the panelists was, “This shit ain’t easy,” then the number one question by attendees was, “How do I get representation?”
No one cared about how to get better as a writer. They all wanted to know how do they get rich – today.
I find that comical, but that’s for another post. However, I will share this story: I’m sitting with a Hollywood manager. He has an impressive track record. He tells me about how, and I quote, “Hollywood is such an incestual business. I get clients primarily through referrals.”
I then name drop Lee Jessup and Andrew Hilton. He turns his chair, smiles, and says, “I know Lee and Drew. You write something they like, I’ll hear about it.”
Later in the conference, while he’s doing a Q & A, someone, of course, asks the question: “How do I get a manager?” And he said, “Well, referrals, for example, if you’re in touch with people like Lee Jessup and Andrew Hilton…”
For the first time, throughout all of this, I felt like I stood a chance.
At the end of the day, it’s ultimately up to you. If you can’t afford a coach, then read scripts. It’s free. Can’t afford a teacher? Then practice writing script after script after script. Find writer’s workshops, meetup groups, online hubs, etc. Meet people. Go to festivals. Watch movies. Watch television. Read blogs. Hell, write blogs like you’re some expert. The whole reason I’m doing this is in an effort to meet more people like me:
Dreamers who can’t stop dreaming.
Believers who refuse to stop believing.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill
Yeah. What he said.
Keith Hannigan is a professional freelance writer
who has written and directed a student film, is a
Quarterfinalist in the We Screenplay Feature Writing
Competition, and has over 10 years experience in
radio script and copywriting.
The SIX Marketing North Team (Actually, SIX Marketing, other than me, is entirely in Saratoga Springs, NY. So, maybe I’m just SIX South…Which kinda sounds like I’m the bass player to an 80’s hairband or a porn star…) attended the Hubspot event, INBOUND 2018 in Boston, MA.
During this, an atom bomb of reality was dropped on Tony Robbins Seminar of positivity and prosperity:
Nobody Trusts People In The Advertising Industry.
Now, no shit Sherlock…
But this image…
There is something about being slightly above politicians which kinda fucks with you. And when we say kinda, we mean totally…It totally fucks with you.
It makes you not only question who the hell were these pollsters asking? The same people walking out of the Dade County VFW in 2000? And who the hell were the pollsters? The same ones doing exit polls in 2016?!?
It makes you question your path in life.
I spent a solid 18 months selling cars over a decade ago–I met people who LOVED to sell cars. Days were never the same and they viewed every “up” (prospect) as a challenge. Plus the money was stupid good.
After those 18 months where I questioned my entire existence (yes, I despised it, and the money wasn’t that good), I spent the past decade in the radio advertising industry.
During those years, I met more and more people who:
Loved helping small businesses grow
Creating memorable marketing campaigns
Writing compelling copy (I was one of those)
Watch non-profits, charities, and benefits blossom
My peers and colleagues at SIX Marketing genuinely care. They love creating advertising/marketing campaigns which get their clients excited, and more importantly, new business!
So, when they got back from INBOUND, Chris, the CEO of SIX called me and told me what he wanted to do:
Let Us Earn Your Trust!
This blog, on behalf of SIX Marketing, is about Earning Trust. Please give it a quick read, it will only take a few minutes, and decide for yourself.
And for the love of everything pure and holy, stop lumping those of us in the advertising industry together with…well…
I was giddy. Proud. Ready to receive my Oscar. Okay, maybe not an Oscar, but at least a Golden Globe. Hell, they give those things away like a child gives away Cadbury Creme Eggs the day after Easter…Worst…Candy…Ever!
Inspiration to rewrite a script I made it to the Quarterfinals of a National Screenwriting Contest (Dime a dozen by the way. Unless they’re the Nicholls, The Page, and probably the Austin Film Fest), came from reading the screenplay to Lethal Weapon script by Shane Black.
It was an awesome read. Not because Mel Gibson looks great with a mullet. Not because Gary Busey, next to Alan Rickman in Die Hard (NOT A CHRISTMAS MOVIE!!!) played one of the great “bad guys” in action movie history. Not because I can recite the movie like the lyrics to “Pauls Boutique” by the Beastie Boys…
But it showed you can actually have a ton of fun while writing a script.
EXT. POSH BEVERLY HILLS HOME – TWILIGHT
The kind of house I’ll buy if this movie is a huge hit. Chrome. Glass. Carved wood. Plus an outdoor solarium. A glass structure, like a greenhouse only there is a big swimming pool inside. This is a really great place to have sex.
I mean, how fantastic is that? So, what did I do during my rewrite? I wrote the entire fucking script with this “I’m SO clever mentality”. especially the opening scenes.
“The walls just feel sticky. As if 100 cartons of Marlboros have been smoked in here. An entertainment center straight for Rent-A-Center and you know good and goddamn well he hasn’t made payments on it in months. A coffee table caked in remnants of Ritalin and Miller Lite”
Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…
Because I have moments of being an egomaniacal, pretentious douchebag.
A screenwriter has 10 pages, sometimes even less, to grab the readers attention.
And what I did was comparable to fumbling the opening kickoff and the opposition running it back for a touchdown.
ENTER COREY MANDELL!
My first conversation with my screenwriting coach, Lee Jessup, I told her how I need to get the basics down. She then told me about Corey.
Corey preaches one thing: “Pitch Perfect Authentic!” I’ll let Corey tell you himself. But I will say this, I’m on my third set of classes with Corey, and not only while I write a script, but while I read scripts (I’m currently a reader for the Atlanta Film Festival), I see things with eyes wide open.
When I went back to the script I was “so giddy” because of how “clever” I was. To say I became nauseous would be as much of an understatement as saying I have a couple of commitment issues.
It’s called Start your Script the Right Way. If you are thinking about entering the world of screenwriting, or are in the profession of storytelling. Whether as a writer, or even as a business trying to explain to your prospective customers who you are and what your business can do for them:
If you don’t, you’ll end up writing something like this thinking your such an effing genius:
“The room was dark. As dark as a room inhabited by a man who just did an 8 ball of cocaine and uses the comforter he bought for 29.95 at the local Walmart to cover his windows.”
Throughout my life, the man crushes I’ve developed are slightly above being a fan and a c-hair below infatuation.
Traditionally this emotional real-estate has been reserved for those dawning a jersey, or as Jerry Seinfeld infamously refers to it as, “Laundry”.
Then I saw “A Few Good Men”.
Then I saw “The West Wing”.
Eventually, I became as obsessed with Aaron Sorkin as I did with Lawrence Taylor, Dwight Gooden, Daryl Strawberry (It’s a wonder how I developed addictions to alcohol and drugs.), and Michael Jordan.
Sorkin, the mentee to who many, including myself, consider the finest scribe of them all–William Goldman, is considered by many to be one of the greatest ever. Instantly, I think:
How can I learn from Mr. Aaron Sorkin Screenwriter:
Took his Masterclass. (Which is insightful, however, when he comes out and says things such as, “Well, I write scripts like I would write music.” You want to punch him in the face because, well, that’s great douche, but guess what I have no goddamn clue how to do? Ya, write music.
I’ve read all his film screenplays. (One of my favorite reading experiences ever was reading “A Few Good Men” and during the climactic scene between Col. Jessup (Jack Nicholson) and Caffey (Tom Cruise), you felt, literally felt the tension, anticipation, and ultimately the payoff while you read. Oh, to write like that.
Found multiple scripts of his and typed them out as if they were my own. Hoping in someway his talent would osmosis its way into my hands. It didn’t. Instead, I’m pretty sure I developed the early stages of carpal tunnel.
Why am I sharing this?
Whenever I see his name in anything, I instantly click. Seriously, if the attorney for my rich and recently deceased great, great, great uncle who left me a fortune and I won’t reply to your emails–Put Aaron Sorkin in the subject heading, and I’ll get right to you.
So, when RB at Stage 32 decides to share something of his: Not only will I read, but I’m sure as shit going to share it too!
Richard Botto, the creator of Stage 32 recently wrote a blog which had to do with Sorkins insight on how to develop characters. Going out on a limb…When the guy who created Col. Jessup, Jeb Bartlett, and Will McAvoy offers insight on to how to develop characters…You listen.
He even provided some bonus material on David Lynch (Twin Peaks, Mulholland Drive, Elephant Man) on how to audition actors.
And at the very end, RB did a Q&A with many of us, including myself, with his personal insight and experiences in the “Wild West” of working in the entertainment industry.