welcome to amy’s blog, a phrase which here means “pretty photos of organized desks”
I have a quote on my wall that reads “fall seven, rise eight.” It’s a Japanese proverb I love because it’s the best advice on how to survive in this industry. It doesn’t matter how many times you fail as long as you keep going.
We can’t control a lot of aspects of writing in television, but what we can control is our own mindset and how we approach our work. By investing in a sense of humor, a positive perspective, and some organizational habits, we can re-route ourselves and get back on track no matter the setback.
So, here are three ways I reset myself and my goals after a setback:
1. Track Habits, Gratitude, and Goals in a Journal
I keep two journals, one in which I reflect about my day, and a second where I track habits, write down what I’m grateful for, and check in on my goals. Because life can get hectic, I need a space to record my progress and to plan what’s next. Here’s what I keep track of:
- Things I’m grateful for. I’m lucky just to be in Los Angeles pursuing what I love. There’s so much to be grateful for, and recognizing these things is proven to make you happier.
- Habits. Making sure I get in my workouts and am eating healthy sometimes takes a little extra planning and tracking.
- Goals. I track daily and weekly goals that feed into my larger goals.
- Lessons learned. As writers, we have to constantly be learning about the industry, our craft, and human nature. I like keeping track of the highlights so I can flip back and be reminded of the advice I’ve been given or discoveries I’ve made.
- Daily targets. Every day I have three tasks that I have to get done no matter what, so that even if I’m derailed and something comes up, I will at least have accomplished those three things.
- How I spend my time. I divide up my day and make sure I’m using my time wisely, whether that means working or going out with friends.
I have a journal from Best Self Co. that has all of these in a pretty template-form, but I’ve used a plain ol’ notebook in the past and that works just fine.
Even though we can’t control outcomes, we can control our own actions and how we approach our goals. That’s why these types of organizational habits are so meditative and relaxing: it helps to cut through the fog of uncertainty and indecision.
2. Return to a Morning Routine
As a bonafide member of the Night Owl Club, I hate waking up early. However, because of the nature of, y’know, modern work schedules created by early birds, I’ve had to embrace mornings (and coffee. Lots of it.)
I have to admit — a good morning routine changes a lot. Waking up, working out, then hitting the page — it’s truly motivating for the rest of the day to be so productive so early. I’ve even been trying out a 4:30am wakeup to get to the gym by 5am before the morning rush, and despite some afternoon sleepiness it’s been a great way to start the day.
Even if you’re not up before the sun, set a morning routine for yourself. Wake up, get some exercise even if it’s just a walk, reflect in a journal, and set your goals for the day. Our willpower reserves are strongest in the morning, so use this time to tackle tough scenes or break a new story.
3. Refocus on Health
Get back to the basics: do yoga, meditate, go on a run, clear your head. Eat healthy, sleep more — take care of yourself. It’s easy to forget that eating healthy and working out has an impact on our clarity of thought, but the best thing we can do for our creativity is to take care of our bodies, too.
Yoga and meditation are great ways to combat stress and to clear your head, so go and find some yoga videos online and take a breath.
Writing is hard: not only do we strive to create a kind of intimacy and truth in our work, but in television we’re subject to a larger process. When I was at USC, our show had gotten cancelled right after we had been nominated for a College Television Emmy, and we had to fight to get it renewed for a second season. These hurdles are the opposite of what us writers prefer to do: play pretend in safe spaces. However, these obstacles have purpose, and you can learn a lot from a failed project or cancelled show.
In the end, the work is worth the fight. So keep fighting the good fight and the rest will fall into place.