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Birthday gifts

Earlier this week it was my birthday.


I’m not a huge birthday guy. I don’t hate them, I just think attention given on a birthday after a certain age (say 13 for Jews or 15 for Latina girls, for example) isn’t necessary. It’s sort of like New Years Eve, one of those few days a year where people take stock of their lives and promise to make changes, usually for the good (no one on New Years Eve ever vows to START smoking or to gain weight in the new year). Alas, most of these self promises fall by the wayside. I think this is because like diets that fail, the way to succeed is to truly change your life. Accepting that you are a different person than you were before is instrumental. For example, after years of stopping and starting smoking, once I convinced myself that I was a non-smoker the cravings stopped, almost completely. It has been 4 1/2 years since my last cigarette. This is not a suggestion to make yourself a different person, but to accept that change is constant and good.

Before I drown you all in a pool of unsolicited advice, I want to tell you what I am giving myself for my birthday. These are all little gifts and reminders on how I can be successful and happier this year, regarding my writing and this specific project.

The gift of confidence: Not stopping the process because I doubt what I am doing. There are many different things that can derail any project or goal; self-doubt should never be one of them.

The gift of knowing how to listen, and knowing when to say no: Throughout the process there will be the need to hear from outside council. People will advise on the scripts, actors will suggest how they should perform, a director of photography will offer opinion on how the next shot should be set up. The gift here is being able to listen, analyze what they are saying, and accept or reject based on what is right for the project. I thrive in a collaborative environment, but too many times I’ve made decisions to stroke the egos of others, even though deep down I knew the suggestion wasn’t the right one. From now on, I want to know when to say yes and when to say no.

The gift of discipline: Write every day. Revise on days when I’m not writing. When the script is done, spend every day productively moving the project forward. It could be a quick email, it could be hours of research and prep. Keep moving forward every day.

The gift of enthusiasm: 3 days into his journey, one of Columbus’ boats was damaged and had to be repaired. 28 days into his journey none of his boats had spotted land, and he was not sure where he was going. But he remained confident, and that confidence is likely the main reason why the rest of the crew didn’t throw him overboard. Acknowledging doubts is one thing, but never let them see you sweat, so to speak.

The gift to stop procrastinating: It’s time to dive back into the script, so next week I will.

After my birthday party tonight, of course.

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