How to Reach Your Creative Goals (Even if You Don't Know Where to Start)
How to Reach Your Creative Goals (Even if You Don't Know Where to Start)
Earlier this year I joined Stage 32 and I’ve already made some great connections. Now, I’m working on an animated feature screenplay, and an animated TV pilot screenplay with fellow writers I’ve met through Stage 32. Not too bad from where I started about seven years ago.
I didn’t start my journey by graduating from college with a degree or being a child prodigy with a pencil attached to my hand since I was five. My journey began by walking into a bookstore and purchasing a “How To” book on writing children’s books. Yes, that is seriously where this all begins. I was speaking to a parent at a “Learn-To-Play” hockey class that I taught, when he mentioned his son hated reading.
I asked if he had tried all the classics like Eric Carle or, of course, Dr. Seuss, but his son didn’t want “old books.” He then mentioned that he went with his son to a bookstore and thought all the newer children’s books were very plain and unimaginative. So, I decided that I could come up with some imaginative stories and decided to take a chance on something.
Since that day, I haven’t let anything hold me back. I’ve found a love and a passion in creating stories and decided that is what I want to do. I hope that I can give you incentive to go after that screenplay or start writing your first book. I didn’t go to college, and I don’t have a background in any of this. I’m not trying to diminish having a college degree or a background in writing, art, or film, I’m pointing out how much I’ve accomplished strictly out of passion.
I wanted all of this to happen so much that I taught myself, learned, and networked to get to where I am. Go for what you’re passionate about and take that chance on yourself. You never know where you’ll wind up. Reach out to that producer and take that shot at acting. Start writing that book that you’ve been flip-flopping on. If you’re on the fence about taking a shot at something, or you keep questioning yourself, take the shot!
Me Discussing one of My Books on the News
It was tough for me at first. I felt lost and didn’t know where to start, but you start learning where to look, who to talk to, and how to approach things. One obstacle I had to deal with in the beginning was finding an illustrator. I asked several friends and family that I knew were detailed artists and would be fun to work with.
A family member told me my stories were boring, two friends told me yes, then ghosted me when I tried to follow up. I eventually tried doing it myself, even though I was very uncomfortable with it and not confident in my drawing skills at all. I started with colored pencils, then markers, then paint, then eventually got to illustrating through computer apps. I did get one friend to help a little, but you just keep pushing because you’re passionate about it.
Once I started having some success, I wanted more. My next steps started by laying out new, bigger goals to hit. Each one, I laid out what I wanted and then worked backwards on how to accomplish it. I learned, from the construction industry, about reverse planning and that’s how I plot out what I want and what I need to do to make those goals happen. I wanted to publish a book, so how do I get to that point?
I started by finding people through social media that had accomplished what I wanted to do and started conversations to learn as much as I could. Next, I mapped out what I would need to do to finish the book and self-publish it. Then, I worked back and figured out exactly what I wanted the book to look like and how I wanted to illustrate it. Lastly, was writing the story. These steps may not work for everyone, but hopefully it can help one person take their first steps towards their goals.
Some people may say it’s a good trait, some may say it’s a bad trait, but I’m very hard on myself and I never stop creating new goals to accomplish. Ask my wife if you don’t believe me. Once I got my first book self-published, I wanted more. After I self-published my fifth book, I went back and fixed one of my first ones, so it wasn’t so “beginnery.”
Eventually, I started reaching out to charities to collaborate with on books. After I created children’s book collaborations with charities, I decided I wanted to get into animation. I met and talked to people through social media that led me to Stage 32 where I met Rob Jones and Ginger. Now, Rob and I are working on an animated feature screenplay and I’m working on a TV screenplay with Ginger.
I’m also working on Animated Shorts with Tony Pham's company, TKMV that I hope to use as a “proof of concept” to show producers, agents, and managers that may be interested, what I can do. My main goal right now is to get something onto the Big Screen. Don’t be afraid to work with others as well. From my collaborations with charities like the Colorado Veterans Project, Punk Rock Saves Lives, the Tony Sly Music Foundation for Kids, to helping Youth On Record, or just working with other like minded, passionate people, you don’t need to do it all alone.
Working with people on the same wavelength as me has been one of the most fulfilling things about this path.
I’m still writing and illustrating picture books, co-writing the animated feature screenplay and the animated TV pilot, starting a new animated feature film screenplay, finishing an animated short film, working on a second animated short film, and trying out some art ideas all while working a forty-hour a week job as an Electrician. So, you can say I’m busy, but I love it! I’m hoping to eventually kick the day job to the curb, but that’s just another goal.
If you want to animate a show, if you want to write a screenplay, if you want to create something memorable, then do it.
It may be tough, it may be hard, you may have to get through lots of heartbreak, but you’ve got this. If someone with diagnosed depression that started from nothing can build something, you can accomplish whatever your dreams are. When that life changing email or phone call comes in and you’re officially in the profession you’ve dreamed of, no one will be able to take that away from you.
Don’t let anyone trip you up. You need to let the encouraging words in your head become louder than any negative person around you. I continue to keep learning and growing with every new milestone I hit. Even a mistake is a lesson. I plan to keep building important relationships while helping others build their business relationships and dreams.
Hopefully I can find that business relationship with someone that has the resources and ability to take a chance on me and turn these ideas into great movies, shows, and stories. So, take a chance on yourself. Make your next goal to have a conversation with someone who can get you to your next step. Stage 32 helped me get those conversations and I know they’ll help me get more.
Me with one of the founders of Punk Rock Saves Lives with our first copy of the book we collaborated on
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About the Author
I'm a self-published author and illustrator and I'm looking to get my children's picture books adapted for TV or the big screen. I also have several other ideas I'm turning into scripts with my co-writer. I work a 9-to-5 job currently, but I'm working to make my dream come true of becoming a scr...