5 Ways to Survive a Trexit Winter

images-366

It’s been a tough old year. As we face up to the double jeopardy of Trump and Brexit (Can we be punished twice for the same crime?) it’s hard to know how to comfort each other, to step up and do what’s right when we feel demoralised and silenced. How can we use the winter months to recover?

  1. Zone out the Noise.  Reading my social media feeds, I feel like a horse grazing in a field of rubble, stubbing my nose on shards of opinion, starved of real information or cheer. While it’s important to question untruths, we use a lot of energy consuming and reposting the same news or venting our (understandable) anger. Yes we have to grieve but then we have to get on – with the work. Take time out to recover, take stock, reflect. So we can hear our own voices again.
  2. Trust yourself.  After Brexit I felt I had got something very wrong, safe in my online bubble, sharing my values with my friends, unaware or dismissive that others felt differently. After the result I felt my voice didn’t matter, had no effect. Now I know it does but that I need to do more.
  3. Get Active. Donate, Promote, Engage. It’s relatively easy to sign an online petition, but more rewarding to volunteer time or support. Help Refugees are looking for help right now. We’re all busy but doing something yourself breaks the cycle of helplessness. Positive action is worth a thousand words.  And yet –

    images-368

  4. Keep writing. We need voices to articulate what is happening. To challenge the bluster of the far right. To expose simplistic arguments and reach people with stories that move and engage them. To give us comfort and hope, to reaffirm our true values.
  5. Support each other. Organise. Vote. Plan for a future without Trump, connected to Europe and the wider world, where prosperity for all, not fear, is what drives us. Set up an action group  like House of Cards writer @BeauWillimon if you don’t like what’s on offer. Protest in all ways, and don’t forget your greatest weapon- your heart and mind – your words and actions matter.

    images-367

Take heart. You’re not alone.  And don’t forget. There’s always chocolate…

 

The Road We Travel

DearWhitePeople-620x348

I woke up feeling militant today. When it comes to my film career, have I taken The Road Less Travelled? But if so, why do I meet so many Fellow Travellers? Today it feels more like The Road We Travel. Here’s where we’re going and why:

In Search of Alternative Structures. After years of riding those two horses of being inner-directed as a writer and yet respecting the market, I believe there is a third way – to build your audience as you write and make your film – and create an alternative distribution path. The internet has made this real, but it also builds on a far older model where stories rise up to meet the needs of the community – we seek out the stories that help us understand our universe and survive it, maybe even transcend it for a few moments.

crew on houseboat

Away from Predictability and Routine. It is not our job to sell the old paradigms of existing shows and tried and tested formats. It’s our job to originate new ones. No one under 20 admits to watching TV. Yet they do watch heavily authored and beautifully crafted series that speak to their own tastes and values. Nothing is ever truly new of course and those shows stand on the shoulders of others and have their own ritualistic formats and tropes. But at least for the moment they feel box-set fresh, a story we want to collect, like golden breadcrumbs.

25 Muni holds up oar in boat

To Meet Fellow Travellers and Collaborate. Communities of filmmakers, actors, writers, musicians and other creatives are getting together online and in the real world to create, distribute and cross-promote each others’ work. The freelancers have got together and as Billy Bragg would say, ‘there is power in our union’. Our manifesto is simple:

This is What We Want to Make. This is What We Need to Say.  Choose your dream project and make it happen. ‘I want to invite you to join me in making a story I care about.’ Few can resist those words and so artist speaks to artist directly without mediation or need of cumbersome management structures that falter at the first hurdle of making a decision.

web-photo2-620x348

Make a Choice. Stand up for the stories you want to tell, the people you want to work with and the causes you believe in. Build value into your movies – not just monetary (though that would be nice) – but true value that supports our community and makes us stronger.

BornIntoBrothels_Jan2005

Diversity is Who We Are. It is not a special interest group or a catch-all phrase for troublesome outsiders. We are a truly diverse nation and we have the opportunity like never before to reach a global audience by writing, making and distributing our own stories. There is a huge pool of talent already trained and ready to be a part of this– don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

May Your God Go With You. All belief systems are valid, even those we despise have a function for those who hold to them. To contemplate a network of stories and storytellers that span this incredible world of ideas, to connect emotionally to even one human being is extraordinary. How much greater is it to connect to millions with our words, our images, our lives?

Let’s Get Together. And make something great.

Red River Screening

I’m in the usual places – @emlin32, and right here. Leave a message. x

WAITING…

images-304

Forgive my silence. You see I’ve been working hard – and waiting – for news, an event, inspiration. How best to use this period? When it’s not quite Christmas but the world is running down and emails lie unanswered ’til New Year?

Here’s a small guide to winter living (with added Kate Bush vitamins…)

  • Rest, Recover, Repair. Like athletes at the end of the season, training doesn’t stop – it just takes another turn.  When your body gets sick on your one weekend off it’s telling you something – STAY ON THE BENCH! Eating right and resting up are an investment in your future well-being. Get well, listen to your body and take care of yourself.images-311
  • Try New Things. Yes, it’s cold outside and you don’t want to miss Strictly/The X Factor/ that online shopping delivery, but as the world of work winds down, you finally have a window in which to have some fun or at least set up some entertaining stuff for the holidays. Treat yourself!images-312
  •  Sleep. Yes we are all sleeping (or wanting to sleep) more now it’s dark and cold. Don’t fight it. This feeling we always have to be alert and at the top of our game, is a myth. Sometimes it’s good to just be quiet for a while and take comfort in family and friends.images-305
  • Don’t Dismiss the Silence. That script that refuses to find a shape on the page just needs a little more time to emerge. Don’t force it. Trust your mind to do the work – or let it play. Like a dog off the leash it will run further without you holding on tight trying to control it.
  • Believe in your capacity not just to survive the winter but to develop new shoots come Spring. Take time to relax and acknowledge what you already have. So don’t wait until Christmas to open your gifts…
  • Enjoy them now…images-316

 

 

Emma x

 

 

 

 

 

Walk Away from the Wi-Fi

IMG_2997

I can give it up any time I choose.

The Wi-Fi that is.  I just need to check this one email – OK, I confess, I am an internet junkie – but going offline for just a few hours a day has brought me to my senses. The search for free wi-fi can’t compete with a life that’s wi-fi free.

Four days at my sister’s in the Irish countryside was going to be a welcome internet detox.  I needed to decompress. Too many emails, social media updates and text messages were part of the problem.

Here’s what I discovered.

IMG_2957

To Disconnect is to Reconnect.

You cannot be fully present with the company you’re in if you’re online doing something else.  We all know this and yet like the smoker in the room we are tolerated as we drag on our devices.  We all pick up our phones the moment our dinner partner nips to the loo, in case we’ve missed something in the twenty minutes since we both sat down to eat.  Yet the company of family and friends is a real pleasure a thousand times more involving than its Facebook facsimile. Be in the room.

IMG_2949

Be Creative not Reactive

I have to be in my own head in order to write, I have to be present to myself and open to ideas that come from inside. I cannot do that if I am constantly taking in (useless) information off a screen. Ten out of eleven emails are not from real people  but junk, a flotsam and jetsam of PR, petitions and the dreaded Reply Alls.  After three days in the country with no e-spam clogging up my brain, I woke with a head full of ideas for my new script, eager to write them down. Of course I did that on my phone…

IMG_2991

Go Outside

Go for a walk somewhere green.  It relaxes you, creates mental space, and visual inspiration.  Borrow a dog if you can.  The act of walking is a form of meditation and I often work out story problems when away from my desk. Being outside takes you away from your workspace and creates room to think – but only if you turn off your phone …

IMG_2987

Walk Away from the Phone!

I was sleeping much better when I wasn’t online til midnight or checking my phone as soon as I woke up.  I started turning my phone off or leaving it in another room to avoid checking it.  When I did check, I hadn’t missed anything, and could deal with my small batch of emails more quickly.  I wasn’t constantly being interrupted by that inbox buzz that you answer only to find a lone email mosquito in wait.  The smartphone is a tool, not a tagging device so walk away while you still can.

IMG_2968

Enjoy Real Life

Drinking prosecco with my sister, playing pool with my nephew and niece, cuddling a dog or tickling a kitten are real and lovely pleasures.  Don’t downgrade your real life in favour of a virtual one.  Now I’m back in London, I still wake up and check my phone – back on the electronic hamster wheel – but I’ve resolved to jump off it more and explore my (real) world.

It’s great to feel ‘connected’ but we need to look at what that word really means – to reach out and touch.  Doesn’t that sound better than ‘going online’?

 

IMG_2994

THE POWER OF SOLITUDE – 10th January 2013

Arizona 2What do we need to write?  A room of our own said Virginia Woolf, which still remains true, but more importantly we need headspace.  Whether you get that by walking (or running), listening to music, sitting in a cafe or just being still, you need to tune out all the white noise and listen.

Last week, stuck at home writing, the world still asleep after Xmas and New Year, it was both easy and hard to write.  Easy because there were no distractions, no internet calling, no meetings, no teaching, and so I focused and had time to think about my story.  Ten scenes.  OK, some of them borrowed from the treatment but I was inside the story moving forward.  Hard because it was lonely.

This week, the world awakes and life is more fun but my thinking space is significantly reduced. Emails are returned, people are back in their offices, walking the streets, meeting for coffee. Screenings, drinks, networking, accounts! I am suddenly directed outward, enjoying being connected to the world again and yet my writing decreases, the silence disrupted.

Is there a correlation between loneliness and creativity? Anthony Storr wrote a book about the creativity of Solitude.  And much has been written about the loneliness of the long distance writer.  When I am socialised out I crave the silence and solitude that lets me write.  When I am writing I exist in a kind of happy depression, engaged in my task, yet after a few days wilting from the lack of light and air companionship brings.

Never satisfied is the modern condition.  The internet allows us to be both alone and yet connected but without the headspace we need to create that vital original content we wish to talk about and consume.

‘To thine own self be true’, a motto my mother lived by and which was written on her wall.  I know I need both the silence of endeavour and the energy of life in the world to sustain me.

What sustains you? How do you create space to write? Tell me your thoughts so we can have a conversation.

In between finding the time to write of course.

Leave a comment here or find me on Twitter @emlin32. Happy writing!