Updated: Dec 10, 2019
Like in the movies!
Someone asked, “How can I make my life more awesome? Like in the movies? I watch show after show [or read book after book] and wish I were there, not here. What can I do?”
The answer is actually in the question, if you can believe that! "More awesome!" It’s a game and I’ll get to that in a minute, but first I want to share something screenwriter Gareth Dunnett-Alcocer said (from notes I took at a talk he gave):
**** There is watching and there is experiencing—have a message. So if you want your life to be more like the movies, experience more (the characters rarely sit and watch, they are experiencing), and let that experience carry a message. You decide what the message should be! Maybe it really is as simple as how exciting and joyful a life experience can be. Maybe this is why we love Instagram so much, because it is proof of how lovely a life experience can be. **** Hollywood tries to re-create the experience *you* are LIVING (while you want to imitate them, they want to imitate you! Just think of that!)—Ask “How can I live better?” A lot of times a movie packs in a whole lot of exciting experiences into an hour that a real person would actually have over the course of a year—they cut out all the trips to the bathroom and the vegging out and the nightly periods of unconsciousness and the full brunt of working late and brainstorming and most mundane housework and trying to decide what to wear and where to eat.
If you want to cut some of this out, hire a maid and/or buy a robot mop and vacuum. Plan your outfits (and maybe wear something unexpected, glamorous, or wacky every once in a while), or think of where you want to eat ahead of time WHILE you veg out (or pick random new places as you drive by). Tour your own town or take a day trip and explore. Have a hobby and put your process where people can see it. Experiment (if you can) with your sleep cycles like R. Buckminster Fuller. BE INTERESTING AND ON THE MOVE. Visualize and DO something so you have something to show. It’s amazing how much people love when someone has something done instead of just verbal plans (or nothing at all, and you feel like apologizing for being boring—just NO!).
People want in on something they can see, not so much something that hasn’t even begun to exist. Your heart knows what it would rather be doing—do it!
And remember, movies are best when the art is from adversity. As Mr. Plinkett says, "The limitations make it cooler". Treat “making your limitations make your life cooler” like millions of dollars are in the line—they just might be (and your time is even more precious—you can’t buy more of that!). There is a cycle with a time to research, brainstorm, and plan, a time to make, do, and show, and a time to rest. But if you stay in one stage forever, it’s not a cycle, it’s stagnation. Remember fortune (and excitement) is a wheel!
**** The quicker you can screw up, the quicker you can fix it. I guess this is really the old adage of failure preceding success, but sometimes wording is everything. Who wants to fail? That sounds so terrible...so personal...so final! But we all have screwed up—and fixed it. Screwing up implies fixing up and moving on to the next part!
**** Truth and sincerity make the best character—how much you pour yourself into the character will be how much it works—make the character likable and empathetic—even your villains [you at your worst] should be lovable in a way. And make everyone want something. Be AUTHENTIC, you’re not auditioning for a part, *you* ARE the part! The more you are TRUE TO THYSELF, the more you will HAVE CHARACTER, not just be one in the background of someone else's production.
And always have a goal and message that lights you up when you think about working on it. What's your motivation? This is!
**** Look for interesting details in your research. Learn or notice one new thing wherever you go; incorporate them into your lifestyle. A few things I have noticed about the creative process and making things magical:
You have to pretend, or really tune into, not fully understanding the way things work. Because if you do that, nothing is set in stone, so your brain will kick in and start trying to connect things in an effort to get things to work, or to get you what you want, or to make things work more efficiently, and that’s where the magic happens. You have more options when you don't think everything has to be the way it is.
I think this is what Austin Kleon meant when he said that what you leave out of something is as important as what you put in.
This is why chocolate milk coming from brown cows is funny, or a guy named Otto selling cars (automobiles), or why planting cupcakes in the ground to grow a cupcake tree is so magical—because some part of us, somewhere had no idea how things worked, made some simple assumptions based on limited things that we knew, and is still convinced that this is the case. We essentially taught ourselves wrong at some point, and our confirmation bias is still open to proof we were right all along. And everyone loves being right.
So sometimes...leave out just enough serious reality to give us disbelief to suspend! After all, the truth is stranger than fiction. There is a improv game called “More Awesome”. Always look for a way to up the ante...add visual- or action (things you do)- interest, group things together that remind you of each other—free-associate just like you would with words, but in real life with things or events.
Think of how you want to feel. Create layers: group things together that look nice (or build on one another, like classes) then put a frame around them (a set for them to sit in, other things in your life that you do, think, feel, participate in). Then give that a background. Give your imagination space and additional things to wonder at now that can be connected later.
Your imagination fills in this possibilities gap, and that is what makes life so mysterious and magical.
Sure you could work out at the gym...but what if you also took a dance or theater class...and then created your own unique show? Victoria Modesta is a great example. And her limitation (false leg) makes it cooler! Keep going!
I like how James Altucher reminds us that it takes 10,000 hours to become a master, but you can borrow hours from other skills you have and things that you already know.
You want to live in a movie? Remember that the things that you’ve learned and the experiences you have had are foreshadowing for what you will do in the future, since these are the building blocks, the borrowed hours that will be part of the mastery of the coming exciting life you will lead!
When you think of it in this way, choosing, learning, creating with purpose and consciousness becomes so imperative. My interests, my heartbreaks, my experiences, the talks I’ve been to all lead to this blog. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to do this because I would have nothing to say! And what you don’t get to personally choose goes towards your art from adversity—making what you make even cooler.
You don’t have to do this alone. Steal Like An Artist. Look at how Universal Studios made Hogsmeade look so magical. Study all the little details. Study movie stills of set design from movies so iconic they set a new standard for you (I love the original Santa Clause and am still convinced that is the actual North Pole).
Notice the layers while remembering that it was done in a limited space (a sound stage or a backlot).
My outlet for this is building dioramas and miniatures, but yours could be anything. Study jokes instead if you want. Notice how a simple, ordinary premise can keep getting funnier and funnier until you wonder how you never noticed how truly bizarre that everyday situation was.
Notice the timing.
Notice the way the comedian noticed.
Keep studying the layers.
Everything interesting or entertaining is really ordinary things layered.
Dragons? Dinosaurs layered with flying capabilities and fire power.
Mermaids? People who won the genetic lottery of being able to play in the ocean forever.
Layer the things that appeal to you the most, in every format you can think of.
Write down 10 ideas a day. The best music does this: It may not make sense when read word for word, but somehow the images you see in you brain create emotions that you can identify with strongly. It’s pure magic. It all goes back to creating layers of imagery that creates a strong emotional imagery, or feeling. Echo and the Bunnymen are masters at this. Here is another example:
"Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son? Oh, where have you been, my darling young one? I've stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains I've walked and I've crawled on six crooked highways I've stepped in the middle of seven sad forests I've been out in front of a dozen dead oceans I've been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it's a hard, and it's a hard, it's a hard, and it's a hard And it's a hard rain's a-gonna fall
Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son? Oh, what did you see, my darling young one?
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin' I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin' I saw a white ladder all covered with water I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it's a hard, and it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard And it's a hard rain's a-gonna fall
And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son? And what did you hear, my darling young one?
I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin' Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin' Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley
And it's a hard, and it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard And it's a hard rain's a-gonna fall
Oh, who did you meet, my blue-eyed son? Who did you meet, my darling young one?
I met a young child beside a dead pony I met a white man who walked a black dog I met a young woman whose body was burning I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow I met one man who was wounded in love I met another man who was wounded with hatred
And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall
Oh, what'll you do now, my blue-eyed son? Oh, what'll you do now, my darling young one?
I'm a-goin' back out 'fore the rain starts a-fallin' I'll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest Where the people are many and their hands are all empty Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison Where the executioner's face is always well-hidden Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten Where black is the color, where none is the number And I'll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it Then I'll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin' But I'll know my song well before I start singin' And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall"
The life you want to live is not a place or a career or a partner. It is a feeling, a state of being. This is why Gala Darling says “Feel good and then [do]”. Some people love to shop for clothes, and I think one reason is that, when they look at the outfit, they don’t just see fabric cut into shapes. They are running through the best-case scenarios of what they would do and how awesome they will look (and therefore feel) in them.
Somehow those outfits open up a whole new world of experiences, possibility, and dare I say, esteem, prestige, and admiration? If that is you, don’t just buy or wear an outfit, go do those things you visualized while you were looking at it in the store!
Don’t *just* feel put-together, flaunt put-together!
Dress up for “work” (the projects and play that you’ve been wanting to sit down (or get up) and do)!
Go to a meet-up if people you want to know (or work with, or admire) are there, and if that’s not a thing near you, plan your vacation around it and call it a business expense! Take yourself out, go sit somewhere beautiful or beautify somewhere ugly!
Really be present in a place or moment that would be Instagram-worthy and SOAK IT UP. We express ourselves with clothing, but don’t forget to express yourself in the clothing with more than just the clothing!
Participate. Follow those you admire. SHOW (don’t just tell them) you care. James Altucher has a great way to do this: brainstorm every day on 10 ways they could improve what they are doing (note: in a sincerely helpful, not critical way). When you have 10 great ideas, send them in. Buy things from them (if you can). Passing silver across their palm can be the best way to pass a compliment. When someone puts their money, time, and energetic thought where their mouth is, talk about sincerity! Sometimes it feels like we just want to go back in time, to a memory that feels magical, safe, and known. There is no shame in that. We all do it. But sometimes, if we feel that feeling way too much, we are living life from a viewpoint of scarcity not abundance.
Your life is a bucket list. You enjoyed that beautiful goal (whether you consciously set it and thought of it as a goal or not, if you enjoyed it, your heart met a goal to feel special and good), and now the next chapter in Your Life Book has the next beautiful goal to experience.
Your life is a bucket list. Your life is a chapter book. Not all the items or chapters will look or feel the same, but they all hold the promise of being no less exciting and entertaining.
Life is infinite variety in infinite similarity. Steer the writing and goals in the way you think coolest with the limitations you have.
And yeah, you can learn to overcome the limitations as well. The more you share, the more people will want to be in on it too. And the more that will open new possibilities. You are living a movie, and making art from adversity. You just have to keep creating conscientiously. Comment below!
I am SO PROUD of you, you craftsperson, you!
All my love,