VIP, The “I” Stands For “I” as in Me

Yeah, they pretty much let me in anywhere, any time I want. I know people. I can move furniture around. This is pretty much my second living room. If I ask, they’ll give me table service right now. But we ain’t staying long, we got other shizz to do tonight so I won’t order it. Next time, baby, next time.

Oh, yeah, I still have to pay. It is a business after all. Even in my living room, I have to pay for all them bottles of Grey Gooses. Grey Geese?

It doesn’t matter who you are these days, you still have to pay for stuff one way or another. Money or favor, that’s what they say. It’s basic economics, don’t make me mansplain it to you. I hate doing that. You know I hate doing that.

waynes world

No, I’m still a very important person, but I don’t abuse my power, that’s the thing about me and other important people I respect. I’m humble. I’m a VHP, a Very Humble Person. If only they treated humble people like they do for important people… the world will be a better place, I’ll tell you that much.

Ha! No way, I’m not Buddhist. I mean, I can be if I wanted to. There’s no license I have to get to become Buddhist, right? No? Well, I guess I’m Buddhist now. Bam! Just like that, I have a whole new identity. I like that religion is like that. It’s like being a sports fan, or a fan of politics… mindlessly idolizing an organization.

It’s surprising that I’m allowed to simply claim that I belong to a religion without having to partake in any sort of certification. So many things are bureaucratic these days, it’s like OMG kill me with a dynamite already. Do I have to wait in this line to be baptized or this line? Do I fill out this form or this form? Kafka would be rolling… 

But being a part of a religion doesn’t make you special or important, does it? I wish it did. I guess at least being Buddhist doesn’t make you important. Unless you are the Dalai Lama. I guess he’s pretty important. Probably the most important one. I guess all religions have their representative, huh? Like a Pope guy.

Either way, I’m going to stop talking about that before I’ll say something I shouldn’t have.

Should I order the most expensive bottle of liquor in this establishment? Did you know ordering the most high-end liquor is the best deal?

You see, the cheap stuff are usually what the business makes the money from, so it is marked up the most. A glass of beer for 8 dollars, are you shitting me? A glass of this piss is worth a dollar tops. Whereas, I can get a shot of Macallan aged in an oak sherry-seasoned cast for 18 years for 30 dollars? Do you even know how much a bottle of that stuff is worth? That shit took 18 years to make! That’s like the age of my son when I no longer need to take care of him anymore.

No, let me dwell on this a bit more. The time it took to raise a child into adulthood, this whiskey had been sitting in a barrel. Waiting for me. That’s special. Almost as special as having a child, one can argue.

Time flies.

So, should I call the server over… or what? Do you want some food? No, they don’t serve food here, but we can absolutely hit up that McDonald’s next door.

See, that’s what I like about freedom. It’s the fact that even if I’m a Super Important Person. A SIP. I can still do things regular people can do as well. That’s equality. The fact that I can walk into a McDonald’s and order a… you guessed it… a Big Mac, and then eat it in the restaurant and not feel overdressed is a privilege. A privilege of freedom. Freedom well earned.

This is what we fought for. Our enemies from other countries wanted to take that away from us. If they ever try again, I’ll be there. I’ll be there to show them what’s what.

Actually, I think McDonald’s are in most countries, right? It’s kind of an international mega company, a global icon, isn’t it? Hopefully, the downfall of America won’t affect the success of McDonald’s. It’ll probably help, in fact. I’ve seen how long those burgers last without decomposing. That’ll feed so many American refugees. I have hope. Either way, we are good. I don’t have to fight at all. It seems we’ll have freedom regardless.

Oh, prove me wrong if you don’t think what I think is correct. You can’t. That’s the funny thing. You can’t prove me wrong. You are hypothesizing the same way I am. Educatedly. I know things. I’m a smart guy. I’m also humble. I’m also pretty important. And I’m a person, damn it! And I want to be treated like one. I’m not some simple boy you boss around, who you make buy expensive liquor and take you to all the fancy McDonald’s. I’m not like that. I have no presumptions. I’m living life and you should be too. It doesn’t matter if you don’t share the same qualities as me. I think you are important as well. Remember I told you that. I want you to think about it when I’m not around so you won’t get sad, okay?

Cool. That really gives me peace of mind. I hate it when other people feel bad because of me and my importance. I’m a Very Sensitive Person.

 

What you’ve just read is the seventh post in a series entitled “A Fan Fiction of My Life by My Number One Fan, Me.” Please check out the first seven posts from the series:
Me, A Doctor
I Am A Controversial Artist, AMA
A Well-Respected Elderly Man, It’s Me
Bringer of Bad News, I’m the One
Yes, I Am Blind with a Broken Heart 
I Drive a $160 Million Ride
This is My First Time in Space

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5 Tips for Writing on Vacation

There is a surprisingly lot of downtime while traveling, but writing is also a lot of work. In transit or after a long day of excursion, you might not have the energy to sit down and write.

But that is because you are thinking of writing a big story. You are thinking you need to sit down and craft a whole novel. You don’t! Vacation time is not the time to immerse yourself in a new project, and it’s a bad idea to pack your epic work and bring it with you on your trip. The trip itself is the project, what you need to do is document it.

Yes, if you really wanted to you can most certainly piece together the first draft on your trip, but what I want to talk about is filling the well.

In our day to day lives, we are pulling water from the well. This is our creative inspiration, these are our experiences, these are our energy and motivation, these are conversations and ideas. We fetch water from this well every time we meet someone new or sit down to a blank page. Eventually, we find ourselves saying the same things or expressing the same ideas over and over again in the same way.  

Vacation and traveling is a good time to pause the fetching and begin the filling. Here’s another metaphor for writing while traveling, it’s more about collecting dots — then when you are home and you have the lazy Saturdays to get to work, that is time to connect them.

So how do you collect these dots? Here are 5 tips that will help you get your ideas down on paper while traveling.

Find Alone Time 

If you are traveling with companions, you will need to find not only time but alone time. It’s hard to write in the middle of dinner, during an excursion, or while everyone is watching you. So find 15-30 minutes here or there to jot down your thoughts. This can be early in the morning while you are out grabbing breakfast and coffee or while everyone is getting ready to head out for the night, find a few moments to make a drink, chill and do a bit of writing.

Take Pictures and Record Videos

Even if you aren’t carrying a camera, with a smartphone, you can capture a moment — not in the same way your memory will, but you can definitely get some of the physical details recorded. Then when you get back to a writing spot or even when you return home, you can reference those pictures and videos to help expand your writing.

Free Write

Don’t think too much about plot or character development — or the end result. With only a short amount of time to write before you have to head out for the day or crash for the night, you’d want to make the most of the time you have. This is the time to simply get the idea on paper. Make a habit to dump your thoughts, once a day or a few times a week.

Don’t Worry About Technology or Organization

I prefer writing in a notebook when I’m traveling. It’s much easier to deal with than lugging around a laptop. You want to be able to write in a moments notice, so none of that booting up the computer shit. I also try not to worry too much about the organization or have one clear thought going from page to page. I jot down my thoughts and ideas at the moment with a goal for me to reflect on later. If you bring technology with you, you are adding another layer of friction, which may slow your writing process down. Nevertheless, if you are writing captions for your Instagram post, that still counts as writing 😉

Remind Yourself You’re a Writer

It’s easy to go on vacation and completely forget your goals. You stop exercising, you eat more, you party harder. Yes, you paid a lot of money to enjoy your trip and if you don’t want to write, don’t! If you feel like you might miss out on something fun, don’t write right then and there, go enjoy the experience. There is nothing worse than being on vacation and feeling like you should be doing something else, like work. It’s all about a frame of mind. Be in the moment. You are a writer whether you write one word or a thousand words. It’s like sleep if you force it, it won’t come, soon if you are a writer, you’ll long to return to the pages.

There you have it. Bring a notepad on your next trip and jot down your thoughts. Don’t worry about what it can become. Collect dots and fill the well.

Follow my writing journey on YouTube! 

Safe journeys!

How to Spell Definitely | Common Spelling Mistakes

Back when I was in film school, I was a big deal. At least, I acted like a big deal. I had all these wonderful ideas for stories, and now and then, my scripts would be picked to move into production.

As a young filmmaker, there was nothing better than seeing your vision come to life… except for the fact that a simple misspelling can often ruin the impact of a line or description and assault your credibility — thus leading to embarrassment — and definitely was a word that I would misspell often.

Definietly

Defineity

Definantly

Definetly

… and on and on.

Thanks to auto-correct, I never really understood where my error was. I knew there were some ‘i’s and ‘e’s, but I didn’t know where they went… sometimes I even thought there was an ‘a’ in there.

I finally decided to examine why I kept spelling this word wrong. Was it me? Was it the word? Was it a little of both?

Then I tried something, instead of simply writing the word and hoping I would nail it. I decided to stop and say it out loud.

If you speak with any editor, they will tell you that reading out loud is one of the most basic methods of catching errors such as typos and grammar.

That was when I realized, I was jumbling up the syllables at the end of ‘definitely’. By mumbling the end of the word, my brain was not able to comprehend what letters are actually there and in which order.

The word that once confused me, now made sense structurally. There were no silent letters trying to trip me up. Like many words, it was logical. It wasn’t trying to be fancy. Yes, due to its nature, it’s still a tricky word to spell, but it’s much less of an inigma now… sorry enigma.

Sounding out words doesn’t always work when trying to spell, but sometimes it does. As we grow as writers and keep adding vocabulary to our arsenal, we must remember to keep our tools sharpen and not constantly rely on autocorrect to save us, because autocorrect might not always know what we are actually talking about. One of the oldest tools is saying the word out loud. Are you seeing a lot of red lines under a specific word? Pronounce it and see if it helps. 

Thanks for reading. I’m documenting my writing journey here and on YouTube. Please join me as we become “legitimate” writers together.

Understanding A Character’s Motivation |Tony Robbins’ 6 Human Needs

When you are writing, you often wonder whether or not you are leading your character in the right direction.

You ask, “is this actually what they will do?” The better you understand your character’s objective in life, the better you can pick the logical paths for them to go down.

The 6 human needs were first introduced to me by Tony Robbins from his book Money: Master the Game. In the book, he discusses the motivation for money, and that often times, people don’t even know why they want more money. They want to be millionaires and billionaires but have no real idea about what their dream life cost.

I gave myself an exercise, I asked myself what is something seemingly unachievable (due to finance) that I want to experience in my lifetime. The one that popped into my head was being able to live in a hotel for a year. So I did a bit of math and shared it on my Instagram account.

Screen Shot 2019-02-28 at 12.47.34 PM.png

But back to the point, the better we are at understanding what motivates our characters whether consciously like wanting to live in a hotel forever or subconsciously like feeling safe from danger, the better we will be at making choices for them and writing a believable storyline.

6 Human Needs:

  1. Certainty: safety, security, stability, comfort, consistency 
  2. Uncertainty or variety – surprises, challenge, excitement, adventure, difference, novelty 
  3. Significance – to feel special, pride, wanted, needed, important 
  4. Love and connection – approval, attachment, intimacy from another human, part of a community 
  5. Growth – constant emotional, intellectual, spiritual development 
  6. Contribution – the need to give, nurture, protect, and serve others 

 

Some of your characters might attribute multiple human needs. They might be very needy. Others might be more focused. Nevertheless, whenever a character is making a choice, regardless of where they are in the storyline, odds are they are driven by one of these human needs.

What do you think? What is your most prominent human need?

Want more writing tips and inspirations? Follow my writing journey on YouTube! 

Little Bets: How I Make Decisions Without Feeling Stressed

Making a decision can be hard. What if you make the wrong one? What if you pick the wrong restaurant? What if the food is terrible and the service is insulting? What if you leave hungry and you have to get drive-thru on the way home?

When making a decision, it’s easy to be bogged down by the negatives, but here is how I’ve changed that. I bet that I’m going to have a great time. I will put my money (and time) on the table and bet that this restaurant that I pick will be great.

If you can make decisions the same way you place bets at a roulettes table, by going in with a sense of optimism, you can change your mental state. Our heart rate increases when we make a decision, one that breaks our usual routine, big or small. You know that the odds are always against you, but there is an excited hope. It turns indecisiveness into an opportunity. You willingly allow yourself a chance to hit the jackpot.

Anything is possible, but you have to put yourself in the position for the opportunity for it to happen. You have to give yourself a chance.

Next time you are faced with a tough decision. Take a chance, make a bet for your time and efforts, and feel rich and optimistic even in the smallest of choices.

Take a chance, buy me a beer, it helps to keep me inspired.

What Will Happen If Electronic Technology Disappears? | World Building Questions

As I’m editing this post-apocalyptic story, I realized that I may have lefts some major questions unanswered. I also wonder if trying to answer them at this point in my process may be a distraction from what I should be doing — writing more.

I figured it wouldn’t hurt to stop and ponder. In a previous video, I proposed the question: What Can Bring Us Back to the Stone Ages?

In this follow-up video, I explore the three pillars of modern-day society:

  1. Health
  2. Wealth
  3. Knowledge

and analyze how the sudden disappearance or failure of electronic technology will affect the western world, which relies so heavily on these innovations.

Follow my writing journey on YouTube! 

How To Win Awards

 

 

So if you listen to enough award speeches, you will begin to recognize a pattern. These people usually win an award for a craft, yes — in a specific discipline — but they never speak about the craft in the speech. They speak about the mission, the purpose, the destination they wanted to reach. The craft, whether it be film, books, or music, is the vessel, but what is the message?

Take a watch of the video above, those are the last 10 Academy Award winners for Best Original Screenplay. Listen to what the winners have to say about their victory. They are not bragging about how they sat there and wrote a specific scene. They are talking about their purpose: the reason why they wrote the story in the first place.

You will never win an award for great art if you never find your message. If you never have something meaningful to say. If you’re writing, painting, filmmaking simply to be the best you can be, without a greater purpose, you will never impact the world.

Find your message. Find that and use your craft to communicate it. Communicating for the sake of being a better communicator accomplishes nothing. But with a mission, you have a reason to improve.

This has been something I’ve been trying to figure out ever since I stood on stage and performed stand up comedy. Now that you have an audience, what can you tell them? What can you share with them? How can you change them?

Buy me a beer, it helps to keep me inspired.

30 Lessons I’ve Learned Before 30

These are lessons that stem from my own personal experience and I am certainly not telling you how you should live your life. We all have different values and philosophy, and I know I don’t know how to be a human being any better than you. I chose to take on this little exercise as I approach 30 because I thought that would be a suitable point… 30 is a dramatic age after all.

Nevertheless, however old you are, I encourage you to think of little lessons you have learned and maybe compile a list. It has been a very interesting experience… like spending a day hanging out with the younger version of yourself. It’s like your brain is playing old home videos. I think you might just surprise yourself with what you remember. My 20s have been a thrilling adventure, as I’m sure yours will be, are, or have been… Still, I’m looking forward to my 30s, I think this is the decade where I’ll really come into my own.

1. What I’ve learned from being a background performer: Hurry Up and Wait

For 3 years, I made a bit of spending money working as a background performer or commonly known as an extra. What was it like? Well, there was a lot of sitting around. I was reading Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series at the time and was always hoping that I can finish all of it before the end of my shift. However, I was never that fast of a reader. I digress, being a background performer taught me many things including I don’t like trading my time to be a little blur in the background for 3 frames or meeting Zach Effron. There was a lot of waiting involved with the job, but they rush you. They tell you to hurry up and get on set so you can wait for the next order. As much as I disliked the job itself, the monotony of it, I like that lesson a lot… probably as much as I dislike the job. Hurry up and wait, means always being ready. When an opportunity comes, it’s going to look around and pick someone to take it… it will not wait for you to show up. Be ready. Hurry up and wait.

 

2. What I’ve learned from social situations: don’t raise your hands

In school, I would always see kids who raise their hands waiting for their teacher to address them so they can speak. Me, I would shout out. If I had something to say, I shout it out. I got in trouble for sure, that was when I interrupted someone, but everybody heard me. This lesson is not about being rude, but it’s about being assertive. I have spoken up without raising my hand a lot as an adult. In fact, it would look weird if I’m around a group of friends and I raised my hand to speak each time. In school, we are bred to follow the rules and wait for permission for anything. As an adult, waiting for permission for everything you do will hold you back. You don’t need permission, go for it!

3. What I’ve learned about love: Love is growing with someone

Love is not accepting someone for the way they are, it’s wanting them to be better. Your regular friends want you to be the way you are. Your wife, your mother, they want you to be better. The thing they want you to be the best at is loving. So do that, it’s the easiest way to please the people you love. There is nothing more beautiful than every day waking up and seeing the progress you have made with someone that you and the person you love are making strides towards your goal. That’s the beauty of love, in my opinion, it’s not to keep someone in a static state, but to watch someone evolve.

 

4. What I’ve learned from losing: Don’t try to get sympathy from your enemies

In a hockey game or after a heated argument, you won’t get sympathy from those that beat you. One time I was fighting with my cousin, I pretended to be dead for a few minutes, yes I’m admitting it now, I pretended. No sympathy for my faux injury. In hockey and in life, you have to honor the game you are playing. If your opponent beats you in hockey, they should celebrate knowing that they had to work hard for that win. It wasn’t easy for them, they worked really hard to beat you… but they did beat you. If someone gets a promotion at work over you, honor that. They played the game better. You need to up it in order to survive. Let’s not try to get sympathy from people who have succeeded, but rather let that feeling of loss fuel you, so next time, you will win.

 

5. What I’ve learned as an only child: Make your own entertainment

I’ve read great book’s, I’ve watched amazing movies, and I’ve listened to moving music, but nothing passes the time like those moments where I’m able to create my own entertainment. I grew up an only child in a family with one television, so often I had to make my own entertainment. It was the most valuable thing that I can learn for myself. I can honestly say that I am rarely bored. I am exhausted, sure. I am ready to move on to another project, sure, but I am never bored. Being able to entertain yourself is simply being aware of what makes you laugh and what motivates you. Once you’ve had that figured out, it’s like having a best friend with you wherever you go… someone who fully understands you. You can look at someone crossing the street and crack a joke to yourself in your head and chuckle… nobody has to know that you just made a rude joke in your brain. Make your own entertainment is all about being comfortable with yourself and trusting that your imagination is as good as any filmmaker, author or musician.

 

6. What I’ve learned as a beer league hockey goal: be early

As a goalie, I make an effort to be early. It’s one thing my team won’t have to worry about if I’m already there getting dressed. It makes everyone feel better if you are early. I know how important it is to be early because there have been countless times where I am late. Being late isn’t only stressful for me, but it’s stressful for my whole team. They have to start readjusting their plans and chaos ensues. I personally hate being late… even fashionably late. So often I show up to a party early only to circle around the block a few times or wait in the car. But that beats being late where you are all frantic or apologetic to the person waiting. Be early. Take a moment to get ready. It’s so much better than the alternative.

 

7. What I’ve learned from doing stand up comedy: Enjoy the spotlight

There is no greater honour than having peoples attention. People’s attention is the gold of the future. Whenever I have someones or a groups attention I need to do at least one of three things: inspire, educate or entertain. Sounds hefty, but that’s the responsibility of having the spotlight. When I was doing standup comedy, I relished being on stage. Waiting for 3 hours at a bar during a Monday night open mic was worth it if I got that 5 minutes of stage time. Now with social media, we have to fight for attention ever more. If you are called upon to be on stage or make a speech, enjoy it, it is something so many people are fighting for.

 

8. What I’ve learned while having odd jobs: Make one friend everywhere you go.

I’m lucky, every job or school I’ve had, I was able to make a lifelong friend. Film School, Starbucks, the Olympics, etc., I was able to find a friend within that community, activity or experience. It made life so much better… and if you are lucky… or if they are lucky, they will join you in the next phase of your life. Be loyal. Stand behind that friend. Work, school, sports those little things don’t matter in the long run. What matters is how loyal you are to someone. Don’t backstab someone and have trust they won’t do the same. These experiences won’t last forever, but the legacy you leave be will. So if you make one loyal friend everywhere you go, you will always have a fond memory of that place or experience.

 

9. What I’ve learned when auditioning: Don’t apologize

I used to be an actor, I still am, but I used to as well. A little lesson I picked up as an actor — don’t know if it’s proven or not — is that during an audition, if you apologize, you admit that you’ve made a mistake, and the result is that you won’t get the part. As Canadians, we feel we need to apologize. We don’t have to. We did nothing wrong. Saying the wrong line in an audition is not grounds to apologize. Instead of saying sorry, roll with it or start again. Don’t immediately admit fault. Nobody got hurt. I know that apologizing is “polite” but not saying sorry doesn’t make you “rude.” Some of the best things in the world come from mistakes and sometimes we don’t realize it at first. Instead of saying sorry, say thank you. Thank you for letting me try something different.

 

10. What I’ve learned while working 7 days a week: nobody cares how hard you work

Deep down, I always knew that nobody cared how hard I worked. This year I discovered it the most, after working 63 hour weeks. Nobody cares. Nobody will congratulate you. Nobody will celebrate it. They’ll even make you feel like you are harming yourself. If you are working, you need to do it for yourself. I have become more comfortable with how I choose to spend my time, and most often I feel like working, except, I don’t really think of it as “working.” Writing this description right now may seem like work, and in a way it is, but I’m choosing to do this on my lunch break instead of hanging out in the kitchen, chatting with my co-workers. Does anyone care that I’m spending my free time writing this description? No! Nobody! Not even you who are reading this right now. There is no reason to care. What’s important is the results. I get to decide how hard I press down on the pedal and when I want to let up. These are all my own choices, so why should anyone else care?

 

11. How I’ve learned to be more open-minded: Sample everything

This is the lesson I’m perhaps the most passionate about and want to encourage the most. Sample everything. The more things you try, the more open-minded you are and the more interesting you become. Listen to different music, read different books, try different food. I’m not a master at anything, but I’ve tried a lot. And I feel I’m far more interesting than any specialist. It’s so easy to get set in our ways and develop confirmation bias — hanging out with people that do what you like and agree with all your preferences and don’t do and dislike the same. These people are not helping you grow and they are certainly not out to challenge you. I will. Sample 10 different things this week. Try a new restaurant, listen to a new album, or play a new sport. Out of the 10, what did you like and dislike? For what you dislike, explain why you dislike it. Do this regularly and you open your mind.

 

12. How I’ve learned to find opportunities: Fill up your plate

Fill up your plate, means always having something productive to do. Your schedule is always full and you are feeding yourself and allowing yourself to grow. After graduating from high school or college, it’s natural to sit back and wait for Hollywood to call. Except it won’t. Nobody is going to call. Saying yes to opportunities is so important. However, these opportunities might not be your dream jobs. They may be stepping stones or projects that are adjacent to the ones you want to pursue. Regardless of what you want to end up having on your plate, it was going out and looking for the opportunity that made the difference. Yes, I want to have a steak on my plate, but first I got to eat some vegetables. I got a salary job because I said yes. But I had to go to college first, I had to hustle as a freelancer for a few years first, and I had to put myself out there and get what I can get. I had to fill my plate.

 

13. What I’ve learned when changing career paths: Everything comes around

When I look back on the first 25 years of my life, I see a quitter. I see someone who had all these aspirations, went out an got an education, and then when the going got tough, gave up. Then when I take off my negative lens and actually see it from an objective point of view, I realized that I’m still doing all the things I thought I gave up on. One of my major life pivots was when I decided to quit pursuing filmmaking. But I haven’t. I’m a content marketer now and turns out marketing requires filmmaking skills. Huh… everything comes around. You don’t know what skill will come in handy. You don’t know when good relationships can spawn into big opportunities. You don’t know when a charitable act will return the favor. Life is full of mysteries, but life is also cyclical. It’s a beautiful thing when it happens and most certainly it will happen to you.

 

14. What I’ve learned about self-care: Not every day needs to be productive

I used to beat up on myself for having days where I don’t create something… I would fall into a slight depression where I feel useless and become unmotivated. I would end up getting frustrated and take my frustration out on the people around me as if to say, “why did you allow me to be so lazy!” I still go through these little dips in my day-to-day life, but I always remember this lesson: Not every day needs to be productive. My wife, Sharon said this to me once, and it was the most liberating thing anyone has ever said to me because if she said otherwise, I would always feel bad. She could have crippled me at that moment, but instead, she calmed me and assured me that one day spent in leisure would not mean that I can’t be successful. In fact, leisure is the result of my successes. Because I have worked so hard, I am allowed rest days. I take advantage of these days when I can and cherish them because I know, there will be other days that will be absolute grinds.

 

15. What I’ve learned as a professional writer: Don’t be precious

As a professional writer, you cannot be precious with your work. When you hand a project whether it is a blog post or a whole book, you are going to receive feedback. A few words can be changed or a whole section of your book can be completely removed, and you won’t be able to do anything about it. Don’t be precious with your work means detaching your personal self from the project. It doesn’t mean not caring about the finished product, but rather understand that what you made might not be as great as you think it is. As an artist or a craftsperson, you are going to encounter feedback and criticism. You are going to face unrealistic deadlines and have unclear directions. You cannot be a perfectionist. To do and finish is to learn. I take this lesson with me whenever I create anything. It’s freeing when you are not precious. It’s freeing to know that I’ll get to do more work soon. I wrote so many short stories, made so many videos, and done so many things… most of them not successful, but I finished and I learned something. You can do it as well, but only if you lose your ego.

 

16. What I’ve learned while working at a restaurant: No surprises

No surprises is a lesson about communication and being a good teammate. I remember one time when I was dishwashing for a restaurant in Stanley Park, I decided not to show up one day. I was “not feeling well” and I figured it is best that I stayed home. When I showed up for work the next day, I was called out for it. They told me that if I didn’t want to or couldn’t show up for work, that is fine, but next time just let us know. it’s cool. No surprises. I realized that it’s not a big deal if I couldn’t make it, but I shouldn’t leave people in the lurch. Someone wants my job, but if you leave it to last minute then nobody can help. Life is better for everyone else when there are no surprises.

 

17. What I’ve learned while working in the film industry: Find your ladder to climb

After film school, I sent my resume out to as many production companies as I could. I ended up getting a gig as a location PA. The call time for the production was at 7pm, that meant it’ll be a 10 hour+ shoot through a rainy night. The location was in a big park around a lake and my primary job was to stand guard at the edge of the park and make sure that nobody wanders into the shooting location in the middle of the night. Not dressed for it, standing in the rain, I realized that I never want to do this again, let alone pursue it. I wanted to be a filmmaker, but this was not the ladder I was going to climb. I love doing a lot of stuff, but the key is to find things I hate. I never want to stand in the rain during production again. I hated that. I knew I didn’t want to work as a PA ever again. I had to choose another path. Now I can remember I hate that and do something else. There are many paths to get to your destination, just like how there are many ways to get to the number 10. 2×5, 1×10, 3+7, etc. That’s a little math metaphor for all you math junkies out there. There are many ways to get to a destination and you shouldn’t simply limit yourself. Take the road less travelled and find your ladder to climb.

 

18. What I’ve learned while traveling: get lost

I live a pretty normal life. I have a set routine that I follow pretty much every day. Wake up, walk the dog, go to work, come home, eat dinner, chill with the wife, sleep, and repeat. It’s important for me to break from that routine once in a while. Or as I like to call it getting lost. For me, the opposite of routine is creativity. Getting lost allow me to feel creative. And there is one method that I can always use to ensure I accomplish that: Travel. The whole point of travelling for me is to get lost. We get so used to our daily routines. We need to get lost in order to find ourselves and grow. Nothing takes us out of our routine like living in another city, hearing another language, and waking up in a different bed. I don’t always love travelling, just like how I don’t always like exercising, but like working out, it is a healthy thing that I need to do regularly.

 

19. How I learned to lead: be an instigator

Be an instigator means having the courage to take the lead. This doesn’t necessary mean being the leader, but it’s about being ready to go first. When you think of something you want to do — do it, even if nobody else is following. I learned this lesson over the course of my life, mostly from waiting for other people to invite me or to plan an event. Waiting is fine, but only if I know there is progress. If I’m instigating, something is happening. I’ve started some fights and I’ve started the planning of a few awesome camping trips. It’s so important to have the courage to start things, preferably good things, at least something you believe will be good. But it takes time to build up that confidence that you can cause change. So instigate something. Start something. Don’t wait for others to go first. Say “Good morning first” or smile at a stranger first. Whatever it is, go first.

 

20. What I’ve learned while directing a high school play: work with limitations

In 11th grade, I had a once in a lifetime opportunity to direct a full-length high school play. The kind of play where the whole school can be involved and people will actually pay to attend and watch. This was a lot of responsibility to give to a 16-year-old, but I relished in it. However, it was during this experience that I learned that collaborative art is all about compromises. You are working with limitations such as the pool of actors you can cast, the budget you have to get props and set dec, and the marketing capabilities to attract a crowd. Directing a school play taught me a lot about limitations. Your imagination is running wild, but all you get is the black box theatre and your peers. This is only a bad thing if you allow it to be. You can embrace the limitations and allow it to spark your creativity.

 

21. How I learned to follow through with plans: Go at it alone

Go at it alone means appreciating the pleasure of alone time and not allow other people to a) make you feel bad for spending time with yourself and b) hijacking your plans. So often in my life, I feel a spontaneous impulse to do something whether it’s to go out for dinner or watch a movie or go travelling. When I used to invite people to attend these events with me, there would be a lengthy back and forth of us trying to find a time that works for each other. My plan ended up not being my plan anymore. I end up needing to wait for someone else’s schedule to free up before I can do something I want. I don’t do that anymore. Sure, I still invite people, but if they can’t do it, too bad. They don’t get to reschedule your plan. I’m happy to go at it alone — in fact, it’s often more enjoyable. I learned to highly value alone time.

 

22. How I’ve learned to stay focused: Play your own game

Play your own game is my way of saying stay focused on your own goal. It’s so easy in life to get caught up chasing someone else’s pursuits. When playing hockey at 8 rinks you can hear the team on the other rinks celebrating. You’ll look over and be like, oh man, that’s great, I wish I was winning. But then, you have to focus on your own game. You need to play your own game. Nobody else’s. It doesn’t matter who is winning or losing elsewhere. They are playing another game. Other’s successes don’t mean your failure. This is a fact of hockey and a fact of life. In this social media infested world, it’s easy to be influenced by other people. But what other people are doing doesn’t affect you. What other people think or say doesn’t affect you. You have to play your own game and concentrate on reaching your goal because other people are doing the same. Ask yourself, are you playing your own game or are you playing someone else’s?

 

23. How I learned to be grateful: Look up and look down

Look up and look down means finding the balance between gratitude and persistence. I often bury my head in my work, trying to find progress and create more. I stress myself out and beat myself up to do more and feel accomplished. I rarely do, because once I reach a new level, I’m already thinking about the next. When I’m looking up towards the next stage, I have to remind myself to look down and see how far I have come, see how far I have climbed. I have come a long way. What once seems so hard and unachievable has now become my routine. I must remember that. The best way for me to remind myself is to speak with someone from high school or college. It reminds me that there are people who are aspiring to be in my position. Which is both flattering and gratifying. It makes me appreciate what I have. This is something that needs to happen daily: look up and look down.

 

24. What I’ve learned from disobeying my parents: Be defiant

Be defiant. If something goes against your DNA or your philosophy, you need to be defiant and resist it. My parents wanted me to be a lawyer or a doctor. Classic. They wanted me to play pianos. They set the trap for me to be the son they imagined. I made myself my own person. I chose my own path. The person I am today is with my choice, I can never be resentful to my parents. They let me choose. Being defiant is all about knowing what you want to be. It’s about being defiant and decisive. You cannot have one without the other. If you don’t have a direction for yourself, other people will create them for you. People will be happy to create plans for you because they have no stake in it… it’s not their lives, they don’t have to work for it, it won’t make them any happier or sadder, but it will affect you. It’s so important that you take control of your own life.

 

25. How I learned to learn: Don’t be taught, do!

I love learning, but I hate being taught. I’ve been to school. I’ve sat in classes. But I can’t be taught. I have to learn. It has to be my decision to learn. I have sat in class with the teacher talking about stuff. I need to actually do something to learn. I can be coached. But I can’t be taught. When I was young, my mother wanted me to play piano, we went to every class on my Saturdays and it was torturous. I never did learn how to play piano, because I never had any interest in it. You cannot be taught, you must practice and do. Teachers can only inspire you to improve, but you need to do. If there is something you want to learn, start by doing. The first part of any activity, task, skill, etc. can be attempted by yourself. There are enough sources out in the world for you to start doing. Read a book, watch a video, and get the supplies to start — you can do it. Don’t wait for a teacher to arrive. A mentor will show up when you are ready.

 

26. What I’ve learned from being single and unemployed: you cannot force it

You cannot force it. You cannot force people to like you, to hire you, to date you, to sleep with you, to be your friend — you cannot force people to do anything. I remember being in a relationship once and we had an argument, so she turned off the phone. I kept calling and calling. The phone was off the whole time. Don’t force it. I remember once, someone asked me if I wanted to write for their blog. Loose prospects like this is quite common. Few of them materialize. I thought I was being persistent. I emailed them over and over again saying yes. I called them a few times as well to only get the answering machine. They never responded. You can’t force it, you simply need to keep doing you and put yourself out there. When people want you, it’s seamless. The force is not with you.

 

27. How I learned to avoid being pretentious: enjoy what’s popular

Enjoy what’s popular. It’s easy to be a hipster and hate things that are trendy. But it’s so much easier to like things that are popular. Pop music. listen to it. there is an art to it. Major sports leagues, watch it enjoy it. The Kardashians. Enjoy them for who they are. Your life will improve so much in this society if you just give in and learn to appreciate the things they everyone else likes. Not telling you to be a mindless sheep, but to be open minded. You can still like what you like which might be the most obscure shit. I love obscure stuff, like the band Sunset Rubdown,

but I don’t cringe when I listen to the top 40. I appreciate how hard it is to get to the level where you can have a massive audience. It’s not easy to be riding the highest wave. It takes a lot of work to get there and I respect that.

 

28. How I learned to not be materialistic: borrow equals give

Borrow equals give is a combination lesson about lowering your expectation, being generous, releasing the grip of materialistic goods and banishing any feelings of resentment for the people you have helped. Have you ever felt a slight tension when you lend an item, like a book or a piece of clothing to someone? This tension tugs at you and you want your belongings back. You feel antsy. But if you think of everything you lend as a gift, you can be freed from this terrible sensation. Expect that anything you let people borrow will never return to you. If you cannot deal with that, don’t lend it. It is that simple. I never hold a grudge on someone who has lost something I let them borrow. I’m not a library. I don’t have to lend it out. It is mine. Now it’s yours, it’s a gift and you chose to lose it. But I’m above that…

 

29. How I learned to handle stress: pressure is a privilege

Pressure is a privilege is a title to a song by the musical artist JJ. It’s also a quote from a tennis player, Billie Jean King. For me, it’s such a fantastic philosophy. It moves the needle from stress to grateful whenever a situation arises where I feel pressure to perform. At any moment you feel anxious, nervous that you are going to let someone down, remember that that is the greatest honor. To have the weight of the world on your shoulder, means you are strong enough to carry it. I love it. I know I’m out of my comfort zone and doing something that someone cares about when I feel that pressure. This is common when writing for a publication or at work or playing in a playoff game. I’m representing not only me but my friends, my family, my team. When I feel the most pressure, that’s when I know I’m doing something that matters.

 

30. What I’ve learned from acting school: nobody is a nobody

Nobody is a nobody is a fairly simple lesson, but it’s probably the one I fail to practice most often. An impactful moment for me in acting school was when another classmate and I were looking at headshot photos that were hung in the lobby of the school. My classmate pointed at one and said, “Who is that?” I didn’t recognize the person, so I naively said, that’s nobody. My instructor came up behind us and, in a stern voice, said, “Nobody is a nobody.” I felt so small after that. I realize what she meant now. We are all working so hard, we are all pursuing our passion, we are all giving ourselves a chance when we take a headshot and say we want to be an actor or whatever. We are all someone trying to make waves a vast ocean. We are all somebody. I love this lesson because if we start treating people like somebody, we become somebody ourselves.

 

Thank you so much for reading. I hope these lessons have helped you. It was nice for me to get them down. Maybe in 30 years, I’ll look back, read them, and shake my head — but today, it’s been a good reflective exercise.

Buy me a beer, it helps to keep me inspired. 

 

 

No More Technology: What Can Bring Us Back to the Stone Ages? | World Building Questions

No more technology — and when I say technology, I’m referring specifically to electronics.

What can bring us back to the stone ages or a time before computers and smartphones?

In this episode of The Other Epic Story Vlog, I discuss a key factor that drives my story, which is set in a tech-free future, a time when people lived confined to their local communities and is limited by the resources and information they have.

While I discussed the consequence in the story, I don’t ever address the cause, and as a writer and world builder, I myself — at a minimum — must understand it. So what can cause the world to black out and loses hold on the riches that is modern technology?

I jot down three possible causes:

1) Solar flares: Known as coronal mass ejections, plasma and magnetic fields caused by the disruption of the sun can fry all of Earth’s power grids.

2) Limited resources: Many of the elements used to develop electronics are in limited supply, such as ruthenium (used for hard drives) and hafnium (used for processors).

3) Human error: As we start to automate more and more of our process, human error can cause a chain reaction, where unanticipated issues to override fail-safes.

… and a bonus factor… oooohhhh….

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Can a Society Exist Without Crime?

It’s pretty wonderful to think of a place without crime, but is such a concept possible?

Hypothetically, yes and no… See, crime is a social construct. What is deemed illegal in one society can be perfectly normal in another. Take legalization of cannabis, for example, one day it was illegal to smoke weed, the next day, it’s perfectly fine.

When I was building my fictional world, a fictional city to be exact, I wrote that that city had no crime. I now know that simply stating that is lazy writing. What do I mean by there having no crime? Is nothing illegal? Is everybody so enlightened that they don’t participate in any criminal activity?

Lazy writing isn’t a crime, but in this episode, I dig into that topic and unpack what I really meant when I wrote that my city had no crime.

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