What Writing a Screenplay Taught Me

creative doing Feb 03, 2019

A couple years ago I wrote a screenplay. I’ve always been a film buff, but I’ve never had ambitions in The Cinema. So I was as surprised as anyone to find myself developing a pilot for a TV series. It all came about unpredictably, too.

I was talking with a friend who knows my life pretty well. She made a broad comment that my life story seemed to represent much more than an individual life, and deserved to be shared. In that statement, she planted a seed.

I found myself returning to her comment in the days that followed. In doing so, I think I was helping the seed grow. Different ideas came to mind: a short story or essay? Pictures? What was the right medium and method? I’d written some essays before and tried a short story once (a complete dud). Somehow, a screenplay seemed like just the right response. Moving pictures. Narrated images.

It was easy to dive in because the seed was germinating. Quickly. I started reading books on screenwriting. I started blocking...

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Just Give Them What They Want...?

If you’re developing an online product or service, inevitably you’ll enter the world of social media marketing. That’s the world I found myself entering when I decided to create an online course and coaching program on creativity for therapists. If you’re thinking of creating and delivering something online, you’ll hear some pretty insistent directives “if you want to succeed.”

First and foremost, you’re told you have to deliver “what they want.” You’re told to identify an “ideal customer avatar,” speak to their “pain points,” and offer a solution, a desired result. You’re assured that this is the way (the only way, according to many experts) to build a successful business. No doubt those advocates have realized their own successes through these methods, tried and true (for them), but I like to think it’s only one way of going about things.

I used to be a professor, and my...

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Liftoff

Yesterday I launched the beta version of my signature program. It’s been a long time in the making, and it was a major milestone. The word “launch” comes up a lot in the realm of online business, and I’ve come to appreciate all it implies. It usually refers to the release of a product to an audience. And the world of social media marketing is full of tales of angst and woe about launch fears and failures.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in building my online business to date, it’s that you’re always launching. In the world of online business and social media marketing, you’re always releasing something new, even if it’s as simple as a Facebook or blog post.

When I hear the word “launch” I envision a rocket shot into outer space. A small vehicle hurtling through the darkness into the starry heavens toward places unknown. I feel kind of like that whenever I launch something into the internet. Whether...

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Another Year, Another Gift

creative doing Dec 30, 2018

I love this time, as one year comes to a close and another begins. It’s a time when I sit quietly and reflect on all that’s passed, and on what might come. For me, it’s a mix of silent contemplation and harried planning. Let’s hope they balance each other out!

The silence provides a space for something new to appear. On its own. Without my insistence. The silence is slow, gentle, accommodating, and roomy. In its spaciousness, a sight, sound, or memory appears, catching up with me somehow. I’m often caught by surprise. And sometimes the surprise is welcome, sometimes not.

The planning is something else altogether. Filled with structure and timelines and goals. I’m amused by the current popularity of paper planners, and I’m trying out a new one myself in 2019 (the Daily Greatness business planner). I love the look and feel of it, but honestly, it scares me a little. All those prompts and directive layouts feel bossy sometimes. I’ve been...

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A More Creative Self

creative practice Dec 16, 2018

I’ve written before about how intriguing I find the concept “use of self.” I first heard of it when I was getting my master’s in social work. I find it helpful because it reminds me that we serve as tools, resources for our clients - we use ourselves in their service. As helping professionals, we make ourselves available to our clients in how we act (and interact), and in what we disclose. We're instrumental. We bring our entire being to the work, whether we intend to or not. And that includes everything:  our beliefs, our experiences, the paradigms we use to organize our worlds (and the client's).

I think creativity has a place in all that.

As I’ve worked to create my forthcoming program on creativity for therapists, counselors, and coaches, I’ve had to grapple with what it means to be “more creative.” That’s entailed an inventory of my own creative experiences, observation of the creative accomplishments of others, and a...

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What's Your Gift?

creative doing obstacles Dec 09, 2018

I think everyone has a special gift, something that is theirs and theirs alone to realize, and to give. And yet, not everyone realizes their gift. What about you?

If you check in with yourself right now - the life you're living; the career you’re pursuing; your relationships; your hopes, dreams, and fears - what do you see? Are you realizing and giving your unique gift to the world?

If I’m honest with you (and I hesitate saying this, because it sure sounds immodest), I think my special gift is the ability to see the gifts of others! I think it led me to become a therapist, and it’s what I hope to offer you in my new online course and coaching program, “The More Creative Therapist” (beta launching in January).

Through my program, I hope to help you realize your special gift, using creativity as a vehicle for doing so.

During sessions as a therapist, I often find myself holding possibility for my clients. As therapists, we often use that word,...

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A Brief Respite

obstacles Dec 02, 2018

I’ve been laying low for the past few months, and if you haven’t noticed, maybe it’s a mistake to point it out. But I thought I’d confess: I’m burned out.

It’s embarrassing for me to admit, because I pride myself on not getting burned out! For the most part, I’ve considered this my special gift as a therapist: that I don’t tend to experience the burnout I hear about from most of my peers. And it’s all the more embarrassing because burnout is one of the problem areas I hope to address in the course and program I’m developing on creativity for therapists.

So I write this sheepishly. What went wrong?

Since burnout comes in so many forms, I find it helpful now as I write and reflect, to ask myself how I know I’m burned out. Because it’s something I don’t identify with, some closer examination is called for.

I realize I’m burned out because I’ve had a nagging “cold” (upper respiratory...

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Artificial Urgency

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed. My task list is full, there aren’t enough hours in the day, and my responsibilities loom large. It leads predictably to stress and exhaustion. Given the work we do, it’s no surprise that burnout and self-care are mainstays in discussions (online and off-) about the work of helping professionals.

At times it feels insurmountable.

But at other times, if I allow myself, I can see my contribution to the wear and tear. I contribute by insisting on an urgency that really isn’t there. Not really. I’ve just convinced myself that it’s so. I think we often do, out of habit, out of self-importance, out of a sense of crisis that just might be more in our heads than anything.

I recently posted this in an online discussion group: Sometimes I need to remind myself that I don't really HAVE TO do anything. That's self-care too. I was surprised by how many “likes” the post generated. I was glad the message resonated.

It’s...

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Solution Focused

creative doing Aug 05, 2018

I was a designer before I became a psychotherapist, fields that are very different in some ways, similar in others. Design is all about solutions, and so is therapy. Both begin by identifying a problem that needs to be solved. And that’s where the challenges and opportunities begin.

Therapy uses diagnostic tools (symptom identification and classification) to define a client’s concerns according to a system, the DSM-5, published by the American Psychiatric Association. Whatever the DSM-5 defines is the problem: depression, anxiety, psychosis. The therapist works collaboratively with the client to explore underlying causes, monitor symptoms, and work toward decreased distress.

Design explores problems too, but in a more open-ended way. In the absence of a single, encyclopedic classification system, designers are free to consider problems creatively. The designer works with the client to explore the identification of the problem as a problem in the first...

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Envisioning Your Private Practice

Going into private practice is a dream for many helping professionals, even while in graduate school. It certainly was for me. So even as I accrued my requirements for licensure, even as I studied for my credentialing exam, I dreamed of private practice. It was a dream I actively nurtured by “starting” the practice well before it became a reality.

How did I start? By looking at available office spaces online and by envisioning myself in those spaces. By preparing my intake paperwork packet. By designing my business card and website, going through many, many versions until things felt just right. By thinking of who I wanted to serve and how. By drafting my Psychology Today listing.

In short:  I started by using my imagination.

I took the initiative to actively visualize the look and feel of my practice, my clients, and the kind of day I wanted to experience. I imagined what my office would look like, where it would be located, and the tone it would convey. I worked...

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