Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Responding Rather Than Reacting To Powerful People’s Priorities

It happens all the time: You struggle to have a piece of work ready in time for a meeting, only to be told a day beforehand that someone with more clout than you has moved the meeting up a week.

My initial reaction is usually anger.

It’s partly ego. I don’t want to be told there are more pressing matters than my script. It’s partly annoyance. The nuisance of having to change my schedule. It’s partly fear. It’s unsettling to be reminded I’m lower down the food chain that someone else.

But here’s the thing: It’s better to respond than to react. This is a distinction that’s common among educators, anger management trainers, spiritual teachers and many other disciplines.

A response is an intentional rather than an impulsive action, informed by perspective. You take a step back and see the situation for what it really is. In the case of a script meeting being put off: It’s a change forced on you by powers beyond your control. Or, if you like, it’s life. Like I said, it happens all the time.

What’s the remedy for screenwriters?

Here’s one I like: Make sure you have more than one pot on the boil. Don’t limit yourself to working on one story/script/idea at a time. So if a meeting suddenly falls through, it’s no longer a problem, it’s an opportunity. To get on with another project that had to wait because of the meeting. Turn the situation on its head and you end up feeling grateful the meeting was cancelled, because now you can get your head back into something that’s a lot more fun.

Anyway, I’ll give you three guesses what happened to me this morning …

Yep. So now I’m off to have some fun with the script I said I’d finish before December 1.

P.S. I’ve added a link to my Twitter presence (see sidebar). Feel free to check it out and follow me!

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