appy holidays, and welcome to the very first newsletter of paulguyot.net
This being a premise newsletter, I will... what? Oh, that's a riff on a term from television. A "Premise Pilot" is a pilot that sets up a series. It introduces all the characters and situations, etc., as opposed to starting in medias res
and letting the audience catch up as they go. May I continue now? Thanks.
This being a premise newsletter, I'll explain how things are going to work around here. I'm writing from my desk at Domestique, Inc. That's my company. When I'm unemployed it's simply me being incorporated for tax purposes. When I'm employed, Domestique is my production company, and we produce everything from short stories to novels to motion pictures and television series. Our offices are located just outside St. Louis, Missouri with a satellite unit in Southern California.
Each newsletter will include an update on what's happening in my career, as well as a brief essay on the craft of writing. I love my job, and love to teach. I've taught screenwriting at the university level, spoken all over the country on writing, and have always been amazed and saddened by the massive amount of misinformation that goes out to new, young, and/or aspiring writers. I'll do my best to correct some of that.
You can subscribe to my newsletter via paulguyot.net
, and if you do, your subscription automatically enters you into a drawing every month for fabulous prizes! Okay, some months may be more fabulous than others. It'll all depend on what I can dig out of the Domestique storage closet. Prizes may range from autographed Hollywood SWAG, to various writing accessories, to outright ridiculous stuff.
Okay, now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's get to the first newsletter. Oh, wait, I forgot something. There's a contest this month! Yes, see, every once in a while, I'll run contests in addition to the monthly drawing for fabulous (or innocuous) prizes. And this month's contest is...
Name Paul Guyot's newsletter!
Yes, I need a name for the newsletter, and right now there's simply not enough brainpower inside the Domestique offices to come up with a good name. So go to the Contact page
, put newsletter name
in the subject line and give us your best, most creative ideas. The winner will be announced in next month's newsletter—which will also bear the new name.
Disclaimer: Domestique reserves the right to name the thing if all your ideas suck.
As 2014 comes to an end, we look back on a year that had many more ups than downs. I was the Co-Executive Producer for THE LIBRARIANS on TNT, starring Rebecca Romijn, Noah Wyle, John Larroquette, John Kim, Christian Kane and Lindy Booth.
The show was created and executive-produced by John Rogers. John is a friend and mentor, and quite simply one of the finest writers I have ever met. He's also one of the very best people I've ever met. Working with John on the show was great fun. Hopefully, we'll do it again soon. The series premiered on December 7th on TNT. Tune in every Sunday night!
After THE LIBRARIANS, I traveled down to New Orleans for the shooting of GEOSTORM—the giant disaster epic that Dean Devlin and I wrote together. The movie stars Gerard Butler, Andy Garcia, Ed Harris, and Abbie Cornish. Dean and I sold the script to Skydance (MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, STAR TREK, TRUE GRIT) for a record-setting sum
, and we were off and running. Look for GEOSTORM to hit theaters in the fall of 2016. Despite the fact that giant disaster epics are far outside my wheelhouse, I am proud of this screenplay because Dean and I did something I haven't seen much in the giant disaster epic genre—we managed to include a taut political thriller inside all the explosions and catastrophes and space walks. Oh, did I mention there are space walks?
Next up is... who knows? I've got three pilot projects I'm working on, and will let you know about them as soon as the lawyers say it's cool to do so. THE LIBRARIANS is doing well on TNT, so there may be a season two of that for me. But for now, I am deep into finishing the novel—my plan is to release it in March of 2015—as well as working on another feature screenplay.
Come on back next month for more updates. Hopefully, this newsletter will improve as we gain more experience with it. And now, check out some thoughts I have on goal setting as it relates to writing...
A GOAL IS NOT A PLAN
Open any How-To book on writing, check out any web site offering writing tips, look at the Twitter feed or Facebook page of any writing gurus and you will inevitably find something about how setting goals is vital to success as a writer.
Goal setting has long been part of motivational seminars, and self-help programs. They claim goal-setting gives your life direction and promotes self-confidence. They have fancy acronyms like SMART (Specific Measurable Assignable Realistic Time-sensitive) and so on. But while it sounds awesome and exciting, and gets your enthusiasm all wound-up like a 4-year old on gummy worms, the reality is goal setting does ZERO for anyone.
It is only the achievement of the goal
that gives someone self-confidence and a feeling of success and validation. What happens when you don't achieve the goal? What happens when you fall short? When life throws you a nasty slider? Fail to achieve a few goals here and there, and suddenly you're dispirited and discouraged, and sitting in a coffee house talking to other goal-failing folks about how if it weren't for everything and everyone being against you, you'd have the career of Brian Helgeland.
I don't set goals. I make plans. I don't tell myself "My goal today is to write 1000 words," or "My goal this week is to finish Act Two." The reason is that you are giving yourself an out right off the top. It's a goal. Something you're wishing for. Hoping for. If you don't make it, no worries. No consequences.
How long would I remain employed as a television writer if whenever I was assigned an episode or pilot to write I said, "Okay, my goal is to finish it by the time they need it." Uh, not long. When you are being paid to do a job, you MUST do the job. You don't have the luxury of simply hoping to do the job. And whether you're being paid to write, or working at a convenience store, or selling shirts at Macy's, you must do your job. You don't go into work each day and set a goal of doing your job.
Writing is a job. If you want people to buy your books, or a publisher to pay you for your words, or a studio to buy your screenplay, you have to come at the process for what it is—a job. No writer has ever succeeded with the mindset of "I'll play around with this writing thing until someone pays me for it, and THEN I'll take it seriously."
Don't set a goal. Make a plan. When I sit down at my keyboard every day, I have a plan. I plan to write x-number of words on whatever the current prose project is. Or I make a plan to get through the next x-number of scenes in whatever screenplay I'm working on. Or I plan to finish the outline, or complete my research on whatever subject I'm currently learning about. Whatever aspect of my job it is, I make a plan and then execute that plan.
Now, some of you may be screaming "Semantics!" at this point. But the goal vs. plan difference is much more than a choice of language. There is a proven psychological difference and it's significant. But it's in the mindset. You simply cannot just use the word "plan" instead of goal. You must create a plan, just as you would at work, or going on vacation, or getting your kids to school. When you plan to do something, there is a vastly higher success rate than if you set a goal of doing something. And again, I go back to the job thing for this. You must treat writing as your job even if you are not being paid to do it. Even if you earn your living doing something else, you must make writing your job. Be it part-time or a second job, or whatever, you have to make it your job, then go to work each day with a plan.
If I plan to do XYZ on a workday, my work does not end until I have completed that plan. Sometimes I get lucky and my plan is complete by noon. Then I get the rest of the day off if I choose. Other times it's a struggle, and I'm still at work late at night, missing my favorite TV shows or sporting events. But that's why DVR's were invented. That's another difference in the goal v plan scenario—you don't quit until you've completed your plan. I'm not saying it's easy, but I am saying it is effective.
Obviously, sometimes plans don't go accordingly. That creepy Jack-in-the-box called Life often pops up right in front of you, scaring the crap out of you, and causing all your plans to go awry. So be it. It happens to everyone. Don't whine. Don't say "This plan thing didn't work, Guyot!" Pick yourself up, wash the dirt off your face, and make a new plan. Just make sure that it's truly Life getting in the way, and not you sabotaging yourself in order to avoid completing your plan. I've been guilty of that numerous times early in my career.
If you truly respect yourself and are dedicated to achieving success and becoming a better writer, make a plan. Then do not let anything get in the way of executing that plan.