2015 was a crazy year for me, both personally and professionally. Although I am a few weeks late, I thought I would take some time to write up a list of resolutions for 2016. Cliché? Maybe. Ridiculous? Probably. But hey, it’s worth a shot—even if I only accomplish one or two of them.
- Learn to let go.
A lot of people think that when you sell a script, or join a project, that means that it’s guaranteed to hit the theatres. So many times my family will ask “When is it coming out?!” after hearing about a sale or OWA (Open Writing Assignment), and I have to tell them “I don’t know. Maybe soon. Maybe never.” Explaining the realities of the industry can be quite painful, since there are so many moving pieces—and many of them have nothing to do with the script.
Truth is, people work in this town for years without seeing their work realized on screen. And each time a project ends for me, yes, it is a bummer. Wiping the project off my dry erase board hurts every time, but I have to take it in stride. 2015 even saw me leave a project I loved dearly, and walking away felt like I had broken up with a long-time girlfriend. It stung like hell, but it was the right call for me. So in 2016, I’m going to try to do a better job of letting it roll off my back. After all, there is more to be thankful for than regretful for. In 2015 I got to write about CIA spies, art thieves, robots in disguise, microscopic warriors from another planet, and unstable cops in South Florida. All in all it’s been a pretty damn good year, so it’s better to focus on what I got to do rather than what I had to let go.
- Get that “work/life balance” thing down – finally.
This is a tough one, and it’s probably been a resolution the last five years. I’m absolutely terrible at maintaining a healthy work/life balance. I spend too much time indoors. I prioritize work over everything, and though there is a very good (if not understandable) reason for this, that’s one thing I think I’ll keep to myself for now. But while this quirk has been great for me professionally, I can’t help but feel like I’m missing out on… well, everything else.
I don’t think I’ll ever lean off the gas at work—people depend on me to submit my pages on time, and I intend to do that. But I also want to make sure I enjoy some fresh air. Maybe pick up a hobby. This is trickier than it sounds, since writing used to be my hobby. But heck, I’ll find something. The harmonica, maybe?
- Write something unexpected.
Once you start writing professionally out here, it’s very easy for people to put you in a box. I actually don’t mind the one I’m in, since I love writing adventures and action-comedies. But I’d like to challenge myself with a personal project—maybe a novel, or a short story, or a comic book in a genre I haven’t done before. I’ve been noodling with a bunch of different ideas over the last few years, but I’ve shoved them in drawer because they don’t fit what’s expected of me. So maybe the solution is to do it for myself in 2016 and not worry about the paycheck.
- Cut down on Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey Whiskey
Just kidding. That stuff is delicious.
- Stop watching the clock.
When you hit 30, you find yourself looking at the clock more. You compare yourself, and your life, to your friends. Are you where they are? Have you done everything you set out to do when you were a kid? Should you be worried if you haven’t?
I have to remember that I’m still a young guy with a long career ahead of him, and being 36 isn’t all that bad. Plus I’ve heard the music teenagers listen to these days, and it sucks. Seriously—One Direction? Bieber? Jesus. Kids, I know it’s cheesy to hear “new stuff sucks, listen to the classics,” but do yourself a favor and listen to anything by Guns ‘N Roses. Sam Cooke. Pearl Jam. Queen. Otis Redding. Ice Cube. The late, great David Bowie. Actually listen to the lyrics, and tell me with a straight face that the music of 2015 is better. My point is, I feel lucky enough to come from the last great era of music.
Except for Creed and Nickelback. We were clearly asleep at the wheel when they snuck through. Sorry.
- Remind myself that LA isn’t real.
This one may take some explaining. Of course it’s real in the sense that we don’t live in the Matrix (I don’t think) and this isn’t Inception (I’m fairly certain). But all those parodies you see about Hollywood on TV and in film are absolutely on point—and what’s scarier: after a while, you forget that you’re living in a gluten-free, organic, self-aggrandizing bubble of hot molten insanity. In LA people constantly ask you to subscribe to their YouTube channels, tune into their web series, RT their tweets, introduce them to your agents, read their scripts, and listen to their podcasts. Everything becomes about networking. Pitching. Auditioning. Selling.
And after a while, you accept it as normal. You actually catch yourself wondering about your follower count, or why that fan left a nasty comment about you in the comment section. It’s only when I go home to New Jersey that I realize how ridiculous my little bubble world is. I love Los Angeles, but I need to remember that the rest of the world is completely different. It’s grounded. It doesn’t give a shit how many followers you have or if pilot season has started. Everyone else is just trying to carve out their own lives. Maybe this means I need to go back east more, or spend more time away from LA. But since that won’t happen, I just need to remember that the rest of the world is out there, not caring about the same things people here care about.
- Tell people “thank you.”
Professionally and personally, I’ve been very lucky. I have an amazing group of friends, an awesome manager who has been with me since Jump Street, a fantastic agent who has locked in some sick projects for me, a damn good lawyer, and most importantly: an amazing family. And I rarely tell them. In 2016 I’ll do a better job of thanking them for supporting me and always being there when I need them.
- Travel more.
Maybe this is tied to #6, but still worth bringing up. I need to see more of the world, or at least the country. Luckily I’m already on my way to realizing this one. At the end of this month some pals and me are off to Austin to visit our friend Dave at The Chive. If we survive that trip, I plan to travel a bit more this year—even if that means packing up the laptop and taking my work on the road.
- Stay away from cigarettes.
I’m actually a non-smoker, but I wasn’t always. There was a time when I couldn’t stay away from them, so every year I renew my resolution to never touch a cigarette again. For you smokers out there, trust me when I say it’s worth quitting.
- See something of mine get green-lit.
This is tied to #1, and yes, it’s a bit of a selfish one. But even though I’ve been on several incredible projects since leaving Insomniac, I have yet to see one produced that carried my voice. This is relatively normal since development often drags on for years and lots of times projects go away, but hopefully one of the projects I’m working on will get the official green light in 2016. And man, I am on some exciting ones.
But if this resolution fails and none of them go into production, that’s okay—because I always have resolutions #1 and #4 as backups.