The three words you need to hear today
Whether you're a writer or creator or risker or trailblazer or just pushing yourself to do something new and hard, this is for you.
I put myself at GREAT PERSONAL RISK to deliver this nugget of wisdom to you.
I once interviewed famous person and 80s icon Justine Bateman and was only half-listening to her, so that I could glean this knowledge.
The Early Days
I was the "New Media beat reporter" for Script Magazine from 2007 to 2010. With my friend and producing partner Bob Gustafson, we interviewed interesting people who were making these new things called "web series" published on this new website, “YouTube.com.”
Just to see how far things have come, check out our "A Brief History of the Web Series" from 2010:
"The industry is moving quickly, and as more people are drawn to online content, there are many who don’t know how to jump in."
Woof, that hits as hard as it did in 2010… when it felt like "it was too late" to jump in.
Turns out making things online is like buying real estate. The best time to start was ten years ago, but the second best time is now.
(put it on a T-shirt)
During that season, I interviewed Seth Meyers, Bill Hader, David Wain, Zoe Bell, Marshall Herskovitz, Felicia Day, Bernie Su, and Kent Nichols (Ask a Ninja!). All legends in that early online video era.
The room where it happened
And in late 2008, I found myself in the writer's bungalow for The Wizards of Waverly Place. Successful entertainment writers and producers Peter Murrieta, Jill Kushner, Alan Sereboff, and yes, Justine Bateman had founded the web-only production company FM78, and I was tapped to interview them about their plans.
We sat tightly packed in a restaurant-style booth in Murrieta's showrunner office. The walls were adorned with the kinds of fan paraphernalia, posters, and photos that you’d expect a successful TV writer to gather throughout their career.
At the time, I SO BADLY wanted to write for television. I had never been so close to the dream. I had to play it cool. I was invited as a *respected journalist,* not a wannabe screenwriter who would have tripped all over myself, given the chance to say what I really wanted. “An unpaid assistant job? Where do I sign??”
I asked intelligent questions about the differences between traditional entertainment and the web, and their desire for "brand-sponsored shows" (this was ground-breaking news in 2008).
During the interview, Peter slid away to take a call at his desk.
It took every fiber of my focus to pay attention to BOTH Justine Bateman for the *job I was brought here to do* AND the intimate phone conversation Peter was having.
I didn’t mean any disrespect, but I could have been called out for not paying attention. I could have “never worked in this town again.” But what I heard was worth the risk:
PETER: Hello? Hey there. <listens>
ON THE PHONE: <words>
PETER: Sure, I get it.
PETER: I don't know what to tell you. You have to write. Do the work.
PETER: I know what they said. You gotta show up and do the work. If you're sick, do the work. If it falls apart, do the work.
PETER: Okay, keep at it. Do the work. Bye. Okay. Bye.
I don’t know who he was talking to. It doesn’t matter. He was talking to me.
We finished the article (here's the archived version from almost exactly fifteen years ago), but it's those words that remain.
Do the work.
Three little words
Here’s the elephant in the room: That was 15 years ago. I wanted to be a TV screenwriter, but I didn’t become one. What happened? Did I *not* do the work?
I’d say, in retrospect, that I did the work toward a different end.
I showed up every day to build a social media agency.
I did the work to be a husband and dad.
The screenwriting fell away.
And I have no regrets about that, even though many people have said, “do you miss the writing?”
I didn’t miss it.
Until I did.
And it took me a while to admit it.
I felt “too late” to do the work.
Too many excuses. I’m too busy. Too old. Too overcommitted.
And yet I have the itch to do something new.
Do the work.
Maybe you’re like me and think very highly of yourself, and the results you’re getting are in conflict with your inflated ego.
Do the work.
Maybe you’re lost in the strategy.
Do the work.
Maybe, maybe, maybe.
The only thing you have control over is today.
Now is the second best time to start.
Show up and do the work.
Updated: as requested in the comments, I have made the above statement into a T-shirt (and sunglasses combo):
What work are you trying to do?
Are you fearful to show up and do today?
Thanks for following along.
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