What Rogue One can teach about writing and resolutions


What Rogue One can teach about #writing and #resolutions
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I’m not entirely sure how it happened, especially as I’ve been held hostage this week, or as my children call it, celebrating winter break, but the hubby and I actually managed to sneak out long enough to watch Rogue One.

Yeah, I am as stunned as you.

And it was awesome. But I’m not here to divulge spoilers. Nor am I here to write a tribute to Carrie Fisher, as deserved as that might be. No I want to talk about what Rogue One can teach us about story telling and life in general.

Work toward an ending

The premise of Rogue One was simple. It exists to answer the question as to how the rebels got the plans to the Death Star in the first place, a catalyst event that sets off all the events of the next three movies in the original franchise. The ending of their story was clear, the beginning – not so much, forcing the screenwriters to work backwards. And it was a effective technique. It worked so well, I found myself surprised as well as satisfied by the ending, even though I knew full well what it would be before I purchased my ticket.

This same concept can be applied to planning any goal, not just writing.

I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s Resolutions. To me, they are far too easy to make and therefore far too easy to break. So I don’t set New Year’s Resolutions. Instead I set one to three wildly optimistic End of Year Goals.

Then I work backwards, setting smaller monthly and weekly goals for myself, all in support of the larger ones. So that at year’s end I am not disappointed by how many resolutions I have broken, but instead motivated by how much more I have accomplished.

It is okay not to have an answer for everything

There are certain questions Rogue One doesn’t answer, such as what was the rift between factions the Rebel Alliance wants to mend so desperately or who keeps awarding the Imperial console button contracts to the most lost cost industrial switch manufacturer the galaxy has ever seen when they obviously utilize high-end contracts for sleek exterior ship design. There could be spin-off on spin-offs of stories if the writers choose to answer everything, but in this case I think it is a better experience to let the viewer’s or reader’s imaginations fill in the blanks. A few loose ends can keep a story interesting.

Likewise, even with my goals, I’ve accepted there are certain areas of my life, both personally and professionally, I don’t have mapped out, at least not for this year. That’s okay. A little bit of unknown now just means I have choices to explore later, or goals still out there to achieve.

Rebellions are built on hope

This is a line used a few times in the movie, a somewhat tongue in cheek reference to the title of the next movie in line in the series, A New Hope. But it is also true. In order for any well written story to progress, a character must first believe that change is possible. They have to believe deep in their core that they can evade a vastly superior military force, complete a foolhardy mission, or otherwise avenge a loved one. Otherwise what is the point of leaving home in the first place.

The past year will not go down as a personal favorite of mine for a number of reasons. But that is no reason enough for me to believe the coming year will be more of the same. I will instead continue to focus on what I can change, whether that change be big or small, rather than what is out of my control. I may not achieve all my big goals this year, but no matter the outcome, I will be closer tomorrow than I am today for trying. Because I am one with the force, the force is with me.

May you all have an equally happy and force-full New Year

An exercise on mindful thinking at the close of the year

An exercise on #mindfulness - www.alliepottswrites.comI decided to go for a jog one morning after feeling a guilty over recent excesses. The air was cool, but not chilly enough to need a jacket or put on gloves. My dog, Her Royal Highness, was happy enough to trot along beside me. The sky was a clear, albeit pale blue and the neighborhood quiet. In short, it was a perfect morning to be outdoors.

Raleigh is home to a greenway system that stretches from one end of the city to another and it is quite easy to forget that you are in the state’s capital when you enter one of the many wooded paths. But that morning, I had a specific destination in mind. If I could jog to a certain point on the trail without stopping, I would consider the run a success.

A slight tension on the leash informed me that Her Royal Highness wouldn’t mind picking up the pace. I ignored her request as I remained focused on my feet. She should understand. A trip or stumble due to a slippery patch of leaves or fallen branch would at a minimum ruin my stride, but could also prevent me from taking her out again for a long, long while. We rounded a corner, passing a walker and another dog on the trail. Her Royal Highness tugged, urging me to stop and say hello. Once again I refused her request.

I am not the fastest on the trail. Nor were there any fans cheering me on from the side of the path. But slow, but steady, I eventually made it to my goal one step at a time. Her Royal Highness wagged her tail and sniffed around as I took in the view.

My muscles in my legs stiffened in the seconds it took me to turn around. That’s when it hit me – the rather large error in my plan. The goal I’d set in mind was the furthest point in my run. I’d forgotten to consider the distance it would take to run back. Dang it.

Her Royal Highness sprung into action, but unfortunately, now that I’d stopped once, keeping up our steady pace was no longer as easy to do. I found myself walking more along the return, but by doing so, I was also able to look around.

The sky had taken on a deeper, richer shade of blue and the sunlight now filtered quite nicely through red and golden leaves. I stopped again at a bridge near the greenway’s exit, only this time instead of focusing on my stiffening muscles, the aching reminder of how far I’d come, or the distance I still had yet to go, I let myself appreciate just being in the place I found myself in now.

I removed my ear buds, and the music that had boomed and pulsed, keeping me inspired to run, was replaced by the sound of a creek flowing over rocks under the bridge. Leaves tumbled down as the trees swayed in the morning’s breeze. I turned and took the scene in more fully.

I might have lingered there longer, but the sound of footfalls on the path of an approaching walker broke the moment and soon we were once again on our way, taking the memory of the moment with us.

At the close of the year, I like to reflect on my accomplishments, and while they aren’t always easy to identify, I know there are always a few. At the same time, I like to plan for the year ahead and set my goals and challenges, just as I suspect many others do too. But moments like this are a good reminder to also be mindful of the present, for there is beauty to be seen in the now if you only take the time to stop and look around.

Autumn creek and #mindfulness - www.alliepottswrites.com