"" Rob Parnell's Writing Academy Blog: October 2012

Thursday, October 25, 2012

What Do You Believe?

Welcome to this week's newsletter.

I hope everything's good for you - and that you're not making too many compromises in your life!  See the article below for more.


Murder, mystery, love, loyalty and two friends with awesome psychic powers! 

Currently I'm running a wonderful masterclass on plotting stories. Click on the picture below for more info!
Story Plotting


What Do You Believe?

Rob Parnell

It occurs to me that life is really about a series of compromises.
Personal, professional and public.
As children, our parents teach us that we can't always get our own way. 

Because when we're adult we find out - often the hard way - that our will must bend to societal pressure, peer pressure - the will of our employers, friends and family - and the law.

In a sense our lives are one long exercise in conformity to a system we must trust is correct - even if it doesn't always please us to do so.

When you look at criminals and law breakers, you see people uncomfortable with compromise - determined to do things their own way because they don't see the benefit of conformity.

Either that or they're attracted to the money generated by ambivalence to the law. 

The short term gain.

Law breaking is really only such a problem in our society because it's often so profitable for the people involved.

Of course we try to catch and punish the petty criminals and the disturbed amongst us, to show that we see merit in the force of law. 

But we know that much organized crime, corporate fraud and corruption goes unsolved, or at least unchecked. 

My suspicion is that this is because it's a much bigger problem - perhaps inherent in the system - than we like to believe.

There's probably a lot of people in positions of power that have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo - including many of society's ills, because much of their power relies on our society being, beneath the surface, a heaving mess of corruption, inequality and lawlessness.

But what about the humble artist - the writer? 

How do we begin to change things and work towards a better world when the society we abide in gives us so little power to change anything?

The old answer is that we must change ourselves as individuals - be the good guy, the hero in our own lives first - and that of course can be a lifelong task in itself. 

But is this approach ever going to have much impact?

If you watch Hollywood movies, then yes, that's exactly how it works.

But movies are idealized versions of the real world - where justice and inequality can be addressed - and everybody lives happily ever after.

Meanwhile, horrible things happen all the time.


It's clear to me that most of us live in a society that encourages a sense of entitlement.

"What's in it for me?" is the mantra we believe is our birthright.

Especially in the Western world - and increasingly in those countries who aspire to our - apparently idyllic - lifestyle.

So if people only change based on self interest, how can we ever aspire to influence through art and creativity?

I won't pretend to have any answers. The question is mostly rhetorical.

Maybe it should be a subject for debate at some conference of future philosophers.

I guess it's what a lot of self help gurus try to do. Write and sell books that look, on the surface, to be about self improvement, wealth and success attainment, but beneath are really about building a set of personal values that will ultimately benefit all of us.

I guess we need to ask ourselves: do we believe in the power of the individual?

Do you?

If you're a writer, sat at home, writing, shunning the pressure to conform, then you probably do.

At the very least you believe that you can make a difference to your own life by doing things your way.

And that's a great start.

Because most people don't feel that way.

Most people believe they have no real power to change anything - not even themselves, let alone the society they live in!

It goes back to what I said in last week's article - there's a kind of madness attached to being an artist, a writer.

The kind of madness that you would need if you really thought that mere words can change reality.

But of course they can - and do.

Everything begins with writing - and history is rewritten constantly.

Spin doctors recreate events, change the facts.

Politicians use words to change reality all the time.

The legal system tries continually to make order out of chaos.

Fiction writers create worlds we aspire to live in - even if our own sucks.

So yes, writing can make a difference.

And does.

Do you believe it?

Of course you do.

 rob at home

"You've got to rattle your cage door. You've got to let them know that you're in there, and that you want out. Make noise. Cause trouble. You may not win right away, but you'll sure have a lot more fun." Florynce Kennedy

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Is there something wrong with you?

Dear Fellow Writer,

Welcome to this week's newsletter. 

Three weeks left till we start shooting First Cut. Getting all the last minute preparations done. Looking like it's going to be great! If you want to be involved - and instantly become a movie producer, go here.


Murder, mystery, love, loyalty and two friends with awesome psychic powers! 

Currently I'm running a masterclass on plotting stories. Click on the picture below for more information.
Story Plotting


Is there something wrong with you?

Rob Parnell

An article I read this week suggested that writers are somehow more prone to mental illness than 'normal people'.

Suicide rates, bipolar disorders, substance abuse and incidents of clinical depression are all apparently higher in creative types - and this is based on a Swedish scientific survey of over a million people!

Scary stuff.

I came across the article because Chris Ryall, a great thriller writer and one my beloved subscribers, posted it on Facebook. 

To be honest the article kinda annoyed me - because I dispute the premise. 
If you want, you can read it here

Now, I've always thought that 'normal' people should be creative - and that people who didn't want to write, paint, make things or generally be inventive about their daily lives were the 'abnormal' ones!

To me, the suggestion that there's something abnormal about creativity is rather insulting - and a bit strange. 

I mean, why, in a wise and civilized society, would being creative be regarded as some kind of mental aberration?

Now, I'm well aware that writers are often sensitive to life and 'feel' things that inspire them to write them down. Many writers are very observant when it comes to detail and trying to make sense of life and people.

But is being extra receptive to normal things really a sign of madness?

The article suggests it should be. In fact they go so far as you imply that, scientifically speaking, when you come across people who suffer from mental illness, perhaps your first suggestion to them is, "Oh, have you thought about becoming an artist?"

See what I mean about being insulting?

The implication that all artists must be mad?

What is mad about about wanting to change the world for the better? What is insane about wanting to write books and make movies that inspire the world?

It reminds me of that old statistic about crime. They say 60% of murders are alcohol related - so therefore drinking alcohol is a bad thing. That's how you're supposed to read the statistic.

But what occurs to me is that, hidden in plain sight, we learn that 40% of murders are committed by completely sober, so called rational people! That's a far more scary way of looking at this statistic!

And so it is with the Swedish research.

What's their definition of normal? It appears to be: people who aren't creative!

I've met some pretty crazy people in my time. I've met people who think reading is overrated. I've met people who think that working their whole lives just to pay off a mortgage is sensible. I've met people who think that everything in the Bible is fact - and written by God. I've met people who think that politicians deserve to be respected and that corporate entities have ethics and behave with any kind of inherent social responsibility...

If you ask me, these are the crazy people!

What's insane about thinking our society needs to be improved and that creativity is an integral part of being human?

Maybe I'm ranting now.

Maybe I'm one of the crazy ones!

It's often said that you can tell that a person has gone completely mad because they can't see their own insanity.

Well, I guess that's me then.

Because if I live in a world where creativity is to be equated with mental imbalance, then put me in a straight-jacket now!

I'm clearly gaga.

Seriously, there does seem to be this worrying idea that if you're somehow sensitive and feel in any way uncomfortable within the strict confines of day to day existence that you're a bit of loony.

And that if you're capable of intense focus on something - whether that's writing a novel or perhaps an obsession with some other kind of self expression, then perhaps there's something wrong with you.

It's an interesting idea because if the 'non-creatives' have their way - and try to marginalize and minimize the importance of creativity and inspiration - what kind of world would we live in then?

A place where there's no innovation? 

Where new ideas are shunned? 

A world where nobody questions the status quo? 

Where injustice and abuse of power is tolerated?

A society where anyone who stands up and says 'this is wrong' is seen as a freak? 

To be honest, I can see this happening - in the media especially - but there again, you can't listen to me because I'm one of those freaks...

The world would be a pretty boring - and pretty scary - place if it were run by engineers and scientists and the chattering classes.

Rationality is overrated IMHO.

I prefer to live in a world where there's a sense of wonder - and that there are still things for creative people to worry about - and try to change.

Because anyone can complain and feel powerless.

But artists need to be unrealistic - it's part of the job description.

If everyone rational thought that change and growth was impossible, there'd surely be no hope for any of us.

And so, my writer friends, please:
Keep writing!
 rob at home
"Sit down, and put down everything that comes into your head and then you're a writer. But an author is one who can judge his  own stuff's worth, without pity, and destroy most of it."

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Make Money FAST from Your Writing!

Welcome to this week's newsletter. I hope you're well and happy. If you're not a rich writer yet, see below for guidance.

If you want to instantly become a movie producer, go here.

Murder, mystery, love, loyalty and two friends with awesome psychic powers! 

This week I've started a new writing course on plotting stories. Click on the picture below for more - get it while it's cheap!
Story Plotting

Click on the image below to write like Shakespeare!


How To Make Money
FAST From Your Writing!

Rob Parnell

(Warning: this article contains tough love!)

Many people email and ask what they can do NOW, this minute, to make money from their writing. 

It must be something to do with the age we live in - to expect that we can just make money appear in a flash is something we know is impossible but still we hang on desperately to the idea - especially when we're totally skint.

Pretty much the only thing that pays instantly is prostitution.

Turn a trick and you can be $20 better off in fifteen minutes or less.

Rob a bank or mug and old lady and you might be better off quickly too - but then you'll have a few years in prison to trade for that instant gratification.

Winning the lottery? Yeah, right - will you never learn?

I can't think of anything else that pays instantly.

Everything else requires planning and preparation - which many people these days see as 'the catch'.

Yes, there's always a catch when it comes to making money.

Getting a job requires filling in applications, writing resumes, and going to interviews. Lots of unpaid work FIRST before you get paid. Even then you often have to wait a week or a month before you get any cash in your hand.

So it is with writing. 

You can't expect to make any money writing without some planning and preparation. The two Ps. At this stage too, I would add a third P. Patience.

How about patience, eh? 

I know sometimes we get so short of money that patience won't cut it. We need money now, today, right?

Well, when it comes to writing, there's absolutely nothing you can do that will pay instantly - not unless YOU'RE ALREADY A WRITER.

And wouldn't it be better if, the next time you're completely down to your last brass razoo, you'd made some plans, done some preparation and actually had something to fall back on BEFORE you got to be penniless - again?

Trouble is, we tend not to think that way. 

Our brains are lazy when we've got money - the motivation to GET money only seems to kick in when we don't have any. But that's because we think of money like food. We're happy when there's plenty but then panic when it runs out.

Making money from writing is easy and quick - but only IF you're used to doing it, have done it for a while, or are in the process of setting up a writing career.

There's no such thing as a quick and easy way to make money writing if you're not already doing it.

So, assuming you're already a writer - that is, someone who actually writes, not someone who just thinks that their ability to write might bring in some cash - what can you do to make money quickly? 

Fast, as in within the next 24 hours!

Well, for the benefit of the desperate, here-under are the TOP THREE WAYS to make money writing instantly.
1. Call your writer friends and offer to edit, proof or critique their manuscripts. Ask for an upfront payment of $50 to $500 depending on the job.

2. Write a newsletter or flier offering your writing services - ghosting, resumes, letters, reports or tuition - print up copies and post them through people's letterboxes in your area. Again, ask for an upfront part payment when people contact you.

3. Write a book and sell it on the Internet. Use PayPal or Clickbank, selling your ebook from a free blog.  

Number 3 is by far the easiest and quickest way. 

No excuses. We all know writers who've written a book in a week or two.

Perhaps you already have one that just needs a bit of tweaking. 

Whatever, make a PDF and put it up online. Result? Cash within 24 hours. You better believe it! For more information, go here. 

What NOT to do:

Don't bother surfing the Net looking for instant cash opportunities. 

They don't exist. 

You'll end up doing a lot more work looking for the opportunities than you'll ever get paid for. My experience is that you can do a lot of work online for so called "writing job" sites and STILL NEVER GET PAID. So don't get sucked in.

Okay, I know you're not going to listen to me about this. 

Surfing for free cash will probably always remain a cherished activity for many a sucker. But think of this:

If you really need money desperately, what are you doing with an Internet connection? That's costing money that you really need to live, right? 

Come to that, what are you doing with a cell or iPhone that's eating up cash like a goblin? 

And all the crap you buy on credit cards? Take-out. Beer. DVDs. CDs. TVs. It's all costing money you could have had in your pocket…

Everything's relative, right? 

We say we want money - and preferably lots of it - but when asked, 'what will you do to get it?' or 'what would you give up to get more?' we start to hem and haw - and retreat.

There was a stage in my life when I had nothing and I was happy - literally - if I had enough money for a packet of Marlboro. Food was a luxury that came a close second to alcohol - to numb the pain of poverty. 

So I know what it's like to be poor. Big time.

I remember the days I used to beat myself up about having no money. I remember thinking I would do anything for money - but within my own comfort zone, of course.

So don't you think I don't know what being poor is like. I do.

But there comes a day when you have to face reality, my friend.

You're poor because, for some perverse reason, you want to be. 

You make it happen. Just like you can make being wealthy happen, if that's what you really want.

You have to take responsibility for your own life - and stop blaming other people for your problems.

You have to understand there's no such thing as a free lunch. 

And, that there's no such thing as instant money from writing.

There's always going to be work involved - and whether you're prepared to do what it takes - and keep doing it - is the real issue!

So the next time you think you want money instantly, remember the three Ps: planning, preparation, patience - oh, and another good one: persistence!

 Keep writing!
 rob at home
"Sit down, and put down everything that comes into your head and then you're a writer. But an author is one who can judge his  own stuff's worth, without pity, and destroy most of it."
Previous Newsletter includes:
Article: "Onward and Upward"

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Onward and Upward

As you've probably noticed, I've been moving into film and the visual media a lot more over the last year or so.

This is because, from a writer's perspective, film has it all.

Film starts with writing - nothing can happen without a script -  and is film about story telling. Even non fiction on film is about being able to string together coherent images that tell a story - the director's version of the truth - to the viewer.

That and the fact that I love the editing process and recording my own music has meant that I find making videos and short films very satisfying indeed.

In this last year I (under the R&R banner) have put together five music videos, eleven Write On programs, a 60 minute documentary on the paranormal and a couple of short movies, the most recent being the horror spoof, Bearz.

We are currently in pre-production of a thirty minute thriller called First CUT.

Now, I feel, is the time to announce to you the long term picture.

But with some background first...

As you know, we've had some success with our screenplays.

Initially - some five years ago - it was our intention to write scripts and sell them - and perhaps oversee the resulting projects to some degree.

It quickly became apparent to us that there were a lot of sharks in the film industry - many so called 'producers' ready to ensnare hapless writers, steal their work and take all the credit for any success that comes out of a project - and treat the writer like so much (necessary) scum.

Add to that the appalling lack of vision from state and federal funding bodies - who refuse point blank to give creative development grants to writers!

We spent a few years working with SA Film - trying to get to know them, see what they wanted and work within their guidelines.

We did all we could - as writers - to fulfill their needs. We learned a lot. But we also learned that we would never be taken seriously as film makers until we became a working production company.


Success in the film industry is dependent on three main elements.

1. Control.

It is imperative that a production company owns all the rights to the projects it develops. Mainly because, when it comes to raising finance and budgeting and allocating money, any whiff that the entire copyright does not belong to the initiating production company can result in your potential backers pulling out entirely - which can be disastrous for any cinematic project.

2. Talent.

You need the best writing you can find along with the best directors, producers, crew, cast and PR people. We've been told by many film people that our writing is - for film - of a rare high quality. Indeed, this has actually worked against us - because everything we pitch has production companies literally foaming at the mouth!

We stopped pitching when we realized we could spend our entire lives fighting to keep hold of our legal copyrights!

3. Promotion.

Video, film and TV projects succeed or fail in direct proportion to the number of people aware of your product. Production companies survive - like many businesses - on borrowed money. You're only as good as your last success - and your next. The visual media is expensive to produce - in man hours and in cash. But the rewards, now that programs have a much longer shelf life thanks to cable, DVD, cross territorial promotion and the film festival circuit, make it more than worthwhile to develop meaningful entertainment  based programming.

So, knowing all this is one thing.

Acting upon it is another.

Robyn and I are solitary folk - we're writers after all.

It's taken me in particular a long time to come to the realization that if we're going to become a working production company, we have to start by showing the world we're capable of producing quality shows right here, and right now.

We can't wait for big projects to manifest over time - developing tenuous relationships with other so called film people round here that might never eventuate.

No, the answer is, as Nike says, to just do it.

Why not? YouTube is probably one of the greatest assets for aspiring filmmakers that's come along in the last decade. The best thing is that you get instant feedback - so you know what's working immediately.

And TV networks and even Hollywood DO take notice of what's going onto YouTube - and you really can get into the film industry by 'cutting your teeth' online.

But it's not everything.

You also need to get your work seen on the off line festival circuit and be able to put your film up for awards on a regular basis.

It's taken me a few years to fully equip R&R with all the gear necessary to make shows. Most young film makers rent or borrow the equipment they use to make movies - an expensive process that means many of the crew don't know how to use the gear they're hiring! Hence, terrible movies.

I never wanted that. I believe that if we're going to compete in house, we need the gear first.

So, as you may know by now, we're in pre-production of our first big venture - First CUT.

It's an exciting thriller about a doomed relationship. We have the stars - two young kids from South Australia. We have the studio, the lights and the cameras. We have all the technology to make it happen. It's due to start shooting on the 12th of November.

After that, we'll be putting it out to the world - via film festivals and putting it up for awards and competitions...

All good, but here's the but:

We need help getting the film out there. Just entering a short film to a festival or an award costs a minimum of $50 a pop. Sometimes more.

Now, if we enter the film into a dozen or perhaps 50 festivals, you can immediately see that the expense quickly mounts up.

So, if you know any rich uncles or sugar daddies - or just have friends that want to invest in an exciting new production company, ask them to look here: http://pozible.com/firstcut

So far - since yesterday - we have raised $50! Thanks to one enterprising funder!

If you'd like to invest yourself, I'd love to have your support.

You can pledge as little as one dollar - and be a friend of R&R for life!

Go here to see what we're doing - and what YOU can get!

Keep writing!
 rob at home

Previous Newsletter includes:
Article: "The New Reality for Writers"

The Writing Academy

Welcome to the official blog of Rob Parnell's Writing Academy, updated weekly - sometimes more often!