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Screenwriting has taught me three things we can use to survive this moment: constraints are beneficial, patience wins the race, and harmony is essential. It’s been obvious that prices on everything have gone up.
But the reality didn’t sink into my consciousness until I tried to buy Organic Pasture Raised Eggs. I opened the door to the refrigerator at my local grocer and nearly fell into the shelves: the price tag read $9.99. 
For twelve eggs. 
I stepped back and wiped my eyes. 
Did I see things right? I checked the regular eggs, and they were $4.99. For twelve eggs. 
I was disoriented. 
Reality shifted on me. 
I looked around; I was still in the store, standing in front of the eggs; people were walking around picking out fruit and veggies, yucking it up with the butcher, talking too loud to someone on their phone—everything was normal. 
But I wasn’t. 
The price wasn’t. 
You may say, “Hey, quit buying those hoity-toity eggs. Buy the regular ones.” 
And my answer is, “They are expensive too.” 
A few years ago, eggs were $2.99 for regular eggs and $4.99 for my ritzy eggs. 
Conclusion: we live in a crazy moment. 
Next thought: what do we do with this moment? How do we navigate $5.50 gas? How do we live with soaring energy prices? 
Screenwriting has taught me three things we can use to survive this moment (and many others). It has taught me that constraints are necessary, patience wins the race, and harmony is the essential ingredient to an enjoyable life. 


Constraints are Beneficial 

Face it: we Americans don’t like being confined. We want freedom. Wide-open spaces are demanded.  Free time is a requirement. 
However, we are being boxed in by prices and the necessity to get creative to keep living the way we do. 
In screenwriting, you face constraints at every turn. At first, you are constrained by the fact you have blank pages that need to be filled. Then, you are constrained by the amount of pages you can write. Finally, you are faced with using the fewest words possible to the maximum effect to enable the reader (be it actors, directors, and producers) to see the story on the page in their minds. 
If you want to write for the screen, you have no option but to embrace the confines imposed on you. As you do, you find that you don’t need that extra character, which allows you to focus on the main character. Then you discover you can combine two scenes into one scene, meaning you can take the scene deeper into the conflict. Pretty soon, you realize that your dialogue is too wordy, so you edit it and edit it, until the characters say only what is needed, moving the story along visually more than verbally. 
This is what makes great films great, and the lessons applied to screenwriting  can make life better for us as well.
If we allow constraints to work, we will become better mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors by embracing the amount of funds we have, focusing on what is most important to our lives, and pairing down our activities to be more present, more alive, more whole. 

Patience Wins the Race

The following fable illustrates this point better than anything I could say.
“A Hare was making fun of the Tortoise one day for being so slow.
“‘Do you ever get anywhere?’ he asked with a mocking laugh.
 “‘Yes,’ replied the Tortoise, ‘and I get there sooner than you think. I’ll run you a race and prove it.’ 
“The Hare was much amused at the idea of running a race with the Tortoise, but for the fun of the thing he agreed. So the Fox, who had consented to act as judge, marked the distance and started the runners off. 
“The Hare was soon far out of sight, and to make the Tortoise feel very deeply how ridiculous it was for him to try a race with a Hare, he lay down beside the course to take a nap until the Tortoise should catch up. 
“The Tortoise meanwhile kept going slowly but steadily, and, after a time, passed the place where the Hare was sleeping. But the Hare slept on very peacefully, and when at last he did wake up, the Tortoise was near the goal. The Hare now ran his swiftest, but he could not overtake the Tortoise in time.”
“Moral: The race is not always to the swift.” 
We want to be first in everything. It’s an excellent trait: we don’t settle for anything but the best.  At this moment in time, however, we all need to learn patience. Ancient philosophers called it the “queen” virtue—the one to aspire to more than any other. 
Crazy things are happening, and most of it we can’t control. But we can control our souls and minds, and by controlling them through patience, we will survive and most likely thrive in this insane hour. 
When you first learn to write screenplays, it takes immense patience. You overwrite, have to toss out scenes you love, or lose characters that were dear to you. The key, as one screenwriter said, is to fail fast, but keep going. Here’s the dirty secret: scripts are written, they are rewritten. And rewritten. And rewritten. 
You only get a good film by being patient. 
We are learning a valuable lesson in our country’s history: we have to be patient with the times we live in, keep doing what we are supposed to do, and eventually, we will win the race. 

Harmony is Essential 

Everyone is pinched in some way: financially, relationally, emotionally. Some more than others. We are constrained. We are forced to go slower. And in the process, we discover that harmony—the pleasing arrangement of parts—is essential to a good life. 
Jamming more things into a story—more action, more violence, more characters—doesn’t make it a better story. What takes a story over the top is the harmony: the arrangement of words and action, sight and sound, dialogue and silence. Each one needs to work with the whole piece, or it feels out of joint and wrong. 
Harmony makes a screenplay great, and it will enliven our daily lives as well. This moment in time is causing everyone to ask: are our work and families out of sync? Are our relationships with spouses and friends disjointed? Are our kids in harmony with each other? All of life needs to work together, or it too feels out of sorts. Messy. Chaotic. 
We should stop and ask, what will it gain us to lose our family but have more money, clients, or business? We may need to cut a few things out to spend more time with those we love. So, is that extra vacation necessary? Can you do with one car instead of two? What would it mean to cut out a client and have more time with the family, making memories?

Nothing New Here 

I’m not the first to state these things. And I won’t be the last. 
Many writers and thinkers have encouraged us to take stock of our lives and to find ways to create despite our obstacles. Others have provided tips on how to keep at tasks diligently and persevere to reach our goals. Some have called for the need to create harmony in our lives, our jobs, and ours families. 
Christopher Dalton

Author Christopher Dalton

Christopher Dalton has worked for two decades (yikes) writing for businesses, individuals, non-profits, and more. He has mentored and coached, consulted with and taught writers extensively for the last 10 years. Christopher has experience in online and in-person sessions, and has just completed a two-year program training film writers to work with actors and directors in a lab-style setting. As a ghostwriter, Christopher has written over 13 books. As a screenwriter-for-hire, he has written 11 screenplays. He has aslo released a novel , Nicholas and the Keeper of Names, an illustrated fairytale, The Lantern Heart, a feature film, All The Dragons, and a co-authored non-ficition book, Redeem California: With God Nothing is Impossible.

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