I have known my friend Steve Martinez ever since a barbecue in my back yard about 5 years ago, in my former home in Los Angeles. We’ve been through ups and downs together, we’ve laughed until very late in the night. We joke about a tattoo he’s probably never going to get. (“Pray Rain”. It’s a long story).
Every day, Steve gets up very early to write. For five years, he does this. After he writes, he takes some time to walk and clear his head and then around 9am, he reports to his day job. He’s a self-employed attorney. Each day, after about 2pm, you’ll find Steve at his favorite Peet’s Coffee in Santa Monica. Writing. Can he Skype for a few minutes? He’d love to. But he’s writing. Later, he says. And we do.
A few months ago, Steve asked me to write him a letter of recommendation about his writing. I did. He was applying to a Universal/NBC fellowship. Universal contacted me and wanted to know more about Steve’s writing. In my role as a script consultant, I knew a lot about Steve’s style, goals and discipline.
Now, after 5+ years of writing, of living in Los Angeles, of both enjoying and forsaking the sun and the pleasures of LA, after years of 6am bleary-eyed writing, Steve is a Universal Fellow. That means he’s employed at Universal/NBC for a year, with a salary, with mentoring, with massive opportunities.
Steve’s talent got him there, no doubt. But his talent would never have had the chance to shine without his discipline. Even when other people were succeeding – and failing all around him – Steve just kept writing. He’s stubborn that way.
You can never win or lose if you don’t play the game.
Will your discipline pay off, your day and night working on your script, or TV pilot, or great start up initiative? Maybe. It doesn’t happen for everyone, this brass ring.
But here’s a truth: it sure as hell won’t if you don’t. Guaranteed.
I am an undying advocate of having fun with what you do and of enjoying your life. I will never shift that belief because I believe when you are having fun, when you are excited about what you are doing? It shows in your work.
And a part of that is discipline. Seeing results. Finishing pages, making those phone calls, doing your research.
Maybe you don’t want to get up at a crazy hour to write (I sure don’t!) the way Steve, the first guy from the left does. But there is a way, I promise you, that you can add more discipline to your life of work and creativity. People like Steve remind us that good things DO happen to good people, and that you can live a good, fun life and also put in those 10,000 hours.
Steve Martinez did. And he continues to, as he reaches for the next brass ring and the next. Selfishly? I’m glad a person with Steve’s intelligence, wit, curiosity and sense of humor, with his deep empathy for the human condition, is poised to become one of Hollywood’s next major story tellers.
Posted in Entrepreneurs, Film, How to Use Time Well, Staying Motivated
Tagged creatives and discipline, Hollywood Reporter, NBC/Universal, persistence, Steve Martinez, Universal Fellowship, Universal Studios