Sunday, June 17, 2018

Are you going to watch The World Cup?

When it comes to this year's World Cup, even though I wasn't that excited about the tournament at first, I've started watching the games this time too. I have found time in my schedule to watch almost every game that has been played so far.

After all, we're talking about FIFA World Cup, the most widely viewed and followed sporting event in the world. Anyone who's even remotely interested in football is likely going to follow the tournament and watch these games.

So when it comes this year's World Cup, there are two things that people have been talking about before the tournament. Both these things about the tournament have been in the media and have been discussed almost to death.

The first topic, of course, has to do with the fact that the World Cup is being held in Russia. Some in the media have been saying that since Russia is run by Vladimir Putin, they shouldn't be allowed to host the tournament.

After all, ever since the country was sanctioned for their annexation of Crimea four years ago, this topic has been discussed. There have been talks that they shouldn't be allowed to host the most prestigious sporting event in the world.

In terms of sports though, it's safe to say that Russia deserves to host the tournament as much as any other country. Even though they have never won the World Cup, they have won Euro Cup (in 1960) and are known for their world class players (Lev Yashin for example).

Nevertheless, even though there has been a lot talk about this political side of the tournament, the other thing that has been talked about has to do with the game itself. It's about making sure that the matches are being judged as fairly as possible.

In this case, FIFA World Cup 2018 will be known for introducing the VAR system. This new system (video assistant referee) means that every important game moment will be reviewed in real time by the video team that will assist the referee on the pitch.

In reality, this is a great improvement, because over the years there have been so many horrible calls by the referees. There have so many horrendous calls by clueless - sometimes even corrupt - umpires that have ruined these games.

After all, when you have decisions that involve things like penalty kicks, red cards, offsides and whether the ball went past the goal line, it's not easy not to make mistakes. It's not easy to make correct split second decisions all the time.

In that sense, now that the tournament has been going on for some days, it's obvious that the new VAR system works. The new system has managed to correct already more than a dozen wrong decisions made by the referees.

After all, even though the VAR system hasn't and won't be able to eliminate all the bad calls in the game, it will eliminate most of the mistakes that the referees make. It makes it much more likely that the right team wins in the end.

In the end, that is what should be the most important thing when it comes to this 'beautiful game'. It should be about making sure that we get to concentrate on the game itself and not on the umpires screwing things up.

After all, even though there are those who say that bad referee calls are an integral part of the game, I don't agree with that. I don't think that we should tolerate awful decisions just because we've gotten used to those over the years.

On the contrary, those bad calls will only hurt the game. They only hurt the game and make us concentrate on all those bad things about the game instead of the good ones that are more important and that actually matter.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

How to manage your writing routines?

Over the last week or so, I've been  working on my latest writing project. I've been adapting my animated movie screenplay into a book, which has turned out to be a more demanding task than I had thought at first.

After all, even though I haven't spent that much time translating the script on a daily basis, it's still been exhausting to keep going. It takes an emotional toll to relive the story, especially considering that the translating process is so slow.

Nevertheless, when it comes to getting this project done, the most important part in the process has had to do with routines. It's absolutely crucial to write on a steady basis and that you write even when you don't feel like doing that.

So when it comes to me setting up my routine for the project, I managed to come up with a daily goal that was both realistic and not too demanding. I set myself a goal that I knew I could do without hurting myself in the process.

Since I wasn't in a hurry, I thought that perhaps thirty days or so would be a fairly realistic estimate for the project. I thought that I would be able to find myself enough time to handle three or so pages per day and that it wouldn't be too much.

What made this project so special is that unlike with my previous projects, this time I was willing to give myself some leeway. I thought that it would be enough if I'd only write during the weekdays and not during the weekends.

After all, since I had already written the original screenplay that included that characters and the storylines, I wouldn't have to stress that much about the adaptation. The 'hardest' part had already been done with the story.

Still, this was not an easy decision, because in every other project before this one, I had always written every day. I had never taken any days off from writing, since I was so afraid that I would stop writing and give up if I'd take a day off.

In that sense, when it comes to managing your projects, it's really that crucial that you know how important it is to have writing routines. It's crucial that you know how demanding and how much creativity is expected from you.

After all, if you're dealing with a project that requires a lot of creativity, you should be aware of how much it takes to get things done. You can't take anything for granted, which means that that you need to be prepared.

Especially if you're not used to writing a full length screenplay, you should write every single day. You should do everything in your power to make sure that you meet your daily quotas and reserve enough time for the process.

In the end, even though there's no guarantee that you'll manage to write a great screenplay, it would be unfortunate if the only reason that you didn't write that script was that you didn't have a writing routine and gave up because of that.

After all, it doesn't really require that much to be able to write every day. You just have to make sure that you're prepared every single time and that you know that you have enough time to get in the zone before you start writing.

In that sense, even though in my case I haven't really enjoyed working on the task, that is still not going to stop me from getting the job done. I'm not going to give up just because I don't feel like writing and because I feel like I'd rather do something else.

On the contrary, the reason that I'll get the project done is because I'll stick to my writing routine. I'll stick to my writing routine and make sure that no matter what happens, I'll keep writing and I won't stop before I've finished the project.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

I finally watched 'The Shape of Water'.

A couple of weeks ago me and my friend had the chance to watch Guillermo del Toro's film 'The Shape of Water'. After having postponed watching the movie for quite some time, we managed to find time to finally watch it.

The reason that we both wanted to watch the film was pretty obvious. Since the movie had won the Academy Award for best picture earlier this year, we thought that it would be a safe bet to watch it and give it a chance.

So having now seen the film, it has to be said that I have somewhat mixed feelings about it. Even though I obviously don't think that the movie is bad per se, there are some aspects about it that didn't work that well.

In any case, when it comes to the film, 'The Shape of Water', is a story about a relationship between a lonely mute cleaning lady and a mysterious sea creature. It's a fairy tale that takes place during the cold war in a high security laboratory in the U.S. 

When it comes to the story in the film, there's no denying that during its first half, the movie manages to be really entertaining and charming. It manages to keep you interested and you want to know more about the world the you're being introduced to.

After all, the first half of the movie is when I enjoyed watching all the things that happened in the movie. I found the stuff to be fascinating and it's obvious that a lot of work went into making sure that everything would look as 'authentic' as possible.

When it comes to the characters in the movie, this is the part when it's easy to feel for the main characters too. You can't help but to feel for the main protagonist lady who is trying to save the sea creature from being killed.

Not surprisingly, when the escape from the high security installment eventually happens, the movie is at its best. This is when it feels like you're watching a film that really knows what it's about and that it can't do anything wrong.

Unfortunately, it's during the second half of the movie when the story more or less runs out of steam. This is when the script goes on an autopilot and the writers are only able to come up with story beats that are predictable and lazy.

By that I mean that in the second half of the movie, there are too many moments where the characters make very little sense. In these scenes it's the plot of the movie that drives the characters instead of the characters driving the plot.

Especially when it comes to the scene where the doctor who helped our cleaning lady gives out crucial information to the villain, I just couldn't help but to be disappointed. This forced plot driven scene in my opinion made no sense at all.

In that sense, when I think about the film as a whole, it's really unfortunate that there are problems in the film's script. It's really disappointing that the story gets unimaginative and that the writers took the 'easy' way out.

After all, had the writers decided to get a bit more creative in their decisions, the movie would have been better. Had they taken some risks and had they cut some of the needless 'villain' scenes, the story would have been much more coherent.

In the end, I can't but help to be slightly underwhelmed by 'The Shape of Water'. I can't help but to think that the movie - despite being well received - is a bit underwhelming and that the writers should have done their jobs better.

After all, even though there are a lot of good things about the movie, as a whole, there are too many flaws in the story. These problems that have to do with the film's screenplay weigh the movie down a bit too much.

In that sense, I can't help but to wonder how the film managed to win the best picture award at the Oscars. I can't help but to wonder how it did that, because at least in my opinion, the movie just isn't that good and doesn't live up to its reputation.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

I'm adapting my screenplay into a book.

A couple of weeks ago I received an e-mail from one of the publishers that I had contacted earlier this year. I had inquired whether there was any chance that they could adapt my animated movie screenplay into a children's book.

After all, my script - at least in my opinion - was pretty well written and had universal appeal as a story. I thought that the story as a whole was good enough and that it deserved to be published in print form too.

So when it comes to the publisher's response, the representative of the company told me that I had some work to do. In their answer they told me that the screenplay would have to be written in Finnish, before they would read it.

Naturally, I thought that this policy that they had didn't make much sense. Why on earth would I have to translate a story from English to Finnish, considering that they all understood English and could evaluate the story based on that?

Besides, the screenplay that I wrote wouldn't be published in its current form anyway. In case they wanted to get the story adapted and published, the original screenplay would merely be used as a blueprint for the novel.

Not surprisingly, I didn't feel like spending time translating the script. Even though I certainly could have translated the story, I thought it would probably be better if I'd manage to come up with a better solution myself.

So when it comes to thinking about what to do with my script, it didn't take that long before I managed to come up with an idea. I thought that perhaps it could be me who could write the book adaptation of the screenplay.

The biggest reason for this is that since I had written the original 'film' version, I likely had the talent to write book version too. Since I had already done the hardest part of the project, I might as well do the rest of the things too.

After all, in the adaptation one would more or less only have to follow the script and write based on that. It wouldn't require the writer to  come up with any new themes, characters, storylines or anything else that mattered.

In that sense, now that I'm going to do the writing myself, I shouldn't be that worried about the process. I shouldn't be worried just because I lack experience in writing novels and just because I have to learn some basics about the craft.

After all, considering that screenwriting is universally considered to be harder than writing novels, things don't look that bad here. The fact that I've written scripts that are tight makes writing novels a lot easier when it comes to quality storytelling.

In the end, even though I'm not necessarily that excited about the upcoming project, writing a novel is a really good challenge for me. It's certainly going to challenge me and make me better as an all-around writer.

Especially considering that I don't have that many bigger projects going on at the moment, I finally have something to look forward to. I get to learn something new about writing and I'll also get out of my comfort zone.

In that sense, I can only hope that things will go well with this task. I can only hope that I'll be able to come up with a solid adaptation, because if I'm able to do that, there's a good chance that the book is going to be published and that it's going to be a hit.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

The importance of silence in writing.

When it comes to being a writer, one of the most important things about the craft has to do with your ability to concentrate. As a writer, you have to be able to concentrate on your tasks, so that you could come up with quality stuff on a consistent basis.

After all, the better you are at concentrating on your projects, the more likely it is that you'll succeed in these tasks. The more you're able to control these writing projects, the higher the chances are that you'll be able to write something that has value.

The reason that I'm writing about this is that even though most of us know how important it is to concentrate on your tasks, it's not always that easy to do. Paying attention and being able to focus is a lot more difficult than one might think.

The biggest reason that concentrating can be so hard is that there is so much noise around us. Whether we're talking about workplace environment or simply being at home, there's a good chance that you have things around that distract you.

For example, when it comes to me, I happen to work in an environment where I don't have my own office. I have to do things and write in a place where there are usually like a dozen other people who are trying to do their own things.

Not surprisingly, whenever I have to do stuff that includes creative writing, it's really difficult to write anything that makes sense. No matter how hard I'm trying, I can't manage to write stuff that is consistent and coherent enough.

As unfortunate as it is, in these cases, since I don't really have a choice, I simply have to take my projects from work to my home and continue writing there. I have to do that, because otherwise the quality of my work wouldn't be good enough.

The upside to bringing my projects to home from work is that I'm usually able to write pretty well there. My home is the place where I can write without others bothering me or creating noise that would interrupt my concentration.

After all, this is the place where it's so much easier to relax and to feel at peace as a writer. It's so much easier to be in control of my projects and focus on them, since I don't have to be in the presence of the others anymore.

Of course, just because I'm writing at my home, that doesn't automatically mean that I'm going to deliver stuff that is good enough. I'm not saying that I won't get distracted by the internet or some other things that might take my focus off my work.

At the same time, even though I have my own distractions there too, I'm certainly able to be significantly more consistent at my home. This is where my introverted mind won't get bombarded by all that noise coming from the outside world.

In that sense, when it comes to being able to concentrate and create something as a writer, it's pretty obvious that it matters where you work. It makes a huge difference whether you're working in a chaotic environment or in a place where you feel safe.

After all, the more distractions and the more hectic the environment that your workplace has, the harder it becomes to come up with quality stuff. The more chaotic your work environment is, the harder it is to create anything that works.

In that sense, it should be clear that even though we all know the importance of silence, we should pay more attention to it. We should focus on trying to make sure that we work in an environment where we can focus on what we're doing.

After all, even though there is noise, distraction and stress almost everywhere around us, those things are not good for us. We shouldn't think that being in a chaotic environment is the way to go and that you can thrive in that kind of culture.

On the contrary, being in a place where you get to concentrate on your projects is how you succeed as a writer. Being in a place where you get to be yourself and get to control your projects is how you come up with stuff that is good enough and that makes sense.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

'I, Tonya' is a really good dark comedy.

Last week me and my friend managed to watch a movie that we had heard good things about. We managed to find time to watch 'I, Tonya', a critically acclaimed movie about the life of the famous - or infamous - figure skater Tonya Harding.

Like many others, the biggest reason that we wanted to see the movie was to know more about the incident between her and Nancy Kerrigan. We wanted to know more about what happened during the run-up to the Lillehammer Olympics in 1994.

So having now seen the movie, it can be said that 'I, Tonya' managed to surprise us in a good way. Even though the movie is not always easy to watch - there are some violent scenes in it - the film is still extremely well made.

The biggest reason that the movie works so well is that the story of  Tonya Harding - that is based on real life events - is so compelling. Harding being pushed by her crazy mother to become a world class figure skater is a story that deserves to be told.

When it comes to the film, the first part of the movie is about Harding's progression from a four year old to a professional figure skater. We see her beating the odds as an underdog and her becoming the first american female skater to pull off a triple axel jump.

Later on, things obviously get more complicated for everyone involved. We get to see things like Harding's struggles with her violent husband, her struggles with her mom and the Nancy Kerrigan incident that probably everyone has heard of.

Not surprisingly, it's during these scenes and moments that involve the planning and the execution of the Kerrigan attack, that the movie really takes off. This is when the film really shines and manages to get almost ridiculously good.

Especially when it comes to all the scenes that involve Harding's so called bodyguard, you can't help but be floored by all the bizarre and darkly comedic things that happen. It's so incredible to imagine that these things more or less happened in real life.

Still, by far the most important aspect concerning the movie has to do with the notorious Nancy Kerrigan incident. How accurate is 'I, Tonya', when it comes to this bizarre skating incident that became a huge media circus?

After all, when it comes to the truthfulness of 'I, Tonya', some have said the film downplays Harding's part in the Kerrigan attack. They say that she definitely played a role in the attack and was guilty of being part of a conspiracy.

Yet, based on the research that is out there, it's more than possible that this might not be the case. It's more than a possibility that Harding is being honest and that she didn't have much - if anything to do with the planning and the execution of the attack.

Especially when you consider that her ex-husband confessed to lying about her involvement, it's more than likely it was actually him and the bodyguard who came up with the plan. They were the ones who schemed and decided to attack Kerrigan.

In that sense, when it comes to 'I, Tonya', I think it's pretty clear the movie manages to be pretty accurate and factual from start to finish. It manages to get most of its historical aspects right when it comes to things that actually matter.

After all, even though it's true that in certain scenes the film takes artistic license - like when it deals with Harding's coaches - those changes don't matter that much. These changes were made in order to make the story more straightforward and easier to follow.

In the end, when you put all these things about the film together, it's really not that surprising that 'I, Tonya', as a sports / biography movie works so well. It's not surprising that the film is so well made and entertaining.

After all, the movie more or less gets everything right when it comes to producing, writing, directing and acting. You can't help but to wonder how the whole crew managed to come up with so many good performances in the movie.

Especially when it comes to Allison Janney as Harding's monstrous mother, you can't help but to admire her. She gives such a creepy portrayal as the crazed mother, that it's no wonder that she won an Oscar for her role.

In that sense, if you haven't seen the movie yet, you should give it a go. You should give it a go, because even though the film is pretty sad in certain places, as a whole, 'I, Tonya' manages to be a funny, entertaining,  insightful and a genuinely well made movie.

Friday, April 20, 2018

How to manage your perfectionism as a writer.

When it comes to me being a writer, it's not exactly a secret that I tend to be pretty hard on myself. As a writer, I feel that I have to write good stuff all the time and that I'm not allowed to make mistakes in the process.

Especially when it comes to writing on behalf of others, I feel that I have a responsibility to get things right. I feel that since I'm not just representing myself, making mistakes is unacceptable and makes me a bad person.

So when it comes to me - or anyone else - being this kind of a 'perfectionist', it's obvious that even though it's not a bad thing to set high standards for yourself, it's not always a good thing either. It's not good to always demand too much from yourself.

The biggest problem with being a perfectionist is that even though writing good stuff requires that you try your best, there are days when things won't go your way. No matter how hard you'll try, on some days you won't be able to write good stuff at all.

During these bad days, if you're a perfectionist, you might get so stressed from possibly 'failing', that you might even think that you have failed as a human being. You might think that you're the worst person in the world and that you can't succeed in anything.

So when it comes to these situations when things don't go your way, is there anything that we could do so that we could perhaps avoid them? Is there a way to handle these moments when things just don't seem to work at all?

At least in my opinion, the best way to 'manage' yourself as a perfectionist - unlike what some might say - is actually not to lower your standards. You should not automatically think that you should become a writer that demands less from yourself.

Instead of lowering your standards, a more constructive way to manage your perfectionism would be to become more aware of yourself as a writer. You should become more aware of what your strengths and weaknesses are.

For example, when I start working on a project, it always helps if I have had previous experience working on my tasks. It helps if I'm routined enough with the processes and have a solid idea on how the writing process is going to work.

By that I mean that as long I'm aware of the mistakes that I'm going to make and how I can fix them, things are going to be okay. As long as I know how long the project is going to take on average and where the obstacles are going to be, I won't get too frustrated.

On the other hand, when it comes to projects that I'm not used to doing at all - like writing stuff using some other language (Finnish in my case), there's more than a good chance that I'm going to run into real problems with my expectations.

For example, when I wrote a thousand word documentation for our team's project last week, I felt really uneasy during the process. I didn't feel comfortable almost at any point during this supposedly 'easy' writing task.

The reason for this feeling was that even though I did have tons of experience in writing articles, I had written all my articles in English. I didn't have a writing routine at all when it comes to using my mother tongue.

So not surprisingly, when I tried to write in Finnish after like a ten year break, I kept running into obstacles all the time. I ran into obstacles, because I didn't know that I would have to adjust and that the two languages weren't completely interchangeable.

Especially when it comes to certain phrases and transitions, I felt completely lost with the project. I had such big problems that I even had to spend more than twice as much time on the project than I usually do when I write in English.

In that sense, when it comes to managing your perfectionism as a whole, it's pretty obvious that the biggest issue with the trait isn't necessarily perfectionism itself. It isn't necessarily a bad thing to keep setting high standards for yourself.

After all, in most cases, as long as you can predict  and control your projects, your perfectionism won't be a problem. As long as you know where the usual pitfalls are going to be and how you fix them, you'll be more than happy to keep pushing.

On the other hand, when it comes to cases where you don't have a realistic idea how much work is going to be required, you'll run into trouble. In these cases, the perfectionist gets overwhelmed from not being able to predict how well things are going to go.

In that sense, as a perfectionist person, I probably shouldn't lower my own 'standards' that much when it comes to writing. I probably shouldn't be thinking that as long as I'll try less, things are going to be okay and that I'll feel better.

After all, even though trying less would be the easy way out, it wouldn't likely be the right thing to do. It wouldn't be right for me to think that the best way would be to slack instead of rethinking my expectations and my abilities.

In that sense, I just wish that I had been less arrogant with my task last week. I wish that I had been less arrogant about myself, because had I been more aware of myself and my challenges, I would have had a much easier task getting the project finished.