"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms."
—Muriel Rukeyser

How To Be Productive: Understanding Time, Work and Creativity by Dr. Ken Atchity

Film Courage: One of your many books Ken is WRITE TIME? And in the forward you say that the world can be divided into two people, productive people and non-productive people. And you say that productive people have a love affair with time. I’ve love to know what makes someone on the right side of time and what make someone where time is their enemy?

Dr. Ken Atchity, Author/Producer: Well that’s a very good question put in a very intelligent way that makes it hard to get a handle on it because time is…time doesn’t really exist. Time is a human construct, we created time. Squirrels and chipmunks don’t have much idea of time. They know that the sun rises and the sun goes down and they know that it rains but they don’t think the way that we do and they don’t keep track of their birthdays for example, only humans do that. And it’s unfortunate because you’re only as old as you think you are. And that’s the way a squirrel looks at it and nobody is arguing with the squirrel about it but humans know better.

Some people look at time as the enemy and some people look at it as a friend. There is an old Spanish saying that is “There is more time than life,” which I always thought was a wonderful way of looking at it because that is what a productive person would say “there is more time than life.” And another Spanish or Italian saying says that “Life is short, but wide.” And that’s another way of productively looking at it. Like people say “How can you do as much stuff as you do?” Well that’s because that’s what I do. I don’t do anything else. And I used to give classes on time management and do a lot of studies on it, in fact WRITE TIME is filled with time management theories. And one of the things I noticed about people was they had no idea where their time went. And they go “I don’t know where you find all the time.” And I would say “I don’t know where you lose it.”

I mean we all have the same amount of time and they go “How much time do we have by the way? How much time is in a week?” And 2 out of 10 people can ask the question right off the top of their heads because they’ve never really multiplied 25 by 7 and realized exactly how many hours there are in a week.

Everybody has the same amount of time. So what I would do in a time management class at UCLA or elsewhere is I would say let’s chart your time this week. I just want you to make a chart of what you do with your time and let’s come in and talk about it next week when we come back together. And they would come back in and that was before I asked them how many hours there were in a week I would wait for the third week to ask that question.

And some people would come in with 98-hour weeks and some people would come in with 62-hour weeks and nobody seem to agree in general how many hours there were in a week because the hours they gave me didn’t add up, they didn’t make sense. They’d say “I sleep six hours a day.” But it turned out in the third week of analysis that instead of 6 hours a day they were actually sleeping 10 hours. They just were telling themselves they were sleeping 6 hours a day.

How much time do you spend talking on the telephone? Most people thought they maybe spent 15 minutes a day, when in fact it might be an hour a day. And watching television (of course). Some people said they were only watching an hour a day when they were actually watching three hours a day.

But a productive person knows exactly how long it takes to do something. Like when I write a screenplay or a book, I can tell you how many hours it takes to do it and so I know that I can get it done in a certain amount of time. Agatha Christie apparently wrote as many as 10 books a year. She had to use four or five pen names because she just kept writing. When you think about it writing is a function of how fast you type. Because I always say (in my writing book including that one) if you’re making a rule not to sit down to write if you don’t know what you’re going to write then you’ll never waste any time and you’ll never have writer’s block. So simply don’t sit down until you know what you’re going to write. It’s just a matter of how fast can you type. So it’s better to be walking along the beach thinking about the structure of your story then it is to be wasting a lot of time sitting in front of the computer typing stuff and throwing it away and all that stuff. Just figure it all out in your head. “Well what if I forget it?” Well guess what? If you forget it that’s probably good. You are forgetting forgettable things? You won’t forget it when it starts getting really good. Because then it will do what Faulkner said, it will start haunting you and you won’t be able to forget it and then you’ll just write it down.

William Saroyan was asked once how long it took him to write the Human Comedy because somebody had told the journalist it had took him three days and he said “No, it took me all my life to write it. It just took me a few days to type it out.”…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).

NEW From Story Merchant Books: Romeo's Beat by Vincent Atchity

How do you make a garden grow?
How do you find a beat that will just go on and on?
How do you find a love that lasts forever?

Juliet Sawyer, renowned botanist, tends a garden that is like none other in the Midwestern suburb where she lives. The envy of her neighbors and of landscape architects all over the world, Juliet hasn’t gotten there without learning some hard lessons—about soil and sunlight, about desire and letting go.

Colin Hogan is a musician on the verge of greatness, and a solo traveler with an imaginary companion. If only he can find the sound that will set him apart from the teeming masses who record songs without ever getting a hit. If only he can find the special someone who can make his world and work come to life.

When Juliet meets Colin, in a quiet cafe on a side street in a faraway city, neither one of them suspects how wide their worlds will become.

Romeo’s Beat is a timeless love story about a woman who is true to herself and to her beliefs about truth, about a man who is a seeker and a listener, and about the unexpected shape of the love that conquers all. It’s a story about the power of love to lead us into an unfamiliar territory of soundscapes and landscapes, the sorrows that come, the joy that endures and permeates all, love that turns the world upside down and sets it straight, love that carries us away from wrong ideas we had about ourselves and puts us in touch with the reality that makes our hearts come alive.

About Vincent Atchity
Vincent Atchity has lived in Spain, Scotland, California, New York, Kansas, and the District of Columbia. He now lives in Colorado with his wife and their three sons

Alexei Navalny's widow Yulia has vowed to continue his work to fight for a "free Russia"

Her voice sometimes shaking with grief and anger, Ms Navalnaya asked viewers to stand alongside her and "share the fury and hate for those who dared to kill our future".

She also accused the authorities of hiding her husband's body.

Navalny's death in prison was announced on 16 February.

The prison authorities at the Siberian penal colony he was being held in said he collapsed following a walk and never regained consciousness.

Navalny's body has not yet been released to his family, despite his mother and lawyer travelling to the remote penal colony where he was being held as soon as news of his death broke.

Attempts to locate the body have repeatedly been shut down by the prison mortuary and local authorities.

On Monday, the Kremlin said an investigation into Navalny's death was ongoing and that there were "no results" as of yet.

Later, Navalny's spokewoman Kira Yarmysh said that investigators told Navalny's mother they would not hand over the body for two weeks while they conduct a "chemical analysis".

In her video message, Ms Navalnaya said she believed the authorities were waiting for traces of the deadly nerve agent Novichok to disappear from Navalny's body.

Navalny, who was the Russian opposition's most significant leader for the last decade, had been serving a 19-year sentence on charges many viewed as politically motivated.

Now, Ms Navalnaya - who previously mostly shied away from the spotlight - indicated she might be ready to continue her husband's political fight for change in Russia.

"Three days ago, Vladimir Putin killed my husband Alexei Navalny. Putin killed the father of my children. Putin took away the most important thing I had. The person who was closest to me and whom I loved most," she said in her video message.

She promised to "continue to fight for our country" and added: "We need to use every opportunity - to fight against the war, against corruption, against injustice. To fight for fair elections and freedom of speech. To fight to take our country back. Russia - free, peaceful, happy - the beautiful Russia of the future, of which my husband dreamed so much."

In the video, Ms Navalnaya also said she knew "exactly why Putin killed Alexei three days ago" and promised to release the information "soon".

Makeshift memorials to Alexei Navalny have appeared across Europe

Western leaders have put the blame for Navalny's death squarely on President Putin.

Responding to questions from reporters on Monday, President Joe Biden said: "The fact of the matter is: Putin is responsible, whether he ordered it or he is responsible for the circumstances he put that man in. And... it's a reflection of who he is. And it just cannot be tolerated."

During a press conference on Monday, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he believed her husband "was slowly murdered in a Russian jail by Putin's regime".

Both the EU and the US have said they are considering new sanctions on Russia following Navalny's death.

Germany, Sweden, Finland, Norway and France said they were summoning the Russian ambassadors in their capitals.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said comments by Western politicians in regards to Navalny's death were "arrogant" and "unacceptable".

Russian prison authorities said at the weekend that Navalny had suffered "sudden death syndrome".

Hundreds of people in more than 30 cities across Russia were detained at the weekend for attending makeshift memorials to Navalny.

In Moscow, 20 people were sentenced to various amounts of prison time - ranging from one day to nine days - and two people were fined 10,000 rubles (£85). n.

A Write Time Reviewed by The Screenwriting Struggle



I’ve reviewed many books about the writing process, from the broad and overarching to the highly specialized, focused on a singular step of the journey. I’ve read the greats’ musings on everything from formulating the idea, to plotting it out, to emphasizing the emotional element, to remedies for writer’s block. Each is great in its own right, but what if I want a mentor to really make it personal, get in my head, delve into the intricacies of my own unique process, troubleshoot my pet neuroses that seem to chronically hold me back from reaching what I know to be my true potential, and clue me in on how to harness and optimize the writer’s most precious resource; time. Simple request, right? Simple for Kenneth Atchity, author of Write Time: Guide to the Creative Process, from Vision through Revision – and Beyond.

This book reads like a writer’s counseling session (the constructive kind), in every sense of that term; from cold hard business prudence strategies to processing deep-seated self-defeating thoughts. It grabs you from the Author’s Note which, as with any great forward or introduction, does more than just preview what’s to come. Dr. Atchity‘s credibility is firmly established here. He lets us know that 1) he feels our pain, and understands what we’re going through as creative souls who want to be professional artists, and 2) he’s been around the block enough times to know how to get us to where we want to be.

Once we get rolling, Atchity dispenses with the BS right out of the gate and lets us know that, while writing might be based on intuition and creative passions, it’s a craft and a discipline that must be honed through a rigorous and deliberate regimen. But here’s the good news – he’s going to take you by the hand and lead you through the process of establishing a productive and rewarding routine, and he’s going to leverage your own psychology to do it, turning your debilitating issues and hangups to your advantage. The book takes a deep dive into the human mind, points out how its natural workings must be considered, accommodated, and manipulated to develop habits and tricks to make your mental apparatus work for you instead of against you in achieving your creative goals, and some of his strategies will really surprise you!

Atchity provides an intriguing illustration of the interplay between parts of the brain that activates the motive power of creation. Just as conflict is the foundation of story, so it’s also the spark that sets your creative will into motion – this is the conflict between your rational faculties (which he nicknames the Continent of Reason) and your free-wheeling intuition (dubbed the Islands of Consciousness). The original quirky ideas of the islands are translated into the comprehensible and relatable language of the Continent through the intermediary function he calls the Managing Editor. Getting a grasp on these dynamics allows us to work toward striking a balance between “tricking” our brains into action and riding the wave of their natural functioning to channel our mental energy into our writing. Sound intriguing? That’s just the beginning!

As the title indicates, Write Time charts a detailed path to writing success, leaving no stone unturned, from initial dream all the way to polished product. It’s a comprehensive guide to the creative, technical, business, and personal aspects of the craft. Sound too rigid and formulaic for your taste? What if I told you it entails A LOT of variation at the numerous stages, and more than a few mandated vacations? The aim isn’t that you match a prescribed workflow to the letter. It’s to show you a proven real-world model and leave you to dovetail what’s useful with your own strengths, fill in any gaps in your process, make adjustments, and replace what’s not working for you. This section is all about establishing a writing agenda that your mind is geared to stick to and thrive on, and how to not become a statistic who perpetually and eternally has a “work in progress.”

Of course, one of the main threads of the book is the teaching of time management. It’ll show that you don’t really lack the time to achieve your writing goals. The time is there, you’re just not coordinating your cognitive resources in such a way to generate the necessary output within that time. Maintaining a reasonable perspective on the work/ time relationship is paramount. There are methods of mindset, planning, strategy, prioritizing, and step-by-step exercises to optimize your available chunks of time (even if you have to steal them). This chapter alone is worth the price of the book.

From there the writing process begins, and we’re off to the races. Here’s what’s in store as you make your way through Write Time:

  • Approaching drafting and revision
  • Style – how it comes about, and its rightful place in the writer’s hierarchy of values (pretty low, but valuable)
  • A sample step by step process of creating a nonfiction book, explaining the reasons for the order, actions, and method at each waypoint; with an accompanying comparison to fiction writing
  • The most important elements of fiction, and how to pack your story with maximum drama by tapping into your intuition to find its natural shape and structure (which has nothing to do with chronology)
  • What your main priority should be to succeed in writing (Hint: It’s not using big words and feeling clever)
  • A lengthy chapter on getting your book published. Don’t make the mistake of dismissing and skipping this one as irrelevant to the plight of a screenwriter. There’s a wealth of information here about…
    • Dealing with gatekeepers with respect and professionalism (in person and through correspondence such as query letters and emails)
    • Legal forms and contracts for deal-making
    • Handling rejection, and the higher pressure situation of handling acceptance
    • Seeking representation, consulting attorneys
    • Customizing your workspace.
  • The importance of understanding mythology for shaping and clarifying your story, with a striking illustration of how a film can go astray due to the inconsistent retelling of a myth.
  • Methods and tricks for getting in touch with your subconscious through dreamwork and other avenues, along with some brilliant case studies of psychological techniques employed by writers having story problems, that’ll leave you inspired and cracking up.
  • Overcoming psychological traumas of the past by channeling them into our writing and bridging the gap between conscious and unconscious.
  • Some nice practical nitty-gritty stuff on screenwriting – character development, structure, twists, layers of effective storytelling; all through the prism of the key questions on the minds of the producers/ executives evaluating and vetting your work for production and/ or broadcast.
  • The card system revisited, with workflow tips distinguishing the processes of novels vs. screenplays.
  • Insights about revising (keep a particular eye out for the “conflict or cut” rule), and how many revisions are enough.
  • The crucial golden Hollywood skill of pitching and how it must not be overlooked in one’s pursuit of a screenwriting career, with a really fun illustration of the pitch-to-production process (it involves a relay race).
  • A baker’s dozen of straightforward rules for breaking into Hollywood; covering the personal, psychological, mindset, business, and more.
  • A critical therapeutic chapter on Recapturing Creativity – what to do when your motivation to create (inevitably) wanes. A veritable troubleshooting manual for the writer’s perspective. Something to be revisited any time you feel you’ve lost your way.
  • He closes with an amazing collection of his favorite quotes from great figures to leave the reader feeling inspired, encouraged, and motivated to carry on with the struggle.

Overall, Write Time amounts to a rather economical mentoring session with a writing sage who’s been there, done that, and wants us to get there too. It’s a premium blend of tough love, advice, encouragement, clarification, and delusion-busting. It approaches the needs of the writer from every angle and gives us what we’re yearning for, whatever that may be. For the writer at any stage of the game looking for guidance, this one is not to be missed.

Story Merchant Books -E-Deal!⁠ $.99 Today on Amazon⁠!

A Write Time: Guide to the Creative Process, from Vision through Revision—and Beyond ⁠


In this foundational guide to the writer’s mind and productivity used by thousands of writers worldwide since its original publication...called by the New York Times "the best...book on writing," Dr. Atchity shows how the detailed steps of the creative process interface with the writer’s greatest asset, time, to provide both creative success and peace of mind.⁠

Film Courage : Character Development Is About These 3 Things

Professional coaching tips to help you figure out point of view, structure, and master all the elements of story. Learn more www.thewriterslifeline.com

A Very Special Interview: Shades of Love and Ken Atchity with Amanda Reyes! Happy Valentine's Day


Made for TV Mayhem Show » podcast

Unearthing great television... one program at a time

This podcast is dedicated to made for television movies and other forms of classic TV! Brought to you by Amanda Reyes (Made for TV Mayhem), Daniel R. Budnik (Bleeding Skull: A 1980s Trash Horror Odyssey), and Nathan Johnson (The Hysteria Continues), plus a few special guests who appear from time to time. With reviews, retrospectives and more, this podcast is your best source for classic television love!

Dr. Mother Love chats with Dr. Ken Atchity


Dr. Ken has developed and produced over 30 films, including The Meg (Jason Statham--$560M worldwide; sequel appears August 23, 2023), Life or Something Like It (Angelina Jolie), The Kennedy Detail (Emmy-nominated), The Lost Valentine (Betty White--best CBS movie of the week), and Hysteria (Maggie Gyllenhaal). His interviews on writing, publishing, and Hollywood are collected on his Story Merchant YouTube channel.

Born in Cajun Louisiana, and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, he graduated from Rockhurst High School’s Honor Program with an Ignatian Scholarship to study at Georgetown University. While in high school, he published his first book reviews for The Kansas City Star. At Georgetown, Atchity majored in Classics and English and rose to Editor-in-Chief of The Hoya. 

He spent his junior summer at Cambridge University in England, studying literature and social institutions, then won the prestigious Vergilian Academy Silver Medal. His correspondence, literary artifacts, and entertainment memorabilia are institutionalized at Georgetown’s Atchity Aguillard Collectionhttps://snaccooperative.org/vocab_administrator/resources/8044322

Dr. Atchity’s company, Writer’s Lifeline, Inc., offers several personal 1-on-1 coaching services that cover topics like Dealing with your Creative Mind and Getting Your Story Straight. Respectively, the two services delve into artistic self-improvement and the comprehensive development of a writer’s written project with an eye for a strong structure, characters, and marketability. 

“Write Your Own Obituary” was recently added to the offerings.

Will There Be a Meg 3?

In order for The Meg to be Jason Statham's biggest ongoing franchise, Meg 3 has to happen, with many fans wondering if it is coming. While Meg 3 isn't confirmed yet, it seems like the film will happen, as the box office success of the previous two films means that a third movie is likely to continue this trend. Director Ben Wheatley has commented that there is still a lot to explore in the universe of The Meg, meaning that he is eager to continue the franchise. Meg 2: The Trench is still fairly new, but word on a third The Meg film could come in the near future.

via Screen Rant

Story Merchant Books E-Book Deal ⁠ ⁠FREE February 5 - February 9! Gambino: The Rise: A Novel Based on the True Story by James E. Pierre ⁠ ⁠

James Pierre Talks about the Success of his Novel Gambino: The Rise  

Having my book optioned by a major production company is a dream come true. As a writer, you write for yourself, because you can’t help yourself. The characters chatter endlessly in your mind, begging you to bring their stories to life on the page. So you do, but almost entirely as a means of quieting the voices. You hope—but never really think—that others will find your characters as intriguing and engaging as you did. So, when in fact others do, it’s a validating feeling. 

Available on Amazon 
Ken Atchity was the first person to believe in me and in Carlo Gambino, the main character in my book, Gambino: The Rise. Before Ken, I felt like I was the only person that was interested in crime boss Carlo Gambino and his organization, the Gambino Family. Ken opened my eyes to the fact that the general public might be just as interested in the Gambinos as I was. And he was right. Years after publishing the book with Story Merchant, renown Hollywood producer Julius Nasso expressed interest in the novel, and here we are today. On the precipice of a great achievement—and what is every writer’s dream—to see their book turned into a movie. I cannot thank Ken and Julius enough for this opportunity. It validates  the many years of research—and long hours in front of my keyboard—that went into bringing Gambino and his world to life. I pray that we see this film project all the way through, so that the world will get to meet and fall in love with Carlo Gambino, just as I did. 

And to all of the aspiring writers out there: never give up on your characters. Listen to them. Then breathe life into them, on the page. And then find a literary agent who believes in them as much as you do, and chances are, at some point, if you remain patient and committed to the process, your characters and their stories will be introduced to the rest of the world, for everyone to enjoy.


James E. Pierre

Why The Meg Is A Perfect Franchise For Jason Statham


Meg 2: The Trench's box office success sets up the possibility that The Meg could be Jason Statham's biggest franchise, which is a good thing. The Meg franchise is actually perfect for Jason Statham, with it being exactly what the actor needs in his career. The Meg is a highly profitable action franchise in which Jason Statham is the sole star, with him being plastered all over every trailer and poster. The Meg is big, dumb, and fun, meaning that a litany of sequels could be released without hurting the little prestige that The Meg franchise has.

Jason Statham is a key part of several other franchises, but he isn't the star of any of his biggest ongoing series. Jason Statham is only one of many stars in the Fast & Furious franchise, with him not being nearly as prominent as Vin Diesel. Even in the spinoff Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, The Rock was the main character while Jason Statham played second fiddle to him. Statham is also part of The Expendables franchise, where again he is merely a part of the ensemble cast led by Sylvester Stallone. Statham is at home in The Meg, with it being his sole star vehicle.