Brainstorming Part One


“Life is `trying things to see if they work”–Ray Bradbury


I recently wrote an article on the “Ten commandments of Brainstorming” (And a few extras) for Creative Screenwriting Magazine.   But I thought I’d rewrite it and  share a preview of its contents with you, Constant Reader.


Creativity is a matter of both self-expression and problem solving.   In both arenas, the ability to generate vast quantities of ideas is essential: “the only way to have a good idea is by coming up with a LOT of bad ideas!”


One way of approaching this is the process known as “brainstorming,” where two or more people work together to generate solutions for a given problem.  Few things can be more practical, not only as a direct means of solving issues or creating ideas, but as a pure exercise in contacting creative “flow.”


There are countless approaches to this, but lets explore a few of them over the next few days, shall we?




We never lack ideas. What we lack is confidence that those ideas are good enough. Everyone goes quietly insane every night.  Creativity is tapping into that infinite flow of possibilities.  EXERCISE: Keep a digital recorder by the side of your bed.  When you wake up after a dream, record its content. In the morning, transcribe.  Obviously, you can also use a simple pen and paper.


The trick with this dream-journaling is that dreams are often fragile tissues.   We can awaken in the morning with a clear sense of our dreams, and just sitting up can make them dissolve.  So…keeping a recorder on your bedside or under your pillow can allow you to wake up in the middle of the night, whisper your dream into the recorder, then roll over and go back to sleep.  This recording then becomes a “prompt” to help you remember that dream in the morning, when you transcribe it into a journal.


This exercise helps you to make a connection between your conscious and unconscious minds, critical to the creative process.


Try this and let us know what kind of madness you come up with!



p.s.–and please remember that the “Make Your Own Movie” webinar is tonight, January 22, at 6pm pst.  Our goal is to give $2001 in value in this FREE educational experience. Join us, or please pass this information to a creative friend!  WWW.HOLLYWOODLOOPHOLE.COM

Last Day for advance registration!




Frankly, I’m so convinced that this is the distillation of everything I’ve learned about success since childhood, that I’m applying it to EVERYTHING in my life.  Are my goals clear?  Do I believe I can and should have them?   Am I taking daily action that is NOT dependent upon external cooperation?   Do I fill my heart with love and gratitude every day?   If I do, if I do these things correctly, I WIN, no matter what anyone else thinks or does.


And this is the point behind my insistence that writers write short stories: not only do you learn your craft (and the business) most rapidly, but there is a great satisfaction in completing a task.  But it wasn’t until a couple of technologies matured that it became possible to apply this same idea to movie making.  Changing the order slightly (which is perfectly cool with a multiplicative equation):


GOAL: To make movies, entertain and enlighten, express yourself…and generate the resources necessary to support your family and live with grace.

FAITH: Thousands of others have done this.  If you are willing and able to pay the same price, you can get the same results.

GRATITUDE: Sheer joy in spending your days doing the thing you love.  And of course, all of the love, health, and positive experiences that have brought you to this point in your life.

ACTION:  Well…this is where we can fall down.    The usual pattern is “writing scripts” and beyond a doubt, it works.   But what you CANNOT do by “writing scripts” is complete the cycle of art, so that you actually share what you have done, learn what happens after you type “the end,” and learn what the actual “thing” called “cinematic art” might be.  


And traditionally, you could not do this without the cooperation of multi-million dollar studios, and executives walking on thin ice to keep their cushy jobs.    But until you GET that cooperation, you literally don’t understand what you are doing…unless you cheat.


Yeah, we’re talking about cheating.   Making your own @#$$ movies. Short movies: 10-15 minutes, perhaps.    And in that way, whether or not you want to “get into Hollywood”, you are not only learning at your fastest rate, but actually creating real works of craft and self-expression.  And at the most basic level, it costs NOTHING but time, energy, and storytelling ability.


And that is the subject of tomorrow’s FREE webinar.  My wife, the rather amazing Tananarive Due and I will explain exactly why and how to make your own movie, for your own entertainment, to learn, to share, or to advance your career.  It’s up to you.


Please join us by going to  At 6pm pst tomorrow we are creating a module for our course the SCREENWRITING MACHINE, and it is your opportunity, FREE OF CHARGE, to ask anything you want.    This is community building, one piece at a time, and if you join us, you are helping us lay the foundation.


Join us!  Register now at  I promise you won’t be disappointed!


Write with passion,

Hollywood’s panic is your gain

I’m a dinosaur. For decades, I’ve discouraged students from self-publishing (although that’s MUCH better than “vanity” publishing, where you pay a company to publish your book for you). The “Machine” for writers says that you stay away from publishing books until you have published 10 stories (on average). Because there are hundreds of magazines, anthologies, webzines and so forth that pay at least a little money, Tananarive and I have always believed that a talented hard working writer WILL find her way through the system, no matter where in the world they are.

But I’ve come to realize that THIS IS NOT TRUE WITH SCREENWRITING.

The traditional method is:
Move to Hollywood.
Get a job in the industry/go to Film School
Write a stack of scripts.
Attract the attention of an agent
Enter production
Enter post-production
Get distribution deal

Fail a single step, and the entire “chain” breaks. Your “bridge” to success collapses. A single step. And frankly, that sucks. Even if you SUCCEED at doing it…once…you might not ever do it again. There are screenwriters who have won OSCARS and still struggled to get another film made. What chances do we have?

Well…this is where my friend Art Holcomb came in. Frankly, as an in-demand columnist, lecturer, Hollywood script consultant and media advisor, he has insights I lack. I’ve had plenty of scripts produced, but never actually been “on the other side of the table” as it were. What Art said about the actual nature of the game was depressing at first…and then exhilarating.

Because once we put our heads together, compared our experiences, and looked at what was working for young artists in the 21st Century, we realized that there really was another way. A NO-FAIL, NO-EXCUSES way for a screenwriter with a teaspoon of guts to actually “hack” the system.

Because THERE IS A LOOPHOLE. Yes, there is.

The shift in technology makes it possible. HOLLYWOOD IS PANICKING because of these “loopholes”, which are shattering their century-long “hold” on the industry.   (Think of the alarm in the music industry as services like Napster came into existence.  The movie industry isn’t as bad…it’s WORSE.  And that, my friend, is bad for major studios…but good for me and you!)

This panic, and the new technologies and social changes that triggered it, are YOUR ADVANTAGE, if you have the heart to take it.

This isn’t a joke, and it isn’t a gimmick. The answer? MAKE YOUR OWN SHORT MOVIE. We raised 30 thousand dollars to make “Danger Word” and it changed our relation to Hollywood. BUT YOU DON’T NEED THAT MUCH. NOT EVEN CLOSE.  In fact, you can probably do it for UNDER A HUNDRED DOLLARS.  Tananarive made hers for about SEVENTY BUCKS.

In two hours, we can teach you why this works, how it works, how to find the resources, why EVEN IF YOUR ONLY AMBITION IS TO BE A SCREENWRITER, with no slightest interest in being a director or producer, you will learn more screenwriting in ONE YEAR of following our program than you will from a FOUR YEAR film school.

This is new. It is complete. It is radical, and it is FUN.

You will learn:
How to START your script
How to FINISH your script.
How to banish the FEAR that stops you from speaking your TRUTH in your script
How to learn at accelerated speed, and learn the things that, before now, you had to join an expensive film school, or be one of the “annointed ones” who, through some combination of luck and skill actually “win the lottery” and get a film made.
How to position yourself to attract real Hollywood talent when you’re ready
How to have real FUN again. To recapture what made you want to write in the firstplace–to MAKE MOVIES.

Even if all you want to do is write, and have NO ambition to direct or produce, this is the fastest route to understanding your craft, guaranteed.    And if you DO want to actually make movies, to create your own films with total control?

Ladies and Gentlemen…start your engines!

Art and I have created something that opens the door to a totally different relationship with your creativity. You will have specific homework, specific guidance, a social media group to support you, a THOUSAND DOLLAR contest to inspire you, and teleseminars where you can ask anything you want. And at the end of the year, if you don’t agree you’ve had the time of your life, learned more, done more, and advanced your skill and career knowledge beyond your dreams, we’ll gladly return your tiny investment.

This is a path from “nothing” to “everything.” If you have even a smidgeon of self-confidence…if you are sick of being an “outsider” and want to get into the Great Game, just check out the “Screenwriting Machine” at WWW.HOLLYWOODLOOPHOLE.COM

You have nothing to lose but your helplessness!

Write With Passion!

Ladies and Gentlemen…start your engines!

I woke up this morning VIBRATING with joy, because I finally get to share my secret project with you!

Today’s finally the day the SCREENWRITING MACHINE revs to life.  To create it, to makes something that would cut through the Hollywood b.s.  I needed an ally, someone who is more of an “insider” than I am, and found a superb on in Art Holcomb, story and craft columnist for Creative Screen writing magazine, a gentleman of encyclopedic knowledge of the art and business of writing, and a man of genuine passion…and compassion…for the life of the writer.    

How I wish I’d met him in my 20’s!!  His insights cut through the b.s. like you wouldn’t believe.


The SCREENWRITING MACHINE is a specific path to success for 21st century screenwriters and film-makers, unique and powerful.  It is multi-media, combining video, audio, MP3, discussion groups, teleseminars and webinars and a THOUSAND DOLLAR contest into an absolutely killer package with a very simple goal–to turn you into a successful screenwriter.  Period.


We worked our hearts out, but I needed your help, and you didn’t let me down.   The flood of survey responses helped us “fine tune” the product, and in thanks we’re adding a very special LIMITED TIME offer for you, the ones who helped us get across that finish line.    More on that LIMITED TIME OFFER in just a minute.


The SCREENWRITING MACHINE that describes not just the paths others have followed, but a  new route to take you from rank beginner to as close to “pro” as your heart and skill can take you.  If you have the will to WORK, we have the way to maximize your efforts, and gain the tools you need.   

And to help motivate you we’ve done a dozen different things, but one of them is a THOUSAND DOLLAR   CONTEST.   A THOUSAND DOLLARS first prize, FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS second prize, and TWO HUNDRED FIFTY dollars third prize, just for extra motivation.    If you are ready to work, we are ready to help.

 WWW.SCREENWRITINGWEBINAR.COM is the URL, and you need to go NOW.   


We have built-in discussion groups, and a FB group, and other extras along the way, all at an unbelievably small investment, about what a single college lecture costs to attend.


Because Art, my wife and partner Tananarive Due and I want you to succeed, we’re offering something worth more than the investment in the course itself.   Everyone who enrolls in the FIRST TEN DAYS only will be invited to a  FREE THREE PART WEBINAR/TELESEMINAR to answer all your questions.  


ALL  questions.   The ones you asked in the survey, and new ones as well.     Nothing off limits.   The SCREENWRITING MACHINE itself was designed to deal with all of this, but there is nothing like live conversation.  Art,  T and I will be on the line, and holding your hands as you explore this new approach.


There it is, the whole kit and kaboodle.  We really hope you’re going to take advantage of this opportunity.




The future is here!

You can have your story…or you can have your life

Original published on Darkush as ““Secret Formula” #4: Gratitude

All right, the last basic piece of the puzzle (we’ll discuss minor or supplemental pieces soon).


Gratitude is the one that kicked my butt in Atlanta. How am I supposed to be happy about something causing me so much pain? I could see the trap: while it is possible to power yourself with negative emotions (fear, anger, hate) that is a different path. “The Dark Side of the Force.” I don’t deny that it works, but that was not, at all, what was being discussed in Wattle’s book.

Not “THE” path, but certainly “A” path, and the one that called to me. Even if I could find things to be grateful for in this instance, could I apply this across the board? Can a person be grateful in ANY situation?

This is going to be a delicate one, but I’m going to mention it anyway. One of the great teachers of my life was a woman named Dawn Callan, teacher of a fabulous self-defense/empowerment workshop called “Awaken The Warrior Within.” In two days, Dawn could teach women more about self defense than most instructors can in two years. She did this with a combination of simple techniques drilled endlessly for two days at high intensity, combined with spiritual therapy-group style introspection and sharing. Then, at the end, you practice your skills against a padded attacker, in a combat exercise that has to be experienced to be believed. INTENSE. Breakthrough stuff. (more…)

I’m not smart enough to understand everything the universe is up to.

TAGR #13: The Sixth Sense

No, not M. Night Shyamalan’s best movie, but rather the culmination of the entire Napoleon Hill philosophy. And again, he is playing in a realm beyond rational thought. If you can’t go there, I suggest you simply assume that he and his mastermind were wrong. On the other hand, if you are willing to speculate a bit, I believe something quite useful can be gained.

The sixth sense defies description! It cannot be described to a person who has not mastered the other principles of this philosophy, because such a person has no knowledge, and no experience with which the
sixth sense may be compared.

–Napoleon Hill

If I take this literally, then it would be a mistake to attempt to approach this directly. With all due respect to Mr. Hill, SOME of what he discusses here has indeed been spoken of in various esoteric texts, but “Think And Grow Rich” is a hard-nosed book on success, not an airy-fairy new age bundle of aphorisms…so what’s going on?

Well…I think that the best way of describing this is to say that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. That if you take the preliminary steps: Focus desire, nurture faith, constantly imprint goals and positive beliefs, model excellence, develop your creative imagination, create and work your plan, make decisions quickly and change them slowly, persist in the face of all opposition, maintain a positive attitude, form alliances with others for mutual support and welfare, “channel” your emotional and physiological sexual energy, and open yourself to the possibility of non-ordinary communication…something miraculous can and will happen.

Frankly, the weeks I’ve spent going over the 13 basic principles have been a revelation. Again, I am grateful beyond belief to my Mom for introducing me to this. In the intervening years, I’ve experienced (what seemed to be) instances of precognition, aura reading, altered states, and non-sensory perception. While I can’t predict their occurrences, I’ve stopped being surprised when it happens. I watch it with a slight sense of amusement and wonder, understanding that there is doubtless some physical explanation: but I don’t have to understand that explanation to take advantage of the information.

And that’s the key. My assumption is that I’m simply not smart enough to figure out everything the universe is up to. And that if I limit my input to what I can understand, I have diminished the overall input of useful or accurate data. On the other hand, you don’t want to be too credulous, either.

In my world, that means that I apply any new information to all four major areas: body, mind, relationships, and finances. The more useful it is, the more I consider it to be true. The same is true of “experts” teaching about any subject. The more successful they are in all areas, the more accurate I believe their perceptions to be. By applying these two metrics, it is possible to sort your way through a huge amount of behavioral options safely: look at the people who practice X, or have opinion Y. How do they measure in ALL areas, compared to the general population?

If worse, or about the same, I feel safe in ignoring them. If better…evaluate more closely.

In my examination of high-functioning human beings a belief in non-ordinary communication or “intuition” is disproportionately high. This does NOT mean they are literally correct, but I do interpret this as “it would be smart to keep an open mind.”

As I’ve said, I have two distinct personalities, a scientist and a shaman. They overlap a little, but not much. They are testy with each other, but do exchange Christmas cards. And that, for right now, is enough for me.


Your unconscious is the iceberg, your dreams the Titanic…

TAGR #11: The Subconscious Mind

TAGR #11: The Subconscious Mind

“THE SUBCONSCIOUS MIND consists of a field of consciousness, in which
every impulse of thought that reaches the objective mind through any
of the five senses, is classified and recorded, and from which thoughts
may be recalled or withdrawn as letters may be taken from a filing
cabinet.”–Napoleon Hill

And this is one of those moments when you can peek through the artifice to see what Hill is actually concentrating on. One of the “secrets” of TAGR is that Hill alludes to a certain principle embedded in every chapter. Other books and courses have of course spoiled this “secret” over the years, and I won’t be one of them–Hill considers it your job to find this principle all by your lonesome.

But that “secret” (and I seriously suggest you study TAGR until you discover it for yourself) is very nearly matched by the importance of another: that every chapter in the book is designed to improve communication between the conscious and unconscious mind.

Faith, desire, auto-suggestion, specialized knowledge, master mind groups, sex transmutation…it’s all about enhancing this conscious-unconscious communication. My personal favorite form of “synching” these two are meditation and self-hypnosis. The idea is that the conscious mind holds the goals and plans. The unconscious holds our self-image, beliefs, emotional land-mines, and so forth. Only when inner and outer match do we have full access to our innate capacities. Let’s take a look at the different arenas:

1) Martial arts. While tactics and strategy can be programmed consciously, in the heat of combat you have access only to what has been programmed into the unconscious–there is little time for conscious calculation when someone is trying to brain you. Your unconscious will control your training routine, discipline, courage, and much more.

2) Relationships. Much of the “how to pick up” ” nonsense (whether the issue is girls or guys, short-term sex or long-term relationships) is about imitating the confident body language of someone who is successful and self-confident. Infinitely preferable is actually BE COMING successful on the terms of your chosen audience, and being genuinely self-confident and self-loving. Assume that the best results you’ll ever get will come when you aren’t paying conscious attention.

3) Writing. Stephen King refers to his creative elves as the “boys in the basement.” He often starts stories with no idea how they will end–he has that kind of trust in his inner self. “The boys in the basement” have been trained by reading many millions of words (heck, it could be over a billion), writing millions, identifying with the finest writers of history, and a deep appreciation for small-town life and basic human nature. He is obviously writing what the heck he feels like, and it is instructive to study him for this reason.

4) Finances. The number of subconscious traps associated with finances are too long to list. And I wouldn’t be the right person to enumerate, for reasons we’ve touched on. But lets just say that managing your money is a daily matter. That coping with customers, partners, employers or employees, as well as public servants and private consultants of various kinds…endless juggling. Mismanage any one of them, and you can sabotage your efforts terribly.

That’s just a basic overview. Create your own list today, and begin to enhance that inner-outer communication that will control your success today, tomorrow, and the rest of your life.


A recipe for magic: faith, love and sex.

TAGR #10: Sex Transmutation

Number ten is, by far, the most controversial aspect of the entire program. When TAGR was first published, this chapter had to have been an absolute scandal. Subsequent editions often pruned this chapter, most commentaries ignore it, and some of the “modern” versions are woefully inadequate.

Basically through interview, study and observation of famous, successful men (and a few women) Hill came to the conclusion that, among other things:

1) “Sex Transmutation” is the ability to adapt sexual energy into creative inspiration and work.

2) Men rarely reach their peak of productiveness before their 50’s, due to their wasting of this energy.

3) The combined emotions of faith, love, and sex create a tsunami of motivation and action.
It astounds me that this chapter ever got written. Even more that the staggering implications have sat in plain sight for eighty years, and are so rarely discussed.

The simple interpretation is that sex is a powerful emotion, representing the most powerful positive sensation the human nervous system can process. “Anchoring” this energy to the tasks one must accomplish to reach goals is a no-brainer.

A more esoteric interpretation includes models of human sexuality from yoga, Tantrism, Native American practices and others, suggesting that the intensity of an orgasm is in direct proportion to the amount of ego one releases at the moment of truth. The thought of using sex to access deeper and higher consciousness has been taught for centuries…but not in the West.

We’re going to revisit this later, I promise!


The 101 Program uses the yogic Chakras to diagram human capacity, including the mysteries of “muladhara” the sexual aspect. A modern collection of techniques and technologies for reaching a mental and physical peak, the 101 Program can be purchased at:

101 Program

The Only Known Way To Compensate For Lack of Ability is…

TAGR #9: The Master Mind

If I had to prioritize the Think And Grow Rich principles, this one would be near the top.

The “Master Mind” clearly parallels the “allies and powers” step of the Hero’s Journey. It is the “hypermind” created by your alignment with at least ONE other person, who is committed to your success, and willing to work with you in a spirit of cooperation. There are so many ways that this is critical to your success, so many things that relate to this principle. Here are a few of them:

1) You and your mastermind partner should meet (or hey…speak via SKYPE!) twice a week.

2) A total spirit of cooperation must be the first priority. Remove partners from your mastermind group if they cannot meet this standard.

3) Your mastermind group can grow as large as you wish, so long as this cooperative spirit applies.

4) The topic of conversation should be the plans and actions that can take you to your goal, and keep personal talk to a minimum.

5) Goals should be simple, compact and easy for all to understand. Everyone must be aligned on the achievement of the same ends.
6) The Mastermind must operate in a spirit of mutual benefit and welfare. In other words, it is totally possible for every member of the Mastermind to have a separate goal, and the group rotates between them.

The truth is that if you don’t have enough knowledge to accomplish your goal, it is totally possible to work around this by creating relationships with those who DO have such knowledge. In fact, it is virtually impossible to create an ongoing enterprise without creation of a Mastermind, whether you call it that or not.

In my own life, my “mastermind” experience worked as following:

1) Writing: My mentor, Larry Niven, has been totally invaluable in working out my career. Other allies included my first wife Toni (couldn’t have done it without her!), my agents, editors, and so on.

2) Martial Arts. Coaches, teachers, training partners, therapists (no kidding), gurus and so forth–people who helped me learn physical, mental, emotional or spiritual aspects of the warrior’s path.

3) Relationships: role models, therapists, and most of all my partners themselves.

4) Financial. As I’ve said, money was never something I pursued directly, always a side-effect of writing and teaching, my real loves. I am correcting that now with a tiny number of partners who want to build what I call “Clickbank Robots.” The requirement, for those interested, is a passion for some subject you would love to share with the world, and access to an audience of at least five thousand people. It is amazing how many people have both of these things, if they stop and think about it carefully.

The most important “Master Mind” partner you can have is your spouse. Life becomes hugely simpler if you have one person who can watch your back and share your dreams.

If you don’t have a Master Mind, you could try joining the 101 Board.

If not that, then it is CRITICAL that you be able to 100% rely on yourself, your own clarity and internal honesty. Meditation,journaling, daily re-writing of your goals, and serious inquiry into WHY you can’t find a single person to trust. Critical questions. Critical answers.

Tell the truth…and go for it!

Share this with three potential Master Mind Partners!

90% of success is just showing up


TAGR #8: Persistence

“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “Press On” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
– Calvin Coolidge

The above quote says much of what I wanted to add on this subject. If you don’t have persistence, you will fail. Period.

In my own life, the quality of persistence worked like this in my basic areas:

1) Body. It took me 17 YEARS of training to earn my first black belt (I currently hold three, including a 4th degree in Kenpo). On average, it takes 3-5 years, but I was dealing with a crippling lack of self-confidence, fear, and a negative self-image created by childhood trauma. I banged my head against that barrier literally for decades.

2) Mind. I set a goal of being a professional writer, and decided to write and submit 100 short stories before I even BEGAN to evaluate the “reasonableness” of my goal. Everyone I knew told me I couldn’t do it. My own mother tore up my early stories, for fear I’d waste my life. Only obsessive doggedness got me through. (P.S.–I made it to about #23 before I started selling).

3) Spirit. I investigated dozens of different paths, religions, spiritual teachers…always disappointed when they either turned out to be dead ends, or simply didn’t fit my personal needs. Somehow, I never lost faith that I would find an answer. That answer came perhaps seven years ago, with a beautiful “ah-hah” moment where the answers to the questions “who am I” and “what is true” were clarified for me. All of the work had indeed paid off, but not as I expected, and not in the timing I’d anticipated. But…persistence was everything.

4) Finances. For decades, I ignored this. Being one of the fortunate few who could make damned good money simply following my bliss, I was insulated from many adult realities, and therefore unable to properly coach people without my specialized skills and fortune. Despite advice from friends and role models, I just couldn’t get the little kid inside me to pay attention. Finally, after over a decade of thinking about it, I realized that the fact that my mother had originally exposed me to TAGR as a child could be used to my advantage. That “inner child” misses his Mommy terribly, and is willing to study TAGR as a way of feeling more connected to her once again. But lord, did I ever try a raft of techniques before I found the right one!
Where in YOUR life have you allowed lack of persistence to limit your success? Look at all four of these arenas, and I can pretty much promise you that at least one has been a major challenge. To increase persistence:

1) Clarify your goals. Write them out, and re-write them daily.

2) Clarify the benefits. Get SUPER clear on all the pleasure you will add to your life if you accomplish these aims. Let yourself REALLY feel it!

3) Clarify the punishment. Get SUPER clear on all the pain you will feel if you do NOT make these changes. Let yourself REALLY feel it!

Just these steps, taken seriously, will change your life!


Live with passion!