ChiTownScreenwriting with Kat O'Brien - Issue #7 | Fiercely Fearless



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Welcome back to ChiTown Screenwriting with Kat O'Brien!
In this week’s issue:
  • On Writing and Creating: Fiercely Fearless
  • Tips and Tricks: Channeling Courage
  • Wisdom & What I’m Loving: Fighting Racism
  • Workshops and Events: Social Consciousness & Solidarity
  • Someone You Should Know: #SelfCare #Support

A Letter From Kat
Last week, we talked about dealing with FOMO and navigating Failure. Our mindset was on defense. Now, we’re pivoting to offense. This week’s issue is all about exploring how to overcome different types of fear to be fiercely fearless, recklessly creative, put yourself out there to connect, collaborate and get paid to publish and produce your work.
I’ve also opened our call for submissions to publish, produce, or promote your work or upcoming projects in this newsletter. Scroll to the end to find out all the ways we’re trying to optimize this newsletter to create opportunities for its subscribers. Enjoy!
On Writing and Creating: Fiercely Fearless
Following last week’s issue on how to mentally tackle FOMO and Failure, this week, I’m spotlighting two guest contributors who shared advice for writers and creatives on being fearless.
“If everyone took an improv class, the world would be a better place.” –Martin de Maat
To me, these are not just words. They have become my beliefs. Not just on stage, or in a classroom, or in my sales job, but in my life. If we all were taught improv at an early age and continually applied its principles to the way we learn and communicate, and reinforced them in our everyday tasks and corporate worlds, we would be kinder to one another. Imagine a world where we would respect each others races, religions, cultures, ages, genders, sexual orientations and political affiliations. Where we view “DIFFERENT” as something good. Something we can learn from.
Today we bully, judge and gossip because we are afraid of “DIFFERENT.” It’s much safer to tear someone down because they are different from us or the way we were raised. Stop being afraid. Do not let fear define your character or dictate your life. Take an improv class. It is not at all what you think. Improv is not about being funny or clever. It is about being real. It is about being honest. It is about being human and all the crazy experiences that go along with it. It’s about being that weird, wonderful, embarrassing you. Most importantly, improv is about love. Put yourself out there. Find something to love about each individual and they will do the same for you. If you want someone to embrace all your imperfections, you need to embrace theirs. Improv is about failure. Failure is a great teacher. We don’t learn how to get better without failing. But when you do fail, fail with grace. Improv is about being uncomfortable. The goal is to get you more comfortable with being uncomfortable. To risk and push and challenge and change yourself for the better. Improv is about surrendering the ego, being selfless and vulnerable. It’s about taking what is given and making the best out of it.
Even after 20 years of improvising, teaching, directing and corporate training, occasionally doubt creeps in and I still find myself afraid. I remind myself “What’s the worst that can happen? I don’t get the part? I don’t get the promotion? I don’t get the job? I Fail?”……..then my improv beliefs kick in. And my answer is always the same. “SO WHAT!” There is power in the “SO WHAT!” At least I was brave enough to step out there and try. And failure doesn’t stop me from trying a hundred more times until I get it right. I don’t judge failure. I’m not embarrassed by failure. It has no power over me. This is how improv has rewired my brain. So my wish is that everyone take an improv class. It’s not too late to change yourself, and in the process, you might just change the world.
Kimmie Warner, MBA (she/her/hers) is a Lecturer with the UIC Professional Development Program and Institute for Leadership Excellence and Development (iLead). This piece was originally published at
Kimmie Warner, MBA (she/her/hers) is a Lecturer with the UIC Professional Development Program and Institute for Leadership Excellence and Development (iLead). This piece was originally published at
After six years of pouring my heart and soul into my first book, Inner Compass Mom: finding peace and purpose in the midst of motherhood, I had finally arrived at the birthing stage.
For many months I had been ready to pop this “baby” out and cut the umbilical cord. However, as a newcomer to the publishing world, I had to learn to be patient and to practice what I preach: let go of what you cannot control and trust in divine timing. And in my publisher.
This trust in my publisher landed me a five minute Live TV interview at a local San Diego station the day before the official launch. Like many events during COVID, this one was virtual as well, right from my living room. It was nice to do this from my comfy couch, but this meant that I had to make sure that all was under control for those intense five minutes of my life.
The timing appeared to be favorable. It was scheduled on a Thursday, which meant I didn’t have to worry about clamorous trash trucks roaring down my street. I could already picture myself yelling into the mic as I discussed the various ways we can increase our sense of calm and inner peace. Trash day is on Tuesday. Yay.
Nor did I have to worry about lawn mowers and leaf blowers howling outside while explaining the importance of solitude and quiet time for discovering what we as moms truly need or want in our lives. That also happens on Tuesday. Yay again.
The interview was scheduled for 8:10am, which was good as well because it meant that I could get my kids and husband out of the house and off to school and work before then. And, my publisher still had two days to prepare me to face my biggest fear of all: public speaking. Yikes!
While I went through a few rounds of media training for a couple of days, I also had to prep for the book launch on Zoom that Friday afternoon. This meant sending loads of reminders for the upcoming launch through emails, texts, messaging, and posting on social media. Oh, and to encourage the whole world to watch me on live TV. Gulp.
In the meantime, our family room, aka my office, had turned into a storage space. Gift baskets for the raffle drawings adorned the mantle while boxes of books and gift bags covered the hearth. My desk was littered with checklists and Post-it notes.
As the days were counting down, my nervousness was going up. I could barely eat or sleep and needed all the help and support I could get. Launching a book is definitely not a solo enterprise. As soon as I learned about the interview, I asked my husband to take care of dinner for the next few days. I was simply too busy and couldn’t even think about food. The great husband that he is understood, while our kids were happy because they knew their dad would either barbeque or order in. No more broccoli or carrots this week! Yay for them.
Asking for what I needed also meant that my family might not be able to wear their favorite clothes for a few days as the laundry would have to be put on hold for a bit, unless they’d do it themselves. I think some laundry got done, but I have no recollection.
The morning of the interview arrived and I was quite pleased with myself for keeping it all together. Until my husband showed me that the TV station just announced my upcoming interview an hour before I was supposed to go live. Instantly, I was flooded with anxiety. I tried to put everything I learned to calm myself into practice: block breathing, mantras, and visualization. Forget it.
For days I had been praying for a miracle to have some sense of calm come over me before and during the interview. The answer to my prayer came thirty minutes before the interview in the form of a tiny little bottle with a dropper: a homeopathic remedy called Rescue.
I still had some in the house from when my kids were little. At the time it seemed to help them calm down when nothing else that I tried worked. So, I squirted a few droppers full in my mouth and repeated this a couple more times until a sense of calm had taken over. Within minutes, I thought, I’ve got this. Thank you!
I’m sure I took way more of the remedy than recommended, but who cares. I got through it. Without stumbling, without forgetting, without choking, and without trash trucks raging by.
The next day, the virtual book launch went great. It was truly heartwarming as I looked at the many smiling faces of my friends, neighbors and family. It was a wonderful way to end this crazy week of book launching.
Now, how’s that laundry room looking?
On My Feed: Tips & Tricks
This week’s round up is all about channeling your courage to create, collaborate, and connect with your audience. Own your awesomeness. You *can* finish whatever you’re writing. Embrace your reckless creativity. Consider how you can collaborate and give voice to others. There’s a workaround for every mental roadblock you put up for yourself.
Scott Myers
“Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.” Writing wisdom from author Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself). #scriptchat #amwriting
Kat O'Brien
Understanding Diversity, Inclusion, & Belonging are key to changing how we create and consume media. The culture shift we need to impact broader social change? The brilliant @tjmadeafunny talks about this in her work: change happens top down, bottom up, middle out all at once.
ICYMI: Opportunities To Get Published & Paid
Pipeline Artists
Today is the 2-month anniversary of @PipelineArtists. 🎉

And we’re always looking for more (paid) contributors.

Browse through to see the broad range of articles published, and pitch your ideas:

#PipelineArtists #WritingCommunity
cc: @jeannevb @SPMJM
The Lee Smith Novel Prize is OPEN NOW for novel submissions! Submissions will close on September 1 at midnight EST. The final judge will be @DeeshaPhilyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies. Winner will receive $1,000 and publication.
Writers' Wisdom: What I've Been Loving
The viral sensation of the Linda Lindas’ “Racist Sexist Boy” made my week. I don’t know what it is about phenomenal music that just moves me to tears but this is that and it did and I cannot get this song out of my head. I played the song for my sons and we talked about *this* is how you use art to stand up to bullies, and how we use our voices to change the world.
And, as this was also when I discovered the band, I’ve now been reading about them and am loving this headline from the NPR story and the inspo behind it.
“What’s More Punk Than Teens Screaming In A Public Library?”
@totalvibration Lars Gotrich, producer, writer, editor @NPRmusic
Lars Gotrich 🍷🌊
btw the story's headline is 100% a nod to this rad t-shirt from the Mt. Pleasant public library here in D.C.
What's more Punk? Adult T-Shirt | Mount Pleasant Library Friends
Lars Gotrich 🍷🌊
The future looks good and it looks like The Linda Lindas!
“The Linda Lindas — a half Asian/half Latinx band featuring "two sisters, a cousin and their close friend,” according to their Bandcamp profile — opened the Los Angeles Public Library’s AAPI Heritage Month celebration on May 4. Amidst stacks of books and a small, masked-up audience, the band ripped through a 40-minute set of originals before closing with covers of Bikini Kill‘s “Rebel Girl” and The Muffs’ “Big Mouth.” But it wasn’t until yesterday, when the library tweeted, “Don’t mess with the Linda Lindas” with a clip of its newest song, that our new queens took their throne.“
Steal this bit of writers’ wisdom to make your Monday more magical: This is how you write badass set-pieces, my friends. You need layers. Consider the power of opposing forces - screaming teens, public library, and ask yourself what they would have to say that would require them to do it this way. This is a movie moment and the fact that it happened in real life just makes me all the more delighted. I love real-life movie magic.
Bust out your magnifying glass to read that micro font.
Bust out your magnifying glass to read that micro font.
On My Calendar: Writing Workshops & Events
If you’re zoomed out, you can still sign up to attend many virtual events and get the video recording later. We are in a unique time for unprecedented virtual access to amazing workshops and opportunities to continue to learn and engage as a community of content creators and collaborators. Thanks to my creative partner Tamika J. Spaulding @tjmadeafunny for curating this wonderful list for us!
  • Seed & Spark
  • TODAY Monday, 5/24 @ 3 PM CT
  • Screencraft
  • TODAY Monday, 5/24 @ 5pm PT
  • Writers Guild Foundation
  • Wednesday, 5/26 @ 4:30 pm PT
  • Roadmap Writers
  • Wednesday, 5/26 @ 5 pm PT
  • Women in Film
  • Thursday, 5/27 @ 6 pm PT
Someone You Should Know: #SelfCare #Support
Two essential components of the creative process for me are running and meditating. Turns out, I need to be in motion without distractions, or totally still without distractions, to do my best thinking. This took a bit of self-discovery to get to this point, but part of being a professional creative is you have to be able to execute and deliver as needed. You can’t wait for inspiration, so finding the self care support you need to get yourself to that place where you can indeed just turn it on and turn it off mentally – I’m talking above and beyond the craftsmanship – is, at this point in my life, the best way I know how to make that happen. This week’s spotlight features three brilliant creators connected to the ChiTown Screenwriting Community with their creative work at the intersection of supporting art + self care: Personal Trainer Victor Spaulding, Jr, the team at the Japanese Culture Center in Chicago, and Modern Muse Bridget Boland.
VICTOR SPAULDING JR. - Train with Victor
Victor Spaulding, Jr. is an amazing trainer who offers a range of *virtual* training packages that you should check out if you’re in need of wellness support from exercise to nutrition to stress management and lifestyle coaching to pull all those challenging components together. His creative approach to self-reflection and understanding our mind-body connection to our daily lifestyle and work/life balance was transformative for me. I would not have made it through this pandemic without him helping me figure out how to juggle my creative life with my calls to activism, navigating how my stress was impacting my sleep, ability to eat well, and find opportunities to squeeze in exercise to suit my unique family/work situation.
Japanese Culture Center | Martial & Cultural Arts Classes In Chicago
I have trained with the artists at the Japanese Culture Center for years and credit the world-class coalition of teaching artists connected here for empowering me to be tuned in to my stress levels so I know when and how to dial up my need to meditate, and in various practices / across multiple disciplines. You can go to their website to navigate their classes - many of which are *virtual* and thus accessible all over the world.
Save The Date: The Japanese Culture Center Chicago will be presenting an Ikebana Walking Exhibition in the Lakeview/Roscoe Village / Southport Corridor with Japanese Culture Center Ikebana instructors, artists, and students from two different schools of Ikebana; Ikenobo and Ohara Ryu. 
This event is free of charge, and there will be a ribbon cutting at an opening ceremony on June 12 at 12 PM CDT with local community leaders and special guests. Also, there is going to be a free sake tasting at Galleria Liqueurs from 1-4PM on both days of the event!
Shamanic Writers' Circle
Bridget Boland mentors and coaches creatives, including many members of the ChiTown Screenwriting Community. My work with her was instrumental in helping me to understand how to not only prioritize my creative projects, but also my creative work with the rest of my life’s responsibilities and roles that I wanted to take on. Fair to say I would not have survived the many leaps I took back into my activism roles during the previous POTUS administration and ongoing today, if not for Bridget’s sage advice and creative/spiritual support.
Save The Date Please join Bridget Boland for the next Shamanic Writers Circle, Saturday, June 5, 2021 from 10-11:15am CST. This month we will pick up from last month’s writing about mothers and turn to fathers in honor of Father’s Day. There will be writing prompts, time for sharing, and q & a about any writing topics you want to discuss. 
Please RSVP to
This offering is donation-based. If you’d like to make a contribution, please do so at @bridget-boland-5 for Venmo, or for PayPal.     
Happy writing!
Connect & Contribute to #chitownscreenwriting
Writers and creators, in Chicago and around the world, please share ChiTown Screenwriting with anyone you think might enjoy it, and be sure to let us know how ChiTown Screenwriting can uplift or support you and your projects. As we continue to build community + opportunity, I’m actively seeking to hand the feature reins over to other voices besides my own. I got this party started, you can find me at the bar/on the dance floor, I want to put *you* in the spotlight/center stage!
Upcoming Issues | Call for submissions!
We’re looking for feature essays, random thoughts, creative pieces, images and/or videos exploring the following topics:
Ongoing Call for Submissions!
As this grassroots movement finds its voice and expands our reach, we’ll continue to solicit content contributions in the areas of:
  • advice on writing and creating
  • tips and tricks on twitter (tag me @uknowkatobrien if you got some!)
  • wisdom, think: self care, mindfulness, changemaking and more
  • workshops and events to continue our professional development, and foster opportunities for connection, and collaboration
  • as well as writers and creators you should know
  • cool projects launching that we should spotlight
Who’s someone that I should know, ChiTown Screenwriting creators? Ping me @uknowkatobrien.
If you enjoyed this, or have writing/creative life questions I can unpack and answer, or are looking for support to promote your work and projects, reach out and let me know? And please share widely! #grassroots #letsgo
Thanks for reading, and see you next week #chitownscreenwriting!
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Kat O'Brien
Kat O'Brien @uknowKatOBrien

ChiTown Screenwriting is a publication that I write and edit, for writers and creators to find community on their journey to getting published and produced.

More ambitiously, ChiTown Screenwriting is a movement, and a mindset. Global and local, we're a community connected by creative collaboration, and we're all about connecting collaborators to creative opportunities!

Each issue shares the wisdom and advice from storytellers and changemakers, with the goal of demystifying some of the more elusive processes and strategies for navigating the business, art and craft of getting our stories to our audiences.

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