Sometimes, you just feel stuck. Whether it’s being stuck in your comfort zone because of elements out of your control or failing to take risks due to practical reasons, it’s a horrible feeling. You don’t want your life to be any less exciting the movie characters’ you’re watching, though you (probably) want slightly less danger.
The fun drama thriller Nerve (2016) dares its characters to take crazy risks you’d probably never do.
A bit on Nerve starring Dave Franco and Emma Roberts
Vee (Emma Roberts) is a high school senior, a talented photographer and unwilling to take risks. She’s delayed telling her mother (Juliette Lewis) she was accepted to CalArt, partly because they’re both still recovering from the death of her older brother.
But when her popular and overtly extroverted best friend Sydney inadvertently embarrasses her to her crush, Vee decides to play Nerve, a popular interactive game where watchers pay to dare players to do all sort of things, from relatively harmless to potentially lethal. Her first dare has her kissing a stranger (Dave Franco) for 5 seconds. That cute stranger, Ian, turns out to be a Nerve player as well, and watchers love them together.
As they start taking challenges together, their attraction grows more intense. But is Ian really a great catch that’s genuinely into Vee, or does he have ulterior motives like Vee’s other best friend Tommy thinks?
Nerve is a fun ride that entertains more than makes you think
Don’t get me wrong. I loved Nerve. And it did make me think. But there is so much compelling social commentary that can be done with a PG-13 rating. And it is okay. If you want to think and get depressed about what people and technology have come to, you can always watch any Black Mirror episode. So far, I’ve watched the first season (the first 3 episodes), and I plan to skip season 2 altogether.
Nerve isn’t a depressing movie. It’s also strangely romantic, and if you take away the right lessons, it will inspire you to have a life that will give you plenty to write about.
Why This Writer Is Feeling Stuck
Now as writers, our lives are rarely devoid of drama. A lot of us are prone to mood swings even if we are not combating a mental condition. The potential economic instability (known as the feast or famine cycle) of freelancing, the hatred of our day job if we are not freelancing, the obligation to multitask and the feeling that we’re not doing enough for our careers, health problems like chronic illnesses, writing disabilities or just annoyingly weak immune systems that give us long-lasting colds every two weeks… How can we not be emotional?
How can we not get frustrated?
We all have obstacles that get in our way, some of them harder than others. And even though we know better, sometimes we say stuff like “I wish something would happen in my life already.”
Like you already haven’t endured disappointment, heartbreak, depression, illnesses, failures, rejections, grief, …. on the negative side.
Or you haven’t already experienced tremendous lust for life, exciting crushes, a thousand travel stories, unique adventures and occurrences on the positive.
Sometimes you just hit a rut. And whatever the reason, the rut feels like it has been there forever when it wasn’t just last week, or month or year.
So you start comparing yourself to the narrators of your favorite personal essays, characters from the movies and novels and TV series and maybe sometimes even your friends.
Let’s face it; you’re not in Amsterdam taking beautiful shot after beautiful shot. You’re struggling to cobble of two words or ideas together. You haven’t sold a piece in what feels like forever whereas your blogger friends seem to be at the height of their productivity and success. Their lives are filled with excitement and surprise and spontaneity.
Yours feels just…the same.
Because you forgot about that two beautiful vacations you took in the summer or the awesome musical you just saw last week. Instead of feeling like you can take over the world, you feel like the world has taken over you.
But then you stumble upon a piece of writing that speaks to you. You watch a film that motivates you. The film was Nerve.
For me, that piece of writing was my friend Olga Mecking’s blog post WHY THE BEST STORIES ARE THE WORST where she reminds us how great characters, characters we want to read about, are always in big trouble. And the great storytellers have compelling real life material they derive from.
Sure, you are looking forward to the new war thriller Allied starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, but there’s no way in hell you want to be a spy during Word War II. You may want to kiss a hot stranger for five seconds, but you’d never lead him as he sped up to 60 miles an hour on his motorcycle blindfolded.
Then you remember that your friend’s Amsterdam photos are taken on a post-divorce trip. And while you’d want to be aboard, you would not want to be going through a divorce. Or that you’d have never wanted to marry the guy she was with. When they were together, their relationship was the stuff of nightmares. Not dreams. You feel bad for feeling envious of that trip. You apologize silently and wish her the best of luck.
Sometimes boring is good. It’s better than catastrophe. It gives you time to collect on what’s happened, and what you want to happen. It teaches you to procrastinate less when you are healthy because you have only so much time when things are going your way.
You also remember that while you might be going through a rut, your life hasn’t been boring. You wish you had less drama. But hey, you already suffered an education system that treated you like a racehorse and made medical mistakes to continue the race.
You suffered, but not without getting some trophies and learning your lessons. You were never going to live by somebody else’s rules again as much as you could possibly help it.
That’s why you are freelancing. Because even when it seems like a rut, things are still more exciting than they could ever be if you held a job that went against your very nature.
Even boring is good, when you get to call most of the shots.
Watch Nerve. Read Olga’s post. Dare to do something different. But don’t mistake your temporary rut with other people’s lifelong ones.
Write on! (This post contains an affiliate link.)