Bryan Cohen is a writer, actor and comedian from Dresher, Pennsylvania. Since graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill he has written four books (1,000 Creative Writing Prompts: Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More, 500 Writing Prompts for Kids: First Grade through Fifth Grade, Sharpening the Pencil: Essays on Writing, Motivation, and Enjoying your Life, and Writer on the Side: How to Write Your Book Around Your 9 to 5 Job), several plays (Something from Nothing and Chekhov Kegstand: A Dorm Room Dramedy in Two Acts) and he was the head writer for an un-produced Web series (Covenant Coffee). His writing and motivation website Build Creative Writing Ideas has had over 100,000 visitors since it was founded in December 2008. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.
Follow Bryan on Twitter @buildcwideas.
By Bryan Cohen
In the winter of my senior year of college, I auditioned for a part in a play called North Pole Darkening. It was a black comedy take on the story of Santa and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and at the time I was a shoe-in for the part of Rudolph. After a reading of the script, I loved the brash take on the story, with Rudolph portrayed as a sort of diva who is breaking up Santa and Mrs. Claus’ marriage and the entire reindeer team. One of the reasons I was perfect for the part at the time was because I was a bit of a diva myself.
The director, Erin, told me a week or two after I’d gotten the part that, “While the other two actors can play an ass, you know that you’re an ass.” Now, during college I didn’t do anything particularly bad like break hearts or backstab, but I’d acted in a sort of pompous, class clown type of way that rubbed people a bit wrong from time to time. My friends knew me as a stand-up guy, but the way I stood out among other folks was as kind of a jerk.
A few years after school, I listened to a program called “Lead the Field” by Earl Nightingale. One of his first major points was that to become successful you need to change your attitude. He advised that you should treat everyone you come in contact with as if he or she is the most important person in the world. In my “acting like a jerk” phase, my attitude had more often than not been the opposite, treating myself like the Grand Poobah of every moment.
I tried this new attitude adjustment on for size and noticed almost immediate results. I became connected with people who were a lot more genuine as my friends and professional acquaintances. Thinking of others started to make me feel better about myself, and I no longer needed to put on airs to make me believe I was more confident. For those of you who believe in the metaphysical stuff like the Law of Attraction, I felt like I was attracting more positive things into my life.
This change in attitude made me want to create websites and books that could help people through tough times in their writing lives. I wanted to ensure that people knew the importance of a positive attitude and strong life habits in a creative lifestyle. If I ever do become famous from my writing, I’m not too worried about assuming the same guise I had in my college years. I’ve gotten that out of my system by now. I know that keeping a positive attitude and treating others fairly and unselfishly is going to take me much further than acting like a bestseller ever would.
Take a look at how people look at you and how you look at yourself. Who do you treat well and who do you treat like a lower human being? Are you kind to checkout people and telemarketers? Do you treat all of the members of your family equally? As Nightingale recommends, try treating everyone in your life with a high amount of importance for 30 days and see how your life transforms. Opportunities will open up and you may find room for much more creativity in your life.
Bryan Cohen is giving away 100 personalized writing prompts to one giveaway entrant chosen at random during the blog tour. Personalized prompts are story starters that cater specifically to a writer’s subject matter, strengths/weaknesses, etc. Cohen will create the prompts to cater exclusively to the winner. He is giving away free digital copies of his book The Writing Sampler to everybody who enters, which includes excerpts from each of his four books on writing. The book contains essays, writing prompts and tips and tricks to enhance your writing skills. In addition, for each of Cohen’s books that reach the Top 500 on Amazon during his blog tour, he will add a $50 Amazon gift card to the drawing (up to six $50 cards in total)!
To enter, simply post a comment to this blog post with your e-mail address. Entries will be counted through June 2nd, 2011.