Defending writing time is a challenge that every writer faces. Family, friends, work responsibilities, and miscellaneous crap all seem to take over every spare second that you have. How can you possibly make enough time to write the next great American film?
The first trick is figuring out when you write best. Do you like to get up early and whip out a page or two before you go about the rest of your day? Or do you use your lunch breaks to brainstorm ideas with your co-writer? Get into some sort of routine, even if it’s just a minimum page requirement every week, and stick to it. The worst thing for a writer is only writing when you feel “inspired.” Be your own damn inspiration and write on a regular basis.
Once you’ve decided on a routine that works for your schedule, use these handy tips to defend your writing time with everything you’ve got:
Turn off your internet connection. Shut down your phone. Stay away from your email, Facebook, and Twitter. If you’re the kind of person who can’t bare to be separated from your social network, use that desire as your motivation — once you’ve written today’s three pages, checking Facebook can be your reward. Distractions are death to productivity.
2. Find your writing haven
Maybe you write best at your own desk. Maybe you need the ambient noise of a coffee shop. Figure out what works best for you and put yourself in an environment that is conducive to productivity. Just don’t make yourself believe that you need to be in that place to write. If you can’t get to the coffee shop today, you can still brainstorm while running errands at the very least.
3. Listen to music
If you prefer silence, that’s fine. Personally, I find that I write best when I have music playing, and the type of music depends on the type of script. For my current sci-fi sex comedy, Koop has been my Pandora station of choice. For the Vegas rom-com, it was techno all the way.
4. Stay positive
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by too many things to do, negative feedback, and friends or family members who think that little script you’re writing is a hobby, not a career goal. Remember that every word you write takes you one tiny step closer to reaching the level of a professional screenwriter. There is no such thing as wasted work when it comes to writing, so be proud of every single writing session.
5. Set deadlines & reward yourself
If your script is something you hope to get done someday soon, it’ll never happen. Set hard deadlines for yourself, whether they’re daily writing goals or a finish-by date. The big reward is finishing the script, but give yourself little rewards along the way, as well. For example, when you get to the end of the first act, that’s a pedicure. When you finish a great outline, that’s a cigar. Figure out what motivates you most and go with it.