Peggy Bechko’s Tips on the BEST Time to Write

by Peggy Bechko

You have a great idea.

You have lots of notes and the plot all mapped out in your head and maybe a synopsis typed into a word processing program.

It fires you up every time you think about it. But nothing messes up a great idea like not having the energy to bring it to life on the page.

Am I talking about you? Lack of energy to write is common. Most writers don’t start out being WRITERS and writers only. Most of us have families, rent to pay, food to buy, insurance to pay.

Which means that you probably have a job. And we all know what that does to our energy levels.

Having a job means getting up early, morning prep whatever the routine, traveling to work and spending most of your best energy there.

Then home for dinner and time with the family and it’s probably eight or nine at night before everything you need to do in your day is done and there’s that little sliver of time left before crashing and doing it all again.

That time is golden, the time for you write that screenplay or novel or TV Pilot script. But so very often even though the time is now there, it isn’t as productive as you need it to be because…where is the energy?

Somehow, every writer has to find a way to pair the two; the time to write and the energy to write. The first hurdle is finding the time to write. But the second is discerning WHEN the time is right to write.

You’ve probably read or heard things like “you must write at least two hours a day, every day!” Or maybe, “be prepared to give up every weekend and holiday for your writing!” Uh, no. If some of these plums were truth there would be very few writers. Who could get a screenplay or novel done and still have a personal life left?

Surely all of this comes as no surprise. You need both time and energy to write. How often have you carved out a portion of time just for your screenwriting or novel writing and realized you had zip energy to carry it out?

Writing is a priority, but so is life.

So, first we find the time to write.

Perhaps a few hours every Sunday. Maybe during lunch when we slip away from co-workers and get some writing in. Could be early in the morning, rising before the rest of the household to get in a hour or so of writing before the rest of the family arises. If you commute on a train perhaps writing could happen then.

Whenever the time, whatever the amount you have to dedicate to your priority of writing, you need it to be a time when you can bring real positive energy to the task.

There’s no mandatory time or length of time for writing. The  trick is to make whatever works for you a regular event, a time of your choosing when you can approach the computer with some real energy to put into your story.

After all, you can’t be grousing your way to the computer, fingers not eager to hit the keyboard, and expect to create the blueprint for your blockbuster movie/TV series or best-seller novel.

Discovering the most energetic times you work at your writing is an essential part of the writing process. Your time-energy component is entirely up to you, but you need to make sure they fit together like a bespoke suit.

Find that combination of the right time and enough energy, and I’m betting you’ll write that great script or fantastic novel…or maybe even both.

Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her sensational career HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page and her terrific blog.

Bri Castellini Investigates the ‘Weird’ – @brisownworld

by Bri Castellini

Weird, yeah?

Sometimes I worry that the things I write/create and publicly promote are too weird. My short film Ace and Anxious (spoiler alert) ends with a visual gag implying a man has had sex with a playing card. My web series Sam and Pat features escalating and absurdist visual gags set against two characters being mean to each other and talking about therapists. My web series Brains is a narrative vlog from the perspective of a narcissistic sociopathic YouTuber trying to get a boyfriend post zombie apocalypse.

The worry about the weird comes not from a worry that the things I make aren’t good. I think they’re quite good- I’ve even got some awards to prove it!

The worry comes more from the fact that it’s very hard to succinctly explain these projects and their value to people more successful than me. “Oh, you make films too? What are they about?” “You better sit down for this.”

Other times, I am delighted by the weirdness, because it sets me apart and is true to my voice, which is also very weird. And honestly, every time I’ve tried to write something earnest and straightforward it’s sucked. Weird used to be an insult, but now it’s literally my brand.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Speaking of Bri’s weird brand, it has come to our attention that her fine, weird web series Sam and Pat has started a crowdfunding campaign to finance its upcoming Season 2. As Bri put it:

Sam and Pat season 2 is coming! And to celebrate, we launched a Seed&Spark campaign! This way, you get to be involved early in helping us make a frank, funny, and f-very weird second season. Season 1 happened so quickly you didn’t get a chance to be part of the excitement, but not so this time!

Where do you go to participate? RIGHT HERE.

What will you see there? Something like this:

Why should you participate? Here are a few more words from Her Briness Herself:

I wrote Sam and Pat Are Depressed during one of the least creative years of my entire life, deep inside one of the most crushing depressive episodes I’ve ever experienced. Trump had just been elected, I’d lost my job at MTV, and I was burning through my savings account at an alarming rate.

Sam and Pat is a love letter to myself, and to my dear friend and muse Chris Cherry (“Pat”), to remind us that even during the darkest moments, we are not alone, and we are funny as hell. I have been truly and genuinely humbled by the response to season 1, and I cannot wait to share season 2 with you as well.

Any hand you can lend our strange little passion project is a hand we appreciate more than any other hand we’ve ever seen. We want to continue to talk frankly about mental illness, we want to continue to increase representation for the asexual community, and we want to continue to make you laugh.

This TVWriter™ minion is with Bri on this and hopes you will be too. After all, the more everyone gives, the less guilty I’ll feel about how little I can afford to ante up. And you don’t want yers truly to join the ranks of The Depressed, do you? Isn’t my inherent weirdness enough?

Bri Castellini is an indie filmmaker and Community Liaison at Stareable, our favorite web series hub. Watch the remarkable Ms. Castellini’s award-winning web series, Brains, HERE. See Sam And Pat Are Depressed HERE. This post first appeared on her seriously cool blog.

Kelly Jo Brick: 7 Tips to Stay Motivated When Writing Isn’t Your Day Job (Yet!)

TVWriter™ Contributing Editor Kelly Jo Brick is taking a break from our e-pages to write for FinalDraft.Com, but that doesn’t mean y’all have to miss her because linking, you know? So here’s the latest from our favorite award winning screenwriter, documentarian, blogger:

by Kelly Jo Brick

It’s your dream to be on the writing staff of a television show or to sell your feature film script. Until that happens, you’re working a day job, grabbing spare moments to write. So, how do you stay motivated until your breakthrough?

Set attainable goals

 One of the best ways to stay motivated is to have a simple goal in front of you that you’re trying to reach.

This could be creating an application for a contest or fellowship. Use that entrance deadline as a ticking clock to keep you moving on your script. As you set goals, challenge yourself. Instead of thinking, “I’m going to work on this new project,” break down the steps by creating a timeline for it, starting with how long you want to spend on your outline.

It’s surprising how having a goal in front of you makes it easier to keep on task. When you hit a goal, reward yourself; take time to enjoy your accomplishment — however big or small — then get back to work on reaching the next one.

Join a writers’ group

 Being part of a writers’ group is a great way for creatives to support each other and stay motivated. Whether you’re in Los Angeles or a small town in Wisconsin, there are people with a love for writing around you. If you can team up with other screenwriters, great. If not, your screenwriting can still benefit from input from playwrights, poets and novelists. Regular meetings will push your productivity; you’ll need to present new material each time, and feedback from fellow writers can spark new energy in a project that you might be feeling stuck on.

Get an accountability partner

 Writing can be lonely and keeping ourselves on task can become difficult. Social media, household chores or chatting with people at the local coffee shop can all be distractions from working on your script with your butt in the chair. This is where an accountability partner can help.

An accountability partner is someone with whom you check in regularly, usually with a phone call to touch base on what you’re working on and what you want to accomplish….

Read it all at

Peggy Bechko’s 6 Reasons to Give Up Writing (?)

Pic found at for ironic reasons of our own

by Peggy Bechko

Here we are again, gang, and today I’m going to discuss the possibility with you that you just might want to stop writing, give it up, walk away, move on to other things. However you want to phrase it, maybe writing isn’t for you.

It’s too late for me, I’ve been published frequently, big houses, smaller houses, Indy publishing and scripts optioned. But, you might want to save yourself. It’s hard to make if you’ve invested a lot of yourself and your time into something that meant a lot to you but just didn’t pan out.

So, here are six good reasons to stop writing.

1. You have too many ideas. So many in fact that you never finish anything. You start scripts, then drop it because you decide to work on a novel or a short story. OR you have one script in the works, but put it aside to work on another idea – again, and again, and again. So much so that no one script actually gets finished. Consider: maybe this writing thing isn’t for you.

2. Your spelling sucks. So does your grammar and your punctuation. You don’t want to take the time and effort to learn to do it right or even to use the tools in your word-processor. You don’t think it’s all that bad. You think someone else should clean up all those errors (at no expense of any kind to you) like an editor or maybe a producer’s assistant. Seriously, time to chuck it.

3. There are a whole lot of other things more important in your life. You want to bake cookies for the family. Mowing the lawn so the yard doesn’t look like a jungle is a priority. The phone keeps ringing (or whatever ‘ringtone’ you possess). There are movies you want to see, books you want to read (you should be doing that AND writing, but that’s another issue). Ummmm…. Priorities. If writing isn’t at the top of your list it might be time to move on and stop torturing yourself thinking you should do it when you really don’t want to.

4. You hate readers. Seriously there are writers out there with that problem. They figure the world is against them. Producers don’t want to read their scripts. Editors reject their manuscripts and even if a books or script makes it ‘out there’ the readers are picky and nasty and as a writer (sort of ) you really have a bone to pick with all those readers from the ‘gatekeeper’ readers to the ones at home watching those movies that have come from the scripts or reading on the couch. You loath them all. If that’s you, you really need to pack it in and find some other fun pursuit.

5. You need a vacation. Again, seriously. This one is legit. Some writers never stop. They write seven days a week, all year. They risk burn out. If this kind of writer is you, then you do need to stop…at least for a while. Take a break, refresh, let those stories rest so you can come back to them with a new perspective. Nothing bad will happen. A break is a good thing. Stop. For a while.

6. Maybe you can’t handle rejection of any kind. Then this really ISN’T the life for you. You’re going to get lots of script rejections, some with notes, most without. Editors with publishing houses are going to dump your novels with no ceremony and possibly hurtful comments. If that isn’t something you can deal with or want to deal with, then put down the pen (i.e. your computer) and walk away. There are lots of other things in life.

There are lots of other reasons to stop – or go forward when it comes to writing. It’s really up to you to consider all the angles and avenues.

Just one bit of advice. Don’t stop writing because some idiot on the internet said your writing is no good.

Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her sensational career HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page and her terrific blog.

Bri Castellini takes on Outward Displays of Empathy – @brisownworld

by Bri Castellini

About a month ago, Quinn and I were having dinner with a friend who was discussing a personal situation that had gone sour fast. He was explaining the story and the various causes for the souring, including the personalities and quirks of each person, and gestured to me saying “you know what I mean, Bri. You also don’t have a lot of empathy.”

That’s not a direct quote, and it also wasn’t by any means an insult, but what he was saying was essentially “you, Bri Castellini, do not appear to be a person whose behavior is motivated by and taking into account empathy and the concerns or opinions of others, so you’ll understand why this personal issue got out of hand due to what I’m assuming your own experiences have reflected.” This was very interesting to me, not the first time someone has made this assumption in New York (important: only in New York. This had not been a problem previously. Back to that later), and the most hysterically false statement of all time.

It’s also not overly surprising that this has become a fun new personality trait ascribed to me by people who I’ve only become friends with over the past two or three years. In part it’s a victory- a major contributor to my former mental health spirals has been vanquished! It’s also very much a symptom of a concentrated campaign of overcorrecting.

Let’s back up and make clear that I do not lack empathy. As a child and into my college years, I was an emotional wreck due to my inability to separate my feelings from those around me. I would alternatively brag and complain to my mom that I felt like my whole school’s therapist, because everyone I came into contact with would end up spilling their dark secrets to me within an hour of us meeting. I knew about the suicidal thoughts and cutting practices of four separate girls who I had a single class and no further contact with. We weren’t friends, I was just there, seemingly trustworthy, and overly interested in carrying complete strangers’ burdens.

With actual friends, it was even worse. Almost all of my energy was spent worrying about friends, giving them a 24/7 ear to chatter to and replacing the time I knew I needed for myself with their sadness, their pain, their worries. I’m not saying I was some amazing martyr who sacrificed “me” time to those around her (because being a martyr is almost always as destructive as being a narcissist), but I spent far more time pretending I was ok to spare those around me from further pain than actually being ok. I was obsessed with being the group mom, the rock, the personified safe space. I had two high school boyfriends who I dated for far longer than I should have because in both cases, I knew (correct or not) breaking up with them would remove a vital, non-girlfriend-specific position in their lives for a while.

It wasn’t that I wanted everyone to like me, though I was a teenage girl so of course I did. What mattered more than that, though, was for everyone else to be “ok” in the way I defined it for myself. That’s not how the world works and it certainly isn’t how teenagers worked, but I wanted it anyways, and I silently drained myself in situations I was uncomfortable with or relationships I knew were toxic because I saw pain and distress in their faces and couldn’t bare to be the one to cause them more. I never wanted to end friendships, for me, but more importantly for the position I assumed I was filling for THEM. Maybe they needed a punching bag. You know, for their emotions. And I was strong, right? I was strong enough to take a punch and be that release for them, wasn’t I? I was one of the few kids in my immediate friend group whose parents were not only together but seemingly happily so, so what the hell did I have to be sad about? Because of my familial structure, I assumed I was best built to be the sturdy, stable one, and I took that incredibly (and dangerously) seriously.

Then, in what was a surprise to me at least, my parents separated the final semester of my senior year of high school, divorcing officially my first semester of college. My dad moved out on Valentine’s Day. Suddenly, the “stable” one wasn’t so stable anymore.

That’s when things started to shift, because for the first time, I had an external source of distress I could pile my years of intangible anxiety and depression onto. As if I’d pre-stocked misery just waiting for something appropriately externally bad to happen. And what happened with all my friends who I’d spent almost a decade supporting in whatever way they required? Predictably (in hindsight), they got impatient.

See, that’s the thing about being such a martyr that you don’t divulge your own feelings for fear it would make you a worse support system for others. You set a precedent that your problems, if you even have them, are secondary. You train the people around you to take what they need and give nothing back, and a lot of the time, it’s not even their fault! How can you expect other people to set your boundaries for you? Literally constantly I was assuring people that I was fine, I was stable, I didn’t need anything from them, I live to serve. And we all got used to that system, as toxic and destructive as it was in the long-term.

Of course, at the time, I didn’t see it like that. I saw everyone else as selfish users who were entirely at fault for getting impatient with my pain (because suddenly it competed with theirs when previously theirs was uncontested). I was furious that no one was asking me how I was or if I needed anything past the first week or two. Couldn’t they see I was in pain? My entire worldview and the way in which I understood love and relationships was crumbling around me! The stability and foundation I’d used as a central pillar of my identity had been demolished! I didn’t know who I was or where I fit in the world anymore, and yet they were going about with business as usual, a business I was no longer qualified for. The first 75% of my emotional resume was no longer accurate.

Over time, as I moved away from home, met new people, matured, and went into the world a bit, I took stock of my own behavior and my mental health. I learned that therapy wasn’t a bandaid for weak people but an important and sometimes permanent fixture of peoples lives that did not in any way influence their internal God-given “strength.” I learned to pick my battles better and leave room in a relationship (platonic and romantic) for both parties to grow and change and mature instead of insisting we pick our roles and stick with them from the moment we met.  I learned to start seeing my identity as fluid without being wishy-washy, I got more confident in my voice and my skills and my place in my own life. More importantly, though, I learned to leave a little space for myself.

I own that much of my past interpersonal misery is a mess of my own making. I recognize my own position in the destruction of codependent relationships I’d previously blamed solely on the other party. And somewhere along the line, a mix of confidence learned during 6 years of competitive public speaking, confidence learned from healthier, more balanced friendships, and confidence in my own opinions completely overhauled my outward displays of emotion and empathy.

No longer did I rely on tearing myself down to build others up or give up my own comfort entirely for the comfort and wishes of others. I got into comedy and evolved my self-deprecating humor into self-aggrandizing humor, along the way starting to believe some of the nicer things I joked about myself. I got better at judging the balance of power in relationships, taking myself out of those that seemed one-sided or ones that I wasn’t actually happy in. My own feelings were no longer taken for granted, replaced with making decisions not to help or hurt others but because I needed help or was being hurt. I didn’t stop caring about other people, but I did make conscious changes to the way in which I cared about them. If someone wanted to do something I was uncomfortable with or during a time when I knew I needed to recharge, I politely declined, and those who recognized thst it wasn’t a personal attack on their invitation or needs are the ones I gave more energy to. Eventually, I’d rebuilt a support system and identity not around my perceived stability lent by the idea of my parent’s marriage but around being honest and transparent about who I was, what I wanted, and how I was feeling from moment to moment.

I also realized that it didn’t matter what everyone thought of me, just what the people I respected thought. And this, friends, is where we meet back with the intro of this post.

Part of learning to pick my battles was learning I didn’t have to react to everything. Sometimes, even though reacting let off endorphins in the moment, the ensuing prolonged unpleasant interaction wasn’t worth it. So I learned to emote by necessity, not be default, which has led to many people making certain assumptions. I occasionally come across as cold or dispassionate when navigating complicated emotional terrain or professional decisions. It’s not that I feel cold or dispassionate about the situation, but I don’t have to weep to act with empathy, and sometimes I act with empathy and understanding while not myself being emotionally invested. Being emotional and emotionally invested is not mutually exclusive from (nor required pairing with) empathy. I can treat those around with me with respect and also not get emotionally involved in every moment of our interaction, and I’ve started to get pretty transparent about when I am and am not emotionally interested in continuing an argument or interaction.

Because another part of picking your battles is retreating from them not out of defeat but out of disinterest. This comes off as passive-aggression usually (and sometimes it is, because my default emotion these days is frustration, something I promise I’m working on). “Let’s just do the thing you were saying. I don’t care about this argument anymore so let’s just go with yours.” To me, that sentence means literally what it says. I, Bri Castellini, don’t care about this argument so I’m retreating and accepting your position or solution. If this is uttered in a professional scenario, it means “you care more than I do about your position and given that, I no longer feel we need to debate. If you believe in your side this strongly and I don’t, then let’s go with your thing. Otherwise we’re going to go in circles and that doesn’t sound interesting or productive.” Unfortunately, it comes across (apparently) as “I don’t care about you or your opinion but I hate being around you so I’d rather this argument ended so I can be around literally anyone else and seethe about you behind your back.”

And, well, sometimes that’s true. Except I’m rarely in those scenarios these days because I make a point not to put myself in situations or arguments with people or for projects I don’t want anything to do with. It’s safe to say that if I am there, I want to be. Outside of work I am being paid to do, I am not obligated to be around anyone, or do anything, so my making a choice to go out, or make a project collaboratively, or whatever, is a choice I made and stick by. I try not to do pity invites anymore because it’s a waste of everyone’s emotional energy. I’m more comfortable saying “I don’t want to go out/do a thing with you, not because I’m busy or because I hate you, but because I don’t want to go out/do that thing” and “This has been fun, but I’m ready to go home now, so I’ll see you later.” I’m also more comfortable saying “I have to go to bed” or “I’m logging off now” instead of spending eight hours long-distance consoling people because, and say it with me, I am not a trained mental health specialist and have my own shit to work out so I cannot be someone’s sole emotional support. Not because I don’t want to be, or because I hate talking to [insert whoever here], but because it is not my sole responsibility that other people are ok. If they are my friends, my responsibility is to be there when I can, be supportive when they need it, take them to the ER at 1am if the situation arises, and treat them with respect and kindness. My responsibility is not that their every emotional need is taken care of by me, specifically, or by a person I assign as the sole architect of their well-being. I am responsible for me, and sometimes me needs a damn break, and with as much kindness as I can, I have gotten a lot better about making that clear and setting boundaries as necessary.

And it has made some people describe me as cold or unempathetic. But I hope if you take away anything from this post you take away this: being externally emotional all the time and being available 24/7 does not equate to being or acting empathetic. I know who I am and what I feel and while I’m always open to being clearer about why I’ve said something or used a seemingly “dispassionate” tone, I think it’s a failing of the way we’re taught to interact that I can’t be taken at my word. If I have a relevant opinion, trust me, I will tell you, and in most circumstances I return the favor of taking people at their word. What do I gain from mining every communication for secret meaning? Wasted time I could be using to swoon over the epic love story that is Ryan Atwood and Seth Cohen (yes, I’m watching the OC for the first time and unironically loving every beautiful bromantic moment). You either say what you mean or don’t get upset when the other person takes you at your word. It’s not my job to DaVinci Code every interaction, and I will not apologize for that.

Life is about choices, and I have chosen to live mine for me, with other people. Not for other people. Important and healthy distinction.

Again, I am not offended or upset that people have started making assumptions about my ability to feel empathy, because those whose opinions I care about either don’t make those assumptions or will learn through knowing me not to. Either way, I’m the same person, and what other people think of me doesn’t factor into that. I don’t care what you think of me, not because I don’t care about you or your opinion, but because I cannot depend on external factors or opinions to construct my identity. That’s a recipe for disaster I’ve cooked up far too many times already.

I just think it’s interesting the way in which we define and perceive empathy in others, and think that perhaps as a society we should re-examine our labeling of those around us.

Or not. Life, I repeat, is about choices, and the only choice you can make is your own.

Bri Castellini is an indie filmmaker and Community Liaison at Stareable, our favorite web series hub. Watch the remarkable Ms. Castellini’s award-winning web series, Brains, HERE. See Sam And Pat Are Depressed HERE. This post first appeared on her seriously cool blog.