by Peggy Bechko
Really, just do it.
Okay, that’s all good and stuff for me to say. I’ve been finishing what I began to write for a whole lotta years now.
But I’m here to talk to you guys who don’t find finishing so easy. Something hangs you up. Pushing out the words isn’t easy. The blank page is intimidating. (Then why are you writing in the first place?) Uh, no, I didn’t mean that, I DO understand, really I do. That whole lot of years thing, remember?
Here’s the thing. There really is no secret to kicking yourself in the butt to get the work done. Got an idea? Then get to it and write.
I have only one secret weapon that I use, and that’s setting a deadline…some kind of deadline. If it’s a freelance, just for myself project I can pick any deadline. A holiday (like I have to get the first draft done before the year-end holidays and I pick a date, like the day before Thanksgiving. Or, if it’s close enough, maybe my birthday. (Hey, that’s just a couple of weeks away, I’ll have to write fast.)
Then, once that deadline is set, I count backwards and give myself goals such as okay, I have to write 2,000 words today to make that goal. It does lend focus. Applying a little pressure to yourself (or in this case myself) is inspiration to sit (or stand) by that computer and get the words written. Breaking things down into smaller accomplishments has always worked for me.
But if that won’t work for you and you’re a more social kind of writer (what, you’re not a hermit?) then you might try attending things like Pitchfests for scripts and writing conferences for novels and non-fiction. If you check out the different conferences you’ll find most of them offer opportunities to pitch editors or maybe producers.
When you do that you better have something already written – so that’s another deadline; get the work done before the conference/pitchfest. Oh, and when you attend one of those you need to have a logline for a script with maybe a one page summary, or a brief synopsis of that novel printed out as a ‘leave-behind’.
And writing such a document has an added bonus. It forces you to think more clearly, and frequently leads to discovering holes in your story. Plot booboos or confusing turns or whatever.
Okay, maybe you ARE a hermit. That’s pretty much me. Then you might try Screenwriting contests for those who do scripts. That’s a great deadline date. Get it done or you can’t enter the contest. Hey, I did that for the Nicholl Fellowships in ScreenWriting and ended up placing in the quarter finals –yay!
Also did it with the Final Draft contest and placed also in quarter finals. That didn’t glean me any huge accolades in H’wood, but I did get the script done and someone did option it.
Those deadlines can work a bit of magic on occasion. And, of course you don’t need to actually enter the contest if you don’t care to. Many times the deadline is enough.
Back to the ‘non-hermits’. If it’s your thing you might seek out a writer’s group. Maybe an in-person group or maybe online. I hear there are some writers who use the #scriptchat hashtag to announce a writing sprint – confident there will be other writers out there who’ll join in and sprint write for a set amount of time. I haven’t sought one out but I bet if you check on twitter you’d spot one for novelists as well. Or set up your own and see if you can get people to join.
Beyond all that you’re just going to have to grab yourself by the scruff of the neck, sit yourself down and darn well do it…or not. And if not, then you probably just aren’t a writer and that’s fine too. Bet there is a lot of other stuff you can do with your time.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Not to toot our own horn – oh no, TVWriter™ would never do that, right? – but for hermits following Peggy’s advice this very site currently is running PEOPLE’S PILOT 2017, a contest for spec pilot scripts, HERE. And for non-hermits there’s our ONLINE WORKSHOP, HERE.
Hope we’re not out of line asking you to check ’em out!
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.