by Peggy Bechko
Okay, the end of the year is coming. No doubt we’re all feeling a bit crunched for time. It’s just a seasonal thing.
Or is it?
Writers almost always are performing a juggling act, especially early on in their careers. You know, the day job. Unless you’re retired with lots of time to write or a millionaire with no money cares you probably have a day job right now or have perhaps recently had the good fortune and finally enough stability in your chosen field of writing to be able to put that behind you.
Or, you could (and I don’t mean this to be depressing) spend a lifetime juggling that creative urge with a full time or part time job. Hey, it’s not fair, but there are lots of great writers of novels, scripts, short stories, etc. who never crack that glass ceiling into full-time writing. Still we soldier on and quite frankly the writer’s mind is rarely (or make that never) still, spinning out new stories even when pressing on through that work-a-day job that pays the bills but has nothing to do with writing.
So, what’s a writer who loves to write to do in order to find time to write and not make him or herself crazy in addition to those around them?
A possible help is to pay attention to your day job. Is there anything there you can do to get ahead of the curve? Are there any projects you can perhaps finish off during a lunch hour overtime stint? Frequently if you can clear the clutter from the ‘bring in the money job’ out of your head and feel you’re swimming above water, it will reduce stress and free up your creativity for later. If that won’t work, maybe you could take your laptop or tablet to work along with a sandwich for lunch and spend that time isolated and writing.
Then think about how you use your time now. It would help if you kept a time journal for a week. And be honest with yourself. You want to write during certain times, but are you really using that time to write? Or, are you surfing the net or continually checking your cell phone? Break your time into 15 minute blocks and brutally note what you actually did with that time. Once you have that written record, review it and you might well be surprised at what you’re actually doing. Our world is full of distractions. And don’t forget you need to have some time to relax, maybe play with the kids or have an adult conversation with your significant other.
Focus your intent. Set goals. Break them into smaller ones. Ones you can accomplish in a hour or a week or a day. I keep a running list on my desk of things I need to accomplish and check them off as I go through them. Sometimes I just do the ones I know I can do quickly just to trim the list.
It’s all too easy to lose focus. And it’s amazing what can be accomplished of goals are set. I’ve been a full time writer for some time, and I still jump at writing opportunities for guaranteed pay in addition to what I write for myself to offer on spec. So when I was offered a script writing gig (ghosting) for great pay, I accepted with a 60-day deadline for contracted first draft. I cringed at the idea of not being able to work on my own project and sat down to organize.
Four pages a day on the contract work got me a completed script in about 5 weeks with a bit of time for some polishing before the due date (I always hit my deadlines unless too sick to get out of bed – which has never happened). Then I assigned myself a minimum of three pages a day on my own project. And I made sure I had a bit of time to toss dinner together and sit down to eat it with my husband – no electronics allowed.
That means in about six weeks I’d put out two scripts (admittedly in need of polishing) and could give myself a little time off for being a determined and efficient writer, then go back and polish, first the contracted first draft, then work on my own.
Cutting things up into chunks works. Really. You should try it.
Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. Grab your copy of Book 2 now! And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page