by Peggy Bechko
Writers can be a very strange lot. Mostly we love writing, but we hate writing. Really, we do. It can be called a love/hate relationship but really it’s more of a hate/hate one.
Now I’m not talking about story. Story is great. It’s the damn writing.
Seriously, how many times have writers sat down in front of a blank page or screen, brimming with a new, fantastic idea, aching to get it out, and then sitting there, staring at the blank page and swearing softly to themselves? The driving urge to write is there, but the whole thing is more than a little daunting. Who doesn’t hate starting new projects, beginning from scratch?
So what’s a writer to do when procrastination becomes something like a religion?
I won’t tell you what YOU, as a writer should do, but I can tell you what I do, and there are a couple of approaches.
1. Set a deadline to get that first draft out. And mean it. Yeah, yeah, as a writer, unless under contract, there really aren’t any deadlines and you can escape if you desire, but if you put the cuffs on yourself and really hold to a deadline it’s amazing what can be accomplished. Use Valentine’s day, your birthday, Labor Day, the last day of the month, the first day of the month, it doesn’t matter. Just set a time frame that’s snug but not unrealistic.
Okay, so I’m obsessive, but the reality is, with the web, smart phones, loud neighbors, whatever, very little gets done without setting goals and parameters. Once a goal is set it’s pretty easy to determine how many pages or words must be completed in a day to reach that goal – and how doubling up has to happen to adhere to that goal if a day is missed.
2. Think about contests. TV Writer offers The People’s Pilot. There’s the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting and some others for novels and short stories. It might not be that you even enter the contest (some are expensive, some not bad – some worth it, etc.), but the deadline date is a great motivator to get the script or novel finished and polished since plainly any writer worth his/her salt (or weight in gold or whatever – cue the clichés) would never submit a first draft of anything to a contest.
True, right? So with polished novel/script in hand the writer is ready to sally forth.
3. Conference coming up – one close enough or which the writer can attend? Almost all conferences, novel, genre or screenwriting have producers or editors in attendance to whom the writer can pitch. Again, attending could be a great idea, but even if the writer can’t it’s a motivator to create a drop dead date to complete novel, script and those nasty little things like synopsis, logline, series bible, one-page leave behinds.
Even better when the writer can actually attend the conference. And, the experience leads to examining the story created in depth which in turn exposes glitches and holes. That one page summary exposes a whole lot more than many who don’t write could expect.
4. Got any writer friends? Reader friends then? If not local how about on Twitter or maybe Facebook? Those are places where writers can connect and spur each other on to greatness. Seriously, hooking up with others sharing the same goals can be a great help. They may not be the world’s best critics when it comes down to it, they are, after all, friends. But you can ask them to ask or tweet you about your word count or how many pages you’ve done.
Heck, just getting online briefly (I do mean briefly), using the #scriptchat tag to check in on what others are writing, how far along they are is an inspiration to pick up the torch and hurry on. There are even people over at Facebook at Scriptmag Writers’ Community who’ll offer to nag you into getting that script done. If there’s a parallel one for novelists I haven’t found it yet, but I’m willing to bet there is.
You’re a writer, but you’re not alone…unless you want to be. If you can’t motivate yourself to get that work done then connect with someone in the same place who’ll race you to the finish line.
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. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page