Monday, July 23, 2012

The daily screenwriting grind

Thank you, everyone, for the great comments wishing me well. We have a great wedding in our yard and everyone seems to have had a good time. Now I am back - no wedding to plan, no papers to grade, just writing and meetings and whatever freelance work I can pick up to pay the bills. I was going to sub, but the further I get from the classroom the more I don't want to go back to a 9-5. So now I'm pursuing other options.

In the meantime, writing is my job. I treat it like a job.

As a teacher, my body adapted to rising early, and the dogs help keep that pattern up. So I usually wake up before 8am every morning.

Then this is my schedule Monday-Friday:

Whenever I wake up: Eat breakfast. Water stuff that needs to be watered in the morning. Get dressed. I find that getting dressed helps me take my work more seriously. I'm more likely to noodle around on the Internet if I'm in pajamas, so I always put on real clothes before plopping down in front of the computer. Plus my office window looks right onto my neighbor's house. She can look out her kitchen window and see me in here. I like to be decent.

9:30 - in front of the computer. I give myself about half an hour to fuck around on Done Deal or Tracking Board or whatever else I need to do other than work.

Around 10am - work on one project. If I'm working on a treatment, I do that. If another script, it's whatever one is not my top priority. I used to have page count goals or time or whatever, but now I generally go until I run out of steam, which depends on what I'm writing. If it's a dialogue-heavy sequence it's a lot harder for me to write than an action sequence, so dialogue days I'll probably write fewer pages than if I'm in a fight scene. If I feel myself fading, I always give myself one more push, so just when I think I'm ready to stop I try to do one more scene, and sometimes that bounces me into another run.

Around noon - I'm hungry by now, and tired of staring at the computer screen. I'll go until I feel like stopping, but usually I get a good two hours of work. So now I stop for lunch. Watch something - a movie, some TV, the news, whatever I feel like.

Around 2pm - Back to work. Now that I'm warmed up, I work on whatever project is my top priority. I do the same thing I did in the morning - go until I run out of steam, but always try to push for that one extra page.

Around 4pm - quit for the day. Then I work out, walk the dogs, cook dinner, take Foxy to agility class, whatever.

Of course, if I have meetings scheduled I nix the first project for the day because I try to schedule my meetings in the morning. That means everything up to 2pm could be taken by meetings, then I follow the schedule for the rest of the day. And sometimes if something important is going on that I have to deal with, the whole schedule upends to accommodate whatever that is.

Sometimes if I REALLY don't feel like writing, I'll write some of the day and spend the rest of it editing Lost Girl videos while feeling a tad guilty that I'm not writing.

But most days I follow this pattern - loosely, but as close to it as possible. It helps keep me productive.

I take weekends off, just like I would in my old job.

And that's how I do, in case anyone ever wondered.


  1. Cormac McCarthy once said something to the effect that he succeeds in writing because he views it as work. You just said the same thing - so yer in good company.

  2. Intriguing to see how others work. You seem to cover a lot of ground in a day...

    With me, it's grass growing! But, the writing is not a struggle.


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