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Comments

Dean

Billy,

You don't have to convince me about the merits of regular work. But what about those of us who have a time-guzzling day job and other commitment?

Any thoughts about how you squeeze such time in among so many other things?

Does the magic happen if you can only write regularly say, two or three time a week?

mernitman

Dean, were you reading my mind? I just added a line to the post to suggest a "one hour minimum" for the time-challenged.

2-3 times a week is surely better than none, but for best results (cheez, I sound like a quack) the 6 days thing really makes a world of difference.

The "time-squeeze" is about making the commitment, period.
I wrote the first draft of my novel by getting up an hour earlier, 6 days a week. It meant that I was often sleep-deprived (I've learned the fabulous virtues of the daytime cat-nap) and I definitely became less of a late-nighter... but I produced the first draft of a 350 page manuscript within a year. Would NOT HAVE HAPPENED without the every day discipline.

I'm not saying it's FUN -- but honestly,if you really, really want to get a writing job done, you make the time for it. Even a shrink's hour (50 minutes) will work, if you're diligent about it -- though some side effects, including dizziness, nausea, headaches, unaccountable hilarity and visits with elders from the planet Zygon, may result...

shecanfilmit

Thanks Billy! This confirms the plan I hatched yesterday. I decided not to quit my consulting gig and instead do the writing at a regular time first thing in the AM. The fact that you posted this very suggestion this morning proves to me that I'm thinking clearly. I have more to say about all of this and will probably turn into into a reply post. But now, it's time to go do some consulting. (I often spell it as *consluting*, which I think is a better descriptor of my current gig.)

Annie D.

I needed this post today.

At this point, I can discipline myself to write something 4-5 days a week, but I'm all over the map when it comes to picking a time of day.

It's like I'm afraid that the muse will fail to show up if I force her to make an appearance at the same time every day.

JJ

The hardest thing for me to figure out was that it's okay to delete. Just write. If it stinks, delete it. But keep the motor running.

My time is 9:00 to 11:00 every night except Saturday which belongs to MLA. Of course, if she's working or something, I'm writing on a stolen day. Is there anything better than writing when you're not supposed to?

MaryAn

I can think of DOZENS of things that are better if you do them when you are not supp-- wait. Oh, okay, I didn't read that correctly, JJ. Never mind.

Chris

The best part of getting all my crap in a truck and shipped off to Los Angeles (aside from getting all my crap in a truck and shipped off) is now I have at least a full week at the family home to do nothing but write write write while the truck crosses the country. Shiny new laptop, copy of Final Draft arrived and installed, and none of the thousand distractions that pop up in the moving process.

I would suggest if anyone is having doubts about their commitment or ability to schedule writing time, take one or two months completely off. Cold turkey quit it. If you're not chomping at the bit and full of ideas that are waiting to spill out of your brain and onto the page/computer screen, then maybe the writing life isn't for you.

mernitman

Shecan: You're welcome, and happy conslutting (that sounds like more fun than it prob'ly is...)

Annie D: so long as you're managing to get to it regularly (sounds like you are) you're already in the groove, but re: the muse, think of it this way --
if you're always there at the same time, she'll know where to find you.

JJ & MaryAn: I couldn't add anything to this perfect meeting of the um, minds...

Chris: Your cold-turkey trial makes sense to me. Meanwhile, I envy you that fat block of writing time... And hey, pre-welcome to L.A., dude.

E.C.Henry

Writing doesn't have to be a grind gang. If you're a writer, you're thinking about your story all the time.

And you can always cheat when facing the blank page. Index cards, outlines, clippings, notes. I keep a "slush" file on hand, and pegboard whatevever I think will help the writing or engages my mind.

I agree with Billy, you have to put in the time. Moreso you HAVE to be committed to making your story as good as you can. Finding the magic of your idea, and maximisising its potetnial IS the goal of a true writer.

Love seeing all these writers come out of the workwork and reply. Does my heart good to know I'm not alone.

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

Writergurl

Someone asked me why I keep a blog, since I don't really do the whole "screenwriter in training" thing. I just shrugged and said "It's another way to write." So, yeah, you gotta WRITE, even if it's not the script burning a hole through your cerebelum. As for getting up early? I'll pass. I can stay up until the rooster crows but I'm not getting up to that racket. (Soooo not a morning person here.)

chesher cat

Hey, what's that Earl guy doing in my shower?

jamy

I seem to have no problem writing every day--though I took a few days off while I was on vacation. But the set time thing elludes me. I need to try that again.

mernitman

E.C. -- Like that "slush pile" idea; I use clips and photos, too.

Writergurl: Blogging IS a good workout. I had been away from my ms. for 8 months before a producer's notes led to my current rewrite, and I believe I was able to jump right back into it without any "re-entry" issues, because I'd been blogging since around the time I finished the last draft.

Chesher: Better yours than mine.

Jamy: If you're already in the habit of writing regularly, the set time thing may not make a big difference. But if you do it at 4:15 a.m. wearing nothing but a top hat, after 11 days the ghost of Emily Dickinson will visit and pelt you with kumquats (it is the first of April, isn't it...)

Betsy

I have that NYer cartoon with the kids on the sidewalk on my bulletin board!
It's probably one of my favorite ones ever besides the two people on a date and the one says "This might be the wine talking, but I think I'd like some more wine." And the guy with the "I have mixed feelings about New York" t-shirt.
That has very little to do with writing. Except here I am writing.

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