At some point or another you’ve probably sat down and closed your eyes and imagined what it would be like to be a professional screenwriter. Many of us have that vision of smacking the keys of a laptop while muttering to ourselves, a bastardized version of Charlie Kaufman’s ADAPTATION.
What people tend to forget is that being a screenwriter is not just about sitting in front of your laptop. Days are full with meetings one week and the next you’re focused on making deadlines. Ask 100 screenwriters for advice and the one thing they’ll say in common is “Write every day.” To achieve the goal of being a professional you have to be a master of time management.
Along with writing “To Do” or “To Write” lists, many people find it best to pick a time and stick with it. Like going to the gym or running, writing is an exercise. It’s getting your mind in the zone and putting all your effort into something special for an extended period of time. You can burn out, get exhausted, even make your muscles sore, but you have to do it.
Still, there are some things you can do to cheat. Bring a pad and paper everywhere so you can utilize waiting rooms. Check out some apps for your phone that utilize talk/type notes to store your ideas. Keep a pen on you at all times so any napkin or scrap becomes useful.
One thing that has always helped me is to keep a folder on my desk just for scraps. Friday, at 8pm, I open the scrap folder and sort through it. Any random idea, logline, picture, quote, or even article gets shoved in there. Because the majority of my writing gets done on the weekend, it helps prep me for my Saturdays.
To motivate myself, I have a steaming up of coffee on hand. I love writing while listening to music. Streaming soundtracks for movies I think have a similar tone helps put me in the headspace. Making the coffee becomes a signal to my brain to start churning.
Like Pavlov’s dog, the wafting fumes and the HER soundtrack help me push distractions aside. I’m basically brainwashing myself to write, but it works, so I can’t complain.
What are some things that help you get started? That you use to get in the mental space? That help you manage your time? What do you think you can do better?