Inside every writer is a sensitive, creative soul. That creative spirit sees the world with a sense of unabashed excitement — a childlike wonder, if you will. And sometimes that inner child behaves like a stubborn little kid.
Even when you know that doing the writing is good for you, that inner creative kid can put up a wall of resistance. And just as with an obstinate toddler, sometimes you have to deploy a tricky strategy or two in order to get that kid to do what’s best for them.
Here are three simple strategies to trick yourself into doing the writing you know (deep down) you want to do.
“I don’t have time to write” may be the most common excuse in the book. Let’s get rid of it, if for no other reason than to find something more original.
When you notice yourself reaching for this tired line, try testing your assumptions. Do you use the “no time” excuse because you assume writing requires a big block of hours? Why does that have to be the case?
What would happen if you gave yourself 20 minutes to brainstorm? Then 20 minutes again tomorrow, to begin giving your story shape? Then 20 minutes the next day, to come up with a few scene ideas?
Writing a screenplay doesn’t (usually) happen all in one sitting no matter how much uninterrupted time you have. So who’s to say you can’t tackle the task in smaller chunks that you scrounge up from the cracks and crevices of your daily routine?
This might work especially well if you have a regular activity that causes “dead time” – like your commute to work, or waiting to pick your kid up after school. How about telling your co-workers you have lunchtime errands to run, and then finding someplace to hide out and write instead? Or maybe you can dictate your thoughts into your phone while you take the dog for his evening walk.
One trick to make the stealing time method effective is to end each session on a question. That way, when you pick up your notebook, iPad, or laptop next time, you have an entry point ready and waiting, and you won’t spend half your allotted time trying to remember where you left off. Something like, “What is main character’s flaw?” or “How do we see that story goal is accomplished?” is all it takes to create a jumping-off point for your next session.
>> Even more tricks for Finding Time to Write
Build a habit to beat resistance
Once something is an established habit, it becomes easier to keep doing regularly. Routine and familiarity cancel out a lot of resistance (or at least ease us through it).
The thing to keep in mind when you’re building the habit is that the content you produce isn’t the measure of success. First you must create the writing habit. Because if you’re not writing regularly or at all, then making writing a habit is the only goal that matters right now. Showing up to write, even if what you write feels terrible and worthless, is a win. You did it. You’re writing. Gold star.
Do that enough days in a row, and you have a habit. Keep doing it, and the writing will add up to something significant before you know it.
Ignore that nagging voice
Ask most writers and they’ll tell you that the process of writing, in itself, isn’t always fun or fulfilling. It’s having written that feels oh-so-good.
And because that’s so often true, it’s easy to get discouraged when we’re in the middle of the writing process. When doubt creeps in, bringing nagging thoughts of, “Is it any good? Will it ever be something I can show people? Should I have started with a different concept?”
But here’s something to keep in mind: it’s very, very difficult to know what something will look like in its finished state until you’ve given it a chance to be completed. You simply don’t know the future. (Unless you’re psychic.)
If it’s impossible to know what a finished script will look like until it’s actually finished, then why keep trying to do the impossible? Why waste your time guessing and wondering?
Use that stubborn inner kid to tune out the doubts. Pretend you can’t hear them. Stick your fingers in your ears if you have to. (Headphones and white noise may be a more grown-up option.)
For now, let go of the outcome and just keep writing.