David Silverman, M.A., LMFT
Writing a book? A novel? A screenplay? How long have you been working on it? How do you find the blocks of time you need to write? You’re going to have to get organized. Create a schedule and stick with it. You may have to tell your family and friends you can’t be reached from eight AM to two PM. They will try to reach you anyway, so you’ve got to be diplomatic. You have to protect your writing time.
You’ll have to learn how to say “no” without pissing people off. Your family members will ask you to do errands for them since “you’re going to be home all day.” Your friends will ask you to go to lunch, or coffee, or to a movie. You’re going to have to make sure they understand your schedule is etched in stone.
You’re also going to have to create strict boundaries around time-wasting activities. There are many temptations, and many of them are addictive. Some of them are very addictive, like Facebook, watching TV, surfing the net, texting and phone calls. Try to designate a time for those activities, either one hour in the morning, or an hour after the writing is done. During writing hours, let your calls go to voicemail. Turn your email notifications off.
You may have to check your email more often for business reasons. In that case, try to limit phone/internet time to morning, mid-day and evening. If you don’t draw strict boundaries for calls and social media, you can easily waste half your day. Face it; this is your life’s dream job you’re working towards. You’re going to have to make some sacrifices. You’ll have to be creative about finding time to write. You might have to pass up some dinners, parties, football games, or some nights out with the boys, or the girls.
Along those lines, you may discover you have blocks of time you never realized you had. For example, when you take your daughter to soccer practice, you might have a couple of free hours. Be prepared. Whatever you use for notes, keep it with you. Bring a recorder.
You might need to multi-task. For example, if you take the bus or carpool to work every day, bring your script with you and make notes. If you can’t concentrate on writing in a moving car or bus, then designate that time to checking emails, and phone calls. There’s a Facebook group called “Ten Minute Novelists,” which you can join. The group is full of busy people finding the time to write. A lot of these writers are published. They can offer support, and may even offer to “beta-test” your next script.
You’re going to have to make some sacrifices here, and one area is in attending social events. Admit it, there are many dinners, or parties you don’t even want to attend, but you do, because you want to be sociable. Your beloved spouse may be able to help you out here if you’re very, very lucky. If you’re invited out as a couple to dinner or a party, maybe, your partner could go alone, and “represent the family. The same holds for family events. Some of the time, he could take the kids and you can stay home and write.
You don’t want to ruin your marriage over this, but some couples can make this work. Be sure to be overly thankful to your spouse for their support. Then someday, if it works out, and you reach your dream goal as a writer, you’re going to owe your spouse big time, so prepare for that.
Speaking of sacrifice, let’s look at a typical day in your work life. Let’s say you work a forty hour a week day job. Once you leave the house for work, you won’t be able to write. One solution, which doesn’t sound like much fun, but may be necessary, is to wake up an hour and a half earlier every day. Get up, make coffee and write three pages before you go to work. If you get a two week vacation, spend a week with your family, then a week with your screenplay. Someday, when you’re doing what you love full-time, you’ll be happy you found these odd times to write.
With all these sacrifices, you’ve got to remember to take care of yourself. Get plenty of sleep, exercise, watch movies, read books, spend time with your family, go to church, get massages, go out with your friends and play pool, have sex, and do whatever else you do to recharge.
David Silverman, M.A., LMFT, treats creative and highly sensitive individuals in private practice in LA. He received training at Stanford University and Antioch University. Having experienced the rejection, stress, creative blocks, paralyzing perfectionism and career reversals over a twenty-five year career as a writer in Film/TV, he’s uniquely suited to work with gifted, creative and sensitive clients experiencing anxiety, addiction or depression. David can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310.850.4707.
Image credit: Creative Commons, Time, 2015 by Alex Lehner, is licensed under CC By 2.