The Screenwriting Balance

December 9, 2009 at 1:20 pm

writing vs career

The Moneymaker

I consider myself lucky to have a career that I love.  It really is a dream job is you are a fan of sports and want to work in Television.  It’s been nearly 4 years now and I still love it just as much as my first day.  Yet I’m still trying to find time to write. I’m always thinking about scenes or characters but you can’t call yourself a writer unless you’re in front of a blank screen typing words and sentences.

Over the last few months, I’ve been reorganizing my entire life.  Everything from finances to scheduling to working out more.  I’m in a better position overall now yet I’m still trying to find time to write.

I think it’s different for every writer out there.  Those of us who need to write but can’t find time end up feeling guilty and unproductive.  Or at least, that’s been my experience.  I’ve read every book I can find on screenwriting and nearly every one of them discusses procrastination and how hard it is to find balance.  I think the difference between successful and non-successful writers is the amount of time they are able to find to get the work done. You have to assess your time and prioritize.  I’m currently assessing and prioritizing.

Over the last few weeks, I finally returned to screenwriting after nearly a year away.  While I definitely missed it, I don’t think it was as bad because my career and my company are both creative endeavors so I still had outlets to express myself everyday.

Two weeks ago, I wrote non stop for 2 full days.  I was on fire again.  It was like I never stopped.  Have you ever written so much so fast that you feel like your fingers can’t keep up?  There were so many moments when I actually stood up from my chair because I was too pumped up.  Now, I’m not saying what I’m writing is going to change the world.  I’m just saying writing makes me happy.

Rule 1: Write words and sentences

Since that day, I’ve been having trouble finding time to write.  Finally, I started really examining why I’m not writing pages everyday.  Normally, I don’t work until at least 2pm so I could be writing every morning.  Some weeks I don’t work until 5 or 6 in the evening.  That’s practically a day off with the amount of work I do beyond my career.  So why can’t I find time?  I have a theory.

INT. APARTMENT BEDROOM – MORNING

9:59am.

A young man in his mid twenties is sleeping soundly until 10 o’clock arrives and the alarm blasts music into the room.  The young man, JASON, flies out of bed and across the room to turn the music off.  Just as quickly, he slides back into bed and closes his eyes.

INT. APARTMENT BEDROOM – LATER

12:23pm.

Jason’s eyes open slowly.  This is a well rested individual.  He casually turns his head to look at the clock then lowers it in shame.  He slept in again.

The Screenwriter

That little skit above is an example of what happens when you work until 2 or 3 in the morning.  Sometimes, you just need to sleep.

I’ve learned that I have a unique list of requisites to check off before I feel like I can write effectively.  In the past, the most important factor was having a day off.  For some reason, I find it very hard to sit down and write knowing I only have an hour or two before another part of my life takes over again. When I have a day off with no plans, I usually get a lot accomplished.  I just have to accept the fact that I have a full time job and it’s not going anywhere.  So why not write for a few hours?  It certainly doesn’t make my life worse.

I believe that’s my single biggest problem.  Being unable to write because I have to work later that day sounds more like an excuse to me now.  Those 2 days of writing a few weeks ago taught me that even if I can only write for an hour a day, I’d still be happier than not writing at all.  I think I’ll still struggle with being on a roll and having to leave my desk but perhaps that will make it easier to sit down again once my shift is over.

Every writer with a job has to deal with these problems but finding that balance is the difference maker.  I’m no longer a writer because I’ve written a few scripts here and there.  I’m a writer because I sit down in front of a computer screen and type words and sentences. Doing so causes extreme levels of happiness and satisfaction.  This is what being a writer means to me.

PS: It has occurred to me that writing this post took up some potential screenwriting time.  I don’t feel guilty because I’ve found that balance.  I’ll have some time before my shift tonight.

PS #2:  If not, I always have my iPhone and the screenwriting apps I’ve downloaded. The bus ride to work is always fun now.

The Screenwriting Balance | Screenwriting Blog