Look, time is tight, motivation is hard, and writing – actually sitting down and getting the facking ideas out of your head and onto the Big White Page Of Doom – is utterly terrifying. We get it.
But you have to! Because – and here’s the big thing – if you don’t?? Then you’re not a novelist, or a scriptwriter, or any other kind of writer … You’re just the person at the party who bangs on about Graham Greene and 500 words a day and we all know you haven’t actually finished The End Of An Affair because it’s really boring.
Don’t be that person. Here’s some tips how:
1) Accept it’s never going to be the perfect time
This applies both macroscopically – you’ll never feel clever enough or as though you have the big expanse of time you want or that you’re really ready – and microscopically – the kids will always be loud (no really, how are they so loud?), the house will always need tidying, you’ll always be in crippling debt to a university degree that hasn’t been all that useful after all, and there’s always another Netflix series to watch (for research, natch).
None of this is ever going away, so it really doesn’t matter if you deal with it in 45 minutes after you’ve looked at your work in progress or right this second. Opt for the former.
2) Death to Twitter!
Gaaaahh how we love those 140 character snippets of emoji-riddled banality. But to achieve your dreams TWITTER MUST DIE. Or at least be shunted around your day a bit. It’s not so much that you have to stop looking at Twitter altogether, or Facebook, or whatever. It’s just that, during the 20 minutes when you were going to slump on the sofa and finger swipe the scroll of doom, you could – maybe – jot down a few ideas in a notepad instead.
3) Change to pen & paper
I know we all fantasise about the leather-topped mahogany desk with a red Chesterfield swivel chair, the lovely picture window to gaze out of and the bliss of silence so that you can think. But right now you’ve spilled cereal all down your top, there’s three missed calls from the office, and you don’t know it yet but you sat on some buttered toast and you kinda look like you wet yourself.
Forget the desk. Jeez, forget the laptop right now. Get a notebook and a pen (remember those? From the olden days?) and whip that bad boy out at a moment’s notice.
4) Stop sleeping?
Yeah no don’t do that. But maybe you could get up at 6.30am instead of 7am to bash a few hundred words out. Perhaps you could knock out some notes quickly and head to bed at 11pm instead of 10:30pm. And you might even find that you sleep better, knowing that you’ve done a little bit today towards getting your story finished.
5) The blessed commute
Do not use this time to stare out the window or text your friend Ginny about your epic weekend. Are you c-r-a-z-y? Get out your laptop, your tablet, your phablet, your phone, your notebook, for lawdy’s sake, write on the back of your train ticket – anything! Commuting time is precious. Use it wisely. And if anyone tries to strike up a conversation with you, give them the best of British social awkwardness and carry on as you were.
When you really enjoy something, or when something is deeply important to you, you’d be surprised at how much time you can magically open up for it. Know that writing is important to you. Know that when do something else – like reading listicles on productivity, for example, ahem – you are making that more important than writing. Ask yourself: is reading this more important than writing? No. So git, go on, and don’t come back till you’ve written something.
7) Force yourself into it
Book yourself some time away – a writers’ retreat or night in a Travelodge away from your noisy family (seriously, the noise is getting out of hand here) or anything you can wrangle. Sign up for an online writing course that’s miraculously designed to fit around your busy life in small, manageable chunks (who’dathunk?). And once you’re committed, you have to actually DO IT.
8. Stop fucking about!
A few years ago I saw one of those Build Your Dream House We’ve Got More Money Than Sense kind of shows which featured a man who built an entire house so he could have the glass fronted, Norwegian wooded study of his dreams, so that he could write his novel (incidentally, he was a Graham Greene 500 word a day person too). Now, as beautiful as the study was, you can bet your sun-deprived buttocks that he still has not written his novel. Why? Because he built an entire house and spent several hundred thousand pounds just to avoid doing it. That’s some Grade A procrastination. My advice? Don’t do that. Stop looking for excuses. Sit your bum on a chair and bash the clicky alphabet in front of you until some crappy sentences appear, and then bash it a few more times until they’re really pretty sentences. Submit to agent/lit mag/beta reader/whatever. Job done.
(Incidentally, if your schtick is that you’ll never be as good at writing as your writing heroes so really why bother, just think you’ll never be as good at procrastinating as Mr House Builder either, so, you know, just crack on with writing and don’t worry about either of them.)
Good luck! Goodspeed. Get writing.
This article was originally published at Bang2Write – an ace resource for all your screenwriting needs!