Monday, January 12, 2009

Procrastination and motivation

Kelsey writes: How do you actually get yourself in the habit of writing? I have ideas all the time and I usually develop them extensively, but procrastinate when it comes down to actually putting them down on paper. (Part of the reason why I'm interested in a TV writing job is that I get things done better under pressure and/or in a rewrite meeting at 2:00 AM in the morning before shooting starts.)

It's definitely true that incentive helps. When I found out a friend was passing my script to an executive at her company, my Facebook news feed suddenly didn't seem so interesting. Similarly, Legitimate Writers have told me that when you're getting paid it's also a lot easier to write. Until we're lucky enough to be there, you just have to be disciplined. Find the time, whether it's in the morning, or during lunch, or late at night - we're all different. I think all of us newbies struggle with discipline, and it's okay. But remember there's a lot of competition, and you're not a contender until you have a few solid scripts finished. I don't want to be an assistant forever - I want to be a writer. That's probably my biggest motivation.

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Mike said...

Writing is like any other habit... it needs to be encouraged. Sure, getting paid to do it gives you a little more motivation, but I can tell you from experience it's not enough. If you don't develop good work habits from the beginning, you'll still be handing in rush jobs at deadline.

Um, not that I've ever done that, of course... riiiight.

probability said...

I like to imagine myself growing old and dying of a stroke in my cubicle and no one noticing until the end of the day...

That motivates me. ;)

Sasha said...

- I tell my friends/family I'm working on stuff... so I'll have to actually work on it.

-I make a schedule to do all the chores I *hate*. Once it's not what I'm supposed to be doing, writing suddenly looks a lot more fun.

-I get a lot of my ideas when I'm in bed, trying to sleep. I used to scribble them in my notebook and go back to tossing and turning.... but now, I just boot up my laptop and write. Afterwards, it's TONS easier to get to sleep, btw, and the material's usually pretty good :)

-I imagine a future in which my fabulous writing impresses everyone/dying in a car crash tomorrow and having my parents find all the dreck currently on my hard drive.

-I sit down and don't let myself get up until I've written (read this in a book somewhere, and it really works).

-I go to a new spot- a different room, the library, whatever. Sometimes I just can't get going in my "writing area."

I'm a HUUUUGE procrastinator, so I've had to come up with a lot of tricks :) But they all boil down to: even though writing can be a huge pain, NOT writing is even worse.

Jim Cartwright said...

You should try to write something everyday, wether it be an actual script, blog, letter, or creative whatever.

Yet, for me I have to do these power sessions sometimes to really make some headway in my scripts. I'll write on a calender "this saturday you write." I'll tell my friends I'm too busy and can't do anything (some times you got to blow off the fun stuff to get some writing done).

Then you got to find a work space that's not your bedroom, void of things to play with or a place to fall asleep.

Finally once you get on your computer shut down your Internet, IM's and Facebook are a writer's worst enemy.

So it really comes down to making a sacrifice to free up some time.

I find a few brewskies don't hurt with the process too.

Jeff said...


You said you do some work on Write Girl. Are there any other forums/sites that other aspiring writers frequent to commiserate, toss ideas, etc?

Hollie Nell said...

Like Jim said it's writing in chunks that are important. Friends always think I write a lot but I know if I didn't have the internet, I'd get even more done. I go through spurts just like everyone. Some weeks I'll write every day and then I'll take a week off. Everyone gets burned out but if you really want to be a writer, you'll find the time to write. It's like a sickness, you can't shake. But the good kind of sickness.

Amanda said...

Jeff -
I'm confused... WriteGirl is a mentorship program for high schoolers.

As for connection with other writers.. just try surfing the blogosphere... and consider joining the Yahoo TV Writers networking group (link on my main page).