by Kierston Drier
Anyone here a professional or aspiring-to-be professional writer? Regardless of your level of success, professional writer is likely working contract or freelance. An aspiring writer is likely writing on weekends in order to polish their work and get it noticed. Sound familiar? What do both of these people have in common? Both of them are probably writing in their down time- one to hone their skills and one to stay sharp.
Here are five common problems of the weekend writer, and 5 ways to fix them.
Whether you just finished your last paid script or you’ve spent the last two
years at a 9-5 job, motivation (or lack thereof) affects us all. You may be too tired to write, you may have a hard time thinking of new ideas. You may just have low moral thinking about how difficult the industry can be.
SOLUTION: Remember What You Love.
Remind yourself why you started doing this in the first place. Remind yourself why you love writing, and what stories you want to tell. Go back through your work and read the pieces you are most proud of. This is your passion, and you have it in you to follow it.
Also remember: it is okay to take a night off. But don’t let a night off slip into two months off.
2. PROBLEM: Time
We hate to overuse the reason, but it is true. Time constraints affect us all. Between work, our homes, our partners, our family responsibilities- some of us also juggle school or parenthood in the mix of that, our weekends are shorter than they use to be and our work days longer than ever before. When do you find the time?
SOLUTION: Rethink Your Time.
No. I’m going to say “Make time.” Everyone hears that. But frankly, unless you want to forgo sleep, “making time” can be as impossible and squeezing a wall clock to get extra minutes out of it. So rethink the time you have.
Working a 60 hour week? Jot down your plots, characters and ideas during your commute. Evenings loaded down with chores and various time-sucking responsibilities? Text yourself the joke you just thought, and use it for future reference.
Weekends loaded with social plans? Call your writers friends and turn your next night out into a writer’s night in- Make cocktails and bring your latest spec idea to the table- get feedback on it from the people who love you and share your passion.
3. PROBLEM: Discouragement
Someone two years younger than you is already in a writers’ room. You career rudderless, financially treading water while other people seem to get what they want so easily. The story you’ve been working on just got made, and now you’re idea is worthless. It’s hard to stay upbeat when discouragement hits you.
SOLUTION: Reassess Your Goals.
Remember that success is not a party at the end of a long night. Success in the film and television industry is often more like a wheel that is forever rotating. Someone at the top today may not be tomorrow. Persistence, humility and hard work will take your farther than creeping someone else’s success ever will. Forget what other people are doing, and just do you.
Maybe it is something else getting you down? Maybe you’ve been nurturing a screenplay based on a historical figure, and just found out that same movie is coming out? Take some time to grieve, but then remember that you are not a one trick pony. If you want to tell stories for a living, remember that cranking out ideas is a part of that process. Find your passion for the next story you want to tell.
4. PROBLEM: INSPIRATION
Okay, I have the time, the attitude, and the motivation- why don’t I have any ideas?!?!?! Someone tell me how to jumpstart my creativity!!
SOLUTION: GO OUT AND DO STUFF.
Great question, glad you asked. How do you jumpstart your inspiration for a piece? We often under-estimate that writing is very inclusive solitary work that frequently hauls us up in our rooms locked away from the world for hours at a time. How do you fix that? GO OUTSIDE.
If the best writing comes from real life, then writers must be students of life. It may seem counter-intuitive that in order to be a better writer you should…ahem…stop writing for a bit. Yet, this is a strategic choice. Go outside, meet people, do things, watch your favorite movies and TV shows with friends and family and talk about them. Go to mixers, go to film screenings, go to film festivals. Talk about the things you do and listen to other people. Ideas happen when life happens. So live your life, and ideas will follow.