A friend recently sent me an e-mail asking “How do I sit down and write? I’ve been trying to write my script for years and all I have so far is 15 pages. Whenever I sit down I get distracted and do something else.”
10 Tips to stop being distracted and JUST WRITE!
1) TURN OFF THE INTERNET
Make the internet a reward instead of a distraction. Make yourself WRITE BEFORE YOU GO ONLINE. If you’re an addict of facebook, promise yourself you can’t look at FB til you get X amount of pages done. Once you get on Facebook, you often forget why you even went on facebok in the fist place, you creeper. And if you need the internet for research, put a time limit on it when you start writing and then TURN IT OFF!
2) PUT YOUR MIND IN JAIL
Don’t literally commit a crime, but put your mind in jail. This means know that you have nowhere to go and nothing to do except the task in front of you. By telling yourself “I’m in Jail,” you can’t have access to the outside world, just you and those words you’re going to write.
3) THE 5 MINUTE RULE/WRITING EVERY DAY
At my last day job, I worked 60 hours a week and when I got home, the last thing I wanted to do was work more, so I did the 5 Minute Rule. JUST PROMISE TO WRITE 5 MINUTES A DAY. 5 Minutes is nothing, but you never know what will spark in 5 minutes. There’s often times 5 minutes becomes 15 minutes, 20 minutes, or even an hour if inspiration hits. This will also keep your project in your subconscious everyday.
4) WRITE AS SOON AS YOU WAKE UP
Put your laptop or notebook next to your bed. Then have the first thing you do before you even get out of bed is WRITE. Even if you have to pee, tell yourself you won’t pee until you write that scene, idea, or joke.
5) STOP FINDING EXCUSES
I have many friends who moved to L.A. to become screenwriters, yet when I ask “What are you working on now?” It’s the exact same thing they had A YEAR AGO! They make excuses as to why they haven’t written anything in months. If you want to make money writing. You have to TREAT WRITING LIKE YOUR JOB.
6) WRITE FOR THE WASTE BASKET
Ever sit down to think “Today, I’m going to write a masterpiece.” Only to find out you can’t write, because you can’t kill the critic in your head. Maybe you’re putting too much pressure on yourself to be good. The songwriter, Johnny Mercer used to “Write for the Waste Basket.” Without feeling that pressure of being great, he wrote crap, but after rewriting, that crap became gold records. In his career, he won four academy awards for Best Original Song. Judd Apatow works like this too. He calls his first draft the vomit pass, because it’s incredibly bad. But a vomit pass is better than no draft at all.
Johnny Mercer was probably also a party animal!
7) STOP BEING A PARTY ANIMAL
Let’s face it, we all love to get drunk with our friends, but sometimes you have to blow off your friends to focus on you. Being a social butterfly isn’t going to get your pages done. And if you still want to drink, drink when you write, just don’t fall asleep or become an alcoholic.
8) JOIN A WRITING GROUP or CLASS
Nothing makes me work harder than having my work being judged by my peers. Especially those who have more experience than I do. Having a class or discussion about your script can do wonders and give you new ideas. Plus classes and groups give you deadlines, which come to my next point.
9) HAVE A DEADLINE
If you have a Writing Contest, class, or have to present the script to a producer, you genuinely get your ass writing. Deadlines help immensely.
10) MAKE A (REALISTIC) GOAL LIST AND STICK TO IT
My grandma told me that everyday she writes a big list of things to do, and she’s lucky if she gets the first 5 things done on that list, but she’s still proud of those 5 things. Don’t tell yourself you’re going to do a lot, if you know you’re not going to do that. Big lists become overwhelming. Instead make your list of accomplishments smaller, and be proud of those accomplishments…and then go get drunk.