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Fun Joel's Screenwriting Blog


-- On Screenwriting and Related Topics

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Location: Los Angeles, CA

I moved from NYC to LA in October, 2003. And though I still think NYC is the greatest city in the world, I'm truly loving life here in the City of Angels. I'm a writer, reader, and occasional picture-taker.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Changing Schedules

I've mentioned before that I really buckled down and got a lot more serious about my screenwriting a bit more than a year ago. One of the big impetuses (is that the plural? impeti?) for the shift was when I joined up with my writing group. But it wasn't just the group, but rather what that driving force got me to do that had the greatest effect.

Recognizing that I was not being nearly as productive as I wanted to be, I decided to set a serious writing schedule for myself. I began waking up at 5 AM each day, and would write from around 5 or 5:30 to about 7 or 7:30. I won't say that I never missed a day, but for quite a while I was successful at sticking to this schedule, more or less.

I should note that this was the culmination of a fundamental attack on my nature. In general, I'm a night person, not a morning person. But over the years of doing coverage, with morning deadlines, I found that I was much better off going to sleep when I was tired and getting up earlier to complete my work, rather than forcing myself to stay up later at night to do it. An old personality test computer program that I ran on myself a long time ago said one thing that stuck in my mind as pretty true:

"You hate to go to bed at night, but you hate to get up in the morning."

That's a pretty true statement about my nature. I've always felt like sleeping was pretty much a waste of time, and wished I had to sleep less so I could have more time to be productive. Therefore, once I do finally drag myself out of bed in the morning (I mean really out of bed, not just to hit the snooze button), I usually am awake and active almost immediately. I'm at the point now where I can pretty much be working within about 5 minutes of getting out of bed.

So anyway, that was what led me to decide that I should get up at 5 AM to write, or at least what convinced me that I would be able to do it. Sometimes I wasn't writing, but was working on a coverage deadline or something instead. But at least I was being productive. One of the things I particularly liked about writing that early is that it is completely silent, both outside and in my apartment. It's just a solitudinous time between me, my thoughts, and my computer. Also, later in the day there are always things in my head. All the stuff that has been going on throughout the day: bills to pay, phone calls or emails to return, shopping to do, whatever. But at 5 AM, my mind is free to focus on the writing alone, without all the other garbage cluttering my thinking, and vying for attention and time. And I always knew that if I got tired, I could take a nap in the middle of the day, since I was a freelancer and made my own schedule!

Unfortunately, however, the 5 AM schedule has no longer been working for a little while now. First, I neglected my writing for a few months when my finances were a bit low, and I was focused on my monetary concerns, and ways to rectify that situation. But then I started getting that back under control, and slowly began pushing myself back into that schedule. Then, about a month ago, I began a part time job to bolster my finances with a certain amount of steady income each month. It's only 20 hours a week, but it still meant a major lifestyle adjustment for me. It had been years since I had any kind of enforced schedule at all, and this was a lot for me to deal with. Even though neither the work nor the schedule was that difficult, I still found that I was drained when I got home from work. I still don't fully understand it, but 8 hours in an office doing mindless stuff shouldn't tire me out as much as it does, but what can I say? It is what it is.

I kept pushing, trying to make the schedule work. But as evidenced by this morning's issue (and this was not a particularly isolated event) it simply isn't working. Finally, this afternoon as I was walking to get a coffee, I came to a realization. I need to change my schedule again if I'm going to be productive, and get Hell on Wheels really moving, along with the revisions of my other two scripts.

I haven't sat down to really examine my schedule yet, but I'm thinking I'll have to try for more hours on fewer days or something. We'll see. But what's the bottom line of this post?

You have to find what works for you as a writer. And when something that worked previously stops working, learn to recognize it and then find something else that does!

I say this now, as much to myself as to you: Keep Writing!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am in a small writing group here, and would love to get into another one when I make the move to LA (I am not afraid to think about moving to LaLa Land like a few fellow bloggerites I read). I did an informal poll to our members asking them if they get The Call, will they pack it up and move to LA. Can you believe I was the only one? I'd drop everything and get my butt out there stat! And what is nice is the wife hopes I do (no, she is planning on coming with me haha)

8:58 PM  
Blogger Fun Joel said...

Don't wait for The Call. Come out, so you can help facilitate The Call.

9:01 PM  
Blogger Fun Joel said...

When I said, "come out," I meant come out to L.A. -- move here. On retrospect, I realized that comment might have been misconstrued! ;-)

9:16 PM  

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