Rule #6: You Need To Make Writing a Full Time Job
By Jacob Krueger
Rule #6: You Need To Make Writing a Full Time Job
Check out 100 Rules And How To Break Them for more tips.
If you’re a writer, at some point you’ve probably heard yourself say some version of the following sentence:
“If I could just get (one day/one week/one month/one year) off from my (day job/kids/spouse/everyday life) to focus full time on my writing, then I could actually finish my (screenplay/novel/other creative project) and finally feel like a writer.”
At some point, maybe you even went for it. Took a leave of absence, called out sick for a week, locked yourself in the library for a weekend and resolved to focus 24/7 on your writing…
…Only to find that your writing life didn’t change in the way you expected.
You imagined yourself writing every minute of every day, but instead found yourself unable to stick to your deadlines, blowing those precious hours on Facebook or solitaire, and creating new and inventive procrastination techniques that robbed you of your precious writing time. You imagined the words flowing effortlessly onto the page, and instead found yourself staring at a blank screen, lost somewhere in the middle of your screenplay or afraid to even start. You imagined being at one with your creativity, and instead found yourself alone in a scary place, feeling even more blocked, more overwhelmed, more stuck, and more frustrated. Perhaps at that moment, you started to ask yourself “do I really want this?” or “do I even have what it takes to be a writer?”
The Journey and the Destination
Building a healthy relationship with your writing is not about teleporting yourself to an alternate universe where everything changes overnight. Rather, it’s about embarking on a journey with your creativity, through which writing gradually becomes so naturally integrated with your daily life that when you finally reach your destination, you may even find yourself wondering exactly how you got there.
Understanding The Power of a Single Drop of Water
Dump 100,000 gallons of water onto an arid desert, and you don’t get a river. You get a terrifying flash flood that overwhelms everything in its path and then disappears just as quickly into the sand. Let that same stream of water trickle slowly and steadily over time, and gradually a channel will start to form, getting deeper and wider until it becomes a mighty river, which can carry that water all the way to the sea.
This is how you build a writing life. Not with a 100,000 gallon flash flood. But with a small, steady trickle that gradually grows stronger and more powerful. For most of us, the time to create that trickle already exists in our lives. It’s just about making it a priority, and getting the support you need to make the most of the time you have.
How Much Time You Really Need To Write?
One of my most prolific students writes for 90 minutes a day. 45 minutes on the train ride to work. And 45 minutes on the train ride back. One of my good friends, Christine Boylan, a highly successful TV writer, writes in chunks of 48 minutes on and 12 minutes off-and forces herself to stop writing after 48 minutes no matter what in order to train her subconscious mind to follow her impulses and make decisions quickly. The truth is that it doesn’t matter whether you have 5 minutes or 5 hours to write. If you train yourself to set achievable goals, and then force yourself to stick to them, you will notice that your writing time, and the ease with which you generate material, starts to expand naturally.
5 minutes of writing in the morning gives rise to a whole day of thought about your screenplay. During your coffee break, you jot down a couple of notes. Instead of updating your Facebook status, you suddenly find yourself pounding out a scene. That night, you don’t go home and turn on the TV. You find yourself back at your computer, putting on the finishing touches on the work you’ve done. You go to bed dreaming about your script, and you wake up the next morning racing to get everything out on the page before you leave for work. You’re no longer writing because you have to write. You’re writing because you want to write, because you already feel successful as a writer. Not because of the huge goals you dreamed of, but because of the 5 minute goal you stuck to.
Create The Steady Stream of Writing that Changes Your Life
If you wrote one page a day for a year, at the end of the year, you’d have written three screenplays. But getting that page written, day after day, can be a real challenge. Our lives are filled with so many “urgent” demands from so many people, that sometimes the things that are really important end up falling to the wayside, simply because there is no one but ourselves to demand it from us.
If you’re going to succeed as a writer, you need to find a way to make whatever writing time you do have as urgent and non-negotiable as showing up for work in the morning. You need someone to hold you responsible for hitting your goals, to let you know when you’ve done well, and to demand more out of you when you’ve fallen short. If you’ve ever gone to the gym with a personal trainer, you know that even 45 minutes working out with a personal trainer can give you ten times the workout of hours spent working out on your own. That’s why I’m introducing a new service to help you keep your focus on what really matters to you. It’s called Personal Training for Writers. And it’s just like working out with a trainer in the gym.
Here’s how it works:
- Subscribe: For 3 months, 6 months, or a full year of weekly training sessions.
- Create Your Gameplan: Discuss your writing goals with your personal trainer, and create a personalized writing schedule and regimen of exercises, to maximize the time you have to write, and integrate your creative goals with your daily life.
- Stick To Your Goals: Halfway through your writing week, your Personal Trainer will call to check in on how you’re proceeding, answer urgent questions, and give you the guidance (or tough love) you need to meet your deadlines.
- Turn in Your Pages: Each week, you’ll submit up to ten pages of writing to your Personal Trainer, hitting your deadlines just like professional writers do.
- Get Personalized Feedback: With weekly one-on-one sessions with your personal trainer. Get in depth feedback on the pages you’ve written, and the guidance you need to keep moving forward, so you can stay on track and growing as a writer.
- In Person or Online: Meet with your trainer from anywhere in the world: in-person in NYC, or online via video chat.