Without diminishing the horrendous scourge of coronavirus that is currently decimating families and communities across the world, it does seem that the self-isolation that accompanies it is also bringing its changes to our human interaction, both socially and individually.
Interestingly, one change that has surprised many of us is being paid to stay at home. For some, this has given them the rather unnusual opportunity to experience what it’s like to be a full-time writer (albeit without the accompanying salary/pay). Now, as someone who has worked part-time to facilitate more time for writing, I’d like to offer some advice as to how to make the most of this valuable opportunity.
1 Think through your options.
When I bought my house, a friend advised me to spend time living in it before deciding what renovations I would make. It was good advice as my initial idea was to do a loft conversion. However, a year on – having walked downstairs in the middle of the night from bedroom to bathroom/toilet – I opted to extend the kitchen to facilitate moving the bathroom/toilet upstairs.
Similarly, with our writing we also need time to think and reflect as to what is the best way forward for each of us, be that writing novels, screenplays, TV pilots, stage plays. Which route will result in a piece of work that will get us noticed so that we can build a cv and portfolio etc? TIP: Make a plan. Map it out on paper. Write your aims and objectives on a sheet and pin it to the wall in front of you. Then ask yourself at the end of each day if your efforts of that day exceeded or fell short of that expectation. Don’t beat yourself if you fail on any day. Instead, resolve to do better tomorrow.
2. Think about your day and what you use it for
As I write this, I am currently working on getting several projects completed in time for entry into competitions and to send to producers. However, the problem is that when you have a whole day to spend on your writing, it is really easily to become lax in out own writing discipline and routine. I would love to be able to say that this is now sorted for me but I do lapse on occasions and take a day off. Actually, I have no problem with this as we all need time to rest but my advice is treat ‘writing days’ like a day at work and be ready to engage with it as a 9 to 5 schedule when writing a script, planning another, researching production companies, networking and editing. TIP: schedule checking your emails later in the day and commit to writing (etc) straight away.
3. Think about what you produce.
Unfortunately, the focus that many creatives have in using all avalable time for writing scripts, means that this is achieved at the expense of networking with others or producing their own work or a career change (like joining a TV production company). Now, while the writers’ intention is to see their screenplay or TV series screened, it is all too easy to put our effort into one aspect which (if it doesn’t come off for us) undoes all of our plans and options. TIP: be versatile- write great scripts but also be prepared to take the initiative and produce your own or someone else’s work. Become a director, a filmmaker, a producer, a novelist, or chief executive of a large film company – in which case, remember my sage-like advice to you in this post and your innate desire to reciprocate 🙂
Til next time