Posted by: steveonfilm | September 19, 2010

Finding Time

Had my first indoor soccer game in forever tonight. We lost, but didn’t play bad. The shots just didn’t get in the net. What are you gonna do? Looks like this’ll be a weekly Sunday night thing from now on, so I’m pretty excited about it.

The downside is that the arena is almost an hour from my house. Fortunately, it’s a relatively pleasant drive through scenic and winding back roads, with little to no traffic. It’s the kind of drive that lets your mind wander, and that’s just what mine did.

Living in Atlanta, I spend a lot of time stuck in traffic. I’m sure there’s a bunch of other people out there stuck in the same boat (I’m looking at you LA). I started to train myself to use this time productively a few years ago. I’m either listening to a screenwriting podcast, thinking about story ideas, and figuring out problems with projects I’m working on.

You don’t need to be sitting in front of your computer to be working on your script. You can be anywhere. On the bus. In your car. On the train. At your desk at work. Anywhere. Just take a few minutes, zone out, and think. Let your mind wander. Play out scenes in your head.

A lot of times that’s what I actually do. I imagine how scenes between characters might play out. Sometimes I’ll actually say the dialog out loud. That might feel a little weird, but it’s not like there’s anyone else around to hear it. But the bottom line is that I’m thinking about my writing. I’m solving problems and coming up with ideas. I’m using time that would otherwise just be wasted.

And that’s kind of my advice to people who don’t feel like they have the time to write. Maybe you can only set aside a few hours on the weekends. Or maybe two hours once a week. But that’s not the only time you can work on your script. Use random downtime to just think about it. When you get to where you’re going, write down anything you thought up that might help. Or don’t. You’d be surprised what you’ll remember, and how detailed it will be.

In the world we live in today, with our 40+ hours of work, hobbies, families, and other responsibilities, finding time to pursue something like a screenplay can seem daunting. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It just might take some time. There are no rules to how long it should take to write a screenplay. Some people can turn them out in a month. For others it might take a whole year. Everyone is different, and this isn’t a race. We’re writing because we love it. We’re writing to learn. We’re writing to grow. We’re not writing for a paycheck. If you’re lucky, that’ll come later, and you can deal with that when it happens. But for now the objective is to just write.

Find a little bit of time and write. And then find a little more time and write. And after that another little bit more time. Before you’ll know it you’ve got 30 hours invested in a story, or a screenplay, and well on your way to finishing it. This isn’t a race, it’s an adventure, and it can take as long as you need.

Until next time, keep writing!


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