How to find the time to write your script when you have a full-time job
December 16, 2022
You love writing. You dream of finishing your screenplay. You dream of selling your screenplay. There’s just one problem – you have a full-time job. You might even have a family or other responsibilities. Life, to say the least, is busy. So how do you find the time to sit down to write and finish that screenplay and go after your dreams? I’ve been there. I’ve tried every trick in the book. I wrote early in the morning as soon as I had my coffee. I’ve joined a writing accountability group. I wrote late at night. I even set a timer a few times a day so I could write for 25 minutes in between work assignments.
There are a number of things that you can do to help put that butt of yours in a chair in front of that screen. But here are some insights that I found helped me the most when it came to actually finishing that final draft.
Do you love what you’re writing?
Do you truly love what you’re writing or are you in love with the idea of it? There’s a difference. One allows you to experience joy – or at least satisfaction – from the process of writing while the other is more fixated on the outcome and pretty much involves no real joy whatsoever. The thing is, you need to be inspired by what you’re doing in order to do it. No one likes to do something they find boring and that’s the same with writing. Being in love with what you’re creating will pull you to your computer screen like a magnet. On the other hand, when you’re not totally in love with what you’re writing, you’ll find every excuse in the book to avoid it.
So ask yourself: what inspired you about your story in the first place? What compelled you to write it? What are your favorite aspects of it? Who are you telling this story to and why? Hone in on those details and you’ll find a way to get typing again. But if you can’t even remember why you started your story in the first place and/or you no longer feel compelled to tell it, then it might be time to go back to the drawing board.
Write for you
This is similar to the point above but with a slight nuance. Many of us write because we want our screenplay to be sold and produced. We dream of Hollywood glitz and glamor. But the reality is, very few screenplays are sold, and fewer are produced. This is not to discourage you from finishing your screenplay but it does beg the question: if your screenplay wasn’t going to be bought, would you still write it? In order for you to find time for your writing, your writing needs to be a selfish job. You need to write it because you need to write it, period. You need to write for you and not for anyone else. Think of it this way: see your writing time as an act of self-care; see it as a time for you to nourish your creativity alone; where you get to be with yourself and honor the muse from within. It’s an act of self-love. Focus on that and you’ll find the time to write just like you find the time to take a bubble bath.
So many times I’ve stopped writing because, well, it got too hard. For example, I didn’t know how to put the story of my pilot together cohesively. I wrote many possible storylines and beats in a notebook but because it wasn’t gelling, I was frustrated and procrastinated working on it further. However, when I joined a story beat workshop and received support from my instructor, my story opened up and I was excited about writing again. Our homework motivated me to write a few times a week and I wondered why it took me so long to write again. Then a few months later I went on to join a TV pilot class to help me develop it even more, and suddenly I found the time to write everyday. Sometimes when we say we don’t have the time to write it’s because we’re stuck on what we’re writing but instead of asking for support, we put it off and then weeks turn into years and then before you know it your screenwriting dreams are in the toilet. Getting the support you need, whether that’s working with a coach or taking a class, might be what you need to reignite your passion for your story again and get you excited to write. Because as I mentioned above, when you’re excited about your story, you’ll find the time to write it.
There are many hacks to find time to write but what I feel is most important when it comes to writing is the feeling underneath the why. In this case, why are you not finding the time to write? There are the same 24 hours in a day everyday. We don’t need to write our screenplay for eight hours a day to finish it; sometimes 30 minutes is all we need. So what stops us from sitting down for 30 minutes to write when we can sit on the couch for double that time to watch Netflix? It’s probably because you’re not inspired or motivated enough by your writing. Find the joy in your writing again, and I believe you’ll find the time to write today.
Written by: Brianne HoganBrianne Hogan is a freelance writer currently based in Prince Edward Island. A film studies graduate from NYU, her byline's been featured in Creative Screenwriting, ScreenCraft, The Huffington Post, among others. "Jurassic Park" is unashamedly her favorite movie (at this moment). You can follow Brianne on Twitter via @briannehogan