1) Understand the Benefits of Deadlines
You’re on a deadline. You’re doing your best to complete that script. It has to be outstanding. You have to develop impressive characters. It has to be on time. The deadline is pressurising you so badly you freak out. You push yourself to write more. It doesn’t work; you get stuck. You try to get some sleep. You can’t; you’re constantly concerned about that deadline. How do you deal with this pressure???
Hold on … Due dates are not your enemies. They should serve as an inspiration for you to get the job done … Let it help you change your perspective!
- A deadline keeps you writing. That big mark on your calendar motivates you to do more work in a day, so you’ll get your script completed by then.
- Deadlines help you create effective to-do lists. When you know how much time you have until the final deadline, you can plan it in a way that involves work, leisure, sleep, and fun. You realise there’s enough time for everything as long as you plan it carefully.
- Writing under pressure can be a trigger of creative ideas. Sometimes the pressure will block you out, but sometimes that’s exactly where you’ll find your inspiration.
TOP TIP: When you realise that deadlines are good for you, you’ll shift your mindset. You’ll accept them and you’ll start acting in accordance with them. So turn this enemy into a friend!
2) Set Reasonable Expectations
How many polished scripts are you able to produce within a year? Two would be a reasonable answer. For many screenwriters, one would be a reasonable answer, too. Anything above three is not a reasonable expectation.
Stay within the limits of reality! Set your own expectations and stick to them. Don’t be ashamed to ask for don’t be ashamed to ask for help if you need it, or change your goals accordingly if you have to.
TOP TIP: If you get an offer and you know you won’t be able to fit that task within the projects you’re already working on, just say no.
3) Set Progressive Deadlines
You’ve heard this before, but here it is again: it’s all in your mindset. Your mind is the strongest weapon you have. It’s the thing that produces scripts, after all.
However, this can also be a self-destructive weapon that’s prone to distractions, negative talk, and self-pitying. It’s time to put a leash on this monster. Proper planning helps you do that.
- Set a deadline for the outline. Plan when you’ll be done with the pre-writing stages.
- Set a deadline for the first draft. The script won’t be flawless at this stage and that’s okay. The deadline will remind you to keep writing and stop being a perfectionist. You’ll have time for editing later on.
- Set a deadline for reviewing, rewriting, and editing. Yup, all of it!
- Set your final deadline. If you stay on track with all previous stages, you won’t have a problem to meet this one.
TOP TIP: When you’re starting a new project, plan how you’ll complete it within several stages. Develop a timeframe that helps you stay organized and meet the final deadline with no problem.
4) Focus at One Project at a Time
Multitasking is a myth. In most cases, it doesn’t make people more effective. It only makes them unfocused.
If you get blocked, it’s okay to take a break from that script and jot few ideas for another project. It’s okay to start the brainstorming for a new project when you’re in the middle of a current one. However, it’s never okay to mess things up and bounce from one script to another without staying focused on either of them.
TOP TIP: You cannot work on several scripts within a day. When you’re working on a particular project, focus all your energy on it.
5) Use a Calendar
Seriously. You need one. You don’t need people calling you to remind you that the deadline is approaching. The calendar will have that responsibility.
Google Calendar is the obvious choice for most screenwriters. It’s simple and effective. You can use it to set tasks for the day and highlight the deadlines. If you need a more inspiring to-do app that you can use on a daily basis, try Remember The Milk or Wunderlist.
Why is it important to note down writing tasks and deadlines? Because that approach puts you in the right mindset. It sends a signal of commitment to your subconscious levels. When you just say to yourself that you’ll write a script by a certain deadline, it’s easy to forget or go around that promise. You’ll think of a thousands excuses to prolong it. If you write it down in a schedule, however, you’ll have no other choice but to stay committed.
TOP TIP: Set progressive reminders in Google Calendar, just as you were setting progressive goals. This will push you to stay on track with the schedule.
Keep working! It’s okay to get stuck. After all, obstacles are part of a screenwriter’s job description. However, it’s not okay to give up or keep procrastinating. You have to convince yourself that you can and will get through this script within a reasonable timeframe. The above tips will help you meet that goal.
BIO: Brenda Savoie is a writing coach and content marketing magician at SuperiorPapers. Writing her first romance novel. Seeking contentment through mindfulness. Read her thoughts on writing and education at Best Writing Clues. Find her on Twitter and Facebook.