8 Tips For the Working Writer

My desk at home

There are a few housekeeping details I’d like to share with you about practical habits of a working writer. These are extremely beneficial tips that many amateur/wannabe writers do not observe. You’ll be surprised at the difference they make in your productivity and quality of work.

1. Rise early and perform your personal hygiene as though you are headed to an office or meeting. Bathe or shower and dress. Make your bed. Hang your clothes or place soiled things in a clothes hamper. Eat a nutritious something and then wash the dishes or put them in the dishwasher.

2. Meditate, read inspirational material and or journal. Listen to uplifting music, go for a brisk walk or run. If you’re into running or strenuous exercise, shower and dress afterwards, instead of before. Use common sense.

3. Set a realistic deadline for the completion of a project if you don’t have one yet. This is especially important if you’re working on spec. Adhering to a deadline requires self-discipline but it’s a very powerful confidence builder. Respect yourself.

4. An outline of your work will help keep you on track. It can start as simply chunking down the basic strokes of beginning, middle and end and answering three basic questions. Who is your protagonist? What does he/she want? What stands in the way?

5. Establish an intention for the day. As an example, you might set a goal of completing 5 pages of your book, blog or screenplay. By writing 5 pages a day, you’ll have 150 pages in a month.

6. Keep compulsive editing at bay until a first draft is completed. Editing endlessly on the same page or scene is the enemy of progress.

7. Take breaks frequently to stretch your legs or make phone calls but not for long periods of time. Stay focused on what you mean to get done.

8. Acknowledge yourself for your wins and accomplishments. This can mean giving yourself a sweet or doing something fun.

FYI: Working writers in Hollywood have the chops to complete a first draft screenplay in 4-6 weeks. A polished one in 2-4 months. Of course there are always exceptions and sometimes the direction of a story undergoes a major change but this is a good standard of practice.

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