Working two jobs isn’t very difficult, especially when they are in entirely different industries. I’ve been able to easily balance life between Tulsea and the day job without one affecting the performance of the other. This only works because I fit production work in wherever I can, responding to emails here and there, reading scripts after work, and staying up late when I need to. The flexibility allows me to do both.
It becomes completely different when I’m writing though. I have a great story that was supposed to be a rough draft script by now. The problem is, I can’t write tidbits of content here and there throughout the day. It really isn’t possible to sit down and write for 10 minutes, walk away, and write for 10 more the way I could with, say, an email.
Now I have the challenge of writing an entire script while working full time during the day. Sure I’ve done some TV scripts for fun since returning to work, but this one is much more involved. I’ve never written a feature while holding down a day job. So I’ve set up a couple rules to make sure I don’t go crazy trying it.
1. Set specific writing times
This should be a given regardless, but when I wasn’t doing anything but writing, I had the luxury of moving my times around. If I wasn’t feeling it in the morning, I’d do something else and then write in the afternoon. No more. 8pm to midnight are my new hours.
2. Set rough deadlines
Writing deadlines are always tough for me. If I know when something is due, I will wait as long as possible before getting it done. But if I tell myself I should finish Act I by the end of next week, it’s a little flexible. Maybe I’ll reach Act II by next Thursday, or maybe I’ll wrap up Act I next Saturday. It’s open, but I still have some general direction.
3. Don’t overdo it
I plan to allow two late night writing sessions a week, where I can write until the crack of dawn if I’m on a roll. I’m not going to force myself to stay awake, but at least on those nights, I can let the story take its time. The other nights of the week I plan to be in bed at a reasonable hour (if we count 1am as a reasonable hour).
4. Take breaks
I’m not going to have a whole lot of time, but if every waking moment is spent working, I’ll go crazy. On my non-late night nights, I plan to get in some good reading and watch a couple of movies (while also catching up on Dexter. I’m halfway through season 3). I’ll also get in some writing once or twice a week unrelated to the script. There are a couple side projects that I’m very excited about working on once this draft is done and getting a head start on those would be nice.
Drink lots of coffee Stay healthy and energized
I will limit my caffeine intake as best I can, maybe even try to exercise or go for walks to keep the energy up, but I won’t make any promises. I’ve never written a feature script under these conditions.
These are 5 simple rules to juggle work with writing. Overcoming writer’s block, online distractions, and a swelling fear of self-doubt – those are topics for other blogs. But at least I’m set to take these next two months head on. This may be rough.