Man, procrastination is a bitch. Even now as I’m outlining my new screenplay, this blog is just that: pissing away precious moments.
But I’m trying to illustrate a point with this piss. See procrastination can be tamed; trained to become something bigger than the three minutes checking e-mail or the eight minute Youtube Top 10.
And here I am, regardless. Procrastination is a part of the screenwriting process. Now, I can’t speak to other creative mediums, but a screenwriter FIGHTS tooth and nail to stay on topic. As soon as I sit down, I immediately write a To-Do List in my mind with accompanying timetables.
“Shit the laundry should be done today, not tomorrow. My neighbor does their laundry on Monday.”
“Oh, I’m all of a sudden hungry. Eat or die motherfucker! You’re stomach acid is burning a hole! Andale! Andale!”
“Write this blog about procrastination before you forget!!”
See the mind plays tricks on you. As much as I love the writing process, my stupid brain says it’s hard work and forces me to think of chores and tasks that ultimately mean shit in the grand scheme of things.
And I’m not alone. Almost all of the screenwriters I follow experience some sort of mental menagerie of chore creatures burrowing holes into their creativity! *Deep breaths* Whew.
I’m a big fan of the Scriptnotes Podcast and they also talk of productivity as a fight.
There are however, a few good ways to beat this.
John August (of the aforementioned Scriptnotes) described a “block of time” method in order to beat this diversion. He sets a timer where he will write non-stop for a set time (ex. thirty minutes). The benefit of this is that usually he’ll go longer when he gets into the groove, but at the very least he is able to get that much work done.
A method I employ is to note these distractions. I’ll make a list of the things that pop into my head. That way the initial panic of housekeeping is dispelled, then I am able to work for a set amount of time.
As the “urgency” to complete these tasks returns however, I then take one and complete it. And I am able to write once again. The only rule in this method that I enforce is that this task is an important thing. It’s not like “Watch an episode of @midnight” (those are for when the writing day is done).
And finally, there are some days where you don’t have it in you. I take those days to let the outline of the film (or the scene on which I’m stuck) ruminate in the back of my mind as I do whatever chores I didn’t finish from the last writing session.
Now back to the writing!