The two things that have catapulted me forward on my literary path have been FOCUS and COMMITMENT. I completed four drafts of my most recent screenplay, four drafts of the novel version, and then a fifth draft of the screenplay in four years. The first two years I was only about 60% focused and committed. When I decided success was non-negotiable, my focus and commitment increased. I finished the novel itself (all four drafts) in 15 months. I didn't quit my day jobs, but I didn't work full-time either.
You've already been given your focus assignment. To pick an idea by Monday. A few people e-mailed me to say that they were working on other writing projects right now and I say to them DO IT! Don't start a new script; opportunities can be obstacles no matter how fun and inspiring they might be. Don't get distracted. Join us on the next challenge.
So, your commitment assignment is to decide how many days, at what time, and how much time you will commit to writing. Here are some tips:
1) Doing ANYTHING every day increases the likelihood you will stick with it. How often do you brush your teeth? Most likely every day. You are committed to brushing your teeth. So, ideally you should write every day. It's better to write one hour every day than 3 hours every 3 days. I've noticed it's easier to get started if it's a daily habit. If you can't commit to every day, try to commit to 5 days per week if possible.
I know this may seem scary to some, to promise to write every day. But you will feel terrific and empowered for having done it. That's a promise or your money back.
2) It's also easier to get started if you do it at the same TIME each day. I was a night person for 25 years, so this comes from experience... first thing in the morning is best. I'm not saying, I'm just saying. I now get up 1 1/2 -2 hours earlier than I used to. 25 years of habit changed the instant I made the commitment. I also started going to bed before midnight, which helps.
3) I've also noticed it's easier to stay committed if I write in the morning BEFORE I do anything else. I don't answer the phone, I don't check my e-mail, I don't even get dressed. Every time I do any of these things, I end up getting distracted. I do make coffee.
But even if you are writing at night or in the afternoon, commit to that being your writing time. No, honey, I can't watch Survivor with you, I'm writing!
4) After all is said and done, you always want your goals to be doable, winnable, and in your control. So you decide what will work for you, but I do request that you challenge yourself in some way. If you have to get up 1/2 hour earlier to add it to your day, then do it. If you have to cut out your favourite TV shows, then do it.
And then promise to stick with it. Write it out like this:
I promise to write ____(# of days per week)____ for _____(amount of time)_____ until my screenplay is finished.
Here's mine (you can post yours if you want, it's easier to keep a promise if you share it with others. It keeps you accountable.):
I will write every morning, starting Monday, May 28, for at least one hour until the first draft of my screenplay Howler, Come Home is finished.
Funny enough, I've been having second thoughts about which screenplay to work on. But I'm taking my own advice and just picking one! The others will have to be patient.
That's all you need for Monday. On Monday, I will give you your first writing assignment. See you then and have a great weekend!