My freelance job has increased over the last few months which I won’t complain about because a) I love it and b) this means more people are paying me. Niceness. But what this means is that I suddenly have to approach the time I dedicate to writing differently. And by differently I mean more structured. And by more structured I mean actually having a plan. Some weeks I have a whole day to attack the different projects I’m juggling, other weeks I have a sparse few hours each evening to select the most important script to work on.
This is what I do and so far I’ve beaten every deadline with loads of time to spare. Sizeable chunks my friend. Simple as that. I’m not breaking new ground here, I’d like to think that most people do this. But this is the method that I use to juggle and it’s the most effective approach so far. I used to dedicate whole weeks to different projects but that was when I was writing to my own time scale. Now I’ve got people asking for work I’ve had to change and refine it. My most cherished writing tool, the humble whiteboard, becomes littered with the week ahead broken down into the days with corresponding items on the agenda to do. And they’re achievable things. A day’s breakdown recently was as follows:
* Sketch down some ideas for that person
* Re-read draft 3 of that film script
* Research that particular myth
* Print out the map for that recce
* Think about a title for this play
But the important thing is I write down small chunks of stuff to do for each day that I know are possible for me to actually do. The point of this exercise is having the foresight to know you can achieve them. What will happen is that the chunks will be so small in comparison to tackling your project as a whole, that you’ll more than often end up doing the next chunk because you’re motivated and focused. And that next chunk you might’ve planned it for in a few days time or the following week, but it doesn’t matter, this is a good thing. If you’re ahead of yourself things can only get better and your morale will be lifted. If you’re falling behind it’s because your chunks are cut too big or you suck at actually writing something that interests the author: you.
We all need a deadline whether it be self-imposed or if someone else is banging a desk demanding it by five o’clock. I’ve never actually had someone banging a desk but I’ve had someone sending me an email asking for the latest draft… I’d say that’s the modern day equivalent. The best thing to do is embrace that deadline and treat it as your deity. Take it out for a spin, show it the sights, buy it a drink and take it to bed because it’s going to fuck you either way. It’s just up to you whether it’ll be good or bad and if you’ll come back for more.
[I look pretty vacant in the photo, I had just planned a whole narrative over five whiteboards…]