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48 Ways to Become the Most Productive Screenwriter You Know

Even While Juggling a Full-Time Job, Family, Friends and Time for Yourself

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by Script Reader Pro in Life as a Screenwriter
February 7, 2019 11 comments
How to find time to write

48 Ways to Become the Most Productive Screenwriter You Know

On the one hand, you’d like to write more to finish that screenplay, TV pilot or treatment (or start one, for that matter) and begin making headway toward your writing goals.

On the other hand…

Most days pass in a blur. You’re dead tired after getting home from work. Then it’s family time. Or you feel like crashing in front of the TV. Or you promised to go see a work colleague’s band play across town. And on and on.

There always seems to be something in the way of just sitting down and writing. Well, that’s about to change.

In this post, we’ve collected together our absolute favorite forty-eight resources that will teach you how to find time to write and create the ultimate writer’s lifestyle—enabling you to truly kick-start your screenwriting career.

We’ll cover hacks on how to find time to write, how to write more efficiently, tips to improve productivity for writers, health, fitness and much more.

In other words, everything you need to develop the optimal conditions in your life so you can give your screenwriting goals the best possible chance of succeeding. So let’s get to it.

Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning we will gain a small commission if you purchase something—at no extra cost to you.

Get Inspired to Write All Over Again

Sometimes the reason why we don’t write as much as we’d like is simply because the enthusiasm has dried up a little. After several rejection letters or lukewarm feedback on your scripts, it’s easy to get disheartened.

With that in mind, here are six resources you can use to rediscover your writing mojo.

1.  Get inspired by listening to the breaking-in stories of professional screenwriters on Jeff Goldsmith’s Q&A podcast.

2.  Watch these twenty TED talks by writers on how they harness their storytelling creativity.

3.  Listen to this episode of David Wygant’s podcast 10 Minute Daily Reality Check: how to stop the lazy cycle and be an outlier. Then subscribe and get motivated like you’ve never been before.

4.  If you don’t live in the most inspiring place on earth, consider moving to Los Angeles or just coming over a couple of weeks. Writing and movies are in the air and you’ll love soaking up every drop.

5.  Read So, You’re a Creative Genius… Now What? by Carl King and release your creative genius within.

6.  Spark your creativity by ditching the TV and cellphone and going completely offline for a day or two.

Set Writing Goals but Actually Stick to Them

There are page-count goals, word-count goals, yearly goals, weekly goals, etc. There’s no magic formula to setting goals. The important thing is that you pick the system that works for you and stick to it.

Your writing needs focus and structure if it’s going to improve or you’re going to write as much as you want to this year. And as they say, if you’re not sure where you’re going, it’s harder to get there.

7.  Use Erik Kennedy’s method to unleash the power of weekly goals.

8.  One good way to force yourself to adhere to a writing goal is to enter one or two screenwriting contests before you’ve finished the script.

9.  Or discover this simple “rule of 3” goal-setting technique by productivity expert Chris Bailey.

10.  Check out this wonderful guide to personal productivity methods.

11.   If you work better using real paper rather than apps, check out this ultimate productivity planner.

12.  Have your best writing year ever by using Michael Hyatt’s five-step plan for achieving your most important goals.

Optimize Your Tools of the Trade

Yes, technically you can write a screenplay in a windowless room, using Microsoft Word and on a ten-year-old laptop. But the environment you choose to write in, and the tools you choose to use, matter.

Some add to the already difficult and sometimes frustrating process of writing. Others free the mind, induce creativity and make writing that much easier. And they’re just the kind of resources and tips you’ll find below.

13.  Master how to write more efficiently by using the outlining and scheduling app, BlankPage. It’s designed for novels but works equally well with screenplays.

14.  Follow these five ways to optimize your workspace for productivity.

15.  Give up writing on word processors like Word, and choose one of the best screenwriting software on the market to take the heavy lifting out of formatting.

16.  Or if you’re on a tight budget, check out these ten free screenwriting software choices for writers.

17.  Consider writing at a standing desk in order to cut down the risk of developing the posture problems associated with hunching over a keyboard for extended periods.

18.  Noise canceling headphones are a must for any writer, and these Bose QC 20 headphones are excellent.

Find Time to Write No Matter What

We appreciate how hard it can be to find time to write if you’re working eight hours a day, have a family and friends and very little spare time for yourself.

These tools and techniques will help you manage your time better, freeing up more space for what should be your number one priority: writing.

19.  Terry Rossio used this method as an aspiring writer while working full time. He joined the 5 am Club. Watch how waking up early can change your life and how anyone can do it.

20.  Free up more spare time by reading Susan Newman’s Book of No and learn 250 ways to stop people pleasing forever.

21.  Download one of these six free time-tracking apps to see how much time you’re wasting online and improve your productivity.

22.  If you’re a habitual social media user, it isn’t just sucking up your valuable writing time, it’s changing the way you think and feel. Hear Jaron Lanier’s arguments for why you should delete your social media accounts.

23.  Learn how to find time to write by reading Chris Guillebeau’s perfect summation of eight ways to have more time.

24.  Discover Cal Newport’s advice on the importance of planning every minute of your day.

Develop a Robotic Writing Habit

Everyone says the same thing: “All you need to do is sit down and write. Every single day.” You probably already know this, so if you’re not doing it these resources will help.

Ultimately, though, no one can make you want to become a screenwriter enough that you’re willing to make the necessary sacrifices. In the end, it’s all down to you.

25.  Make sticking to a daily writing routine easier by making it accountable to someone else.

26.  Or pay one of these accountability apps for every day you don’t write. You’ll get that script finished in no time.

27.  Prefer to keep things old school? Try Jerry Seinfeld’s simple “Don’t break the chain” productivity method instead.

28.  Check out Leo Babatua’s definitive guide on sticking to a habit.

29.  Discover these four proven ways on how to focus better.

30.  Do a deep dive on creating and sticking to habits by reading Charles Duhigg’s best-selling book, The Power of Habit.

Give Your Mind a Tune-Up

Stress, resentments, worries, grudges, regrets, lack of confidence… There’s often a lot of useless clutter floating around our minds that can reduce our sense of wellbeing and drain resources away from more positive things, like writing.

Aim to greatly reduce the stress and unnecessary “fluff” in your mind, freeing up space for it to be more creative and focused.

31.  One of the very best ways to reduce stress and the hold the ego has over us is to learn how to meditate. Watch this introductory video on how to start meditating with entrepreneur, Tim Ferriss.

32.  Get started learning how to meditate by listening to Sam Harris’s short or long guided meditation.

33.  It’s important to have confidence as a screenwriter. Not just in your own writing ability but also when pitching to and collaborating with people. Watch Thomas Frank’s five effective tips on how to become more confident than anyone you know.

34.  Check out Leo Babatua’s twenty ways to eliminate stress from your life.

35.  Learn how to hold a grudge and free up more mind space by reading this book by Sophie Hannah.

36.  Read the definitive guide on optimizing your mind, Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.

Give Your Body a Tune-Up

Don’t worry, we’re not here to give you a lecture on how you need to turn into a teetotal kale-munching gym bunny. But if you think you could be fitter and healthier than you currently are, it’s worth doing something about it, no matter how small.

We all know things like exercise, diet and getting enough sleep raise energy and mood levels and improve focus. But how do you get started? Check out these resources.

37.  Get inspired by reading Spark by John Ratey: a book on the science behind exercise and its effect on the brain.

38.  If the thought of joining a gym turns you off, try HASfit’s free at-home workouts for people of all fitness levels.

39.  Improve your diet overnight by watching Joe Cross’s inspirational film, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.

40.  Watch the movie health organizations don’t want you to see, What the Health.

41.  Make sure you move around enough while writing by reading these ten side effects of prolonged sitting.

42.  Supercharge your sleep and consequently your body and mind by reading this book by world-renowned sleep coach, Nick Littlehales.

Remember: One Is the Loneliest Number

Like going to the gym or sticking to a diet, writing is made somewhat easier if you do it with other people.

Check out these six ways of connecting with other writers and find yourself the friendly support and motivation you’re looking for. Or even a writing partner for your next project.

43.  If you live in Hollywood, hang out and write with professional screenwriters by writing in this co-working space, The Office.

44.  Hire a professional screenwriter to mentor you, read your work and keep you motivated week in week out.

45.  Find a writing partner to shake up your writing by signing up to Stage32.

46.  Or join a writing group in your area by finding one on MeetUp.

47.  Attend this year’s Austin Film Festival Writers’ Conference and get inspired by listening to the pros, as well as connecting with your peers.

48.  Meet like-minded writers in one of these best coffee shops for writers in Los Angeles.

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We hope you enjoyed this post on how to find time to write and how to write more efficiently. Which of these techniques do you already use? Which ones are you going to try out? Let us know in the comments below!

11 Comments
  1. Debra West says:

    Love this.
    Will apply!

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks, Debra! Let us know which techniques work best for you.

  2. Chris says:

    Wow! Excellent, It inspired me so much. Many thanks for these great productivity tips. I really need to keep my focus on finishing my screenplay.

  3. Brian says:

    Your productivity tips are applicable to anyone with dreams and challenges of being a screenwriter.
    I really like your idea of a standing desk, I suggested it to my wife, yesterday. In a standing position, I think I will be able to keep focusing on my writing as I am a very energetic person.

  4. Donald says:

    Ooohh wow, a solid list for professional screenwriters. I’m gonna try this!

  5. Corinne Craw says:

    I always try to write at least 1 line per day. It almost always turns out to be 10 or 20 lines. So just doing it every day no matter how little helps build the habit and finish most of my screenplays in 4 weeks or less.

  6. Sandra K. says:

    Bookmarked. This is immensely helpful – for new and seasoned screenwriters alike. Sometimes it’s so easy to forget the basic things that really yield results, and some refreshers every now and then and new productivity ideas are definitely a godsend. Thanks for this!

  7. Katharina says:

    Great suggestions, I can’t wait to test some of your productivity tips. In the morning, I visit my favorite news websites, check my personal email, then shut that all down and focus on writing. Also, taking my dog out for a walk helps to come up with new ideas for my screenplay.

  8. Saskia says:

    I am the mom of 3 kids, a full-time job with an hour drive and an hour drive back, and farm work to do, and I was able to finish my screenplay within 6 weeks last year. I got up at 5am and worked on my screenplay 1.5 hours a day. What makes the biggest difference is when you put aside all the silly excuses you’ve come up with and just stick to a routine.

  9. Milan says:

    Although I’m more a night owl than an early riser, I have to say I do write better when I do it early. Nevertheless, the biggest change for me isn’t writing in the mornings, or the evenings, it is dedicating myself to it at least 5 days a week.

  10. Marcus R says:

    Love all of these but i’m definitely going to hang at the office!!!

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