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February 1, 2022

How To Write Every Day: Develop Daily Writing Habits

Screenwriting is a hell of a job to get into, so it's no wonder that there are so many trying to break into the industry. However, many emerging screenwriters forget that screenwriting is a job. That means showing up every single day to write, no matter what. Do you struggle to write every day? Do you want to learn how to develop writing habits that stick?

I've been where you are. God knows I used to take many days off writing purely because I couldn't be bothered. However, I'm of the mind that writing every single day (or at least every weekday) is incredibly important if you want to become a serious writer.

How to write everyday

That's easier said than done. However, I've tried just about every productivity trick under the sun, and I want to report back what works. The main thing you need to remember is that everyone's different, so experiment with what works and what doesn't and find whatever method works best for you.

Scheduling: Develop daily writing habits

For me, the first step to becoming a highly productive screenwriter is to extract all the romanticism out of a job. Remove any images of a writer possessed by inspiration and writing far into the night fueled by passion alone. It's not realistic, and it's not the path to productivity.

Instead, you may need to engage in some decidedly unromantic tactics.

Scheduling is the first. Scheduling is critical because it will get your brain into gear fast, and the writing will come more quickly. So it would help if you found a time every day that you can get some time to yourself to write, and you've got to stick to that time every single day.

Now, I am aware that this is easier for some than others. For example, if you have a family and a full-time job, the chances of you being able to sit down at your computer with a cup of coffee to write at 9 AM with no pressure is slim.

This is why you've got to choose a schedule that suits you. I'm a morning bird and like to get all my creative work done by lunch, but you may be entirely different. Maybe the words only flow for you when it's dark outside and everyone's in bed. So as long as you're still getting enough sleep, then go for it. The main thing is choosing a time that you can stick to every day.

Set achievable goals

The next step is setting yourself a series of goals. To be clear, I'm not too fond of goals. I never understood why in school I was forced to "goal-set." Goals didn't make sense to me.

However, they make more sense in the screenwriting world. When you sit down to write at your predetermined hour, you need to know what you're aiming for in that session. This is your short-term goal and something you should aim to hit every day. For me, it's five pages in whatever script I'm writing. So come hell or high-water, I'm getting those five pages done.

However, some folk works better with time. For example, try writing for two 30 minute blocks with a short break in between. Or maybe a full-hour block. It may take some time to finesse into the exact amount of time that works best, but it's ideal if you can hit that goal every day.

Medium-term and long-term goals are built over months and years, respectively. For example, a medium-term goal might be to finish this script within three months. A long-term goal might be to secure two more screenwriting jobs by the end of the year. Of course, the precise nature of the goal doesn't particularly matter, so long as it is specific, achievable, and something that you can look back to time and again to guide you forwards.


So, you've got a time blocked out, and you've set your goal, but what about sitting down and doing the hard work?

Well, this is the tricky bit, and there's no "one size fits all" solution, I'm afraid. However, here are a few tips.

  • Get rid of all potential distractions first and quickly. Any emails to do or things to check? Do it quickly and before you get into writing.
  • Warm your brain up. Sometimes diving straight into hard creative work can be daunting. Try ramping up to it. Usually, I do the NYT crossword and play a few rounds of GeoGuessr to get myself warmed up.
  • Remove as many obstacles as possible. Make sure your software's up to date, your computer's working fine, and your pets are attended to. Your brain will look for reasons not to do the work. Don't let it.
  • Throw your phone to the other side of the room and turn off notifications on any smartwatch. You need your attention focused on one place. Don't let the outside world grab it from you.
  • Reward yourself. Imagine yourself as an animal. If you wanted to incentivize behavior, you would give them a treat for doing what you wanted, right? Then there's no reason not to do the same for yourself. Give yourself something small. It can be a 30-minute gaming session, a brisk walk, a cup of coffee from a nearby place, or maybe even just a sweet snack.

Willpower and perseverance

It's time for the hard-nosed talk. There's only a certain amount of strategies you can implement at a certain point before facts have to be faced. If none of the above techniques work, then you need to address your willpower and ability to persevere.

Not everyone has the same amount of willpower, and that's fine. However, like most things, it can be trained. Try readjusting your short-term goals and see if that helps. So instead of forcing yourself to write for an hour a day, see if you can do it for shorter periods first to build up some resilience.

You may also need to look some facts square in the face. Ask yourself why this is something you want to do? Will the idea of the end goal motivate you to sit down in your chair and write? Maybe plan some reward for yourself if you can make the next step.

Make writing a daily habit

Sometimes it just comes to hunkering down and drawing motivation out of nothing. If you want to be taken seriously as a screenwriter, you need develop daily writing habits. There will be days that you don't want to write, but as a bodybuilder friend of mine once said, going to the gym on a day you don't want to counts for double. The same goes for writing. Figure out the plan that works best for you in order to write every day. A year from now, you'll see the difference consistency makes.

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How To Write Every Day: Develop Daily Writing Habits
Alex D. Reid

Alex is a professional screenwriter who loves writing horror. He won the horror category at Austin Film Festival for his screenplay Delirium in 2019 and is currently studying for a Ph.D in English Literature with a focus on the horror genre

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