Normally, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, or at least I don’t strictly hold myself to resolutions I make at parties or around the dinner table on New Year’s Eve. At the very least, I usually resolve to write more often. Often, that doesn’t happen.
For the first eight months of 2014, I was still in film school and got a lot of writing done—feature screenplays, a TV spec, short scripts—because it was assigned and therefore had built-in deadlines.
At the end of that year, I moved back to Wisconsin. When 2015 hit, I got two jobs and poured most of my energy into balancing them. Yes, I still made time to network and work on a handful of film projects, and yes, I wrote from time to time.
Ultimately, though, as I looked back on the year in December, I realized that I had spent a lot of time not writing. Instead, I wasted time and made excuses.
I worked both jobs today.
My friends want to hang out.
I’m going to a film festival.
It’s ten p.m. and I just got off work.
I’d rather spend time on facebook before work.
Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
It’s easy to make excuses. I looked at all the time I spent on social media, or complaining about how I never had time to write, or doing anything instead of sitting down for 30 minutes before I left for work or after I got home and writing a few sentences, and I realized that I had plenty of time to write. And despite my busy work schedule, I had that time every day.
So as 2015 drew to a close, I quietly resolved to write every day.
Over five months later, I haven’t missed a single day.
I don’t hold myself to a certain word or page limit each day. With my current schedule, that would be very hard to achieve some days. But I write something every day. Some days, it is one sentence. Some days, it’s a little revising work. Some days, it’s several pages. Most days, it’s something in between.
I hold myself accountable by keeping a writing log on my computer. All I keep track of is what project(s) I worked on each day. I still have days where I feel tired, or work a lot, or get distracted by social media for hours. I still make myself write on those days.
I have wondered if something will happen that will trip me up, or if a day will come when I find an excuse to skip writing. For example, in March, I directed a short film that shot for two days. I wondered if I should allow myself to skip writing because I was directing a film that I had written. Does doing something creative that is not writing allow me to take a break from writing? Not this year. In the future, it may. The truth is, on the days that I was on set for 12 hours, I still felt compelled to write something after I got home. So I did.
I didn’t write this blog post to brag, but to simply say that if you want to do something creative, you can work toward it every day if you put your mind to it, and, most importantly, if you hold yourself accountable.
Last year, I would tell people that I was “working on” several projects. What I meant was that I had several projects that I had started but not finished. I hadn’t touched most of those projects in months.
This year, I am literally working on several projects. I have some features in the works, as well as short films and a web series. I’m collaborating on a project with another screenwriter. I revised a feature film that I started in film school and sent it to the PAGE Awards screenwriting competition. I have written countless pages.
Most importantly, despite getting distracted from time to time, I don’t want to stop writing.