Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Courtney Meznarich

Ashlee Stormo: A Day in the Life of an Aspiring Screenwriter

Hey screenwriters! Ashlee Stormo is an aspiring screenwriter, and she's documenting her daily life to share with you all. Maybe you can learn from her, or perhaps make a new screenwriting connection! Either way, we hope you gain insight from her weekly series over the next couple of months. You can connect with her via Instagram or Twitter at @AshleeStormo, and you can see this entire series by heading over to the "Day in the Life of An Aspiring Screenwriter" Channel on YouTube.

"Today I wanted to show you how I juggle two jobs while still making time to write. I also get into how COVID-19 has impacted my writing, and I share what screenwriting related things I'm doing despite my drastic schedule change. I'd love to hear from you! What scripts are you currently working on? How do you juggle creative projects while working a day job? Let me know in the comments or connect with me on Twitter or Instagram."

Ashlee Stormo

"Hello screenwriters! My name is Ashlee Stormo. I am 24. I live near-ish Seattle, and while I juggle being a nanny and working for my family's business, I am also an aspiring screenwriter. And today, I have partnered with SoCreate to show you the ins and outs of what being an aspiring screenwriter looks like in my life. And, I'm going to show you how I juggle being a nanny and working a day job with making time to write.

Since the Coronavirus has hit, my day to day is extremely different. So, I will be showing you what a day in my life looked like before Coronavirus – my normal – and then I will be showing you what a day in my life looks like now, and how I write through that as well.

So, my usually pre- COVID 19 day starts at 3:45 in the morning. I'm a before-school-care nanny. I have to be at the family's house by 5:15 a.m. Then, from 5:15 a.m. until 8, when the kid wakes up, I get to write. I know I can write about 14 pages an hour, so I aim for about 35 pages, give or take, in the morning. The only reason I can write 14 pages an hour is because my outlines are the bulk of the work of a first draft. They are extremely detailed with a ton of steps, and it makes writing my first draft so easy. I will be doing a video with SoCreate on how I outline my scripts, so stay tuned for that video.

Then, I get the kid ready, take him to school, and by 9:15, I am back in my car, and I am on my way to my second job. I work for my dad, who makes furniture, and this is another job that allows me to kind of do my own thing. So, when there are no customers in the store, and when I've already finished my computer work, I have a few hours to myself, and I choose to spend those few hours writing or editing.

So, I'm at job number two, and what I've done so far is my actual work – so I've done some ads, emails, social media. I'm really lucky to work for my family because now that I've done that, I'm going to take a break and work on some of my stuff for a while. And then, after lunch, I'll toggle back over, and I'll work on stuff for him more. If there is a way for you to find a job where there is downtime, that you're allowed to do what you want, I highly recommend it. I get so much writing done when I'm nannying, and then I get so much done when I'm here.

My usual day to day would go something like, answer emails, post some ads, meet with customers, and then I have about two hours to myself to either write or edit. I'm on a timeline right now. There's a contest coming up. So, today I'm supposed to read 20 pages of my screenplay with notes. Now I'm going to go in, and I'm going to detail specifically what I need to do with those notes.

Okay, so I've been editing for about an hour. I've edited this screenplay before, but I've read like 30 screenplays since then, and I've picked up a lot of formatting tips and tricks and just other things that I've noticed that I want to fix in mine before sending out to a contest.

Alright, so here's the first page. I put a bunch of spaces in between descriptions, and that's not necessary. I'm going to change how I'm doing my scene headers. I've seen a few different people, when there's time jumps, do it in a way that's just easier to read. The way that I have it isn't wrong, but it's not easy to read. Just a lot more showing, and a lot less telling through the dialogue.

When I'm doing computer work that is unrelated to screenwriting, I will try to pop in my headphones and listen to some sort of media that's related to screenwriting. It can be story structure, it can be networking, whatever it is, to try to maximize on some of that excess time that I have. Then after work, I go to the gym, and then during my cool down, I'll listen to another thing that's related to the industry. I've seen over and over and over that the real number one tip for screenwriting is to just write. And that, if you get a potential manager to just read a script that you've just poured your heart and soul into, and they like it, they're going to ask you to see what other scripts you have in your trunk, what else they can look at. Because they're going to want to invest with a screenwriter who has a potential career that they could help flourish, as opposed to just a one-hit-wonder. So, because of this, my number one goal is to make sure that I write. Make sure that I have a bunch of scripts in my trunk. And again, the way that I do that is I just force myself to write daily. I force myself to reach that quota and to spend my static time educating myself, to just try to maximize as much of my time as possible.

Since the Coronavirus outbreak, my day to day is so much different. My screenwriting has been affected by it, but I'm still going to show you what my day to day looks like. I still nanny because the family that I work for provides essential services so they still need childcare. But, instead of working for four hours in the morning, I'm now watching him for eight hours throughout the day, and that really takes a toll on my writing time, because his schedule is different. So, now I only have about an hour to write, and it's made me really appreciate my before-school gig. It's put it all into perspective.

My dad shut down his storefront so that we could practice safe social distancing. So, I kind of do, kind of don't have a job. Some days, I will go outside, and I will flatten a slab, again, not to sound like a broken record, but I try to maximize my static time by listening to a podcast. I listened to 11 screenwriting podcasts the other day. I learned a bunch. And then, what I try to do when I come inside so that I don't forget everything, is in my little memo pad on my phone I will take some notes about things that really stood out during those podcasts that I think I could benefit from. And this way, I'm still learning, even though I'm doing something completely unrelated to what I would like to do in life.

Even though I have so much more time at home, it is so much more difficult to motivate myself to write when I'm here on the couch every single day. Luckily, I have a contest deadline that I am striving for. So, what I've done is I will take my planner, and I will plan out how many pages I want to write in the week. I find that daily is too hard now because I might get distracted by a news conference that just popped up and is important for me to see, or I might end up going outside to flatten slabs for that day. So, instead of having a set daily goal, I have a set weekly page goal number.

So, my best advice that worked for me is to set a deadline for yourself. Find a contest you really want to submit to. Create an online writing group where you all hold each other accountable to certain page number goals. Do whatever works best for you. And right now, if you don't feel like writing, that's completely fine. Maybe you can – every single time you watch a show since there's plenty of time to watch shows or a movie – at the very end, pull up a memo app on your phone and just write one sentence about what stood out to you from that movie's screenplay. And maybe you can learn and educate yourself that way.

Maybe you just take a break from writing, and you don't write at all for this crazy period in time so that you can come back full-force when you are feeling up to it. Whatever works best for yourself. Whatever you need to do to take care of yourself.

Alright, screenwriters. That is what my day to day looks like. I am a complete novice and would love to hear your tips about how you manage to juggle your work with your dreams. I would also really love to hear if you are writing during this shutdown, and what projects you are working on. I genuinely want to know. I want to connect with as many of you as possible.

Make sure that you are following SoCreate. I'll be working with them on more videos. And I know I touched on a bunch of resources today. [SoCreate] has a lot of really valuable resources through their social channels, so make sure to check those out. I hope you all have a great day, and I'm so excited to connect with you all."

Ashlee Stormo, aspiring screenwriter

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