Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Courtney Meznarich

How to Achieve Work-Life Balance for Writers

Ahhh, the elusive work-life balance. What does it mean, anyway? Is it even possible to have a consistent state of balance in our lives? Maybe work-life balance isn't possible at all times, but it has to be one of the best feelings when you achieve it.

I fall in and out of work-life balance, but I always keep it at the back of my mind. For someone who writes for a living, as I do, it is vital to keep a clear mind to stay creative and productive. A clear mind does not come from a cluttered state of being. Work-life balance is crucial because it helps me feel less stressed, have a better sense of well-being, and be more productive at work, at home, and in my personal time. Everyone has their unique responsibilities to balance every day.

Hold your place in line, screenwriter! We're getting closer to launching SoCreate Screenwriting Software to a limited number of beta testers. , without leaving this page.

Take screenwriter Ricky Roxburgh, for example. Writing is his day job, and when he gets home, he has another big task: being a parent.

"Well, I have a bunch of kids," Roxburgh told us. "I write all day at the studio. That's kind of, that's for somebody else."

Currently, that someone else is Dreamworks. Before that, it was Disney.

"I come home, and I see my family, just like anybody else. But then they're all kind of early birds. They go to bed, and then I'm up alone."

He uses that routine to fit in "me-time," as it's often called, and his "me-time" is used for writing his personal projects.

If you're anything like Ricky, every day could look different. Work is a constant, but how do you build time around family obligations and still have time for yourself?

Here's how writers can find work-life balance:

  1. Set your priorities differently

    Sometimes when we set priorities, we think about what we actually have time to accomplish in the day. You'll often see writers setting time aside on their Outlook calendars for this. That's not the wrong way to do it, but what happens when you've set aside writing time at 9 p.m. and then find yourself absolutely drained by then? Try prioritizing your tasks based on the energy you will or won't have for them.

  2. Know when you're most productive

    Related to the bullet above this, basing your to-do list on your energy rather than the 24 hours in a day is a better way to set realistic expectations about what you're able to balance. What time of day are you most productive? Save that for your writing time or any more challenging tasks at work. Need to do some chores around the house? Use the hours where you're more likely to zone out. Our brainpower and creativity only go so far before we need to reset with sleep. You are not a machine.

  3. Set your writing hours and stick to them

    Setting up a writing schedule helps you develop discipline, yes, but it also allows you to set boundaries for yourself and your family and friends. If everyone knows that you write between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 a.m., then they'll be less likely to tempt you with an invite for a pancake break or that fancy new spin class at the gym. You'll also have an easier time saying no.

  4. Plan ahead

    If you're a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants scheduler, you will be more tempted to let commitments slide. Those commitments could include taking out the trash or writing a scene in your screenplay. Do you know those people who seem to be able to fit everything in? They planned ahead! Know when social outings are coming up, when the kids have soccer practice, and when you've volunteered to host dinner at your place. Then, you can plan your writing time around it and still feel like there was enough time in the day. Or, better yet, give yourself permission to NOT write that day and still be okay with it. It was in the plan!

  5. Turn off technology

    This is a big one. So much time escapes us while we browse on our phones or are distracted by a podcast in the background. Turn. Off. The phone. You will be amazed at how much time you get back in your day.

  6. Be realistic and reflect

    Be realistic about how much you can get done in a day, and remember that life is not just a checklist. Make sure there's time in your day for peace and quiet, observation, and reflection. How did your day go? Was it as planned? What did and didn't work for you, and where did you fall off track?

  7. Plan for mental and physical health breaks

    It is tough on our bodies to sit, and most writers do this for most of their day. Make time to get active, even if it's just playing with your kids. Similarly, our brains need health breaks as well. Try this meditation for screenwriters next time you need to recharge.

  8. Take your vacation time

    If you have paid vacation, take it! Breaks are so necessary for balance, especially for writers. You can't work in a bubble and expect to have brilliant ideas. So much of writing is LIVING. You don't need to spend a ton of money to take your vacation time. You don't even need to go anywhere. But you do need to think about anything but work.

    Roxburgh's routine gives him the balance he needs to enjoy his family, enjoy his personal writing time, and still be a powerhouse at work.

"I get the family time, I get the work time, and then I get the me-time which is the writing time," he concluded.

It takes time to make time,

You may also be interested in...

Learn From What This Screenwriting Consultant Would Tell His Younger Self

2 Things This Script Consultant Would Tell His Younger Self

There’s a lot to learn about screenwriting online. You can ask Google just about anything – from how to write an outline to how to get a screenwriting job. But often, the most valuable advice is the wisdom we can’t glean from a how-to guide, and so we were honored to be able to dig a little deeper with the sage screenwriting consultant Danny Manus. Manus owns No Bullscript Consulting, and what you see is what you get: a no-nonsense approach to getting your script noticed. But his critique comes with two hard-learned lessons as well, lessons that he wishes he could tell his younger self ...
Disney Writer Ricky Roxburgh Has This Advice for Aspiring Screenwriters

How to Create a Screenwriting Schedule That Works For You, with Emmy-Winning Writer Ricky Roxburgh

Is procrastination a screenwriter’s greatest enemy? In order of most to least detrimental, I think procrastination is up there with self-doubt and creative blocks. But the good news is that we have solutions for all these challenges, and your only job is to implement them. Step one: Create a writing schedule that you can stick to. I genuinely believe all writers need one if they’re serious about getting things done and getting better. And you know what? I have an Emmy-winning expert’s opinion to back me up. “If somebody decides today that they want to be a screenwriter, the first thing I would tell them to ...
Pro Writer Bryan Young Reveals His Secret for Work-Life Balance

How to Strike the Right Work-Life Balance as an Aspiring Writer

I love to talk to people about work-life balance. Granted, my current work-life ecosystem, if you will, is very simple. But, I made it that way. I used to be overworked, stressed, and high-strung with very little time for doing creative things I enjoyed. I was always “busy,” but rarely productive, and most of my days felt unfulfilled. Now, writers are a special breed. Most of you maintain full-time jobs, or several freelance jobs, where you’re already writing all day on someone else’s project or doing something that drains every ounce of inspiration in you over eight hours. Then, you get home and attempt to work ...