Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Courtney Meznarich

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 into the wee hours on your passion project. Some can manage, but many struggle with the juggling act. Add kids, spouses, friends, and other commitments, and the already-difficult task of writing something good becomes even more challenging. You. Are. Not. Alone. And, no one blames you.

But, you CAN change this vicious cycle with enough effort.

We asked screenwriter and journalist Bryan Young (HowStuffWorks.com, ScyFy.com, StarWars.com) how he manages to be so productive and stay inspired. Discipline and scheduling is the name of the game, he says, and I tend to agree.

“As a writer, I try to maintain my work-life balance by keeping my work on writing in the mornings. I mean, I go to bed by like 9:30,” he told us.

He added that he works on his writing every day, no matter what. We’ve heard that before, but here’s where Bryan’s advice differs: If he’s just not feeling it that day, he still maintains his schedule, but works on something related to writing – whether that’s updating a writing schedule, doing research, making phone calls, writing queries, or listening to a podcast.

“And that way, I can do my work in the mornings, and then when I come home to spend time with my family and my kids or to go out and hang out with friends or my wife or whatever, I’m free to do that.”

He doesn’t let guilt weigh him down if the writing gods aren’t delivering. But he also doesn’t do nothing at all.

“That’s the great thing for me about getting up early in the morning, and having most of my writing work done by 9 or 10 a.m. is that the whole day is ahead of me, and I can do whatever I need to with it.”

Making a schedule is critical, but keeping track of where you’re regularly spending your time can also help you find ways to balance your creative pursuits with your other obligations.

Other tips for achieving work-life balance?

  • Try putting writing into the “life” category, rather than the work category. While not all parts of writing are totally enjoyable, try writing just for the fun of it, with no monetary goal in mind. Do it because you love it.

  • Set boundaries so you can leave work at work and focus on your creative pursuits wholly without distractions. Set boundaries for yourself and your family members, too. Even if it’s just 20 minutes a day, you’ll feel more balance in your life if you find some time for yourself and your endeavors.

  • Take care of yourself. It is much easier to find clarity, energy, stick to a schedule, and stay motivated when you’re feeling great.

If you need to improve your discipline (don’t we all!), Bryan has some great tips for that, too, in this interview on how to become a disciplined screenwriter.

And when it comes to scheduling, we’ve never seen someone quite as good at making a writing schedule and balancing a hectic work schedule as screenwriter Ashlee Stormo.

With all these tips, I hope you find plenty of time and energy to write your next amazing screenplay.

Work smarter, not harder,

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