Screenwriting : Dealing with Distractions by Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Dealing with Distractions

I’m trying to do a script rewrite this week and have been sidetracked by many things including my guest’s two-week visit becoming a four week visit. Sitting down to write and procrastinating by even writing this post. What do you do to combat distractions?

Aray Brown

I'm easily distracted so i'm no help lol. I just try to squeeze in some time when i can, set goals and try to stick to them (even if It's three pages a day) I can definitely relate with the guest situation, my cousin and two of aunts from Cali flew in , they dragged me along everywhere they went so there was no time for writing. My procrastination stems from overthinking, i'm too much in my own head "I'm not feeling this, this is lame, this is crap" But sometimes you gotta make crepe'

David Levy

Headphones with a movie score or soundtrack. Magnificent Seven works for me majority of the time. Other times I think about the project I'm working on and what excites me about it to tunnel vision myself.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Hey Phillip. I struggle with distractions too, mostly because I juggle a lot of things in my life and often have to multitask. The way I try to keep myself organized and on task is set time restrictions upon myself, like using a timer—well, not an actual timer, I keep an eye on the clock. Yup, I've resorted to tactics often used with children. LOL! Today for example (it changes daily) I'm allowing myself 20 minutes to be on Stage 32—uh oh, my time is almost up! Then I have a 2 hour window to write today. So, when the clock starts, I turn everything off and write for 120 minutes. When that time is up, I move on to my other tasks, which sometimes includes research. It's simple, but it's the only way I've been able to help myself focus, cut distractions and make progress. What helps too is that I'll be thinking about what I want to work on, my project, ideas, what I need to write throughout my day, etc., so when it is time to sit down and work I tend to hit the ground running. :) I hope that helps!

Rayna W.

I posted this a few weeks ago. It's called The Pomodoro Method. I find it extremely helpful. It's also very similar to what Beth mentioned above. http://pomodorotechnique.com/

Brian Walsh

Great question Phillip! For me, as paradoxical as it sounds, I walk over to my local Starbucks and write there. At home in my office there are too many distractions. Email, games, tv, things to do around the house. Even if Starbucks is busy, as long as I get a table (which is generally not a problem) I can sit down and write. Then I will order a tea, drink it, get a refill, drink it (which means I've been there almost 2 hours working) and then if I'm in a zone I'll get a third tea, or if not, I'll go home. While I'm there, though, I write. The buzz of the people around me actually helps me because I can tune it out and there's really nothing else to do at that point except write. The only time it backfires is if a friend walks in and wants to talk....but usually I'm there in the daytime while everyone's at work so it's a rarity.

Aray Brown

Using a timer is a great idea, Beth! Have to try that. Giving myself 2 hrs to be on here, looking at the clock on my PC. 12:45. When it's 12:59 I'm out. Then pilot writing time

Dan MaxXx

Blast on my headphones Apocalypse Now movie- Helicopter scene, "Ride the Valkries" !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Im ready to type BS!

C.B. Jacobson

I've found setting very small goals for myself -- and sticking to them -- helps enormously. I'm a procrastinator by nature, and hate everything I write on top of that, so if I waited for time to become available/the muse to strike I'd never write anything at ALL, haha. Writing every day -- even if it's only ten minutes, even if I barely write anything -- keeps the gears turning.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Dan: About 8 months ago, I was writing a gangster script. I was looking to craft an arty, epic showdown between the protagonist and his enemy. I watched a scene from Road to Perdition, where Tom Hanks shoots Paul Newman’s character and his men. I love the rain, the music and the umbrellas. It’s so atmospheric and brilliantly executed. Watching that scene provided me with all the inspiration I required. But that was more of inspiration as opposed to procrastination.

Stephen Barber

@Phil Great topic. I do (2) things... 1. I watch a "feel good" movie or video on Youtube. It allows me to use metacognition and rebalance my thinking to obtain my written goals. 2. (Most common) I bail on EVERYTHING and EVERYONE and go pound weights for an hour. This typically clears the bullsh*t so I can break out that notepad and update my 'to-do' list, with confidence.

Jody Ellis

My writing time tends to be pretty structured since I have a 45 hr/week dayjob to juggle with freelance work and screenwriting. I think my long career as a freelancer has helped me in being more disciplined with all my writing. Knowing I have a deadline and only X amount of time to complete it keeps me focused.

Dan Guardino

I write late at night so I am not distracted.

Jody Ellis

@Dan me too. That's why I am always so effing tired! Lol

Jorge J Prieto

I'm suffer from insomnia, so I'm up writing or rewriting. Oh, I definitely keep my Windows phone, off and far from temptation, my dear Philip E. Love your graphics, you never seize to amaze. Great post, buddy. Ps, I definitely agree with our fellow screenwriter, Jody Ellis, a deadline, even if not real, great help.

Aray Brown

I wish I could write at night but now i'm programmed to waking up early. Used to be such a night owl. I miss it

Jorge J Prieto

Philip E: BTW, love , Road to Perdition, as well. The cast, cinematography, story, Sam Mendes is one of my favorite directors. Music always transport me and sets the mood to what I'm writing. "The Private Dancer" which I wrote in 3 weeks, thanks to Beth Fox and the November Write Challenge, had me listening to dozens of early '80s songs, since my story is set on that crazy, fun freestyle period. But, I digress, sorry. Don't wanna be scold, by BFH, whom I respect and admire very much.:)

Beth Fox Heisinger

Jorge, you rocked the November challenge! "The Private Dancer" in three weeks?! Amazing! Nothing but praise for you. ;)

Jorge J Prieto

Beth: You rocked the November Challenge, because you kept us all encourage on every obstacle, twist and turns. You were a great leader, but I've already told you this more than once and will continue to say it. Now, let's give this op, back to Philip E. Lol. Sorry once again, Philip E.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Jorge- No worries. We're here to have fun. Love everyone's posts.

Beth Fox Heisinger

You're too kind, Jorge. :) Okay, yes, back to the thread topic.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Yes, the timer thing or allocating a certain amount of time works—thanks for posting that link again, Rayna! It's a great system. Something one can build upon. I hope it works for you, Aray. :) I'm happy to report I shut down and wrote undistracted during my allocated 2 hours today. However, I didn't quite accomplish what I had hoped. Oh well, I should have more time available tomorrow. :)

Aray Brown

Thanks Beth! Hope it does too

Jorge J Prieto

Philip E: You are too kind. Thanks, buddy

Dan MaxXx

crap.. Warriors-Thunder game tonight, and I'm trying to make a deadline!

Mark Mccoy

I wait until the whole house has gone to sleep. Than I do my thing. Work on my screenplay.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

My wife was off today and took our house guest out shopping and to a long lunch. So I turned on some jazz and blazed through some rewriting today. First writing I've done in May.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

@JJ Accuradio has 50 or so jazz channels. Jazz for every mood. Jorge: Road to Perdition was the second to the last film for master cinematographer Conrad Hall. Incredible visual work in the film.

Herb P Grinker

I go to the library, put on my headphones, and blast dream theater...I burned thru 1/3 b4 I knew it.

Jorge J Prieto

Philip E: You are a wealth of information to all us, that's why I love you, man. Thanks.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Jorge: And happy to share any info with my friends. Love, right back at ya!

Elisabeth Meier

What a great question. I just discovered writing with a real timer and I need a timer otherwise I wouldn't stop which would end in the next mess. Oh and yes, Stage32 is a distraction as well, but at least you can say you did something related to your work. I like that Brian walks over to his Starbucks and imagined him doing this while having guests as Phillip describes it above. lol. I love using the timer when doing paperwork, sorting bills etc. and am then always happy when it finally screams "STOP IT!" But I have to agree to Phillip as I actually would feel completely disturbed when I had guests for such a long time. The thing is that you can be polite and kind for a while, but if you're a real writer you will burst after a few days and would love to 'kill' anybody who keeps you away from your desk.

Maurice Nash

Just like above, I use a timer and switch off everything. But not just for writing, also for studying online or doing some research. Then I come back to life. So basically, in one sentence; " Disconnect Yourself to Connect With your Writing!!"

Joe Palumbo

Distractions are everywhere. I usually put on youtube and find a three hour jazz mix to block everything out and type away. Getting into a set schedule of writing is crucial. Sitting down at the same time everyday to write is a pattern/routine we need to establish. Yes, there are some days where much writing doesn't get done, but that's okay...it's all part of the process. A blank page staring you in the face is just begging for distractions. You have to face it head on and write. You can't find the time, you have to make the time. Keep filling those blank pages!

Jody Ellis

I will say, as a parent I learned early on to work around distractions. When my kids were small, I would often be working in my office while they were in there with me, watching tv or playing. between kids and dogs, I've learned to tune out those external distractions. Even now, I work with my office door open and the tv is usually on. I don't need quiet or large blocks of time to work, I just fit it in where I can. Sometimes I will even work on my laptop in the living room, with the household whirling around me, lol

Elisabeth Meier

@Jody, I think distractions by the family that lives with you to me are completely different then having guests or strange neighbors or other people who distract you. Mostly these think you are selfish when you want to do something you like or need to do and they don't get that what they actually saying is "stop being so selfish and do something to entertain or comfort me" which is serving their selfishness. This for my understanding is completely different to distractions when your husband asks you something, your children play King Arthurs fights right beside your desk or your cat jump on the keyboard. In such moments I do it like David and write with headphones.

Jody Ellis

Not quite sure how a strange neighbor could distract me unless I let them in my house, lol. And as far as guests, I usually plan around them. Thankfully our guest room is upstairs and I can simply "hide" downstairs for a bit and use my laptop if I need to work. I'm also very lucky in that my boyfriend is a writer too, so he understands and supports me needing to get away to write.

Fiona Faith Ross

Timer. 35 minutes or 1000 words (writing a novel at the mo - hard slog, on a deadline) then divert to complete some urgent thing in real life (today major plumbing disaster sigh) or domestic chore, then back to the timer. This is my new routine which solves my problem of getting off to a late start with the writing. My family phones me during "work time" though, and I find that very inconsiderate. They know how I feel about it. The only people I permit to interrupt me like that are clients.

Jody Ellis

@Fiona, my family is the same. They mean well and are supportive, but don't "get" it. That's why I really don't tell my family much in regards to news about my career. Occasionally I'll point out a magazine or newspaper article for them if I have a recent one, but especially my screenwriting work, I don't talk to them about it. I get tired of trying to explain it!

Linda Hullinger

When the weather was good, I used to go to the park and sit in my car and write everything by hand on a legal pad. I didn’t worry about grammar or how it flowed, etc. I just got it all down without distractions. Then later at night, after it had processed in the back of my mind all day, I would type it up on my computer. That worked well for a long time. But, now that it’s in the 90s and humid, that doesn’t work anymore. So, I either get up early, hours before anyone else is awake, or I stay up later, after everyone has gone to bed.

Aray Brown

@Jody My family is not so supportive, aside from my sister and maybe a few aunts and cousins. Not sad though, i don't need support that's not gonna be offered up willingly

Jody Ellis

@Aray that's too bad, you just gotta forge ahead sometimes! Keep on keepin on!

Aray Brown

@Jody I agree wholeheartedly

Jorge J Prieto

Aray: That's their problem and like Jody said, that's too bad. I never had support from family, still don't, only in college from professors and their the ones who count. Non writers will never understand us. JODY is lucky, her boyfriend is a writer too. You got us, Aray.

Jody Ellis

@Jorge sometimes lucky, sometimes it's the battle of the artists egos around here! Lol

Jorge J Prieto

Jody: You are sooo right. We tend have big egos. Lol. But, that's part of being writers, as we are constantly jumping into the brains of different characters, we become a bit schizophrenics. Now, competition is a different animal.

Aray Brown

@Jorge Yes I do, couldn't agree more! My Stage 32 fam! That's why I love this community, we're here, see eye to eye

Dan Guardino

I only took screenwriting up as a hobby so I never felt I needed any encouragement and good thing because I never really got any.

Dan MaxXx

DanG How many scripts/years before you sold your 1st script? thks DM

Philip Singh

I just push myself to write at least a page a day. Sometimes it's hard, but I look forward to actually seeing my script one day actually finished.

Dan Guardino

Dan M. Probably about three or four years and was my fourth or fifth screenplay.

Doug Nelson

I enter my studio, close the door; I dismiss every-day reality and substitute my own

Debbie Croysdale

@Philip. This sometimes happens to me during readings, where groups start to hang out at mine after, or guests decide they are doing a house swop. They say "you can use my house", wherever it is, and then cozily dive into my favorite chair. It can be torture trying to keep the mindset on a plot, when even making a cup of coffee is fraught with unnecessary kitchen conversation. The last time this happened, I felt like booking into a hotel but then realized Aqua Parc was open cos it's summer. So I went swimming for the day, on my own. Relaxed and recharged, I hung out in the cafe/grounds after, with my paper notebook and pen. I never take my i pad or technology notebook, so I'm not worrying if anyone might pick up my equipment when off guard, the aim is total cut off from everything. It could be you don't like swimming Philip, in that case whatever type of physical relaxation you enjoy, taking off to the park might do it. In other words, I create my own environment, away from base camp. Off course, valuable writing time was used up idling by the pool....but the point I'm trying to make is, that the snatched moments of writing afterwards, produced much better results than the previous whole day at home. If I was distracted all the time, instead of just when guests came, I would turn off the wi fi and electricity. All that I would be able to do then, in my own home, would be type or write. Think of the vast works of Shakespeare and more recently the Brontes. They just had a candle.

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