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04/16/2002 - TIPS ON PRODUCTIVITY, PART 3
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TIPS ON PRODUCTIVITY, PART 3

Dear Friends,

I don't know how many parts there will be to this subject of staying productive, day in and day out. It started as just a way to get the first two - multi-tasking and stopping in the middle of a scene - across, but then I started thinking of some other tricks I've picked up and heard about over the years. Last week, I spoke about working in short blocks of time, interspersed with breaks in which you actually do something, e.g., clean or exercise, for instance.

Remember that the main difference I've noticed between professional writers and other writers is that professionals finish their projects. So as long as I keep thinking of other strategies for staying on track, I'll stay on the subject.

I know this week's strategy is repetitive of several other columns - including my first one. There's a good reason for that - it's probably the most important technique of all. Basically, to stay productive, you must write every day.

Notice how I didn't say "every workday," or "except holidays," or qualify it in any way. You must write every day. The only thing I will add to that is that it must be for at least an hour, on the highest priority project.

The advice was first given to me by Pat Duncan, who wrote, among other things, COURAGE UNDER FIRE and MR. HOLLAND'S OPUS. And I've shared it with as many serious writers as I could over the years. It changed my career, because it made it so I could never, even for a day, forget about my project. Within two months, I had optioned my first serious project. After over 1,000 days, I stopped my streak on purpose (since I had this habit of waking up in the morning and knowing exactly what day of the streak it was), but I continue to write every day, for at least an hour - through sickness, vacations, road trips, and "days off." Mind you, if I'm working on a writing job, I count that as writing, even if it's not the highest priority project.

I know you have jobs, families, hobbies, friends, spouses, and a hundred other things calling out for your time. But it's never going to get any better, even if you sell a huge script. If you don't learn how to carve out time for your writing every day now, you'll never learn to do it.

Good luck. Try today first. Then try two days in a row. Then go for a week. Set the bar higher and higher. Never let it sink below an hour, and try to get three hours if you can.

Streaky,

Grady

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