Creativity,  Filmmaking,  Screenwriting

How Much Time Should I Spend?

One of my clients asked me to address on a Tiny Talk how much time writers should be spending on social media or networking on platforms like Stage 32 or other online forums and Facebook groups.  

Of course, this will be different for everyone and you really have to look at your current lifestyle and career goals to come up with the answer that is going to best work for you. That being said, I do have some thoughts and suggestions on this topic. 

I first want to echo what you have probably heard a thousand times before – relationships are everything. If you don’t have them, you are going to really struggle to get the inspiration, motivation, and support to move your projects forward and get them out there once you have completed them.  

So, it’s very important to spend time building relationships. 

This is something I have to work on all the time because I’ve always considered myself very introverted and, on top of that, I’m an empath, which is someone who easily picks up emotional energy from others. I was also very self-conscious around people who were gregarious or outgoing and I almost felt like maybe there was something wrong with me because I couldn’t be like that, which I know is total BS.

I can also remember being scared to death to build relationships because I was afraid of attracting “emotional vampires.” But for the most part, through lots of coaching, I’ve been able to drop the drama about being an introvert and an empath by deciding to use those traits pro-actively. I did this by becoming a screenwriter, starting my own business, and becoming a creative coach. All of these require meeting lots of people, building relationships, and holding space for whatever emotions come my way, be it from others or from within myself.

I tell you that story to illustrate how it’s possible for anyone to learn to build relationships and enjoy the process, no matter your personality traits. 

I got a little off track there. In my opinion, if you want a writing career, or any creative career that you want to build, particularly if that career depends on the mastery of a craft, you need to only focus on these three things:

  1. Creating and developing your skills and projects 
  2. Building relationships 
  3. Sharing and marketing your skills and projects 

This is not something you ever do just once. It is a way of life, so you have to be unattached to any sort of quicky microwave result. You just focus on these three things and eventually you will succeed.

Back to the “How much time should I spend?”

I would start by asking yourself some questions about the amount of time you are currently spending in each of these three areas, if any:

  • Which one feels like it could use more attention?
  • Which of these three are you avoiding altogether and why?
  • Which one do you love doing the most? 

This will give you the big picture of where you currently are in your efforts to pursue your long-term creative goals.

The next step would be to figure out how much time you can create, and then you can start prioritizing the three things. This is going to look very different for each individual, taking into consideration any regular job you hold, kids or elders you care for, or health matters you may be dealing with. 

Once you have an honest assessment of how much time you have to pursue your creative goals, you can then use this formula, which I think is kind of magical when you put it to use. It’s called the 80/20 rule.

You spend 80% of your time on one of the three:

  • Creating and developing projects and mastering your craft
  • Building relationships 
  • Sharing and marketing your skills and projects 

Divide the other 20% of your time on the other two.

Set a time to evaluate how the process is working for you in a week or two, then if needed switch things up depending on where you are in your career goals. 

For example, maybe your goal is to get a manager and you only have one unfinished screenplay. You might consider spending 80% on creating and developing projects and mastering your craft and spend the other 20% on building relationships. 

On the flip side, if your goal is to become a staff writer on a TV show or get writing assignments and you have lots of writing samples, I would spend 80% of my time marketing and the other 20% building relationships. 

So, allotting some time for creating even more projects or mastering some skill sets would be time well spent. We always want to be creating, right? It’s a muscle we always have to be building. 

If you have 3-5 scripts that are unfinished and you would be embarrassed to send them to a potential manager or producer, I would spend 80% of my time working on completing those projects and 20% on building relationships. 

Isn’t that just the coolest formula? You can use it forever.

That’s it for this Tiny Talk. If this struck a chord and you really want some help developing a process or system that helps you move your creative goals forward, I’m accepting clients for my one-on-one coaching program. You can visit my coaching page on my website for more information there.