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5 TOOLS TO HELP YOU FINISH YOUR SCREENPLAY

If you're anything like me - juggling work, side hustles, social life, obligations, errands and chores (who really needs a clean toilet, I mean...) - it can seem next to friggin' impossible to find time to write. Even more so if you're married, have kids. I'm sweating just typing this.

Tomorrow. On the weekend. Next week. Next month...

If you don't make time to write, you'll never have time to write. Here are some tools to help you set aside time to write and finish your screenplay (or novel, erotic fanfic, whatever you're working on).

1. FREEDOM (free trial / cheap)

  • This tool (Mac, PC, iPhone) blocks the internet. Dear, God! Why would I ever want to do that? How much of your time is spent lurking exes and exes of exes on Facebook, watching keeeyutie cat videos, hitting refresh on your email, reading (maybe fake?) news? You might be surprised. You can block off chunks of time where you cannot access the internet. You can also just block social media. Or any other site that's sucking your time.

  • I swear by this app. Before Freedom, I wouldn't get any writing done unless my internet was down. If you also have internet-itis, I highly recommend getting this.

  • Here's the link to the free trial. And it looks like they have a limited time offer.

2. ASANA (free)

  • Not only is this tool beautiful to look at (sigh), but it's a free way to organize your tasks in either lists or visual to-do's. You can set deadlines (and reminders) as well as projects and tasks inside of that project. I use this for both freelance work and writing projects. It helps me see what I have to do. And, setting a deadline (even if it's a fake one) helps to create a sense of urgency to finish that writing project that I keep putting off.

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Aaaand, Asana flawlessly integrates with ------>

3. HOURSTACK (free)

Let me tell you, that without Hourstack, the previous tools wouldn't be even half as useful for me. I had no idea how much time I was wasting online and how much time I was actually adding to every single task that I had on my list because of internet-itis. Hourstack will show you exactly how many free hours you have in a day and a week, and help you carve time into your schedule.

I'm now able to identify when I'm wasting time on low-priority things, and able to make writing a higher priority. I 'batch' my work and errands so that I'm able to actually take an entire day off to write. This didn't seem possible before. Cram all of the annoying shit into as few days as possible, so you have space and time to get creative.

4. POMODORO METHOD + APPS

The pomodoro method is basically working (or in this case writing) in sprints. This method is typically 25 minutes of sprinting, then a 5 minute break. For most writers, 25 minutes isn't really that effective, so you might want to set your sprint for an hour. Turn off the internet, put your phone on silent, and just focus entirely on writing for that one hour. You can also track how many 'pomodoros' it takes to finish a task. This is super helpful if you're attempting to batch your writing (and other tasks), and become more efficient with your writing time (not as sexy as the Stephen King method, but whatever).

For this to work, all you need to do is set a timer - egg timer (do people still use those?), your watch (do people still wear those?), or your phone -- or you can opt for an app specifically designed to work with the pomodoro method. I've tried several of the apps mentioned in the linked article and they're totally fine, but prefer to use Hourstack, the free app mentioned above. Hourstack allows you to pre-schedule your 'pomodoros' and lay out your entire schedule for the week. It also gives you a pop-up notification on your desktop once you hit the allotted time.

5. DICTATION

You don't need to write to actually write. Huh? If you usually listen to podcasts or catch up on The Walking Dead while you clean your (insert room of house you're always cleaning because it just won't stay clean) - repurpose that time.

Got a Mac? Did you know you can talk to your computer while it types? Sure, it may be riddled with typos - but the point is, you could be 'writing' while you're doing super boring crap you don't-really-wanna-but-gotta do. If you have five minutes of typo-fixing and deleting - so what? You just wrote something!

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The ABC's of Mac Dictation:

  • A) Search 'dictation' in your finder - "Dictation & Speech" should pop up. Click it.

  • B) Turn 'Dictation' on. Check 'Use Enhanced Dictation'. Observe the shortcut key.

  • C) Open your word processor of choice ('Text Edit' should be on your computer).

  • D) Type in the shortcut key.

  • E) Start talking.

  • F) Woah!

  • G) The only spoken 'hot keys' you need to know are two. When you say the word 'comma' it types a comma in for you, same goes for 'period'. Just make sure to save the document before you close it.

Got more questions about Mac dictation? This how-to is more in-depth. Sorry PC users, your computers confound me. If you don't have the same option, there are services that mimic the Mac one like https://transcribe.wreally.com/.

I hope these are helpful to at least some of you! If you're struggling to find time in your day and feeling too overwhelmed to write, you're not alone. It's 100% do-able when you break down what you have to do into manageable chunks.

If you have any awesome tools or tricks for productivity, share them below!