Scribosphere Carnival #2 – Workflow

Jonathan was tagged with starting us off this week, and he’s provided a great topic to explore:

WORKFLOW – Everybody has one, and none are the same. Inspired by a post from John August (referencing THIS SITE), you should explain where and when you write, what hardware you use, what software you use, and what you would change about how you write. Have at it!

Where and when do you write?

I wish I could say that I have a really regimented routine, but honestly, most of the time, I write where and when I can.  I do have a desk which I bought thinking it would really increase my productivity, but in actuality, it more or less has become storage space.  Most of my writing happens exactly where I am now – sitting on my bed (I know, the worst) with or without the breakfast tray I use as a “desk” (right now it’s ‘with’)  I goodly percentage of my writing happens while I am at work and I have some time between projects for said boss — that writing happens in their former nursing chair w/ ottoman which rocks – literally.  That little corner has become my daily workspace.  Finally, I also make a dent in my writing at a little place called Solar de Cahuenga. I used to go here almost daily when I was unemployed for awhile, but I’m back to weekend visits and the occasional late night visit, since they’re usually open until 1 AM.  I love the vibe of the place, and now that I have a laptop with decent battery life again, I am no longer limited to one of the five or six tables which have outlet access (it’s the one thing I’d improve about the place, but then, maybe it would only cause me more headaches finding a table).  There’s outdoor seating, free wi-fi, and a decent menu of food besides the usual coffee bar fare.  I do try not to be a bad patron and I always buy at least a large iced tea (which is strangely addicting) when I am there for an hour or two.  For longer marathon sessions, I’ll buy lunch or dinner.  Back in the day, I’d hike to Solar, but now that employed and likely on a schedule, I drive and park nearby or splurge the $3 for the onsite valet parking.

Sorry, that turned into a bit of a commercial for Solar. But still. Good place.  Good coffee. A lot of regulars.

As for the hours I write, erratic.  If I’m at home, anytime in the evening. If I have insomnia, I might be up writing.  If I’m at work, middle of the day.  If I’m at Solar on the weekend it could be any time or evening on a weeknight.  As I said, no set schedule.  I’d like to say I write every day, but somedays, my brain needs a break.  Still, I’m far more prolific now than at any time in the recent past, so there’s that.


What hardware do you use?

Dell laptop.  I’m on my third one since 2005(ish).  I have my iPad which gets used a lot for note-taking and updating Google Docs and some for Final Draft, but I’m getting ahead of myself…


What software do you use?

Final Draft for all scripting.  Google Docs for breaking story with my sister and creating treatments/outlines.  Sometimes we transfer to a Word Doc or PDF for distribution, if we are presenting any of those documents to our writers group.  That’s about it.  I’ve never been keen to try any of the fancy pants outlining docs, and I’m not really a notecard person.  We just build outline bit by bit, starting with the structure and filling it in as we go along.  Pretty simple, I guess.


What would you change about how you write?

I admire my boss’s workflow.  Of course, writing is his full-time job, so he really treats it that way.  He gets up very early, like 4 AM and he writes for about 4 or 5 hours.  Then he takes a break to actually get ready for the day, particularly any meetings he might have, and depending on if he has deadlines, he’ll be back at it in the afternoon.  I think it’s really key that he does this every day — he writes every day, for several hours before the main day even starts, so if his day is filled with meetings or appointments, he’s already gotten work done for the day.

I, on the other hand, am not a morning person.  I have the tendency to write late rather than early.  It’s too easy for me to make excuses for not having written that day (my day job, other activities which filled the time) and then declare myself “too tired” to stay up and write.  Lately though, I’ve been on a bit of a tear, with real dedication to getting the script written and passed off to my sister for her round.  This has given me more discipline, but it isn’t consistent.  Might be that I get a lot done at work, or I get it done when I get home.  Solar gets used for marathon sessions of several hours when I have work to do.

On a more crafty than logisitics note, my sister and I are ramping up to dual processing -working on two different projects simultaneously, handing each one off to the other when our work is complete.  Ideally we’d be getting twice as many scripts completed in a year, simply because we are each always working on a different project.  We were able to test this out a bit earlier in the year, when we were revising one script while drafting a second.  As I’d finish acts, I’d give it to her for her pass and she’d hand me the revisions she’d been doing, so I can take a look at them and do a pass.  The other advantage this gives us is not getting burned out on a single script quite so fast, since we are always directing ourselves to something else in short order.  What we don’t know if this method will ultimately speed up our processes or slow us down.  Time will tell, but I suspect it will make us faster and give us more routine.  As soon as we “finish” one project (it goes out for reads, etc) we cycle in a new one.  The old one my come back around for rewrites, but it will be done in tandem with something else.  Feels efficient.


On an unrelated note, I’m really enjoying Scribosphere Carnival so far.  I’d really like to see other screenwriting bloggers get involved, so if you are one of those bloggers, why not jump in? I promise, the water’s fine.  Don’t make me come over there.




Posted under blogs, writing

This post was written by Shawna on October 5, 2013

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I don’t blog much about the craft of TV writing. You can get far better advice and teaching from Jane or John.

And I don’t blog too much about my own personal writing process. Mostly because I don’t know that my process is relevant to you, as a reader. Everyone has to find a process/method that works for them. Some of my friends LOVE notecards — putting beats or character notes on cards and tacking them on the wall. Some love outlining. Others don’t outline at all (those are the ones I marvel at…if they claim not to outline and yet come up with something resembling coherence). You, as a writer, have to find what works specifically for YOU. If one method doesn’t work, you try something else until you find something that does.

Some people write early in the morning, some late at night. Some people like to write in cafes, others in their homes, even still others like to write outdoors.

Some like to dictate notes. Others scribble notes on post-its. Some people write in sequence, others write out of sequence, skipping around from one scene to another.

It all doesn’t matter. There’s no ‘right way’ to put together your writing.

What matters is that YOU ARE WRITING.

And that’s something I haven’t been doing enough of. I try to keep my blog updated, simply because it helps me know what is going on ‘out there’, but also to keep my mind sharp. I used to use my blog as a warm up exercise for my script writing, but lately the blog writing is its own thing. I’m by no means giving it up, but I’ve had to think hard about my own writing process and why it hasn’t been working for me lately.

Part of the problem, is that I went down the wrong road story-wise. I ended up in a cul-de-sac, stranded, and had to find my way back to the start. Now I’ve turned around and headed a different direction. I also find I need deadlines to keep moving forward. I have a tendancy to ‘idle’ too long…I’ll sit, revise a line here, a line there, but not make any forward progress…to extend the car/road metaphor, it’s like revving the engine in neutral.

Good thing: going to the gym again. This has made it much easier to clear my head for actual writing. Story problems can be broken down in the 30 minutes on the elliptical, or I can watch ‘Law & Order: SVU’ on the treadmil on mute and play ‘guess the plot twist’. That’s always fun.

I’ve been struggling with whether to gear up for contest season. I promised a ‘what to spec’ post, which I am almost finished with, research wise and will have posted in the next few days. I’ve asked myself what the contests or the fellowships can do for me now…and, in some cases, if I even have a shot at them. I won’t rehash my reasoning, but suffice to say, at this moment I don’t think I’ll be submitting to any contests or fellowships this year.

I’m still going to write a new spec, and I’m going to finish my two new pilots before fall. I’m trying to stay optimistic about the potential of certain circumstances, and hope that I can pursue my aspirations along a slightly different path. Some of you will understand this, I think.

In any case, I’m back to writing. It’s all good.

Posted under blogs, writing

This post was written by Shawna on April 10, 2008

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