Ask the Coach: 7 Tips for Getting Back to Writing After Summer – On Script Mag

With the start of school and fall on the horizon, there’s this energy many of us naturally connect to that feels motivating and inspiring to start new things, take action, get organized, and make things happen. Lean into this energy and let it buoy you toward the momentum and progress you’re wanting.

In this month’s “Ask the Coach” article, I’m addressing a question regarding getting back to writing after summertime.

“My kids are starting school again. (Whew! Ack!) Truth be told, it’s been hard to write this summer with so much going on between family vacations and organizing summer camps. How can I regain my momentum after a rocky summer, writing-wise?”

Hey, good question! Many screenwriter-parent types are asking ourselves similar questions right now. Whether you’ve been writing intermittently, or not at all, the good news is that as your kids head to their classrooms, you can tap into the “back-to-school” energy they’ll be experiencing too.

And this is true whether or not you’re a parent. There’s a natural activation energy that arises in the fall and spring in particular, so this is a smart time to revisit your writing practice and give it a refresh if needed.

Here are the 7 steps I discuss in my response:

  1. Remind yourself to treat writing like a pro.
  2. At the same time, allow writing to be fun and joyful.
  3. Lean into the back-to-school activation energy.
  4. Revisit your writing practice.
  5. Remember, you can ramp up gradually.
  6. Keep going to keep going.
  7. Be ready to adapt.
Want the full scoop? Get all the details in the full article on Script Mag:
If you’ve got writing questions, please send them my way!
I’d love to answer them for you in my column.

Meet Your 2017 Writing Goals, Part I: Clearing the Decks (and a Free TeleClass!)

It’s back-to-school time. For many of us, regardless of whether we have kids or are going to school ourselves, this means we’re both recovering from summertime and tuning into the back-to-school fall energy. Which is usually highly motivating and exciting. 

It also means we’ve hit that moment where the end of the year is in sight.

If you take the time to think about it, this is the ideal come-to-Jesus moment for meeting your writing goals for 2017 — far better now than to try to pull out all the stops on December 15th. Maybe you didn’t get as much writing done this summer (or year so far) as you’d intended. Maybe you did. If you’re on track, more power to you! If not, this is a great time to adjust your course.

Goal setting at the beginning of the year is often a magical, inspired effort. And by magical, I mean, magical thinking. Somehow, in the thick of the holidays and year’s end, it seems as if the year ahead will not be filled with… anything! We’ll miraculously have oodles of time. We declare that we’ll finally focus and achieve things we haven’t achieved before. And then January happens. Then February. And March. And suddenly it’s end of summer and we feel like we have whiplash looking back trying to figure out where the time has gone.

I know I was unexpectedly affected by illnesses for much of the winter and spring, various challenges with my parents’ health, as well as all of the political happenings. I didn’t have space built into my writing plans for any of those things. I haven’t stopped writing, but I certainly haven’t been as efficient as I’d intended. I’m okay with that. Life happens. But I also still want to make a solid stab at reaching my goals for 2017.

My Deep Dive writing intensive is a big part of this plan for me. I’m looking forward to making a big boost of progress on the sci-fi script I’m working on to help me jump start a broader push through the end of the year. I’m also looking ahead, knowing the holidays are coming, along with my birthday, and my older son’s birthday (10!), plus flu and cold season, so I’m aiming to take action while the energy is here. 

Here’s where I’m starting the process. I’m writing this “(You Can Still!) Meet Your 2017 Writing Goals” series to help all of us bring awareness to the fact that the year end is a heck of a lot closer than we think. (There are 80 working days between today and the end of the year, and that doesn’t factor in winter break vacations for those of us with kids.)

Today, we’ll talk about Clearing the Decks to help you meet your writing goals.

In the next three posts we’ll cover Revising Your Goals, Boosting Your Progress, and Setting Yourself Up For Success

Part I: Clear the Decks for Your Writing

Clearing the decks for writing is a fascinating topic because it can be such a slippery slope — I don’t want anyone to decide they have to KonMari* their entire home before they can write — so it’s worth being mindful about how you approach this.

At the same time, when I’m looking at doing a two week stint of intensely focused writing, I know I’m going to have to make some extra space in my life to accommodate that. So I want to look to see, are there places in my life I can streamline, clean up, delegate, and clear out to make more room for my writing (and for me!)?

This is also a great time review any schedule creep that’s occurred — in other words, have I taken on any extra commitments that I perhaps should postpone or eliminate? Have I back-slid on scheduling my writing time or my resolve to meet it? 

I recently led a free teleclass to go over all this in detail. (It was be recorded so you can still listen to the recording.) If you’d like to listen, click here to join my mailing list and get the recording details.

Here’s a preview of some of what we’ll be talking about — I’ll be sharing tips about each of these as well:

  1. Logistically: What adjustments do you need to make to your schedule to make space for your writing? What events, guests, responsibilities, and commitments do you have coming up that you’ll either want to reschedule or decide how to accommodate around your writing? 
  2. Physically: What do you need to do to make your physical space more conducive to writing, if anything? Is there clutter? Are there distractions in your line of sight? How can you take great care of your physical needs with healthy food, snacks, beverages, sleep, and exercise? 
  3. Mentally: How will you reward yourself for writing? Are there any open loops you need to close or resolve so you can focus? How will you handle new writing ideas that may come up during your writing time? How will you handle negative self-thoughts if they come up?
  4. Emotionally: How will you handle emotional challenges that may arise around your writing? How will you handle non-writing emotional challenges? What support systems can you put in place?
  5. Digitally: How can you minimize or eliminate digital distractions so you can focus on your writing?
  6. Financially: What bill paying and other financial tasks can you handle now or automate so you can prioritize your writing? 
  7. Relationally: How can you guide your family, partners, friends, and colleagues to respect your writing time? 
  8. Spiritually: How can you spiritually prepare to make the most of your writing time? What intentions and positive visions are you holding for yourself as you write?

Click here to get the free Clear the Decks teleclass recording.


And check out Part II, here: Reverse Engineer and Revise Your Goals, Part III, here: Boost Your Writing Progress (Or, How to Design a Writing Intensive), and Part IV, here: Setting Yourself Up For Success.


Make Massive Progress on Your Book (or Script!)

The upcoming two-week Deep Dive Writing Intensive starts on Wednesday, September 20th and the last day to join us is Tuesday, September 19th. Join us and get tons of support and accountability to make deep progress on your book or script. Find out more and register here


* The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
Photo by Ales Krivec on Unsplash


Today is the perfect day to clean your writing desk

Ordinarily I recommend writing first and cleaning later. I stand by that today, too. Do your writing, then clean your writing desk.

But today is still a good day to clean your desk.

Here’s why.

As Fall takes shape, you’re likely to start experiencing that “back to school” energy we all usually start feeling around now. You’re probably even be feeling it already.

If you’re like me, you’re might be right between that lazy summer-just-ended feeling and sensing the forces of Fall coming down the pike. My older boy just started school and I can tell that I’m about to get swept up in the wave of production that usually strikes around now.

But it’s not quite here yet, at least not for me — today might actually be the first time I’m really starting to feel it as opposed to just knowing that it’s coming.

Whether you’re still in that in-between place, or ready to Get Moving, cleaning your space of the accumulated muck that’s built up over the summer is a perfect way to transition into this productive phase and be ready to make the most of it.

For desk cleaning, here are a couple of tricks that work for me when I have limited time:

  • Triage the mess and sort it into what-goes-where piles. Hopefully a lot of it will go straight into the recycling bin. One of my favorite tricks from Miriam Ortiz Y Pino is to use a “Belongs Elsewhere” box that I can toss things into that belong elsewhere in the house but have snuck into my space over time (those evil little monsters!). 
  • Put away what you can right now.
  • Put the rest into a stack to sort later.
  • Clean the desk surface.
  • Behold the magnificence of your clear workspace.
  • Get back to the writing. :)
  • Over time, develop a system for the what-goes-where issues you discover as you clean and so the mess is less to deal with next time. (Miriam is great at helping with this. One of the best things about my office is that even though it’s messy on top right now it’s well organized underneath the chaos.)

And while you’re cleaning, here’s something to contemplate.

It’s also a really good time to think about what you want to accomplish between now and the “end” of the year.

And let’s be realistic about that for a moment, shall we? 

It’s not really December 31st for most of us that marks the end of the year. Realistically, it’s more like late November or early to mid December somethingth. Because Thanksgiving rolls around, the kids are out of school for a couple of days, then suddenly you’re in holiday mode. And sure, you’ll still get stuff done (I always do something special to mark the end of the year for my online Writer’s Circle coaching program for instance), but let’s face it, you’ll also have one foot in holiday parties and shopping and the like.

(Unless maybe you’re a true writer-hermit type, in which case you’ll probably benefit from everyone else being so busy since you’ll have all kinds of quiet time to yourself. :) ) 

So really, it’s a great time to not only kick it into high gear with this back to school vibe, but it’s also smart to think about what you’re hoping to accomplish before 2015 rolls out like the tide.

You’ve got about three and a half months, give or take, before the holidays really start taking over the collective.

What are you aiming to accomplish before then?

While you’re cleaning your desk, you call mull that one over and think about where you’d like to be at the “end” of the year.

And you’ll have a nice, clear space to get to work in, too. :)


Join the Writer's CircleIf you want to make the most of the coming months in terms of your writing, consider joining the Writer’s Circle. One of my writers just today told me what a magical place it is for her. I couldn’t agree more! Writers who’ve struggled for ages to write regularly find that if they commit to showing up daily in our online program, it doesn’t take long before they are moving mountains with their words. Come join us. The next session starts on Monday, September 14th, and registration closes THIS THURSDAY (that’s tomorrow). Find out more and register here: