Staying productive during COVID-19

2020. It’s impossible to describe how challenging this year has been for everyone. The death of loved ones and strangers has touched us all and we are still trying to adjust to what it means to live through a pandemic. Everyone has had a different experience due to their specific circumstances. I’ll share mine.

Just a couple weeks before the virus came to the US, I found out I was pregnant! My husband and I were so excited we could barely wait to tell anyone. We decided to wait until the 12th week to make sure the baby was healthy, but just a few days later, the whole world would change. The country closed down and we started our quarantine life in Los Angeles. There was so much uncertainty at the beginning that we didn’t even know how we were going to pull through. A teaching film job I had lined up got cancelled and potential directing gigs fell through as well. But I tried to stay positive and look at the advantages that the situation could be presenting me. I had developed an idea for my first feature in the last months of 2019 and was starting to write it with my co-writer at the beginning of 2020, the lockdown meant I now had more time to focus on it and that’s what we did. In the last 6 months we’ve written 3 drafts and are now ready to start sending it out to producers! The industry shut down productions, so everyone is focused on development. Even though things are uncertain and both financing strategies and budgets are drastically changing, it might just be the perfect time to get your script noticed in an otherwise extremely busy industry.

Staying at home also allowed me to focus on my pregnancy in a way that I probably couldn’t have done if I was shooting constantly, so that is another silver lining 🙂

Now, how did I stay productive as a writer working on my own project? What worked for me were 3 main things:

  1. Having a daily schedule: Yes, you won’t leave your house and can stay in your pajamas all day, but it is proven that waking up at the same time every day and having a routine gets you in a more productive state. My morning routine consists of: Waking up, meditating, exercising, taking a shower and having breakfast. Then I make a big cup of coffee and I’m ready to get to work. I like waking up early so I can have this time for myself.
  2. Having an accountability partner: In my case, I’m lucky that I’m co-writing this screenplay with a partner, this automatically puts accountability on my day. We agree on a schedule and I have to show up to that Zoom. If you are working on your own you could still find a friend to become accountability partners with. For example, I am working in a different project that I’m writing by myself and I am part of a Working Pod that I’ve created with a group of friends. We meet on Zoom every day at the same time and we all work on our own things. We start the session with a little meditation and we share our intentions for the day. By the end, everyone shares how it went for them. It sounds nice and you might think “That’s cool, but I can also do it on my own”. And if you can, kudos to you! But if you struggle to get words on the page: believe me, this works! We are all SO much more productive since we started the pod. I highly recommend you get yourself a friend or a group to do something similar.
  3. Putting a deadline. When there’s no one specifically waiting for you to finish that script, time can become irrelevant and you can keep writing forever. Which you will do. After all, writing is re-writing! But in order to get that draft finished you can help yourself by putting a deadline. And not just a deadline in your calendar that you can easily dismiss. For example, look for a lab or a screenwriting contest that you’d like to apply and have your script ready for their deadline. It’s a great way yo keep yourself on track. (I will write a separate post on labs and screenwriting contests).

Anyway, those are things that have worked for me, how do you stay productive? Share with us on the comments section and good luck with all your projects!

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