I doubt any writer in the history of the craft has claimed to have too much time to devote to their writing. The couple of hours dedicated to working on your latest script can easily be overtaken by chores, friends, and dozens of other distractions. How then do you make time to write? Jeff Marsick, writer of Indestructible: Stingray and Dead Man’s Party has a solution for us: we need to become guerrilla writers.
Until next time,
“Y’know, I’ve had this idea for a while that I think would be a killer comic book, but I just don’t have the time to write it.”
I hear this lament a lot, more so than any other reason why people put their comic writing aspirations on hold. Fortunately, I can help you, even if you have a job and a family and a ton of other responsibilities all vying for your attention. And you don’t need to sacrifice even a minute of sleep to pull it off.
You simply need to become a “guerrilla writer.”
The first thing you have to understand about writing is that, unless you do it for a living or are Bruce Wayne-wealthy, having a dedicated block of several hours each day to write is a fantasy that’s right up there with Montana getting a professional football team or the ending to Lost ever making sense. Even if you adamantly commit time in your day to writing, I guarantee that life—in the guise of friends, family, and Netflix—will get in the way and derail you.
Most self-help pundits would tell you to ignore all of that noise and just focus on the task at hand. For the most part, I think that’s unrealistic advice because all of that social stuff is what keeps you from becoming a hermit holed up in a house full of cats. Occasional interruptions of routine and creative procrastination are how we writers keep our sanity and replenish the fountain of imagination. Besides, life needs to be lived, right?
The truth of the matter, however, is that you probably do have two or three hours in your day to write or plot, just not all at once. Take a good hard look at your daily routine. No matter your job, you most likely have five minutes of non-productivity here, ten there, maybe sit in traffic or commute by train for twenty minutes or more, take an hour for lunch when thirty minutes will do, and don’t forget the restroom breaks where you probably stare blankly into space while answering nature’s call. Add together all of these “holes” in your daily routine and you’d be surprised at how much time you’ve uncovered that could serve a better purpose.
Those are your writing moments. Just like a guerrilla staging hit-and-run attacks against a village, so, too, should you be running write-and-run operations against your daily routine.
Carry a notebook with you wherever you go. Ideas and great lines of dialogue pop into your head at the most inopportune moments, and thinking “I’ll remember them later” is the easiest way to forget them. Jot those ideas down when they strike you, and when you have five or ten minutes free, transcribe them into your script. Standing in line for groceries or coffee and waiting for the person ahead of you to figure out which way they should swipe their credit card’s magnetic strip is a colossal time suck. Use it to your advantage and type your ideas onto an app on your phone or text them to yourself. Driving is another egregious blank space in your day. Keep your road rage under control by recording voice memos or blocks of dialogue that you’re talking out.
These little efforts may not seem like they’re doing much to forward your writing career and, over the span of a day, they may not produce more than a few lines of text. But accumulated over a week and over a month, you will be surprised at how much progress you have made on your script, your novel, or your screenplay.
Writing is a lot like a round of golf: so long as you’re making forward progress with each stroke (each written word), you’re moving that much closer to the hole (a completed script). Besides, which means more to you: having only a page or two written after a week, or having nothing written because you’re waiting for that mythical block of time to open up in the middle of your life so that you can gush it all out at once?
Apply a guerrilla mindset to your writing for a week, and I guarantee you’ll be surprised by what you’re able to accomplish.
About the Author
A Cleveland boy who has read and collected comics ever since the cover prices were a quarter, Jeff’s been around life’s block a few times as a Coast Guard officer, a chiropractor, and a financial analyst. A screenwriter and aspiring novelist, his comic script won Darby Pop’s inaugural “Breaking Into Comics” writing contest and was produced as Indestructible: Stingray #1. He is the co-creator and writer of Darby Pop’s forthcoming trade paperback, Dead Man’s Party, and he is the co-creator and writer of the independently produced comic book, Z-Girl and the 4 Tigers.