Let’s face it: Most screenwriters don’t fail because they don’t find an agent, or their ideas are bad, or producers don’t recognize their talents, but because they don’t even finish writing a single script.
If you’re anything like me, it’s easy to get excited about an idea, pitch them to your friends, dream of attending your film’s premiere – but then get stuck on page 2, be distracted by a new idea, and rinse/repeat.
Arc Studio can help.
We remind you to write, motivate you to continue, and keep you focused while you’re working. Staying productive and motivated is a skill that you can learn and where good tools can support you. In this guide you will learn to:
- Become a power-user with one shortcut
- Set up a writing schedule to write consistently
- Stay motivated by keeping score
- Minimize Procrastination
- Avoid distractions
- Take regular breaks
- Don’t get distracted by your own ideas
- How to get started
Finally, at the very end, we have put together a basic prescription on how to stay productive. Of course, you will need to adapt this to your working style, but we think that this is the best way to get started.
Become a power-user with one shortcut
Shortcuts make us efficient, but they are hard to learn them: With Arc Studio you only need to remember one shortcut to rule them all:
⌘K. This will bring up the quick commands palette. Type what you want to do and select the command from the list – this will run the command. If you use the same commands over and over, we show you the actual shortcuts next to the command, so you will learn them naturally as time goes on.
Set up a writing schedule to write consistently
Arc Studio let’s you set a writing schedule. Choose the days of the week you plan to write on (try to write regularly, ideally every day, but be realistic!). If you haven’t written by 5pm on a scheduled writing day, we will send you a reminder via email. Try to write every day on your schedule, even if it’s just a sentence or a small edit.
Arc Studio’s writing schedule tool
Of course, if you’re on vacation (or busy with other things in life), you can stop receiving these reminders at any time.
⚙️ To set up your writing schedule, visit your account’s settings from your desk.
Stay motivated by keeping score
When you work on your script, we send you a report the next day to keep track of your progress: We let you know how much you wrote and also how many days you’ve been working in a row. It may sound silly, but keeping track of your streak can be hugely motivating. We will also keep your streak going if you miss every once in a while, but only if you don’t miss twice.
Most people regard procrastination as a plague, something that they want to get rid of completely. But it’s better to think of it as an important signal that you can use to your advantage: Procrastination happens when you kinda know what you need to do next, but not exactly. If you catch yourself procrastinating constantly while working on your screenplay, it tells you that you shouldn’t be writing yet.
The way to get around constant procrastination is to have an outline ready that guides you through the writing process: basic information on the characters, premise, and theme for each storyline, and the major beats of your story. With Arc Studio’s outlining tools you collect and categorize that information intuitively and retrieve it as you write. Find out more here.
Arc Studio has been designed for minimum distractions as it is. But you can take it further!
In the lower right corner, click the symbol below the desk to enter focus mode. Afterward, click the target to set up a distraction-free timer.
You can select how many minutes you want to work undisturbed. We will keep track of the time for you. During that time, should you get distracted (e.g. browsing twitter doing research), we will gently remind you that you should be working on your script.
Take regular breaks
Ideally, you enter “the zone”, where you forget about time and place and just write. But if you’re like me, the kind of person who has trouble staying focused for 10 minutes, it helps to set scheduled breaks and then following through with them. Instead of taking lots of tiny “breaks” all the time, which keeps you from actually getting started, you postpone distractions by knowing that you have a scheduled break coming up. After your timer runs out, Arc Studio prompts you to take a break. Select if you want to take a 5 or 30 minute break, and you will receive a prompt when it’s time to continue. Or just continue right away, if you managed to reach “the zone”.
Don’t get distracted by your own ideas
Once external distractions are out of the way, you will still get distracted by your own ideas on how to improve your characters and plot. Of course, these moments of inspiration are precious, but it is easy to jump between exploring ideas instead of making actual progress writing.
The solution is to keep ideation-time and writing-time somewhat separate: When you’re in the middle of writing some dialogue for act 3 and you get an idea on how to improve your inciting incident, take a quick note on your idea, but then keep writing your dialogue. Once you’re done with the dialogue, or ready to take a break, you can go back to your idea, evaluate it and flesh it out.
A lot of writers keep a notebook next to their computer for exactly that reason. Arc Studio has the muse widget included, with which you take notes even quicker: Hit
⌘M to summon it, type the note to yourself for later, and hit
Shift+Enter to continue writing. The whole process takes a few seconds and you don’t even have to move your hands off the keyboard.
How to get started
- Learn the one shortcut to rule them all:
- Set up a schedule to write every day (unless there are days in the week where you are positive that you won’t even be able to write a single sentence).
- Follow-through: Even if it is just one sentence, or one small typo fixed – write every day!
- Write a concise yet comprehensive outline, so you always know you need to do next.
- When you sit down to write for real, hit
Tto enter focus mode and set a timer for 25 minutes. Afterward, choose a five-minute break and repeat this four times, until you take a longer break.
- When you have a great idea while writing, hit
Mto summon the muse widget.
- Never miss twice! When you can’t even write a single sentence one day, be sure to write one the next.