Earlier this month I posted a blog on How to Become a Professional Writer detailing the importance of writing consistently. Over the next few weeks I’d like to share some specific tools that can help overcome the self-sabotage, resistance and inertia that can sometimes make being consistent difficult.
One tool is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield which you can read about here.
Another tool is the Kurosawa method.
Whenever I talk to someone who isn’t consistently writing due to a genuinely crazy schedule, I always ask them if it’s possible that they allow themselves such a busy schedule in order to have a “legitimate” excuse not to write. This question rarely wins me many friends. And while I understand some people are forced to shoulder enormous responsibilities with little control over their time, I think the question is at least worth considering. After giving people time to chew it over I share the Kurosawa method with them.
The world renowned writer/director Akira Kurosawa had a problem when he was a young man. He knew he wanted to be a writer who would someday direct his own scripts, but he was in a directing apprentice program that forced him to work insanely long hours. The program didn’t leave him the time and energy to write. He knew that if he wasn’t consistently writing he would never develop into a successful writer. But since he also wanted to direct, he wasn’t willing to quit the prestigious apprentice program. It was quite a dilemma.
One that Kurosawa eventually solved with a brilliant strategy.
He made a commitment to himself that he would write at least one new screenplay page every day of his life. That’s it. Just a page a day.
Kurosawa knew that there would be plenty of days he wouldn’t be physically, mentally or emotionally able to produce multiple pages. But there would never be a day that he couldn’t write at least one page.
This is brilliant for many reasons.
The War of Art explains that the enemy of writing is resistance. So when I talk to someone who wants to be a writer, but because of a genuinely hectic life isn’t doing much writing, I always wonder how much of this not writing is due to schedule demands and how much is due to resistance. The Kurosawa method gives the answer.
Anyone who makes a self-promise to write one page a day and doesn’t consistently follow through on it is getting their ass kicked by resistance. Simple as that.
The other brilliant part of the Kurosawa method is that on many days the one page somehow turns into two pages, which can sometimes turn into three pages and so forth.
Because it’s a hell of a lot easier to get into the chair when our only commitment is one page, and once we’re in the damn chair–well, we might as well just keep on writing.
When I share this tool with people they sometimes give me a look and ask how productive can someone really be writing only one page a day?
The flip answer is a hell of a lot more productive then writing no pages a day. But Kurosawa gives a much better answer in his book, Something Like an Autobiography:
“Perhaps you can write only one page a day, but if you do it every day, at the end of the year, you’ll have 365 pages.”
Which of course is a little more then three screenplays worth of pages.
Now imagine what you’d have if you wrote only two pages every day for a year.
Posted in Corey’s Blog | July 15, 2010