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A day in the life of a writer who is also a dad and husband etc
a moment by moment diary
Ever wondered what happens on a typical day of a glamorous hollywood screenwriter? Well wonder no more - here’s a much too detailed diary of my day trying to write while being a dad. I hope you find it well.
I am, as they say in Rome, a writer. I’m currently writing, as we say in Hollywood, a script outline that’s due Friday.
I am, as we say in the DSM-5, stressed as fuck. Plagued by imposter syndrome so bad that I even worry whether I actually have imposter syndrome aka even my imposter syndrome has imposter syndrome, I am not feeling good about all this.
The mind will do anything it can to distract from actually doing the work it needs to do. In my case that meant keeping a meticulous down to the minute log of my entire day trying to write.
What follows is an unedited version of said diary:
I've got until 3p to write and baby I feel ready. I wonder what is the best way to do this? Dive in? Manage my time? I'm thinking dive in and maybe just keep a log of it all in case its funny and I want to post it for Both Are True.
But will doing that make me TRY to make it funny and thus make this my focus since it is obviously easier than actually writing? Only time will tell.
Had to take a poo.
back from the toilet. read some of the fargo screenplay there. hoping to get inspired, have some of their stuff rub off on me.
I guess now would be a good time to actually lay out what I want to get done. That way I can define if I did it or not. Otherwise I'll feel a failure no matter what.
Goal: Write the entirety of the Act Two outline with as many full prose scenes as possible, okay if some are still just bullet points.
Sent an email to my boss with an idea for where to set the story. Nice.
now it’s time to write.
Check my substack to see how the last post did
No matter the numbers, I won't be happy which is why I have to turn the Freedom app back on so I can't access this or Gmail.
upset about that
turned on freedom so I am "free" to write yay /s which means sarcastic
Wrote for about 10 minutes which is a hUGE WIN!! And by write I mean I outlined.
went on my phone to pull some dialogue I wrote in the Notes app and by the time it had unlocked I had forgotten all about that and went to my text messages - saw a few new ones that were exciting but that I did NOT respond to
Then got one more text and responded to that
Feels like I could use a break lol. Like 5-10 min. And then start writing scenes.
shit I just went on the phone for 7 minutes and read some dumb essay on substack about AI.
I feel another possible poo coming on, and also a potential for a small nap.
the ol poo + nap combo, like butch cassidy and his sundance son.
This is depressing because if I publish this Lauren will see and I will feel shame because Wilder is at daycare and I should be using this time as well as possible but it just isn't always possible and also, I am allowed to be a human who poos and naps just like Wilder does.
Time to see if I can muster another poo
I went and took a notebook into bed to write some scenes by hand - the computer was clearly an impediment. Am I aware that this will surely lead to napcity? To that I answer in the non-negative.
But maybe the writing can be foreplay for the nap. Yes, that’s good: nap foreplay yes.
I wrote for about 5 min and then continued my obsession of figuring out how to turn off imessage on my phone so I couldn't send text messages so I could focus on writing. This involved me texting Lauren the word "test" over and over and over.
Could I have spent this time just writing instead of trying to figure out a way to prevent myself from doing stuff other than writing? None of your business.
Just woke up.
I can’t be at home - too many of nature’s comforts abound. Like pooping and napping. Decided I’d go to Starbucks which is where I write this from now.
I’ve been drinking my half-caf iced americano (full caf is too much caf) and - good news - writing! In my notebook. Analog. Put some analogs on the fire jesus christ Alex.
Interesting to note how mean I am to myself throughout this process. Like a bully - I get mad at myself for needing to nap, for needing coffee, for not being anything but the platonic ideal of The Writer who of course can write anywhere, anytime and also take care of his child and his home and not fucking complain and whine and need to log everything by the minute as a pathetic attempt at avoiding his own work. Look whose back! I can slip into that voice easier than a grocery store customer can slip on a wet floor before they started putting down those “caution wet floor” signs.
Ugh. Distracted anew. Diddled around on Medium for a while - had to check something about whether essays were auto publishing which meant I had to delete Freedom from my phone to check gmail.
Once Freedom was off, then boy I was really free. I checked Substack app for any new notifications - none.
Then I redownloaded Freedom and now here we are and now its time to write again which honestly just means shutting off this fucking computer.
closing computer now.
I'm back. Ok did a good bit of writing there - I had worries about the ending but I ran it through and put some dialogue in and some feeling into it and I think I can feel it.
To name it, a lot of my fear here comes from the worry that my boss won't like it. That I am not the kind of writer he wants. That I'm a big ol piece of shit.
But I can't control that. Separation of tasks! My task is just to write the best thing i can. To do my best (vs being the best) as Myq kaplan so eloquently put recently:
Perhaps there's a useful distinction that can be drawn there, between "being THE best" and "doing MY best." Not comparing myself to others, because my best has nothing to do with their best. If anything, maybe only comparing myself now to myself before. Have I had more meaningful experiences than Before Me? Yes, because I've had all their experience and more. Have I gained more skills than Before Me? Have I accomplished more tasks than Before Me? Yes and yes.
A BIG NEW ANXIETY: I can’t stop thinking about whether its okay to ask our babysitter to come for 3 hours after daycare so I can keep working. Is that selfish? I hate that Wilder cries when I hand him off to the babysitter, it feels like I'm permanently creating some sort of thing in his brain that dad is just a guy who carts him around between things and doesn't want to hang with me which is NOT TRUE I just feel like this week with the deadline I really could use the time.
But time for what? I want to go workout because I feel like my mental health tanks when I don't. Is that OKAY? Is that ALLOWED? Is that GOOD? Am I GOOD?
The funny thing is that this is all OCDesque behavior! I’m obsessing over whether I am a good dad by checking over and over if doing this would make me a bad dad.
This is fun because, and I apologize for not mentioning this earlier, but I am writing a script about a woman with OCD.
Life imitates art? What about life imitating the dumb thoughts in our minds am I right fellas?
Another thing you do with OCD is ask for reassurance, which I did a few min ago by asking Lauren what she thought. She of course said that she thinks its okay and totally fine if I need it.
GOD this is annoying, and I can't focus on writing because I feel like I need to figure out this first.
Fuck it, I did it - asked the babysitter. She said yes!! (like a marriage proposal see?)
I can't keep worrying about this.
Going to go home and keep writing.
Went home and wrote! Or rather transcribed (transcrobe?) and elaborated on. And it worked well, I made it through most of Act Two
Got some good lifts in, hit some new PRs which is a thing my Strong app tells me when I do good and that makes me feel like a good boy.
Then I got in my oven aka car aka sauna that's been baking in the 104 degree heat for the last hour. It was hard to breathe in the heat of the car, like breathing the fart of a camel in the desert, etc.
Scooped the wildman. Back in the car heading home.
We’re home and goofing around on the couch playing chase and tickles, our new fav game.
Wilder starts to cry as soon as he sees the babysitter. He is heartbroken and it makes me feel like a piece of dog shit to even write this, like if I post this will people think I'm a monster? But I tell him it will be okay and the babysitter takes him to his room and I can hear right away that he stopped crying.
I shower and get ready to leave to Philz.
At Philz sipping on a Yerba Mate HOT because I learned this morning that drinking hot stuff will cool you down and drinking cool stuff will heat you up so, here we are.
Wrote for about 20 minutes, then stood up and read the Sideways screenplay I got from the library for about 10 pages. Good stuff in there. Better than the shit I'm writing, which I am realizing as I type this is not the right takeaway.
Going back in.
I wrote for like 10 min and then some people came to sit next me at Philz and that disrupted the flow. Then I listened to their convo for a while because, well, and if I am to be cancelled let it be for this - in appearance they were VERY DIFFERENT. He a prototypical nerd, glasses, polo, she a prototypical valley girl for lack of better phrase? She seemed like she enjoyed getting shots in west hollywood and he seemed like he enjoyed Zelda. Am I allowed to even say this?
I assume they are in school together, but maybe they are dating and I am the asshole. This is what I aimed to find out. And I found out nothing.
And now, after switching the phone to upbeat music, it is again time to start. I'll probably do 1 more pull here (pull being a new word I just invented for a sesh of writing) and then move to the Glendale Library. That's where my car is parked. I'll do a meditation there (I do 2 every day or I go insane!! ) and then write some more until it is time to go scoop Wilder and hang with him until bedtime. This is, as they say in Rome, the good life.
In a groove now! But its time to meditate and ain't nothing more important than that. Gonna pack up my shit here and cruise to the Glendale Public Library. Onwards.
Hello from the Glendale public library. I am sitting here having just chomped down on a banana that was made even more delicious by the meditation that preceded it. Like I could really taste the squish, the sweet, way it melts in your mouth like nature's butter.
Anxiety sets in now about what to do - keep writing or give the script a rest and focus on something else, like maybe taking this blabber of text and publishing it to Substack for tomorrow.
I know that that would be FUN at the very least. So maybe I do that. Fast and loose and frankly? Goofy.
Or are there BETTER ways to spend my time? How do I, as they say in silicon baddy, optimize .
My brain is dead, that much I know. So let's do a transcribe. A port over.
The rubber has met the road. The time is now and the port over is complete - I’ve added all of the above to substack and am writing this final message from there. Or here rather. Where you will soon read it.
The timing is perfect - I must relieve the babysitter at 7pm and have a 10 minute drive home.
Do I worry what people will think about this? Oh you betcha! About how I’m a bad dad or spend too much money on coffee or really just suck at focusing as a writer but frankly, I am too tired to post anything else tomorrow.
I will end as I began: I am, as they say in Rome, a writer. Thank you for your time and may god have mercy on your moles.
I thought this was the end of the essay but then a lot more happened:
BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE
I put Wilder to sleep and then send Lauren a draft of this essay to see if she thinks its good and more importantly if I come off like an unforgivable bad dad asshole.
She is, it should be said, at work on a hellish 12 hour day working on a tv show that is Very Hard Work and Stressful for her.
It’s late which means the dark thoughts get even darker as my mind spins a tale that Lauren hasn’t read the draft because it sucks, that she’s having fun on set with all her friends while I stay home like a ding dong folding laundry.
An hour or so ago she sends me a link to a house on Zillow and I of course read that as “oh so you have time for Zillow but not for my article” which sends me into THE HOLE.
Is this insane? Yes. Selfish? Surely. Does that change the fact that it happened? Nay.
Laur comes home and I’m mostly asleep but try to communicate that I’m hurt and also curious still if she liked it all of which comes out more like I AM MAD PETULANT CHILD BABY WHO NEED APPROVAL NOW!
She says yes its funny but I hear ‘no its not funny’ and we proceed a tired, largely unintelligible fight. I am a monster.
I can’t sleep - hopped to the gills on adrenaline - so I go into the living room to watch Industry.
Two and a half episodes of Industry, one banana, a few spoonfuls of cottage cheese and peanut butter later, I’m here. And not tired at all.
So I come to the computer and diddle around with a ‘coding project’ and actually make some good progress.
I wake up on the couch and waddle back to bed.
I wake up in bed and try to start the day which now consists of one thing and one thing only: building a case for why I am RIGHT and Lauren is WRONG.
Wilder wakes up and Lauren hangs with him. We try to talk about it but just continue fighting. She says that my needing approval on the essay is just more of the OCD which I do NOT like to hear because it makes my feelings not feel VALID and so I shut down.
I start editing this essay and realize that the big fight Lauren and I are having must also be part of this Perfect Day of Writing and so I start writing about it which gives me some distance from it. I soften and apologize and I am pretty sure she apologized too.
As she heads out the door for work I explain that really I just feel lonely at home and have these stories that she’s having a ton of fun at work and I’m just a small nothing person to which she says “go hang with Chase and Wiley” to which I say “Don’t try to fix it!” and she says “oh here we go again” but now we’re more joking around and back on the same team.
That’s it. The end. Which is also a beginning as I need to hit publish on this right now and hang with Wilder before taking him back to daycare at 850am.
Lauren forgot her lunch and I’m tired as fuck and can’t even imagine what anxious horrors await me, but alas, what can we do but fear itself?
Hold your people close, and your enemies cloister.
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