If you’re an assistant, chances are most of your day is spent worrying about someone else.
Will they be upset if there’s cilantro in their lunch order? Did they read the script by the potential client in time for the meeting, and if not is there a way for me to magically beam it into their brain? Why did they call me Rebecca when my name is Rachel? Is my name even Rachel?
It can be exhausting on it’s own, and often the most I could do at the end of the day was come home and flop on the couch. However, if you’re a creative (writer, director, comedian, etc), then it’s important to keep your creative projects alive. Your assistant job is a great way to make contacts and potentially springboard yourself into a future position, but you need your own body of work to show future bosses and collaborators that you can walk the walk.
Here are a few ways to make time for creativity while working as an assistant:
1) The “Weekend Warrior” Approach
This episode’s guest talks about using her weekends to write. She woke up Saturday morning and treated writing like another job, plugging away for hours and getting it all on the page. She had the dedication to spend her valuable weekend doing this, even when glamorous pool parties and bottomless mimosas beckoned (or, more likely, cheap wine with friends). It paid off because she honed her craft and had samples to show her boss if/when he asked.
2) The “Vampire” Approach
Get your work done when you get home from the office. First of all, if you have the stamina to come home from work and be creative, find a way to bottle that and sell it and pay off your student loans. Working at night has it’s advantages. It can also be an excellent way to take a pass on networking drinks with fellow assistants, which are sometimes beneficial but often excessive. “No, I can’t grab drinks tonight because I want to get some pages down on my pilot. Want to read it?” Maybe they’ll say yes, but likely they won’t respond and you can go retire to your cave and create.
3) The “Morning Person” Approach
Like the above, but you wake up early and work in the morning. On the bright side, you’ll have achieved something before you even set foot in the office. Some people go to the gym. You wrote the next Game of Thrones or at least a new sketch.
4) The “Multitasking” Approach
Maybe you have a super cool job with low volume, and you can plug away at your writing during the day. We’re all jealous. Also, not sure this is legal, but you do you and we won’t ask questions.
5) The “Gig to Gig” Approach
If you can snag a seasonal job (i.e. an assistant job on a tv show), then you can use the time between gigs to write, shoot your short, etc. Lots of assistants on shows are able to get unemployment money while on hiatus, but you still might have to eat ramen.
6) The “Find your Tribe” Approach
Find a group of people you want to work with and create together. By creating a schedule of meet-ups, you hold each other accountable and build a routine. You will also begin to build a network of collaborators.
It’s always going to be a challenge as an assistant to find the time and energy to do your own thing. Find what works for you. Remember why you came to the city of dreams, and use that to motivate yourself. Plus, one day, your boss might be financing your project. At the very least, you can nab a pen or two from the office supply closet.