Treat Editing Like Exercise: How To Stay Consistent With Your Creative Output

Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time in the edit bay.

Between getting deliverables ready for our feature Disappearing Boy, cutting an assembly of the new movie (Teacher’s Pet), and running dozens of commercial and client projects – it’s been busy.

I’ve always been an editor, but it’s only been in recent years that I’ve learned how to find more sustainability and balance while in post.

In my earlier years, everything was a sprint.

I would have an idea for a project, rush out to shoot it, and then spend countless hours on end editing. Not stopping for so much as a meal break until I finished.

This type of adrenaline fuled workflow was never going to be manageable over the long term. Nor did it yield the best creative results.

Over time, I started to recognize it was the quality of the hours I was putting it, not the quantity of them.

That I could get more done in 2 hours with a good night of sleep, than in 9 hours working until the crack of dawn. My brain foggy and unfocused.

As my workload increased over the years, I had to find a new way. I could no longer simply be reactive to my own workload.

There was never one singular moment where it clicked. But gradually over the years, as I tested many methods and workflows, I finally found a system that worked.

One that would allow me to make huge amounts of progress, without feeling like I had to kill myself in the process.

The system itself is the same as any good exercise routine. It includes a balance of work and rest periods. And the prioritization of consistency.

My rule of thumb (which is the same methodology I use while writing) is to simply commit to daily progress. Even if it’s just 5 minutes of focused work.

When cutting any new film project, I commit to a daily editing practice. Time is set aside each morning to make headway.

What I get done in that time, and how much is accomplished is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is that I keep going.

Some days I may work for 15 minutes and do nothing more than swap out a reaction shot. Other days, I’ll find myself lost in the work for many hours, chugging through scenes with ease.

Both types of days are equally valuable. I can not control how much gets done on any given day, as there are too many external factors.

Did I wake up with a headache? Am I working on a favorite part of the movie? Is my computer running slowly today?

All of these variables – and a thousand more – impact the day to day process. No two edit sessions are the same.

But much like going to the gym, what matters is showing up. Building a consistent routine, and sticking to it. 

Many days, very little progress will be made. But those “bad” days are as essential as any other. Critical, really.

Because without them, I would not be in the right time, place, or headspace to make massive progress on the good days.

Consistency and work ethic is all you can control. So control for them.

What’s the alternative?

Only working on your film when you feel like it. Which usually leads to unsustainable workloads and unfinished projects.

The boring, mundane grunt work of showing up and making one more cut when you’d so rather be in bed sleeping in is what makes all the difference.

So treat editing (or writing for that matter) like going to the gym. Make it part of your daily routine. Don’t put so much pressure on any one day or session that you over-do it, injure yourself, and can’t keep going.

Make sure you have enough time off in between edits to let your mind rest and recover. And always focus on progress as the goal.

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About Author

Noam Kroll is an award-winning Los Angeles based filmmaker, and the founder of the boutique production house, Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television, and in various publications across the globe. Follow Noam on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more content like this!

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