Canadian filmmaker Pat Kiely has been making movies since high school, but Three Night Stand represents a milestone in the 34 year old’s career. With a combination of funding from the Canadian government and his own, now maxed-out credit cards, Kiely raised enough money to shoot his romantic comedy about a man (Sam Huntington) who takes his wife (Meaghan Rath) to a ski resort in order to revive their marriage, only to discover that his former flame (Emmanuelle Chriqui) runs the joint. This being a movie, things get complicated. Kiely’s film is having its U.S. premiere at Slamdance this weekend, and to hear the Montreal-based filmmaker tell it, making the actual movie was the easy part. It was the isolation and uncertainty of writing the script, those days when nothing is a guarantee, that was the real challenge. Here, Kiely shares his wisdom on how to get it done.

1. Build a family before you even start your screenplay. Find smart, loving and motivated people that want to be part of the project in some capacity. They’re not going to pay you, but the fact that they’re emotionally invested will keep you going.

2. Get up really early to write. Do your work before the world wakes up and reminds you about your credit card bills.

3. Spoil yourself while you’re writing. If you like coffee, pound it. If you like smoking, smoke. If you like going to a cafe where there are hot chicks, go. Make your sessions a special time, something to look forward to.

4. Enjoy the freedom that comes from writing your story. Okay, you aren’t getting six figures for an assignment job from a studio. But the perk of not being hired is you can write whatever the fuck you want. Feel lucky.

5. If you can, cast your friends early. It’s hard to do a Mike Leigh process with no development budget, but this way, you can study your friend over brunch. They’ll inform your writing and it gets more people excited about what you’re doing.

6. Get comfortable saying your characters names. Sounds stupid, but the more you talk about them, the more they become real people in your mind.

7. Let people read drafts and hassle them for notes. Make sure you go to friends that are going to give you a confidence boost, and to others who will say it’s shit. You need to hear both. And thank them, they spent two hours on you.

8. It’s never a waste of time. Even if the script doesn’t get made, the creative process is happening every time you sit down to write. That’s why you signed up in the first place.

9. Read it out loud. It can be just you and your girlfriend acting out all the parts, but you have to listen to what it sounds like. You’ll see it differently.

10. Remember that hustling is the fun part. Trying to achieve something is way more fun than actually achieving it, because then there’s nothing left to do.