5 Ways to Get Into a Writing Zone
Is it just me, or do we only feel like cleaning when we have other, more focused responsibilities? You know what I mean. You have homework to do, you sit down to do it, then decide you should wash clothes. Yeah, that. I do that all the time when it’s time to write.
Writing has been my thing since about 3rd or 4th grade. And, I still hold that I want to be a famous author when I retire. I love doing it. But, it requires so much focus that I don’t have. So, when I can’t get into a writing zone immediately, I go get justifiably distracted instead.
For those of us who are trying to meet deadlines—before the baby wakes up, before school starts, before December 1st—this is not okay. There has to be a way to get in the zone (not AutoZone) when we have only a short amount of time like that.
In preparation for NaNoWriMo, I had to sit down and think about how I can put myself in a writing mood. Now, I’m not talking about writer’s block, I’ve already got strategies for that. I’m talking about when you have ideas and energy, but your head is all over the place. I think some of the suggestions I came up with below may help.
This is a teenage classic. You have a music playlist for your mood. That angsty Evanescence and Nirvana playlist. The lovesick Backstreet Boys and Janet Jackson. You had a variety. Well, you need the same for your writing. I suggest something without words. Lucky for you, there is such a wide range of instrumental music that isn’t classical that matches your favorite genres. Me, personally, I do Glitch Mob and Blackmill on Pandora and I’m good. The music is trance and dubstep-like; fast, driven, piercing. Rarely ever fails me.
Try creating your own novel soundtrack to keep you inspired.
As an adult, we know this game. If you don’t have a schedule, a routine, you’re not doing it. You’re tired from all the things you have to do on any given day. Don’t ask us to add something else unless we have to. Well, now you have to. When do you notice you have a moment of time when you sustain a little energy? Maybe a moment when you can type on your phone, sit at your desk, scribble on a paper? Many times, I write after the gym and shower, when I’m clean, and my workout energy is still flowing. I’ve heard people recommending waking up in the morning earlier to do it. In reality, most people just can’t do it. Before bed is popular, but 11 pm is not the best time to start writing because you’ll be up all night! I recommend your lunch break.
Check for write-ins in your region by searching online or through NaNoWriMo.org.
Work is where you slave away for never enough money. Your house is where you adult and family (and clean, and stress, and sleep, and cry, etc). You need a place where you know ‘this is where I write ONLY’. I find that if I go outside of the house, I can write. Barnes & Noble, any cafe, any library, doesn’t matter if chatty or silent. For me, I just need somewhere I can pop in my earbuds and write without my kid asking for stuff or having chores watching me be happy. If you’re a coffee drinker, I recommend a cafe. Get a drink, smell the coffee, hear the happy, caffeinated chatter and write. If you’re a reader, I don’t recommend the library; you’ll be too tempted to grab a book. However, if you prefer it a little quieter and less crowded, hit a study room at the library.
Nothing is better than having a friend to share your ups and downs. Find someone with whom you keep regular contact and is just as hooked on writing as you are. Anyone else and you’ll get distracted with other conversation. This can be digitally or in person. I think in person is better because you can discuss and share feedback in real time. But, you can always have synchronous meetings online, or just post to a group. The key is, you can only talk about writing. I’m part of multiple writing communities on facebook myself. And, I have a writing buddy who checks out my work for me in real person. I love face-to-face, but online is definitely more convenient and reaches more eyes.
Find out what a writing community is and why you need to be part of one–like the School of Storyology.
Hopefully, you have one for your jot notes and organization anyway. But, if you don’t, you really need one. You can read up on bullet journaling with the link below, but I recommend that you also have a place where you can write without technology. I know I have a composition book where I plan and write all the time. Sometimes, I write in that instead of type because I’m less likely to mess with my blog and social media. It doesn’t have to be a big notebook, but I don’t recommend anything smaller than a comp book. Try to keep it near you at all times so you can catch your ideas and scribble snippets when technology notifications are just too tempting.
Learn more about what to include in your writing journal here.
I would say those are some pretty solid ways. I know they work for me when I can work them in. No writer’s block, just a little bit of energy, time, and space, I can finally get in the zone.
It sounds so magical.
Because it is. It really is.
How do you make time to work your magic? Is there anything you do to trigger a writing zone? Got any recommendations for a playlist?
Let us know in the comments below and on social media, of course. Plus, sign up for my bi-weekly Writer’s Wisdom newsletter for character, conflict, and planning guides. All for free!