I’ve received questions over the years and lately on how I get into the zone and write. So I thought I’d start sharing what inspires me.
1. It is different for everyone. Some writers drink, some write at night, some write in the morning, some seclude themselves while others write on napkins in busy restaurants.
2. Music, Music, Music! Writing is sort of like meditating for me. Find the music that represents what you are writing about. Are you writing a story set in the Eighties? Listen to some Phil Collins or Duran Duran. Writing a love story? Listen to some love songs.
3. Always carry a means to write down thoughts or ideas no matter where you are. You would be surprised to see where some of your best lines come from. My handy dandy cell phone works wonders for jotting these down without carrying extra pens and paper.
4. Carve out time to write just as you would time to exercise or watch your favorite TV show. At first it’s difficult to turn your brain into “Write” mode at 2pm every afternoon for 30 minutes. Ideas don’t work on our time frame right? True but you will find that after a few days of this your brain will switch to this mode. Besides that’s why we jot down ideas when they come to us. So that in your scheduled time you can put them into your writing.
5. Speaking of scheduled time, this does not mean you have to cut yourself off no matter what you are writing at the end of 30 minutes. If you get into a good rhythm and the words are flowing DON’T STOP until you come to a good stopping point. Unless of course your house is on fire, your husband is begging for clean underwear and your kids are starving. 🙂
6. DO NOT IGNORE THE FEELINGS!! One of the most important things I have found is that you have to go through the feelings of your characters as you are writing. REALLY FEEL IT! How do you expect to convey feelings to your readers and make them cry or laugh when the character does if you don’t even feel it? This is especially important if you are writing anything that is based around real events or characters. Even fiction spawned from something. Remember how you felt that day as you write it. Did you cry? Were you happy? FEEL IT!
7. I wrote chapters in sections. I know about how long I’d like my books to be and I divide it into parts and save it this way. (Chapters 1-11, Chapters 12-20, etc) This helps you keep track of how long it is and makes it easier to edit (In my opinion). I used to get stuck in a cycle of editing every chapter when I was done writing it. But I never wrote past chapter 3 because I was constantly going back and editing. (We are our own worst critics.) So no when the first set of chapters is done I spell and grammar check. Then move on to the next set of chapters. At the end of the book everything is spell & grammar checked and all I have to do is go back to read and add or subtract things.
I think it is hardest sometimes for those who have kids to get in the zone without stopping every few minutes to tell the kids to turn down the TV or answer “What’s for lunch?” Write when you’re kiddos (or hubby for that matter) are in bed. (Morning or night) Train your children to a certain visual cue. Mine know that when the laptop comes out and the headphones go in Mommy is writing.
Even though I hate to use this analogy it is similar to training your dog that when he hears a bell he knows it’s time to eat. (Or something similar). The first few times your children and spouse are going to resist this. They want your time when they want it. That’s human nature BUT eventually you will see that they have become trained to this visual cue. What is your visual cue?
For me it’s headphones. Not only can they see you doing this, it allows them to play or watch tv without disturbing you. But you could use anything that works. Pull out a timer and sit it on something. Whatever works for you. The key is to explain to them while your training them what this means.
“I’m setting the timer for 30 minutes and setting it on the TV. This is Mommy/Daddy’s writing time. If it’s important (explain what’s important) come get me. Otherwise make a list of things to ask me when this timer goes off.”
Just remember if your still writing when the timer dings they have every right to hold you to your deal of asking questions. This is why I prefer keeping my time limit to myself and using another visual cue. If I go over 30 minutes all the kiddos see is that I still have headphones in so Mommy is still writing. But that’s just me.
And yes, chances are you will have to train your spouse to this as well. 🙂
I’m also going to be adding a couple of videos songs that have inspired me to write my last book and my current book.