Writing is hard. That’s no secret. It’s a mad scramble to find motivation and inspiration to finish (or start) that creative writing project.
Of course, there are ways to make your writing life easier. It’s time to take a look at your writing strategies, habits, and environment and evaluate what gets you typing and what stops your story in its tracks. What really will get you to write?
Where and when are you writing?
What types of places do you write best?
Be honest with yourself. What distracts you? Do you end up people-watching instead of writing when you try to write in a public place?
One example that has stuck with me is Tobias Wolff. He explains that he writes in the basement of a library and keeps only a dictionary and necessary reference books with him. Why? To avoid distractions.
“Writing’s hard. You’ll take any out, if you can”Tobias Wolff
Some people need background noise to focus. Others need total silence.
I need music, preferably with lyrics.
If you work best with noise in the background, think about what type of noise is best for your project. If you’re writing an action scene, then try some fast-paced or tense music.
Or if music isn’t your thing, then perhaps listen to something that sounds like the background of your scene—are there people talking or maybe a fire crackling or maybe spaceships whirring? Table Top Audio has a huge variety of background tracks (that you can listen to for free) that are worth checking out!
You should also think about what specific locations work best for you. Do you work best at a desk where you feel focused? Or do you work best in a comfy chair where you feel more casual and creative? Or maybe it depends. Sometimes, I need the feeling of structure that comes with writing at a desk. Other times, I just want to crank out a draft without feeling pressure to write a perfect first draft, so I turn to the chair in the corner.
What time do you work best at? Are you a morning person? Or maybe a night owl?
I draft best either early in the morning or in the evening/at night, but the same doesn’t necessarily hold true for editing. I’ve heard from several different writers that they write best at night because their inner-critic is quieter when they are tired at the end of the day. Plus, everybody else is quiet or asleep at night, which makes for a less hectic writing environment, and there’s something serene about the night.
Try different times to see when you write best. Some of this might depend on your schedule, too: If you learn that you write best during the day, then that might mean using your lunch break to write.
How are you doing?
What do you wear when you write? Office-wear? Something casual? Pajamas?
I’m personally a big fan of anything comfortable.
What you wear can affect your productivity and your attitude. Think about what clothing motivates you. I’m not suggesting that you don a suit when you sit down to write, but if you are looking for extra motivation, swap the sweats for jeans or the jeans for khakis.
On the other hand, make sure to wear something comfortable. You want to be able to focus on your writing not on how itchy your shirt is making you or how your pants don’t fit quite right.
This might be obvious. But, if you are sleep-deprived, or if you are dehydrated or stressed or hungry (the list goes on), your writing will be affected.
These things can go both ways, though. For instance, as I said earlier, there are writers (myself included) who can draft better when they are tired at the end of the day. However, when you get sleep deprived (as opposed to just tired), then your writing will likely begin to suffer.
Or, maybe you don’t write well when you are hungry but your writing is equally negatively affected if you have just eaten something carb-y and your blood sugar is spiking.
It’s all about balance and what works for you. But be healthy about it.
Are you dreading writing?
Finally, make writing something that you look forward to. Give yourself that extra writing motivation you need. Or find ways to give yourself some writing inspiration.
I like to save certain favorite music for only when I’m writing. That way, I don’t wear out the song, and I can look forward to getting to listen to the song while I’m writing.
When you write, maybe you have a special snack that you don’t otherwise eat.
Figure out what you can make exclusive to your writing time or space. Find out what will make you want to sit down and write. Because once you sit down and start to write, the words will start to flow out as you get into the zone. It’s actually sitting down that is sometimes the hardest.
Now, find a spot where you feel comfortable and productive, put on your writing clothes, turn on some good music (or don’t), grab some popcorn or hot chocolate, and WRITE!
Comment with what environment you like to write in! What music do you listen to while writing (I’m taking recommendations)? When do you write? Where do you write? What do you recommend?