If you’ve read my posts before you may have intuited that in the past I have really struggled with writing. Or more accurately, the process of writing. I don’t think I’m unique in this—many writers find the most difficult part of writing to be the part where you just sit down and start. That’s certainly the case for me, and for years the very thought of sitting down to write has filled me with dread. Not exactly a great reaction, is it? Especially since once I’m actually writing I tend to enjoy myself. So what’s the deal with the starting part?
Recently I’ve had a kind of breakthrough on that front, and the silly thing is that it turned out to be so simple. These tips may even be ones you’ve heard a hundred times before. I know I had…but I’d never tried them. So if you’re struggling with getting your backside in the chair and haven’t given these a go, maybe they’ll help you too.
The too long;didn’t read version of it is this: I made writing time something I looked forward to by keeping things clean and creating a cozy experience for myself. If you want more details on exactly what I did then by all means read on, friends. Read on.
1. Clean up your space.
This is probably the least fun of my tips, but also one of the more effective. I am one of those people who finds it much easier to focus on something if I don’t have clutter around me. If you find inspiration in the clutter, by all means keep it around! But my desk is often my lunch table, and in a house with a cat and two dogs it can get pretty furry as well. A quick wipe down of my desk and a few minutes to put used dishes and other assorted things back in their places gives me a clean slate to set up a soothing writing space. It takes almost no time and makes such a difference. (Extra tip: invest in some cleaning supplies that you love the smell of. It makes it less of a chore.)
2. Ditch the overhead light and get some candles.
This has been a game changer. No longer do I sit in an over-lit box or hunch in a dark room before the bright square of my screen. Lighting a candle or two before I start to write has become a habit now, and something about it tells my brain its time to both get cozy, and to write. During the summer I used a yummy peach-scented candle that I loved, but now that the weather is cooling off (it’s not actually cooling off here quite yet…but I can dream!) I’ve switched to this warm autumnal candle. I’ve long associated candles with relaxation and comfortable nights in, so this really did the trick when it came to making a mental switch with my writing nights.
3. Put on that perfect playlist.
Some people can’t write with music, and I totally get that. I am not one of those people. Nothing gets me in the mood to dive back into my stories faster than a playlist I’ve put together based on my characters or the “feel” of my book. I’ve always listened to music when I write, so this isn’t technically a new trick I’ve implemented. But in combination with the other tips, it’s a perfect storm (in a good way). There is one new thing I have started doing, though: I find one song that encapsulates the story I’m working on and listen to it the whole way through before I start to write. It really helps me get out of my head and refocus on why I’m doing this crazy writing thing in the first place.
4. Get some tasty treats to enjoy.
I write at night, so the level of hunger I have varies a lot from day to day. Often I’ll grab a bowl of popcorn (a personal favorite), a bit of chocolate, or a plate of sliced apples. But usually I’ll just make myself some tea or cocoa—it counts as a snack for me. I always feel cozy and happy with a hot mug o’ something in my hands, and I love treating myself to a tasty night of writing. Something about grabbing those snacks makes it feel like a movie night instead of a writing night…and in some ways, that’s not totally wrong, is it? We’re just in charge of the action that we see in our own imaginations. In any case, I definitely recommend giving your tum a little love with something tasty. And if your mug just so happens to remind you to get to work, all the better! 😉
These changes to my writing routine have honestly made writing something to look forward to. And keep in mind, if these ideas don’t light up that happy little place in your chest, find the things that do and see if you can bring those into your writing routine. It makes writing time double as “me-time,” a trick that I’ve found to be really effective to get me to quit avoiding writing. Hope something here helps you if you’ve had the same struggle!
Let me know what routines you have to get your writing self going!
Happy writing, friends!