Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Writing Habits

It's funny how stories just creep up on you. Like a voice on the breeze, you listen to make sense of it, and then all of a sudden you find yourself diving headlong into a world you never knew existed. 

At the moment, I am finding myself in such a situation. Last week I'd been setting up the finer points of the sequel that I've been working on when I suddenly found myself tuned in to a whole other station, as it were. Now, a solid week later, and I've already managed to produce the first ten chapters of this completely new story, and I find it nearly impossible to pull myself away long enough to do much else. 

In fact, yesterday was the first time in the last week that I felt anything remotely related to writer's pause. And in the spirit of all that such a predicament brings to a person who is entirely devoted to a story that doesn't seem willing to loosen its hold, I thought it might be fun to share some of the methods I use to either get out of writer's pause or avoid it altogether. 

  1. Daily Writing
    Developing a habit of jotting something down, no matter the context, has been probably the most beneficial tool in my personal writing arsenal.
    Whether blogging once a day, writing in a journal, or simply taking five to ten minutes just to free write, it not only helps develop and keep momentum, but it allows for the opportunity to sharpen vocabulary, practice expression and organize thought.
  2. Organize the Inner Chaos
    I'm not sure about others who may read this, and it's perfectly alright if this doesn't do it for you, but I'm a bit of neat freak. I LOVE organization. I find it a great exercise in mindfulness as well as stress relief.
    Now, between having two children and a husband who don't share this personality quirk, I have an almost endless supply of small projects that can either distract or calm me. If I'm finding myself in a bit of a writing rut, what I'll often do is take five to ten minutes just to tidy, make a bed, or do the dishes.
    It takes me out of my head for the moment, allowing a more natural flow of thought to emerge that, more often than not, leads to a bit of a dam breakage in terms of ideas and potential dialogue.
    It's simple, mindless in a good way, and will usually leave your space and mind reset and primed.
  3. Music
    I have a rather large and eccentrically varied music library that I turn to when writing. I'll often have several playlists put together, depending on the mood I might want to infuse my writing with.
    Aside from using it as emotional or mental inspiration, it also provides an excellent source of disembodiment. When I write, and really get going, it's like my mind and fingers are in a synchronized dance that I happen to be viewing from a third party perspective. Music acts like a shamanic tempo for my mind, harnessing and directing it in a way to allows my thoughts to open and flow out onto the page or computer screen.
    It doesn't matter what it is you're listening to, so long as it keeps fueling the fire in your mind, and if one song begins to fade, simply shift over to another.
  4. Reading
    I know this one might be extremely subjective, if not a little controversial among writers. The main concern regarding reading while working on a project is the fear of accidentally copying or adopting the voice of the other author. It really is one of those things that you have to discover on your own whether or not it helps or hinders your work.
    In my personal case, I find it helps. I'll typically have some sort of easy going book on the side that I can turn to like a palette cleanser, nothing too heavy or time consuming.
    Part of the joy of reading is that it helps expand your mind and means of expression. Like traveling to other cultures or societies, the voice of another author can act as a reflecting agent, helping you grow and shape your own into its own unique creation. The wider the variety, the better, but again, it's up to the individual when and where these exercises occur.
  5. When All Else Fails, Have a Cup of Tea
    I'm personally addicted to black tea. I'll probably come to regret this later on when my teeth act as color-guard for my habit, but it's something that truly brings me peace and focus.
    It doesn't have to be an actual cup of tea either, just something that you know you can (safely) turn to that brings a sense of calm and collection.
    In my own case, having a hot mug to hold onto helps establish that it is time to write, time to imagine, or time to open my mind. I'll admit that a lot of cups of tea have gone as accidental sacrifice to the caffeine gods over the years (left alone and forgotten in the midst of a typing storm), but the act of making the tea and then having it nearby is a great means of prepping and settling into the moment.

    I hope something of this list has been of use, or entertainment at the very least.

    I'll aim to write more frequently again as the book I'm working on comes to a close in the next week or so. 


  1. Brilliantly explained! You are truly a fine teacher of your arts!

  2. For reading, I find it works well to read widely, and then if I am drawing unconscious influence, its coming from many different places, and that's fine, there's no sense of echoing someone else.

    1. I definitely agree with that perspective, in fact, your comment helped inspire me to think of the many ways the other authors have helped me shape my voice as a writer. Almost like shaping a diamond, the wider the range of reading, the more facets that can be cut.