Concentration is hard to come by at the best of times, but as we’re currently experiencing the worst of times, it’s downright rare.
Time to write is just as scarce some days, with new Coronavirus world responsibilities taking priority. When you do get the chance to write, you might find that diving straight into work isn’t happening like you thought it would.
I’ve been experiencing this lately and finding it so frustrating. Even re-arranging my writing routine, getting up earlier (like 5am early), and cutting back on my blogging wasn’t upping my writing productivity, and it felt like I was getting nowhere. I needed to make smarter changes and here are the two things I did to get myself on track.
2 Simple Ways To Switch Into Writer Mode
1. Know What You’re Doing
Not in life (although I hear that helps), but in what you’re working on this writing session. Don’t worry about tomorrow, next week or what deadline you’ve got to hit 6 months from now. Just focus on the piece of writing you need to do today.
I also highly recommend that you write down your writing session goal in specific detail. None of that vague “write today” junk that helps no one. If you’ve got to write an emotional climax, specify that you need to “craft a scene where the MC lays his soul bare to the love of his life and he needs to come across as vulnerable and hopeful.”
With the writing task laid out, you know exactly what you need to do, and can go about doing it. Anything vague is open-ended and gives you too much leeway to slip into procrastination mode instead of writing mode.
It’s also important that you physically write the task down. The reasons being that it gets at least one thing out of your overloaded mind and that you then have a reminder on your desk to glance at and keep you on track.
Use what you’re comfortable with, such as a notepad or a planner (which you can get for a bargain now we’re all socially isolating and no one has anything to plan). I recently started using a mini whiteboard to list my writing plan and then wipe it away like magic once it’s completed. It’s both satisfying and fun.
2. Create A Trigger
You might have heard other writers talk about a ritual that gets them writing. Some need a coffee, others to curate a playlist of songs to listen to while writing. It’s the trigger that gets them into writing mode, and if you don’t have one already, you need to find it.
For a while, mine was writing first thing, early morning. Slowly, that evolved into: get up, check Twitter for an hour, write for five minutes (and sometimes not at all). That early morning trigger was no longer working for me because I’d tainted it by convincing myself I could check social media before writing (all lies).
I needed a new trigger that let my brain know first-thing starts were for writing only. Obviously, the logical answer is to not look at my phone or to not go on social media, but one of the core reasons that I get up in the morning is because I’m part of the #6amAusWriters, and checking in on Twitter at 6am is kinda what we do. I needed to be disciplined enough to check-in and put my phone away (I seriously cannot be trusted otherwise) and to have a different trigger after that would put me in writing mode.
Remember those writers who like to use playlists? I am not one of them. I can’t listen to songs with words, or podcasts, or have the TV on in the background if I’m trying to write. That doesn’t mean I can’t put myself in a musical bubble. There is one instrumental song I can listen to called Hans by David Ummmo. If I put it on repeat and listen to it with headphones, it instantly triggers my writing mode.
Inside the bubble of soft, wordless music, I can write for as long as I need to, and that is the beauty of finding and having a writing mode trigger.
So, that’s what I’ve been doing to get myself writing during these strange times: being specific with a written goal, and using a trigger to snap me into the right frame of mind.
I hope that if you’re also stuck, these two simple ways can help you too. Just remember that once you’ve exited writer mode, to enter relaxation mode and give yourself the mental break to do it all again tomorrow.
— K.M. Allan
How about you? What gets you into writing mode? Share your tips in the comments!