That Elusive Writing Zone

car-44383_1280Hey all! I’ve been meaning to get a post up for a few days now, but I’ve been trying to get back into the swing of everything. The holidays wore me down more than I had anticipated, but it feels like I’m getting back into a rhythm now and I’m really glad for that. I don’t like when I’m struggling with writing.

There’s about a week left for January’s suggestions/voting over on my Patreon. While you have to be a Patron to put in suggestions for the fanfiction, anyone can leave suggestions for writing posts! So check it out!

This post came about when a friend and I were discussing the differences between how the two of us function as writers. We’re very different in our methods of keeping focus. She requires fullscreen and music that has little to no understandable lyrics. I’ll get into my methods in a bit.

But it got me to thinking – how does one get into that ‘writing zone’? So keep in mind, these are things that have worked for me. Maybe my ideas will help you – maybe my ideas will tell you what not to do. Who knows. But here they are.

****I’m going to put a disclaimer out there that I struggle with focus daily and that colors how I handle getting into the zone with writing.****

I allow myself distractions

It seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? I know that some writers use programs that go fullscreen or turn off their internet or any other variety of rather extreme things. I’ve tried them. They don’t work for me. If it’s fullscreen, I’ll just alt-tab out and check the thing I wanted to check anyway. If it starts punishing me by playing loud noises because I’m browsing the net instead of writing, I mute my computer.

Allowing myself the distraction means I can go look at it quickly and then go back to what I’m working on. If I don’t do that, the thing I want to look at will bother me to the point that it hinders my work. I’ll be able to continue as normal after ignoring something for a little bit, but slowly it’ll start to consume my thoughts and then I won’t be writing anymore.

For me, allowing momentary distractions is important.

productivity sprints

This is the big one for me. There is something incredibly daunting about a four hour stretch of time that I need to fill with my writing. Where do I start? What project do I do? How am I going to fill this time? What if something distracts me? I’m not going to be able to do this…

The obvious answer is just start writing. But I get intimidated by the amount of time and just don’t write. It’s frustrating to an extreme.

So I often do concentrated sprints. My most productive times are a half hour to an hour, I can easily crank out 2000 words in an hour if I’m really feeling a scene. A half hour to an hour isn’t too long, but it’s long enough to get significant work done. If I have to ignore distractions, a half hour to an hour isn’t that bad for enduring.

That dedicated writing time really helps me.

keeping things positive

One of the things that has always bothered me about some of the more extreme writing focus programs out there is that they punish you if you get distracted too long. I understand why they do it, it’s to deter you from going and looking at other things.

But I’d rather keep my experiences positive. That’s why I like working with a buddy – we’ll cheer each other on and compete playfully with each other. I don’t want to be made to feel bad by a program just because I needed to go and change a song on my playlist to one that better suited the scene.

I don’t want punishment from programs make me dread starting up my writing for the day. While my writing is work, I want to enjoy what I’m doing. I love writing and I want it to stay that way.

music makes the words flow

I know I’m in the minority on this one. I know a lot of people can’t listen to music that has understandable lyrics because it distracts them. Maybe this stems from the fact that I’m not actually that good at remembering lyrics, but I can listen to just about anything while I’m writing so long as it suits the scene.

When the music does not suit the scene, my writing comes to a screeching halt. I’ve stopped my writing abruptly to put new playlists together so I had music that better suited the characters I was working with at the time.

My advice would be find the music that helps you write. Find music that suits the mood you want to convey through your scene. See if that helps you feel the scene more. It usually works wonders for me.

this is getting long…

I’m going to try and wrap this up before it becomes a novel. What I’ve talked about above are all aspects of how I get into my writing zone, but I haven’t talked about what I consider to be the most important. Excitement and enjoyment. One of the surefire ways for me to dive headfirst into a scene is if I’ve been excited about writing it. Maybe it’s the scene that inspired the whole novel, or maybe it’s just one that is particularly fun – it doesn’t matter. If I’m excited, I’m writing faster.

Enjoyment though…this is a bit harder to define. There are a lot of scenes that I enjoy that were difficult to write. But usually, if I’m enjoying myself while I’m writing, the words are coming easier.

When I’m in the zone, I’m a machine for writing. I can crank out thousands of words in a day. I haven’t tested how many words I can really do in a day, but we’ll just go with ‘high’ and ‘a lot’.

Like most things dealing with writing, though, your zone is defined by you. You have to figure out what works for you. Hopefully what works for me helps you a little bit! What are some of your tips for getting in the zone?

Happy writing!
~LL

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2 thoughts on “That Elusive Writing Zone

  1. This is a great list, and I can relate to so many of your points, particularly the one about needing positivity to keep going. I remember trying to use those punishment apps and…yikes. I don’t think I lasted long with any of those. One thing I really like to get me in the writing zone is to get out of my house and into a coffee shop or something. Seeing other people working makes me want to do my work, and I hate feeling like I put on pants and left the house for nothing. Plus, the more I write, the more little treats I allow myself, so it really is a positive experience. 🙂

    • I’ve used the little treats method before too! I like it as well. Though I often get so caught up in what I’m doing I forget that I should be rewarding myself with the treats. Coffee shops and libraries are great places to write, I’ve gotten a lot of work done at them in the past. Sometimes you just need a change of scenery as well!

      Thanks for the comment ^_^

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