1. Stormsong07

    Stormsong07 Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2017
    Messages:
    683
    Likes Received:
    769
    Location:
    Texas

    What do you do to focus and start your writing day?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Stormsong07, Jan 11, 2019 at 3:49 PM.

    I've noticed I have a lot of trouble starting to write in the mornings. I sit down and pull up my novel and then I get distracted and A) mess around on this site for a while or B) get distracted by the news and go read articles for a bit or C) think about everything and anything that has nothing to do with my story.

    So tell me about your process. Do you ease into it? Do you just jump in and start writing? Do you swear by a tea/energy drink/food item/herbal remedy that helps you focus or improves your concentration?

    How do you pick up from where you left off and get into the zone?
     
    Stormburn, jannert and Foxxx like this.
  2. Wreybies

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    22,631
    Likes Received:
    17,159
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    As counterintuitive as it may sound, I try not to finish the day before with clear closure in the writing. Like, I know that if yesterday I satisfactorily finished off a chapter, I'm going to have a hard time finding where to start today. It's better if I leave yesterday's chapter unfinished because then I'm not starting cold, I have writing to finish off, for which I already have a good idea of where it's going to go, and that lead-in, that warmup, is what lets me continue on.
     
    EightyD, Stormburn, zoupskim and 4 others like this.
  3. Stormsong07

    Stormsong07 Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2017
    Messages:
    683
    Likes Received:
    769
    Location:
    Texas
    And therein lies my problem....I tend to finish chapters at the end of the day. Hmm....
     
    Stormburn and Shenanigator like this.
  4. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Not a Fucking Doormat Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2017
    Messages:
    3,785
    Likes Received:
    5,740
    This. Choreographer Twyla Tharp, who's written books on creativity and productivity, says you must always have something left in the tank at the end of the day. The analogy she used was, imagine if a choreographer went to the dance studio the next day and all the dancers had to stand around waiting for the choreographer to come up with an idea because there was nothing in the tank. All those people getting paid, and expensive studio time, for nothing.

    It's easier said than done because once you get on a roll it can be hard to stop, but when I remember to do it the writing goes so much better the next day.
     
  5. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2016
    Messages:
    1,765
    Likes Received:
    1,423
    Location:
    Michigan
    Well, I at least try to get into a good state of mind. Take a cold shower (with the exception that I've been taking hot showers recently because I'm sick), get dressed, have some food, go to a café and listen to some podcasts or music in my car on the way there. Get myself a nice, hot, black tea.

    Then sit down and usually proceed to do all the things you said you do, lol.

    Well actually, that's not quite true. I pull out my EVO planner and review how yesterday went, and what today's going to look like, which takes a little more than 20 minutes. It's also got some journaling practices in there, like writing what things you're grateful for and that sort of thing.

    *Then* I pull out my laptop and stare at the screen, procrastinate, etc.
     
  6. Stormsong07

    Stormsong07 Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2017
    Messages:
    683
    Likes Received:
    769
    Location:
    Texas
    Currently reviewing my notebook in the hopes of jump-starting my brain. Problem is, I wrote a VERY satisfying chapter ending when I last left off, and, though I know where my next scene should start, I'm hesitating. First, because it's one of the MAJOR scenes in my novel, second because after this major scene comes the major, MAJOR end battle scene.

    I need more coffee.
     
    Stormburn, Shenanigator and Foxxx like this.
  7. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Not a Fucking Doormat Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2017
    Messages:
    3,785
    Likes Received:
    5,740
    I would also add...Are you writing during the most productive time of day for you? I write best at night. My brain is more alert at night, it's quiet, and everything flows better for me. Technically I can write at any time of day, but my best stuff is always written at night, and it's so much easier. Not everyone has the luxury of working with their natural body clock, but if you can do it, it makes a hell of a difference.

    ETA: Reviewing the previous day's work is definitely a help. I always start by editing the previous day's stuff. Also, protein and coffee before writing. Protein is brain food.
     
    Stormburn and Stormsong07 like this.
  8. Night Herald

    Night Herald The Illustrated, Blind, Solid Silver Bitch Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 23, 2012
    Messages:
    584
    Likes Received:
    773
    Location:
    Norway
    Good question... I'm also easy distracted and slow to get started.

    I try it both ways, but more often I'll ease into it—or set the mood, if you prefer.

    This I do with music—I never write without it—generally calm and melodious stuff, either without vocals or subdued and non-intrusive ones; it can be any genre or style as long as it fits the feel I'm going for in whatever piece I'm writing. Sometimes I'll change to a totally different style of music for certain scenes, such as something wild or bombastic for action, but I try not do get too derailed by playlist micromanagement, I lose focus easily enough as is...

    And once in a blue moon I'll look at pictures beforehand—again, suitable for the piece I'm working on—to load up on cool and relevant imagery. I might even get out my sketchpad and do some quick doodles. I sometimes meditate before I get started, but that's something I do anyway, and when it lines up with a writing session it's coincidental more often than not.

    I tend to backtrack a bit if it's an ongoing project, to remember where I was at, but I'll get lost in editing if I'm not careful. For that reason I tend to re-read only those parts I know are polished to a respectable degree, this also to remind myself what sort of overall standard I expect of the finished story.

    I can't function in any capacity, let alone write anything worth a damn, without my caffeine. I'm sort of a junkie. I need it to focus. Then again it's easy to overdo it and get too jittery to sit still. I need to hit, and maintain, the spot where I'm focused and relaxed. That shit ain't easy.

    Traditionally, I've relied heavily on nicotine to get in the zone. I'm trying to slowly phase that out of my life, but it's still a struggle to write for any length of time without it, the cravings still get to me and steal my attention, but I am getting better.

    I'm not an outliner, very much a discovery writer, but I find that thinking ahead does help me push on with the story. It's good motivation to have an upcoming scene you just can't wait to get at, and I try not to write anything out of order (though sometimes I just can't help myself) other than just the most laconic of notes. I would be doing this anyway, it's part of my process, but its value as a carrot cannot be understated.

    So these are my rituals and habits. I sometimes do the thing where I break off in the middle of a scene or sentence (stopping mid-word is just bad form, if you ask me) so as to have that impetus to resume. Mostly, though, I'm compelled to leave a clean break, but when it works, it works.
     
    Stormburn and Stormsong07 like this.
  9. Maggie May

    Maggie May Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2018
    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    60
    Oh gosh, if I am something in my head that needs to get written down I have to do it. If I don't it escapes and then if I try to recapture it well it's just not the same. Everyone has different times where they are at their most creative. I do understand getting distracted by other things that need to get done. Been there and still doing that. I don't think you can pick one way to write, you must create your own habits or answer your own needs.
     
    Stormburn, tapioka and Stormsong07 like this.
  10. tapioka

    tapioka Member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2018
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    35
    I've noticed that, too. Or more precisely: I write more beautiful during the night, prose turns pretty when it's quiet. I suspect it has something to do with the fact that the day is reserved for the 'real' stuff in life: jobs, bills, insurances, phone calls, chores, money, car repairs, lists, calenders, appointments. All that seems far away when it's dark (which is also why I love fall and winter) and that most likely affects my brain, leaving more space for the unreal: dreams, imagination, vision, in short: the stuff that fuels authors. I definitely write much better after sunset.
     
  11. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    11,464
    Likes Received:
    12,533
    Location:
    Scotland
    I write best in the mornings. I mean EARLY. Like now. (04.13 hours) When I was still working I would get up at 4am-ish and start writing. I had to be at work at 8, so that gave me a few uninterrupted hours when nobody else was around or likely to phone or appear at the door—and nobody had yet spoken to me that day.

    However, at the end of that morning session I had to stop—like it or not—and get ready for work. Perhaps that had the effect @Wreybies noted, of never finishing a chapter at the end of a sitting, but always needing to start in the middle again next time. I never left the writing because I wanted to. I always left because circumstances forced me to. At the time that felt really frustrating, but thinking back, it might have been key. Leaving before I wanted to.

    I've not been anywhere near that productive since I retired.
     
  12. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    11,464
    Likes Received:
    12,533
    Location:
    Scotland
    For me it's before sunrise, but same general conditions. I also love the dark, where nobody is likely to pester me with 'stuff.'
     
  13. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2016
    Messages:
    2,124
    Likes Received:
    3,199
    I could never write in the morning; even at my day job, everyone knows not to ask me to do anything mentally taxing until around 10am. I usually write in the late afternoon and evening, maybe early afternoon if it's the weekend.

    Since I don't write every day, I spend a lot of time "preparing" by mentally visualizing scenes, especially if I know I'm going to have time to write later that day. That way when I sit down I'm more or less transcribing a video loop that's been running in my head on and off all day.
     
  14. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2016
    Messages:
    2,646
    Likes Received:
    1,782
    I'm a morning writer too like @jannert . I like to get up and write as early as I can. There's something about the early morning hours before most people are even up and there's nothing else on my schedule for a few hours. I didn't use to be a morning person. In fact I would have said the opposite. But when I started writing in the mornings, my writing seemed to get better and I got more done. But more than time of day I think having some sort of schedule or routine helps. I start me days writing so now it's just become part of how I start my days. I don't stare at a blank page or struggle to come up with things. I just write. Sometimes I write at different times, but for the most part I stick to my routine and I think it helps a lot. I like to write in long stretches sometimes so that's usually how I spend my Sundays. But it was when I started writing early in the morning and sticking with it that I came to realize I've got this.
     
  15. LadyErica

    LadyErica Member

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2018
    Messages:
    112
    Likes Received:
    157
    My system is quite simple. I grab a small cup of coffee, then look at some videos on youtube while drinking the coffee. After that, I pour myself a new, bigger cup, shut off the computer, and move on to the laptop. I don't have the wifi activated on it often, so I get rid of all the distractions. The first cup of coffee helps me wake up, and I relax with youtube videos from my favorite youtubers. When I'm ready to start writing, all I have is a big cup of coffee and the laptop. Then I just write.

    As for the "finish the chapter or not", that has never been an issue for me. I always write until I feel I'm done, and don't care if it's at the end of a chapter or not. There is always more to write, so coming back the next day is never really a problem. That said, I do think about the story a lot, so I usually always have an idea where to take it after I'm done writing for the day. To me, writing isn't just a job. It's a way of life. I always feel happy when I get to write. Some people don't understand how I can write for hours without getting tired, or write when i'm on vacation. But to me, writing is very relaxing and fun. I don't need a vacation from wrting. Writing is my vacation. :)
     
  16. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Not a Fucking Doormat Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2017
    Messages:
    3,785
    Likes Received:
    5,740
    I can so relate to this! It doesn't even matter if I go to bed early...My brain clock is perpetually set for 10AM. One year I tried altering my schedule to non-vampire hours and spent that year in an unproductive fog.

    My coffee schedule is similar to @LadyErica 's. First cup is to wake up, second cup is to start to work, or else while I'm drinking orange juice, which comes after coffee. That's when I do edits and "business" tasks.
     
    jannert and Some Guy like this.
  17. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    11,464
    Likes Received:
    12,533
    Location:
    Scotland
    I have a different routine, but I so relate to your second paragraph. Writing, for me, is fun and an escape ...not a chore! I was delighted to discover it. (I also thought it was an inexpensive pleasure pursuit—till I started doing research ...and buying bookcases to accomodate the research materials ...but that's another tale. :))
     
  18. Rosacrvx

    Rosacrvx Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2016
    Messages:
    486
    Likes Received:
    266
    Location:
    Lisbon, Portugal
    I read the last chapter/segment I wrote and edit everything that catches my eye. (But not trying to make it perfect.) That puts me in the zone of "I'm writing, I'm doing it, there's no stopping now". When I finish reading and tweaking I'm glad to start writing something new.
    Unlike mentioned above, sometimes I need to stop my writing session at the end of a chapter. So I can take a deep breath and focus on the next chapter between writing sessions. It works better for me that way.
     

Share This Page