Happy New Year! The New Year always brings with it new commitments and the best intentions. Despite those good intentions, it can still be difficult to jump into new routines, new good habits, or for that matter, resuming old ones. But that’s not always an issue just for the new year.
I can’t always jump into writing, even in the new year. Sometimes I have to do a couple of things to either set the mood or help me feel ready to write. I have images in my head of sipping my morning coffee while admiring the view from my writing shed overlooking a beautiful valley in the mountains. Afterwards, I sit at my vintage typewriter to begin pounding away at my next bestselling masterpiece. Then I wake from my daydream as I stand by my modern mini coffeemaker, looking out of my front window at the view of my neighbor’s dog pooping in my front yard…again.
Ok. So there is no beautiful mountainess backdrop, but I still love and appreciate the space that I have. Most days I look forward to creating within it. But some days are harder than others and I find that I just need to do a little extra to get in the mood. There are a few different ways that I go about doing so depending on the mood I’m in at the time.
Sweet Aroma Starting the week with a warm cup of coffee always does it for me, but this isn’t a daily practice (gotta watch that sugar intake. I get addicted). It’s the perfect boost for Monday mornings. I’m consciously making health changes because at my age its imperative to do so. I recently cut out having coffee everyday. Now, before the healthy food advocates bombard me with ways to enjoy my coffee daily and still maintain a healthy, balanced diet – STOP. I don’t drink it black. I won’t drink it black. And no amount of substitute is going to give me the taste or flavor I’m looking for. I like my coffee to taste the way it smells – rich, creamy, sweet and delicious. It needs a lot of flavor to do that. So, I’d rather just enjoy it the way I like it a little less often. It works for me. Besides, I make it at home myself. That way I can control the amount of added sugar which is 50% less than what my local coffee shop adds to it.
With that in mind, I love a nice warm cup, sweetened with a little Carmel syrup and toffee flavored cream. The sweet aroma mixed with that caffeinated boost wakes me up and gets me set to get to work. It’s one of the few things I actually look forward to about Mondays. Now, I’m not perfect, so there are some weeks I may indulge in a second cup later in the week. But most weeks, I limit myself to one cup and keep it moving. I have also switched to a standard coffee cup instead of using my favorite Wonder Woman mug or my Owl shaped mug (pictured above). This way I can control how much I add and take in by sight versus having to measure out amounts. My specialty mugs are too large and I will definitely overdo it.
The Infamous Survival Kit This is key for longer, more extensive projects. This is a useful tip I picked up from several writer’s blogs and workshops. I’m sure you’ve heard of it by now, and if not, this won’t be the last mention of it as some of you continue to explore and become acquainted with the habit of writing. I’ll also go into more detail in my upcoming post, My Survival Kit.
The survival kit is essential to your productivity as a writer. What goes into your kit is completely up to you. Basically, you want to make sure you have everything at your fingertips while you work. If you’re a muncher and need to crunch or chew something while you write, have your munchies within arms reach so there’s no need for you to waste time scouring the fridge or cabinets for anything. Trust me, I’m an expert on the art of wasting time (hmm, I should blog about that).
Other essentials for your kit could be pens, pencils, and notebooks. Whatever reference materials you use while you’re writing should also be close by so nothing distracts you from getting all your ideas on paper. The only thing that should pull you from your writing short of an emergency is having to take a bathroom or meal break (which some writers have found a way to make both of these less time consuming). Not me! If nothing else, I will always pause to eat. It’s just one of those things I kinda gotta do. Go figure.
On days when I’m feeling less focused, having my survival kit in order is essential for helping me stay (or get) on task.
Music Yes! I have learned that I can write to music. This is not a daily practice. But there are moments when hearing a certain collection of music sets the mood for a particular scene, character, or plot that I may be working on. Usually instrumental, I find that I’m particularly drawn to World music or New Age. Listening to music helps when I’ve had enough coffee and I just need a little pick-me-up to get me going, especially after lunch. If I’m working in a public place, I often listen to music to block out any distracting background noise.
Creating a writing playlist is key. Do this ahead of time so that when the mood strikes, all you have to do is plug in and play. Create one extensive playlist or consider creating different playlists for different moods.
Also, use different formats. I’m an Apple girl, so I have a playlist created in iTunes on my phone for when I’m on the go. And I have a different playlist saved in my Spotify account which I primarily access from the computer. Either way, I find it helpful, easy to access, and great for getting me through tough writing days. Out of curiosity, I’d love for you to share what’s in your playlist (if you have one).
In a nutshell, you may not always be able to jump right in and write. Sometimes a little push or inspiration is necessary. If getting started is a challenge for you, try some of these tips or share other things you’ve tried that have worked for you to get through your writing day. I would love some fresh ideas.