11 Tips For Finding Your Writing Zone 

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As the great Dorothy Parker once said, “writing is the art of applying the ass to the seat”. If only it were so simple. Every writer knows the struggle of setting aside the time to write, sitting down at the computer, opening a new document in your word processor of choice… and then realising that four hours have gone by and you’ve done nothing but watch unboxing videos on YouTube and stalk your ex’s hot cousin on Instagram. Writing is hard. Getting into the right frame of mind for writing is hard. Staying on task and not being distracted by your own crippling fear of failure is hard. So, here are a few tips for getting into the writing zone, because you can’t just sit around waiting for inspiration to strike (trust me, I’ve tried).

Of course, the “writing zone” looks different for everyone. Some writers work best in the dead of night, churning out page after page in a writing frenzy as they chug energy drinks and cookie dough. Other writers like to wake up at the crack of dawn to take a contemplative walk, or write every afternoon come rain or shine, or spend hours mumbling to themselves in their characters’ voices. There’s no wrong way to write. But here are some tips for finding a way into your own, personal writing zone:

1. Create a ritual

You don’t have to sacrifice a lamb to the writing gods every time you sit down to write, but sometimes it helps to have a small ritual transition between normal-you and writer-you. Maybe you light a candle, or make yourself a cup of coffee. Maybe you start by writing out a description of your week so far, or you put on your favourite shade of lipstick, or you straighten up your desk. Try out a couple of different rituals if you need to, and find what gets you psyched up/chilled out enough to write.

2. Find your ideal time of day

Are you an early riser or a night owl? Try setting aside writing time first thing in the morning, in the mid-afternoon, and right before bed to see which works best for you. Then stick with that time as much as you can. Sometimes finding your writing zone is as simple as finding the right hour of the day to start writing.

3. Find your ideal writing environment

If you know that you write best in a coffee shop, find a local coffee shop and become a regular. If you write best at your own desk, make sure that it stays relatively neat. If you like to write from bed, then… just do that, I guess. And if you can’t force yourself to start writing alone, find a writer buddy so the two of you can sit there and suffer together.

4. Find your music

Some people can only write in dead silence, others like to write while blasting out Celtic rock. Whatever your musical tastes, find a reliable writing playlist for yourself. You could try listening to the radio, movie soundtracks, or even classical music if lyrics are going to be too much of a distraction. Even if you don’t like to write with music, having a pump up or chill out song to get you into the zone can help focus your energy on your manuscript instead of work/stress/the guy who’s currently ghosting you.

5. Go off the grid

Put your phone on airplane mode. Turn off your computer’s Wi-Fi. Tell your friends you’ll be out of reach for the afternoon. If you need to, download a self-control app that’ll shut you out of distracting websites. I promise that you’ll survive life off the grid, and you’ll find it much harder to procrastinate without the world wide web at your fingertips.

6. Get out of the house

Remember outside? The air moves out there. It’s pretty great. If you’ve been spending the whole day in bed, or staring at a screen, or lying motionless on the floor, you might want to try going for an old fashioned walk. Grab a notebook and walk to the park/beach, or even around the block. Go for a run if that’s your thing. Go buy yourself a new flavor of ice cream. If you’re really feeling ambitious, leave your phone at home. Just getting out of the house and moving your body might help you refocus and start thinking about how to start that next chapter.

7. Give yourself incentives

Unfortunately, we don’t always have unlimited time to stroll through the park or try out different writing spots. Many of us have to work at “jobs” to earn “money” for “rent.” So if you need a shortcut to get yourself writing, you can always bribe yourself with some kind of treat: if you write 500 words today, you get to take a bubble bath, or watch the next episode of your favourite show; 1,000 words, you treat yourself to lunch; 5,000 words, you buy that cute item of clothing/new bag/pair of shoes you saw. (Use this method sparingly, though, because it gets expensive fast!)

8. Get rid of excess energy

I am forever making other people nervous with my pacing, foot jiggling, and hand wringing. If you tend to have a lot of excess energy, try jumping jacks or yoga before you dive back into writing. Stretch. Breathe. Invest in a standing desk, or a fidget spinner, or silly putty, so that you’re not just sitting motionless as you try to come up with ideas. You’ll be surprised just how much easier it is to stay in that zone when you’re not bursting with restless energy.

9. Read

If you just aren’t in the mood to write, try reading. Get another author’s voice inside your head, and you’ll find it a lot easier to start putting words on paper yourself. Every writer needs books to fuel their weird writer brains. And while it can be hard to go from watching TV or talking with friends to writing the next Great Novel, going from reading to writing is the most natural transition in the world.

10. Be consistent

Stick with it. If you train yourself to write at the same time every day, or every other day, or even every week, chances are it’s going to get easier and easier to get into the zone. Make your writing time sacred. It’s not just free time that you’re using to write, it’s your daily allotment of writing time, and it must be respected. Write something during every session, even if it’s just a list of ideas.

11. Write your way into the zone

Don’t underestimate the power of a good free-write. Not in the right creative mood to revise your poetry chapbook? Too bad. Just start writing whichever words come to your brain, until some of those words start to take shape as ideas. Free yourself from the need to write “well,” and just write. Write like nobody’s reading. Don’t beat yourself up if you write for a solid hour and none of it is usable. Count it as a success, because you were able to start writing and keep writing, and that’s no mean feat.

Happy writing!

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Via: https://www.bustle.com/p/11-tips-for-finding-your-writing-zone

9 Bad Writing Habits You Should Break 

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If you are a writer, just like with anything, you have probably picked up some bad habits. These habits can be hard to break, and eliminating them all together can take anywhere between 72 hours to more than 21 days. Some long-lasting habits built up over time are even ingrained at our neural level, meaning they can even determine our behaviour or outlook on life.

But this is also the perfect reason to break a bad habit, so you can make room for more successful productive ones. Here are 9 such bad habits, which might be holding you back, and if so, you should try to break them:

1. Not sticking to the writing plan

Most of us are guilty of this one. Never rely on the whimsical character of your inspiration, it will not always be on tap to get you through. Sometimes you have to lock yourself in a room and force yourself to write.

The thing about plans is that if you can promise yourself to follow it without yielding to excuses, you might actually get some writing done. Here are three ways you can make yourself stick to your writing plan:

  • Make monthly, weekly and daily goals to control the process.
  • Decide how much time (minimum) you can commit to writing and stick to it.
  • Do not review a single sentence until you finish, even if you know there are some mistakes.

2. Giving in to procrastination and self-criticism

Procrastination and postponing your writing goals to fulfill other minor errands is another mistake. Often these can appear like writing – researching writing, blogging about writing, social media on writing – but none of this is actually writing.

Believe that you are good enough and you can do it. Turn off the internet, put your phone on silent and just write. I accept this is challenging, but once you get going it can also be very rewarding.

3. Over thinking your novel when you are not writing

We all tend to sit and think about our novels – inspiration might hit you at the oddest of times, when you are nowhere near your laptop/computer. However, unless you make notes – in a notebook, on your phone, on a scrap of paper – all that over thinking is just wasted. By the time you sit down it will be gone, or have changed shape. So try to introduce a better habit of carrying around a notebook (or similar) instead.

4. Writing without enough sleep

When your mind is already dried out, you shouldn’t expect anything special to come out. Sleep deprivation can result in chronic fatigue and even severe depression. When writing a book you should allow yourself from 7 to 9 hours of sleep each day.

5. Giving someone your unfinished book to read

This might sound like a good idea, but it isn’t. Feedback is great, you should get feedback, but only after you’ve finished your first draft completely. Otherwise you might end up completely changing the book, only to find it worked better before, or you have to change it again anyway.

6. Limiting yourself with one place for writing

Whilst I think it is a great idea to have somewhere that is solely for you and your writing to help you get into that space easier, limiting yourself to just that space may mean you have trouble writing anywhere else. It is good to be flexible, so that if you find yourself somewhere new you can still pen a few words without having a breakdown. It’s a useful writer skill to have.

7. Writing too many things at once

Even if you have several ideas for different novels, I recommend you keep a separate notebook or folder somewhere for these ideas, but don’t get too drawn into it without finishing what you are working on first. Dividing your attention between several story-lines can confuse you and make the process of finishing one of these books very hard.

8. Isolating yourself from family and friends

When you are writing a book, it can be very tempting to dive into it and ignore everybody. However, this is not always a good thing, as it can make you feel very lonely and isolated. We need our friends and family for support in those moments when we are not writing, so don’t lock yourself away – take the odd break and chat, laugh, get things off your chest. It will improve your writing time no end.

9. Not eating/drinking properly 

You’re in the zone. You don’t have time to eat. You snatch a quick fatty unhealthy snack and keep going. Does this sound like you? Me too! However, this can be counter productive because not fuelling yourself properly means your creative brain won’t be functioning to its highest capacity, and drinking enough water is also key for that process. Allow yourself a half hour break, eat something nutritious and make sure you have a big bottle of water to hand. Then let those creative juices flow!

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Based on: https://www.justpublishingadvice.com/nine-bad-writing-habits-that-you-should-break/

How To: Develop Good Writing Habits

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I have this idea, every once in a while, that I need to improve my habits. I need to drink more water, get more fresh air, walk the dog. I don’t even have a dog.

So you can imagine what happens when I read a blog or a book or a helpful message telling me I need to get up earlier to write first thing in the morning.

This is, they assure me, the path to all that is right and good. If you just get up earlier, you can gain a whole hour in your day. I hear, and I start nodding along.

Yes! Great idea, an hour earlier. I will just get up and start writing. Never mind that my brain has not yet switched on at that hour. Never mind that I cannot find three words to string together.

The quiet, the lack of interruption, the feeling that I am absorbing the secrets of the sleeping universe will make it all worthwhile. A bucket of coffee will help.

But while “more writing” gets a big thumbs-up from me, “less sleep” does not. Less sleep is on my list of Things That Lead to Certain Doom.

My best intentions – having shiny good habits, being an early bird, getting all the worms, etc – turn into burning the candle at both ends, and that much fire will turn your life into a disaster zone real quick.

That is not the habit for me.

It always takes me a few days to remember this.

I don’t have to write at the time someone else tells me I should. I can write at my own pace, at the times and places that work best for me.

I don’t have to do what someone else does. I don’t have to write as fast as someone else does. I don’t have to write as much as someone else does. I don’t have to write as often as someone else does.

A writing habit is a gift, but it can become a burden if you’re doing it in a way that doesn’t fit you.

You don’t need to follow someone else’s plan, and you don’t need to go big when you first jump in. You can start small and make it sustainable. You can learn about yourself as you go, and you can make new plans with what you learn.

Know Your Why

The reason you write might not be the same as mine, or as anyone else’s.

Are you writing to preserve memories? To process a trauma? To connect with others? To build a creative habit?

Your why can help you decide what your writing practice should look like, and will keep you motivated as you continue.

Start With Tiny

Once you know why you’re doing this, set a goal so small that you can hardly help but meet it. Starting small makes it easier to continue, and it makes you feel successful.

So: type one new sentence. Or open your journal to a clean sheet, and title the page. Or read the last paragraph you wrote, and add the next sentence. Goal complete. (But feel free to keep going.)

If you want to get up earlier, try ten minutes instead of an hour. If you want to start writing every day, try 100 words before you commit to 500.

Small matters. Small gets you started, and small adds up!

Reclaim Your Minutes

Instead of setting up a whole new daily routine, can you find a few minutes in your day that won’t be missed? Your (non-driving) commute, lunch hour, naptime? While waiting in the car?

Is there a time to think and plan – while you wash dishes, fold laundry, drive, shower?

Repurposing the minutes you have will get you going, and help you figure out what you need to continue.

Adjust As You Go

Maybe you’ll learn that early morning is not your best writing time. (Ahem.) Maybe you’ll discover that you love journaling on a park bench while your kids swing. Maybe you’ll find that you need quiet alone time to get the words flowing.

It’s okay to make adjustments. It’s okay to try something different. It’s okay if the thing you try doesn’t work out. You can make changes, you can try again.

Your writing habit is a gift to you. It doesn’t need to measure up to someone else’s ideal.

I don’t want to get up before the sun. You don’t have to stay up until after midnight. (Although I might.) You can do what works for you.

Start small. Make adjustments. And let this gift be your own.

Via: http://thegiftofwriting.com/2015/02/develop-writing-practice/

Writing: Setting Good Creative Habits

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It’s all well and good thinking about creative writing and knowing you’ll feel better if you sit down and do it, but sometimes you need a little push in the right direction to form good creative habits. The tips discussed in the following Go Creative! broadcast are simple to follow and easy to master. Click the link to find out how…

Via http://selfpublishingadvice.org/writing-setting-good-creative-habits-from-orna-rosss-go-creative-show/