1: don’t get distracted by your brothers watching movies in the next room. Not even if it’s Paddington. This, I stress, is the most essential. Try to block out distractions! They are the thieves of productivity! (obviously, you can’t get rid of some distractions. If you have smol children, please don’t leave them alone for long periods of time. They may wreck havoc throughout the rest of your home and then you’ll have a real distraction)
2: I’ve never been able to write with music going in the background (even instrumental tracks are too distracting for me). However, I do like some sort of background noise, and I’ve recently discovered noisli.com, which helps you create a combination of your own. When I’m not in the mood for a thunderstorm (which isn’t often 🙂 ) I particularly like a mixture of wind, rustling leaves, and a faint train in the distance. My favorite part about noisli is that you can control how loud each element is, so if you want loud ocean waves crashing nearby with just the faintest of birdsong in the background, you can do so.
3: I don’t know about you, but the surest way for me to kill any inspiration is to open a blank word document. I just stare at it for twenty minutes and get nothing done. Dredging up those first few sentences are like pulling teeth. However, one thing that I’ve learned about myself is that it’s always easier to begin writing if I start hand-writing first. I don’t know what it is about putting pencil or pen to paper, but it’s much easier for me if I start that way and then don’t move to the computer until later. When I get frustrated because my fingers simply won’t move fast enough to get down all of my ideas, then I know it’s time to make the switch to my laptop.
4: I read this one on tumblr and thought it was ridiculous, but I decided to try it and…it kind of works? I’ve always known that changing the font of your document helps during the rewriting and especially the editing stage, but writing that first draft in comic sans? Like I did during middle school? But somehow, when everything looks cringy anyway, it unlocks that self-conscious block that can prevent writing–even if it’s terrible–and allows me to move forward.
5: When I’m in the middle of a scene and I’m struggling with what happens next, I’ve been known to pace. Sometimes, as I walk back and forth, I act out the drama in my head. Or even literally act it out. It helps me set the tone of dialogue, and if I’m acting, what seems natural in the moment usually is. It helps especially in crafting arguments, I’ve noticed.
6. Sometimes–and this is more a school paper-writing habit than a fiction writing one–rewards work. When I get to five hundred words, I’ll have a Hershey’s kiss! One thousand words and I’ll go downstairs and get a snack! Yes, most of my rewards are food. And yes…it does take a bit of discipline to stick with it. But self-discipline is a Good Thing and this helps me practice it and helps me to get work done. (plus, I get food, so wins all around).
And, as always—
-pray ( a lot )
-drink ( a lot of ) water. Or coffee. Or tea.
-relax. You’ve got this.