Note for long-time readers of my blog: I am starting a new series on writing, writing tips, and book reviews that I will try to post each Monday. New Year = New Goals. Stay tuned!
Sometimes getting started is the hardest part of writing. Here are a few tips that may make it easier for you to achieve your writing goals.
1. Start the writing day with a treat.
When I sit down to write, I try to have a full cup of coffee, tea, or sparkling water ready to go. Generally I will drink the coffee black. I will add a splash of Key Lime juice to the tea or water. (If you are only familiar with the taste of regular limes, try Key Lime. It’s a game changer in terms of flavor.)
Not only is it important to stay hydrated, but this is also a low calorie treat. Since writing is basically a sedentary activity, you won’t be burning a lot of calories at your desk. But it’s still important to choose a beverage that you enjoy.
I don’t like eating when I’m at my keyboard. (Too many crumbs!) I also find that the physical act of eating takes my attention away from my project. However, I can sip some of my favorite beverage and jump right back on track.
2. Create a specific playlist for each project.
For me, music is a way to slip into “writing mode.” I don’t always listen to music when I’m working, but when I’m writing fiction it helps my productivity. Music evokes a mood. The type of music really depends upon the listener. Whatever music encourages you to feel sad, happy, frightened, tense, or euphoric can help you translate those feelings onto the page.
As a bonus tip—if you are writing a series, save a playlist starting with book one. When you begin writing the second book, listen to that playlist to help you get into the mood of the series. Then add or delete tracts as you progress with the new novel.
3. Power down before you begin writing.
Writing takes concentration. Modern devices—as helpful as they are—work at drawing our concentration away from our tasks. Those little “bings” from our smart phones or “message alerts” on our screens pull our attention away from the task at hand.
Set your phone to the “do not disturb” mode to filter out these distractions. You can program in important numbers (parents, spouse, children, etc.) into the “always alert” setting so that you have peace of mind. In addition, include the “alert if call twice” setting. The call might not be from a number that you have listed on your VIP list, but generally people will call more than once in an emergency.
4. Read before you write.
In order to distance yourself from your day-to-day activities, try reading for a few minutes before you begin writing. Immerse yourself in a fictional world. Stimulate your imagination with the written word.
When I do this, I make sure to that I am re-reading a book I enjoy. I never want to start a new book and get so wrapped up in the story that I spend the entire time reading! I also read a book from a different genre and point of view than my work-in-progress. I don’t want my own authorial voice to mix up with the author I’m reading.
So if I’m writing first person, present tense, YA dystopian fiction, like my novel Starter Zone, I will read a third person, past tense, Regency romance. The styles are very different and there is little chance that the other author’s narrative voice will creep into my own writing. But the simple act of reading helps my creativity start to flow.
I hope these tips help you along your own writing journey! If you have any tips of your own, please share them in the comments below.
Starter Zone, the first book of my new YA/LitRPG series, The Revelation Chronicles, is now available in print, e-book, and on Audible.
When hydrologists inscribe the consciousness of a human mind onto a single drop of water, a Revelation sweeps the land. The wealthy race to upload their minds into self-contained virtual realities nicknamed Aquariums. In these containers people achieve every hope, dream, and desire. But governments wage war for control of the technology. Terrorist attacks cause massive destruction. The Aquariums fail. Inscribed human minds leech into the water cycle, wreaking havoc.
Street gangs rule the cities in the three years since the fall of civilization. Sixteen-year-old Cami and her younger sister Alby struggle to survive. Every drop of untreated water puts their lives in peril. Caught and imprisoned by soldiers who plan to sell them into slavery, Cami will do anything to escape and rescue her sister. Even if it means leaving the real word for a life in the realms, a new game-like reality created by the hydrologists for the chosen few.
But life in the realms isn’t as simple as it seems. Magic, combat, gear scores, quests, and dungeons are all puzzles to be solved as the sisters navigate their new surroundings. And they encounter more dangerous enemies than any they faced in the real world.
Time to play the game.