The Best 6 Ways to Get Yourself into the Right Headspace for Writing
In my last blog, I put together some tips on how to stop yourself from getting distracted when writing. Getting distracted is, for most of us, the biggest threat to a good writing session. Yet, sometimes you sit down, you’ve made time, no one else is in the house and you still can’t get words on the page. We live in such busy times, it often seems impossible to leave all the tasks and problems behind and allow yourself to spend a little time away in your fictional world. This is why I wanted to write up a small guide to getting yourself in the right headspace, because once you’re in there, only an emergency can distract you. It is so much more fun to write when you are in a flow, and that only happens when you’re fully immersed in your world. Come and immerse yourself with me. Use your five senses to transport yourself there.
1) Visual Cues
If you have character art, put it up on your desk. If you have actors in mind you would cast as your characters, watch them for a few minutes (not more!) before you start writing. I also like to put on my salt lamp. This is a great visual cue that tells me I want to write now and it purifies the air, which is good for concentration.
Make sure you put some inspiring music on. My headphones are my best friend when it comes to writing. They’re a great way to close off the real world and to signal to your brain that you’re transitioning into writing mode. Especially if you find the right music for your scene, it not only helps transport you there, but it can help you notice things about the scene that you might not have thought about before. Sometimes, I find the music can even suggest lines of dialogue or character’s actions. Music is designed to tell you how to feel about a story, why not listen to it?
3) Follow Your Nose
Filling your room with a particular scent can do a similar job to music. While it might be less narrative in nature, smells are much more complex than any other sensory stimulus, so if you manage to associate your world with a particular smell, or even different places within that world with different smells, it can instantly put you in the headspace to write. Just like you might get nostalgic when you smell flowers that also used to grow in your grandma’s garden, picking a scented candle or using an aroma diffuser to conjure up your world can work wonders.
4) A Magic Potion
In terms of taste, it can be a bit more difficult. You might not want to be snacking constantly while you write, even though sugar supply to the brain can make us more productive. I would therefore suggest a drink instead of food to associate with your story. Keeping yourself hydrated is incredibly important, so having a special tea or fruit-infused water to sip while you’re writing really helps focus and can be done completely without added sugar. And of course, there’s always our old friend caffeine to help in times of need.
5) The Finishing Touch
Now, touch can be even more of an elusive helper. When you write, you’ll be touching your pen or, more likely, your keyboard, and that can feel very much like work. Now, before you cover your laptop in fur, I would suggest wearing something every writing session that you will then associate with the story. That can be anything from a thinking cap to a soft jumper you like to touch when you’re rereading a paragraph or a particular blanket you can run your fingers through. Otherwise, you can try taking a desk mascot along to your adventure. Just like any other cue that signals ‘I am writing now’, this can be encouraging and help your mind accept what you want to do next. You could even try to dress up as one of your characters or a character in the background watching what’s happening. How fun is that?
6) It’s All On the Page Already
The last thing I do to get myself into the headspace is to read what I wrote in the previous session, and that not only helps you to know where you are in the story but it should also conjure up the world for you. If it doesn’t, that might be something worth working on.
Do I Have To Do All That?
The short answer is no. The long answer is also no. These are ideas you can pick and choose from. The main takeaway should be that you can do lots of things to get yourself into your story. The biggest benefit from doing as many of these as possible, is that you’re less likely to get distracted if you’ve set up lots of different things to help yourself write. Who could get you up from your desk if you’re dressed as a pirate, epic music blasting, the room filled with sea air and your plush parrot sitting on the top of your screen?
One Last Tip
Most people will tell you to write every day. That can be very daunting, especially when you have to work so hard to get yourself into the headspace every time, so doing that every day and possibly only being able to write a paragraph or two can seem exhausting and inefficient. I don’t do that. I write just a sentence every day in my story. If I can think of more, I might write it down, but the goal is just one sentence without a proper writing session attached. Of course, I don’t get music, tea and candles ready for that. And it doesn’t have to be a good sentence either. If it’s bad, you’re not having to delete a lot of work. But it’s a great mental exercise to try and get into the headspace just for a few moments and see if you can’t get that one little sentence further in your story. Most importantly, it makes it so, so much easier to get into the headspace when you do want to sit down for a proper session. Say hello to your characters every day. Befriend them. Let them help you tell the story. Have fun writing it.