We’re all busy and lead crazy, hectic lives. Kids, work, volunteer opportunities, pets, more work, housework, friends, blogging, and whew! Life makes us crazy, tired and scattered brained. We don’t always have hours to spend on our writing, waiting for our muse.
But what if you’ve actually found a few minutes in your busy day? You’ve managed to resist the temptation to watch bad reality TV and veg on the couch. So you slide onto your desk chair, flick on your computer, open your work in progress and stare at it while a million things that you need to do rip through your thoughts like crazed hamsters. Your email and internet icon hover enticingly at the edge of your screen, saying “Click me. Click me. You know you want to.” Before you know it, your time has vanished and your muse never showed.
This happens to me all the time. I like to think I’m doing a good thing by sitting at my desk, but I can still find my brain distracted by a gazillion things and end up wasting the precious little time I have. So, if we’re on a time crunch, how do we calm our brains and set ourselves up for the best possible writing session? Here are five tricks that help me get into the zone quickly.
1. Keep a pad of paper by your side. When your stray thoughts pop into your head screaming for attention, write them down. Usually the thoughts involve things that we need to do. So make a To-Do list. The act of writing them down quells the urge to do whatever-it-is immediately, and you can get back to writing.
2. Start your writing session with ‘free writing’. This is where you write anything that flows through your mind. I usually start by bitching about whatever is on my mind and then moving into a list of what I need to do, then it ends up being a list of fears about my story, which in turn leads to writing my story. This whole process takes less than five minutes. I find it a great way to calm my mind and let my muse in.
3. Meditate. You don’t have to go completely zen, sitting in lotus pose and saying Ohmmmm. Instead close your eyes and forcibly clear your mind by concentrating on your breathing. Just deep breaths, in and out. In only a couple of minutes, you can calm your thoughts, focus on your story, and find your muse. Or perhaps have a great 30 minute nap.
4. Time your writing. I am always trying to limit my social media time. I set my most annoying timer for 15 minutes and then let myself loose on twitter, blogs, etc… Inevitably, at the 15 minute mark, I shut off the annoying horn blasting from my phone and decide to just read one last blog. 30 minutes later, I’ve wasted my writing time. Now, I time my writing. I tell myself I only have to write for 15 minutes and then I can play on social media. And wouldn’t you know it? I usually run over my time because I’m in such a flow.
5. Keep your Writing Space a Sanctuary. Everyone needs a writing space, but most especially if you have a hectic household. If you try to write in the middle of chaos, where people feel they can interrupt you, (especially if they’re little people under four feet tall) then your muse will never visit you. If you are able to keep your writing space only for writing, then just the act of sitting down to write will sooth some of life’s craziness from you. (And if you regularly sit down to write, then your muse will be waiting for you, tapping her foot and saying, ‘let’s get this show on the road!’ But that might be another post.)
I hope these tips help. Have I missed any? What do you do when life’s craziness doesn’t let you get into a decent writing zone?