Family or Writing first? This post is as much a tool for myself - to get an overlook of what I need to do in order for me to come back into the groove - as much as it could be of some help for other writers out there, like yourself. It can always be good to take a step back and have a look at "how am I doing?" because in time one tend to get a little off track, distracted by, as an example, the Internet Of Things. What I have tried to write here is a help to get your writing going (if you lost it) or pushed even further if you already are going somewhat strong but could need a little push for that little extra. See it as tips and not a template as everything are different from writer to writer.
We have all been there, down the alley that holds nothing but locked doors and the key is nowhere to be found. You stumble around looking for it. We blame someone else for hiding it, having lost it. We blame outside forces for taking up all our time so we have non left for the creative art, like a “regular” job. It’s easy to blame someone or something else for one’s inability to sit down and write that next piece that haunts the mind around the clock.
In fact, the key to the locks are in your pocket, it has been all the time. All you have to do is reach for it. It’s as simple as that. Yet it can be difficult. The difficulty, as I see it, is: as soon as you reach for that key and unlock the doors you have no more excuses to not write. It’s now all on you – as it has always been – but this time around it’s definite.
Surly you can open the doors, have a peak inside and decide to lock them again and put the key back into your pocket and return to whatever else you might do with your life and feel your soul decaying with regret.
That should not be an option! I have done it, many times and I feel as bad every time I do it.
In the light of this I have decided to make this post, as a guide not just for myself but for others struggling with their writing process. I like to call it Writing Process as in my mind it includes so much more than just “how you write”; it’s the creative space, the mindset, time of day, consumables etcetera.
2. Different Writers – Different Setups
We all have different preferences. Some call them self night owls (myself included) but that does not mean I am the most creative at night. Certain writers like public spaces while others hide in the attic. Some booze them self while others are happy with just coffee. There is no right or wrong, just the perfect setup for your creative personal self.
The problem lies in finding this creative space, this perfect setup (if there’s even such a thing?). First you need to get the key from out of your pocket and unlock the door. Try this space out – rearrange the furniture’s, change the mood of the space with lightning and fabrics, experiment. You might think you love a certain way and that’s the way it has to be, but if you are like me – stuck – you might want to reconsider and try something new. New is always good as it brings opportunity to learn.
As I said earlier, I consider myself a night person but in fact I write the best in silence of the early mornings before sunrise, accompanied by a freshly brew of coffee. I discovered this by chance when I accidentally woke early and decided to get up, which is uncommon for me to do, the get up part.
If you are stuck I recommend you to make big changes. The worst thing that could happen is that you find new sides of yourself, and that’s not so bad.
Here’s a small list of things to consider:
- Time of day: a fresh mind might be helpful even if you are tired.
- The Workspace: A dedicated home office might be good. Some prefer the closest coffee shop, others the kitchen. We all have our preferences.
- Sounds: You like complete silence or some background noise? From the TV, a radio, music? Maybe people chattering away, a podcast?
- Consumables: Coffee, tea, alcohol, snacks, cigarettes? Nothing? A combination?
3. Loved Ones and Using the Space
This is a tough one. Creating the perfect home office for writing might seem like a hard nut to crack but in fact all you have to do is to dedicate a space, stuff some furniture’s, fabrics and lightning in it and you are pretty much set. Rearrange or replace if something does not work. Simple.
But to use the space for what it’s designed for. That’s a lot different. It’s easy to escape to the space and just sit there and think about writing, a means of escape from whatever haunts you in the outside world. That will certainly ruin your creative space and turn it into a nothing-room and you will once again be back at square one – a locked door.
Learn from my mistake: I used my creative space as an excuse to get away which ultimately lead to the destruction of my relationship with my now ex-girlfriend.
Every time you enter your newly creative space whether it is a home office, the kitchen or the coffee shop down the street, go there with the pure intention of writing and nothing else. Surly, one might have to access the kitchen outside of writing but you know what I mean, right? Be true to yourself about this. Everyone will thank you for it in the long run, most importantly you yourself.
This is important: Don’t get to selfish. If you have a family, a girlfriend/boyfriend, roommate – whatever. Include them in your process and the search for your ultimate creative space. They need to understand! I can not stress this enough. THEY NEED TO UNDERSTAND and you need them to understand, otherwise they will not be able to respect the privacy you might need and so they will turn into a distraction you will want to get away from. It will harm you and your loved ones.
So to conclude this section, here’s a few bullet points to consider:
- Actual space: create (or go to) your perfect space with the pure intent of writing. Otherwise – stay away!
- Get family in on the ride: make them understand and respect your writing space and process.
- Be determined: Do what you need in order write.
4. Creating Routines
For me personally this is one of the hardest things in life. I suck at creating and maintaining a solid healthy routines whether it is sleep, food, hygiene, cleaning and dishes or when I write. It’s basically a mess.
I sometimes promise myself to start being determined, to be disciplined in my writing and I end up planning away day by day and by the time I am done I am overwhelmed by the facts: there’s not enough time to make it by set deadline. I end up stressed about it and can’t focus on what’s important: writing. Hence, I fall behind even further.
To battle this I intend to make new and healthy routines and get back into a functioning something. It’s all good to write down all the different aspects of your life and find a pattern of how stuff works, what you need to change so you can reach the set goals and deadlines. But it only works if you stick to it. Which requires discipline and determination. Yes I know I am repeating myself but this is consciously done as this aspect of a functioning existence is key to make great progress with one’s writing.
Get rid of distractions as soon as possible for they will destroy you from the inside like cancer.
As part of battling this laziness – if you will – I try to get somewhat dressed up. It make you feel like as you are heading to work, putting your mind into a time-to-work-state instead of a lazy-day-in-the-couch. This particular action works well – at least for me – when I have a dedicated writing space to go to. But there’s so much more one can do: eat at regular times of the day; take breaks at set times; having a end-of-day time.
To go further. I am almost always distracted mentally by the mess I live in, with undone dishes, a pile of dirty cloths and a home in desperate need of cleaning. I’ve had other distractions like my chairman position at a theater, which I now have ended to give myself some more space for my own creative time. Social Media is also a big distraction. Mostly YouTube, where I can end up wasting hours until the day ends and I realize I have done nothing noteworthy and I go to bed with a mind filled with thoughts of all the things I should have done, need to do and disappointed in myself for letting this distraction take control over me once again and how it need to stop.
This part – creating routines and breaking bad habits – might possibly be the toughest part for a lot of writers out there. But there’s hope and it comes with determination and discipline.
And here are a few more bullet points to summarize this section:
- Dedicate time: a couple of hours a day throughout the week. Be resonable with deadlines. 2000 words a day might not seem so much but in reality, it can be overwhelming.
- New routines: Make a list of all the things you need to change in order to get the time and space needed. Stick to it through think and thin. Check them off as you get along.
- Clothing: to dress in something other than a jumpsuit as if you were to head to a meeting might help.
- Distractions: Just get rid of them!
5. Make shit happen
Everything’s fine so far. You have your space. New routines are taking shape. The family is with you all the way. Now it’s time to get down to business – make shit happen.
Easy? Yes it is, if WRITING is what you live for! Or maybe not so easy. It’s like with all lines of work. You have your days when you just want to stay home and do nothing. And those days can exist and might have to exist for the good days to be meaningful.
How could you be happy(or know that you are) if sadness did not exist?
But writing is an artform that requires nurture and lots of hard work, many hours of ripping the hair and gallons of coffee (or whatever you prefer to drink). If you respect it and treat it for what it is: a daily job, even if it’s beside another one and does not pay any bills (yet). And as with any job you need time off, a free weekend, vacation and leisure days and you have to take them, but not overdo them. Be resonable.
Another aspect of the Writing Process, which could easily be it’s own section, is the two-faced approach: rough drafting first or write and edit simultaneously? We are all different here. I mostly rough draft when writing but before each new writing session I read through the previous part I’ve written and while doing so end up changing a few things here and there before continuing. I find that working for me as it brings me up to speed, as I can sometimes forget details that might be important for the continuation.
What are you waiting for? Time to get bussy writing…
- Respect your own art: treat it well. Nurture it.
- Allow yourself Zero-days: a none writing leisure day.
- The approach: Editing while writing or Write first and edit later?