After starting my writing journey a year ago, I’ve found a couple of things that I do before I sit down to write every day that I believe help me to clear my mind, center myself, and just get into that groove that you need to feel.
A lot of this list is personal habits, confidence boosters and routine builders that may not apply to everyone. Also, you may develop your own version of this list, I even recommend it, as having your own personal method will only strengthen and add to your voice in your writing.
So without further ado, here’s five things I do before I start writing.
1. Write down your first thought when you wake up
In greek mythology, the goddess of sleep is sister to the goddess of death. Gloomy, right? Well here’s a positive spin: if going to sleep every night is like dying, then waking up is an act of rebirth.
The ideas in your head when you are fresh out of the bed, crust in your eyes, and body stiff with sleep, they are the ideas that are not only the freshest, but also the ones you have not had enough time to second guess yet.
Fear is the writing killer. Stephen King says as much in his memoir, On Writing – A must read for a beginning writer, even if you don’t plan on writing like or as much as Mr. King does. But fear is also a natural part of being human. So rather than turn myself into a crazed madman, rambling on incoherently and trying to convince people to go in on a time-share in Bermuda with me, I just try and write down a random thought every morning, no matter if it’s about a book or story or just life itself. You never know what you can use as a writer, so just write it down.
A starving artist is a romantic notion, but outside the shores of the River Seine it is a bit impractical and honestly not as fun. I try to get started as early as possible on my daily writing while my brain is still too sleepy to judge or second guess itself. I
f you have other things to do in the morning and can’t set aside one or two hours to just sit and write, I’d recommend doing it after lunch as opposed to dinner. Again, as early in the day, when you have energy and still some hope that the day can be a good one, get that writing done.
Why I think eating something prior to writing is important is because the writing process is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s important to nourish yourself, both mentally and physically, in preparation.
This is a personal thing, so believe me you can find your own thing or skip this entirely if you want. I’m just going to explain why getting 20-30 minutes of workout in before writing is helpful.
For one, it’s good to be healthy mentally and physically, as expressed in item 2. But more than that, exercising has a way of just adding some energy and urgency to what you’re doing that day.
So, we ate, we worked out. By all means, we have completed the preflight checklist for taking off. Not quite.
Myself personally, meditation is very important. I need to do it often, just to feel balanced in my emotions and thoughts. A lot of authors and writers historically have struggled with mental health and wellness, and even before starting my journey, this was true for me.
If there is any part of this list that you take to heart and not toss aside, I truly hope it is this one. Should it be last? No, because good writing (or at least good fiction) isn’t just peace and quiet. It’s conflict, it’s passion, it’s heat, it’s the fog of war. But before we get to that chaotic, melee of a mindscape, it’s good to take perspective and just step back and breath.
5. Find the most crazy, interesting, loud, chaotic place in the world and become a stone
Ok, so a lot of this list could work for anyone and any writing style but I’ll be honest, this is probably the part of the list that is most me. I’m not a guy that thinks well with silence or soothing lighting.
I love to sit and people watch, to write in the middle of a chaotic maelstrom of activity of which I will never be able to fully understand the context or meaning. I do the same thing when I read.
Maybe it’s my ADD-I’m distracted as it is, removing distractions completely only means I’ll have to invent or create my own. And not everything I do in my writing takes place at a rodeo. When I’m editing or outlining or just doing notes, I’m often sitting on my balcony or in my living room or a park bench.
But when I’m creating, I need that chaos, baby.
Well, I hole that some of this was helpful to you, and most importantly, by having an idea of what I do to get myself into the writing mode, you realize you can do it too. Any way you like, however much you want. Just start writing, bud.
You have stories in you, and I’d like to hear them.
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