So you have a great writing room. But is having physical writing space enough to get your mind to focus? Even after I’ve parsed out this space for myself, settling down to write can be an uphill battle.
Physical space sometimes isn’t enough: you need to foster mental space as well.
A lot of us work best under pressure. It’s a product of procrastination—that burst of energy that takes over and powers you through is a tantalizing writing high. Once you’ve tasted that energy, it can be hard to work outside those sweetly pressurized circumstances. But, ultimately, it’s an unreliable habit to get into, and no way to build a sustainable writing career.
So how do you train yourself out of it?
I started small: timed writing. Short, sweet. Mostly painless.
Block out writing time: start with short five-minute bursts, growing eventually to twenty-minute segments. Now you’re officially on the clock! You have a deadline. Not of words or pages, but of commitment and focus. Once I got used to that, I built up to three twenty-minute segments one after the other. These segments are just long enough for me to really dig into a thought and just short enough to allow me to resurface for a stretch and a sip of coffee before diving back in.
It’s training yourself for that valuable “butt-in-seat” time.
Need something tangible to mark your timed segments?
Using your sense of hearing is an effective way to focus your mindset and immerse yourself in your goal.
I am not ashamed to admit all the crutches I need to get myself writing!
I use MyNoise.net to give myself the mental seclusion necessary to write. MyNoise.net is a free online noise-generator of background-noise-cancelling, atmosphere-building noises. This is a great resource—much more targeted than playing that ten-hour looping soundtrack of rain on YouTube that inevitably leads you down a spiraling cat-video rabbit hole.
The noises are perfect for blocking out background distractions, leaving only you, your page, and your work. Adjust the frequencies of your noise to make it perfect for you.
You can even take it a step further and aurally build your fictional world. Layer the noises to construct the scene you’re working on; put yourself directly within that environment. If you don’t happen to be writing in a café, the Café Restaurant will make you feel like you are. Add the RPG Battlefield noise to put it under attack! Get creative. Combine multiple noises to use as a writing prompt. What story might unfold from a combination of Babble Noise, Aural Scan, and Underwater?
Timed writing has never flowed so steadily for me as when I’m using MyNoise.net. Check out the vast array of noises, and make sure to check out the timer function to add that resource to your writer’s tool belt.
So armed, go forth and write!
Written by Emily E.A. Stringer
All photos courtesy of StockSnap.io