The Writing Mindset & Getting There

What do you do to get yourself in the writing mindset?

You know what I mean, right?  Surely I’m not the only one who occasionally (snort) needs to sit down, take a deep breath, put the blinders on, and focus.

We’ve all been there.


I need to write!
I have so much to get done!
I have a deadline (self-imposed or not) to meet!
This story won’t leave me alone and I need to get it out on paper!
I’m almost to the end!
I know exactly what’s going to happen next!
I need to plow through this tough spot!

and then…

The laundry needs to be folded.
The bills have to get paid today.
Has anyone fed the dog yet today?
That picture on the wall looks crooked.  Is it crooked?  I can’t tell.  It looks crooked.
Wow, those windows need to be cleaned.
Ooooo…. haven’t checked Facebook in at least… ten minutes.
Someone just texted me; better check it in case it’s an emergency.
Yikes, my floor could really use a good mopping.
My ______________ [insert Netflix show here] binge-a-thon is calling me.
I’m starving.
I’m dying of thirst.
It’s freezing in here.
The heat is killing me today.

Et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseum.

Anyone else?

So what do you do about it?  How do you push all that mental noise aside and concentrate on the writing?

Do you have any habits that help you settle into the “zone” and write?

I have a few.

First, I mentally map out my day – very loosely, since there are so many variables that can throw a wrench in the plan – and determine when I’m going to write.  This happens to almost always be during “quiet time,” which happens shortly after lunch in our house.  I can usually count on a solid couple of hours.  I also try to fit in a little more time either in the morning or the evening, when the kids are playing; but due to the high need for supervision of the two youngest, this time gets a lower level of concentration.

Then I think about what all my possible distractions might be.  What’s the temperature like?  Do I need to open a window?  Get a blanket?  Turn on a fan?  Are there websites I’m going to be tempted to check?  Close that internet browser so it’s less of a temptation.  Put Scrivener on full screen for even more help in that area.  NO TV, unless it’s something mindless that I’ve seen a million times and will function solely as background noise.  Get both hot tea (or coffee) and ice water, and some gum or mints.  Eat before my designated writing time.

Then I get as comfortable as I can, since my creative juices seem to flow better.  Usually that means yoga pants instead of jeans, and a lounge sweater (I’m almost always cold and not hot).  Where will I be most comfortable sitting?  This doesn’t mean lounging; I don’t want to get distracted by the desire to take a nap – but I need to find the mix between just comfortable enough to not need to stand and stretch every ten minutes, and not TOO comfortable.  Turn on some good writing music, or aforementioned mundane TV show/movie.

I know quite a few writers who prefer to always work in the same place; this doesn’t work for me, but I do have only a handful of places that I will sit to work.  My two favorites are my two desks, one in the basement and one in the loft.  The basement desk proves more difficult during the day, because JD is usually working at the computer (at the other desk) for his school work, and being down there requires me to bring the Bugs along.  As you might guess, 2 three year olds are far from quiet, which doesn’t make for an environment conducive to study when one already has trouble concentrating.  So for the sake of my eldest, I avoid using the downstairs desk when he’s busy with his own work.  The loft office is sorely in need of reorganizing, which isn’t the best when I’m trying not to think about other tasks that need done.  IF the bed is made, I might sit there, since I can spread out papers and my second computer if need be.  As long as it’s tidy, I don’t get tempted to lie down and nap.  I also sit on the couch in the main living room, with my computer(s) on TV trays.  Depending on my mood and what happens to be distracting me that day, I might move from one place to another until I find where I can best focus.

Probably sounds weird, but I have to do what works!

So how do you get yourself into writing mode?  Are any of your habits ones that sound weird?  Sometimes those are the most effective!


2 comments for “The Writing Mindset & Getting There

  1. March 21, 2015 at 8:25 am

    Great points! These are definitely all things I’ve run into when trying to write. My trick of getting into the writing mode is make sure I have a deadline, done a bit of yoga, and organized my studio before I get started. I don’t like clutter or a messy area so I can write comfortably. If I DON’T stick to this way, and say, sit on the couch, then I’m lost. I never get things done. It takes a huge amount of willpower to get off the couch and come into my writing space. So hard after a long day at work.

    • March 21, 2015 at 3:41 pm

      I completely hear you on that!! Sounds like a good routine to be in :-).

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