One of the hardest parts of being a writer is finding the right mindset to actually get the writing done. You hear all these great anecdotes about “put your butt in the seat”, but for those who haven’t been there in your shoes, it’s easier said than done. So, over the years I have come up with several ways to get my head in the right place that I am sure other writers do as well, but just in case, I will share them here with you…
Number one best advice – Live in your world. It’s not hard to do if you’re writing modern day fiction, but if you’re like me and you write historicals, it’s a little more difficult to do, but not impossible. The easiest way to start this process is with music. I have iTunes playlists and Pandora channels specifically suited to feed into my world environment. With my iTunes, I even have specific mood categories within my selections so if I’m writing about a ball I will play music that was commonly played at such an event. If I’m writing about a dramatic scene, I listen to appropriate music to fit that scene. Think of it as your book’s soundtrack. Some authors even collect these bits and pieces of music and offer them as accompanying playlists to their readers to give the full effect. It is a wonderful sensory addition (and addiction). To go one step further, you can have background sounds that help as well. A lot of my scenes take place inside of carriages since I write in the Regency period and I actually found recordings online of sounds inside a carriage while in motion. Put this on a loop and I may as well be sitting next to my character on the bench. Be creative with the sound around you when you are writing and you will see that it helps a lot.
The second bit of advice is to change your scenery. Not everyone is able to do this, but again, sensory is everything when you need to find that perfect space in your mind. You can be literal about changing your scenery and try writing in different locations. You’ll have your typical coffee shop or library writers, but you can also put yourself in the scene by taking your laptop to a local park or museum. Lounge in a field of flowers or surround yourself with works of art. For me, I am lucky in that I live in a cottage that is similar to what would have been lived in by my characters, open hearth fireplace and all, so it’s sometimes easy for me to put myself there, but I have also gone as far as furnishing my room with an antique spinet desk fitted out with quills and old books. It has an antique boudoir chair and footstool and sometimes I feel like I could be Jane Austen herself. If you can’t go that far, you can always decorate your home writing space with trinkets and photos of things that pertain to your story. I even have a picture of a beautiful manor house as my laptop background so as soon as I light it up, it’s there and so am I. My mind focuses on that picture and I’m ready to go.
Of course, nothing helps focus a writer better than peace. Rule one is always to find a place away from real distractions. If you live with family or friends, set rules with them to allow you to have peace and space. If that means you close your door for certain periods of the day, they have to realize there is a purpose behind it. If that means turning off your phone or not answering emails for certain times, people will understand.
Putting your butt in the chair is easy enough to say, but unless your head is in the game you’ll be sitting there for a long, long time getting very little done.