Okay, before I share these tips, lemme just say that some of this might not resonate with you. Totally okay! Take what’s useful and leave the rest. Everybody’s brain is different.
If at all possible, go somewhere no one needs anything from you.
Trust me, I know how hard that is (I have 2 toddlers & 3 dogs, going to the bathroom alone is a luxury). But my partner understands how important alone time is for my creativity. It was actually his idea that I spend a night in a hotel so I could think someplace free from the demands of children (fur and furless). Thank you Matt! World’s. Best. Husband.
Of course you don’t *have* to go to a hotel if you live alone or are otherwise able to lock yourself in a room, but if at all possible, I recommend attempting this feat in a new environment. For example, write on the back porch if you normally use your home office.
You are trying to do something you have (presumably) never done before, being someplace new could be part of the magic formula. I’m a huge believer in routine (I write around the same time each day) but in this case, mixing it up made me extra productive. Possibly because I knew they would kick me out of the hotel eventually, but more on that later.
Outline or plan your writing session. By nature, I am a pantser (writer who flies by the seat of their pants) but I know if I really want to make the most of a writing session I MUST at least have a rough idea of what I want to write.
Yes, I know it’s boring to outline. I am 100% the author who loves dreaming up complex characters and then tossing them into a challenging situation to see how they escape. BUT when I really want to write fast, I start thinking about what I want to write at least 2 hours in advance. Brainstorming (aka staring off into space) is part of the process.
The day I wrote 10k, I thought about my characters and what I wanted them to learn from their journey while I was driving to the hotel (about 2 hours bc traffic was terrible) so that by the time I actually sat down to write, the words just poured out of me.
Doing something that makes it physically impossible to write is one of my hacks for overcoming writer’s block and it works here, too. So go for a drive, take a long bath, do something where all you can do is plan so that when it comes time to start typing, your brain is already primed and ready.
Because seriously, what’s worse than finally having the time to write and then being unable to think of anything? Not outlining, that’s for sure.
Stretch those fingers and get ready for some writing sprints! I let my author friends know when I need some peer pressure to keep me accountable and WOW it is so unbelievably helpful. You may be wondering, what exactly writing sprints are.
Basically, a couple of us will check in on a zoom call or DMs (follow me on Twitter and Instagram @PavlovsBooks to be notified when I sprint) and then we pause the conversation for 20 minutes and all agree to ZERO distractions. I literally plug my phone in across the room.
After the 20 minutes are up, we all discuss how we did. My dear friend Bethany Baptiste happened to be hosting a writing sprint on zoom the same evening of my hotel trip so that worked out perfectly.
Writing can be a very solitary endeavor but as an extrovert, it really helps me to make it more social. Even if you are more introverted, I recommend trying it. You may be surprised by how inspiring it is to know somebody, somewhere is writing at the exact same time as you. (At least it keeps me from playing way too many games of Dordle or idly scrolling Insta).
Don’t forget to fuel up! I made sure to have lots of my preferred beverages handy (water & coffee!). I reached the hotel in early evening and ordered my favorite dinner (Thai) including a dessert that helped fuel my late night writing.
I don’t necessarily recommend being an insomniac, but I do think it would be unfair of me to pretend I go to bed early. I will write another blog post soon on identifying when you are the most creative, but for me it’s between 10pm-3am so when possible, I take advantage of that and stay up late.
Funny how people who wake up early to do something are viewed as virtuous but people who stay up late are often as seen as having a lack of self-control. My daily life doesn’t often permit me to stay up quite so late, but when the opportunity presents itself I take it.
Especially if the writing isn’t flowing, consider switching your location. I had no choice but to check out of the hotel, ha, but I do think moving to a coffee house gave me a boost. Not only was the caffeine crucial, but writing in the same space where other people are being productive helped me focus.
If a coffee shop is too loud, or if you’re worried about being constantly interrupted, consider wearing headphones. Though sometimes I’m in the mood to catch bits of conversation (really helps with writing dialogue) usually I find zoning in by blocking out distractions keeps me focused and more productive. And I’m not tempted to talk to anyone near me if I’m wearing headphones (and vice versa).
Well, that’s all folks! Y’all let me know if you enjoyed this blog and I’ll keep writing more like them. If there’s a specific topic you want me to tackle, comment below or send me an email through the contact page.