I’m not going to pretend all writers write the same way. We’ve all heard stories of different famous authors doing crazy things to get into their writing groove (i.e., writing in one’s underwear, only writing lying down, etc.). For me personally, the following ingredients tend to make a writing session successful more often than not. I try to cycle through these whenever I write—whether my project is a novel, short story, article or poem—and try to obtain the best outcome possible, which of course is a complete and polished piece.
As the title suggests, this approach is non-linear. For any given writing session, I may have a different combination of any of these factors. Sometimes I might have just one. Others, four or five.
Now the interesting part for you—since I can’t control your writing factors, I am offering this list of my non-linear influences in the hopes that doing so will spark a new inspiration in you. Alternatively, we may share a good number of these and we can geek out together.
At any rate, what follows is a fluid approach to what helps me have a good writing session. Feel free to borrow/rearrange/experiment with these however you wish.
Get in the “bubble”
There are numerous ways to create the bubble. This is the state of being alone—at least alone enough to write without distraction. Methods include writing with door shut or putting a sign up to let others know you are in the zone; they also include putting on headphones and cranking the volume until other people can hear it, taking one’s writing utensils to a newplace—like a café or the woods—or simply employing one’s power to ignore everything and everyone.
That last one takes a lot of practice. It may or may not require incredible zen abilities or use of resting “angry face.”
Make a cup of tea
Black teas help me write in the morning, chai teas help in the afternoon and herbal teas help in the evening (although it’s not uncommon to find me sipping a mug of green chai after dinner). If possible, I recommend the longest-lasting method of serving oneself tea: the almighty teapot. I highly recommend this to any writing/tea enthusiasts.
I have oft wondered why tea helps me write. Is it the brain-clearing health benefits? The warm, snuggly feeling that settles in one’s chest after taking a sip? The satiating of the munchies? We may never know, but for now, I am more than satisfied with the creativity-boosted results.
Alternatively: see coffee, hot chocolate and in the summertime, iced tea.
Consult inspirational material
This may come either before or during a writing session, although for the sake of productivity I suggest before.
Inspiration includes but is not limited to: books you’ve never read before, books you’ve read ninety-three times, books by your friends, online books, comics/webcomics, really well-done TV shows, really poorly-done TV shows that you love anyway, films, Wikipedia articles on something you’re researching, Wikipedia articles that have nothing to do with what you’re writing but could possibly come in handy someday, eating good food, discussing writing with others, complaining about writing to others and daydreaming while your novel’s theme song plays in the background.
Side effects include over-investing oneself in another fictional world, crying, babbling to family members and wistful sighing.
Wear your writing clothes
My writing wardrobe varies depending on my context—like my ability to super-ignore, I can write in most settings wearing any outfit—but for the moment, we shall assume I do all my writing at home. Never underestimate the importance of being comfortable when you want a serious writing session. Many-an-idea has come to me more easily thanks to my selection outrageously bright socks or soft wraps. Pajama pants and baggy sweaters also do the trick for me as long as I have pockets to stash my phone in when I take a stretch break.
Speaking of which…
Take them, even if you don’t think you need to. I will not tell you how or when to schedule them, since a good focus streak is hard to come by, but if you find yourself thinking “I should probably take a stretch break,” then you should. It will help clear your head, and also prevent your brain from melting if you’re using a computer.
Well, it might not prevent it so much as delay it. But the point is moot.
Science has proven how helpful stretch breaks can be no matter what you’re doing, as it serves to recalibrate your energy and motivation. While you write, take advantage of scene skips or chapter breaks to take a breather. As a result, you’ll be able to write for longer than you could without breaks. Or, at the very least, you’ll be slightly less cranky when the writing day is done.
These are but a few factors in my non-linear equation for experiencing a good writing session. Other stimuli may affect it, of course, like the amount of time since my last meal, how many cats are present and whether or not my best friend is sending me weird screenshots. No particular order will always give you the perfect writing session, but remember it’s perfectly possible to write without tea, or if one is not in the “bubble.” The important part is to write.