A Non-Linear Approach To A Good Writing Session

A Non-Linear Approach To A Good Writing Session

The elements of success.

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…

Stretch breaks

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.

Cover Image Credit: Stocksnap.io

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.

Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.

7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.


Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.

I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.

I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.

As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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