I struggle every day to motivate myself out of bed, turn on the Keurig, and sit in one spot and write until my four-year-old wakes up. His waking occurrence can happen five minutes after I start typing, or four hours later, when I kick myself for not making lunch. I am in no way an expert, but I found, throughout my years of writing, a few life hacks to get you going:
- Minimalize Your Workspace
- Find Your Habits
- Psyche Yourself Up
- Personal Development
- Eat Simple
- Focus on your Triforce
#1 Minimalize Your Workspace
Not minimize. Minimalize. Some photographers have a style called minimalism, where less is more in their shots. You must be free of distractions. Your work space is your sanctuary for your characters and you must treat them with respect. You are torturing them with plot and could possibly kill one of them. Being respectful is the least you can do.
Consider your space like a date scene. You have a date with your book and all the characters want your attention. You don't talk to them while you're playing a game on your phone, or have sidebar with someone else in the room. You just don't. Unless you're talking to yourself (which could be #2 or #3 on the list) you can't afford wasting your characters' time. You have a world to suck people into. Simplify your holy ground and get to work. You have torture to do.
#2 Find Your Habits
All writers have them. You don't have to copy them, maybe you just want to try them out, but you need to find you. You find you by figuring out your quirks, your weaknesses, your strengths, and your style. This comes with every day practice. Some writers couldn't write unless they were naked, or not wearing pants. Some had to be outside, some had to be hiding in a loft.
I have to wear a beanie.
I caught myself playing with my hair with one hand on the keyboard, not doing anything but re-reading my work, or staring blankly at the screen. I put a beanie on my head one day and both hands got busy typing. The distraction was gone. My habit was curbed. Now I don't wear a beanie all the time...but it helps when I have a very hard time focusing.
#3 Psyche Yourself Up
What's your style? What helps you get your muse in gear? There are different learning styles for people just as there are inspiration styles.
Consider creating a playlist for your book. You're in the shower and you play songs that get your imagination going.
(Confession: I do this all the time, even sing out loud, and pretend the characters are right there in front of me [clothed and dry, mind you...sometimes], either singing along, or acting out a scene. It helps me organize my story, especially if I'm struggling with moving the plot along.)
I also have playlists for each major character and mood lists, depending on what mood I need to get into to write specific scenes. I have battle sequences, death, love, sex, nostalgic, etc.. I read somewhere that Audiosparx is where filmmakers go to nail the perfect track for their trailers or movie scenes.
Some inspirational music I have is from Two Steps From Hell and more well known composers like Hans Zimmer. I collect soundtracks so I can't list them all, but Two Steps From Hell is a great starting point. "Archangel" will always be my favorite when I need to get into the action scene mood.
I did mention weaknesses in #2. Your weakness can be your undoing; you can overcome it if you know what it is. Mine is perfectionism. I overcome this by whole-heartedly knowing people must read my story. They will love my characters as I do and they will love the world I pulled them into. If I don't write, I lose my mind. This is my passion. And no dark whispers in my head saying I should just give up because I will fail can stop me.
Psyche yourself up by looking through Pinterest and finding motivational quotes from authors. Make your own board of all these (mine is called "Brie's Self-Motivation Vocation") and read them. Guaranteed one of them will spark something in you.
If you're still struggling, I would print out pictures that motivate you, or draw pictures of your characters. Draw your own fan art. As an artist, this is fun to do when I'm not writing. I draw them out of character as well. You gotta lighten up sometimes. Torture miserable characters with happiness. You might just kill them outside your story. Mwahahaha.
#4 Personal Development
Reading about writing for at least fifteen minutes will sharpen your writing skills, especially if you do this at least once a day. So take that fifteen and read a writing book. K.M Weiland and Angela Ackerman have great books on Amazon. A good writer always has learning tools in their arsenal. Buy a couple. If you're pressed on money, buy the one book that you would really benefit from. Mine was "How to Write a Novel in 90 Days" to get through my first book. I didn't make it in 90 days but I made it further than I ever would have. And I finished, so that says something.
You'll hear from dozens of people how they want to write a novel someday. Maybe you're one of them. Be that person who actually commits. Don't wait around for something tragic to happen in your life to get you started (yes...like I did. More on that another time.).
#5 Eat Simple
I don't mean go out to a fast food joint and overload on calories (that'll lead you to a carb coma), Stay in the house, fix something quick, eat it, then get to writing. I will post another blog on fast nutrition that's healthy and helps your brain focus. For this, I will say avoid making omelettes or other time-consuming products. Being a Beachbody coach, I have tricks to help you stay on track without slaving away in the kitchen.
In the morning, I usually make Shakeology, but if I don't want to make a lot of noise, I make a cup of greek yogurt and granola, or cottage cheese and berries. It takes less than five minutes to prepare and my brain will thank me for fueling it something besides black coffee.
#6 Focus on Your Triforce
Mind, Body, Soul.
- Your soul is the writing but your mind is conflicted, your body is tired, and your soul has temporarily lost its passion.
- Your body craves something physical or nutritional. If it doesn't get exercise or proper food, your mind loses focus, and your soul is left to wait, buried in a weak body.
- Your mind is not learning; it's bored and all those perishable skills are waning. Your body is sluggish and your soul cannot be happy with a distracted, lazy brain.
- Your soul is not being fed things that make it happy. You're not relaxing and are worried about work, school, or fitness. Life is getting in the way of actual life: your purpose.
This is the balance of life. We have to find a way to keep our Triforce in check because if one piece fails, they all fall apart.
Personal Development helps with mind issues, but so does going to Bible Study, or meditating, or avoiding family drama. Learning something new every day makes your wit sharper and your curiosity satiated. Watch the mental stress levels.
If work is straining you, try soothing your soul with a hobby, which may help destress you. If my husband comes home from work (yes, I said if. It's a military thing.), he'll either watch TV, or play video games. He doesn't want to deal with physical stress, like playing with our kid. He may try, but Tag is out of the question.
After I clean the house and run errands, I like to write, draw, or game. I also have a habit of running out of the house before sunset with my camera gear, and practice shooting. If you don't believe me, I have a Flickr account here. And this is one of my shots (it is available for print):
For balancing the body, I cannot stress exercise enough. I used to be very overweight and was miserable. There was no sense in pursuing my dreams because I didn't like myself enough to do anything. I was a horrible role model for my son and I am glad that chapter in my life is done. But it is never closed. I want people to know my struggles so they don't feel alone. While I started my first book, I also got into P90X. Everything started falling into place when I took care of myself. Thus, the Triforce revelation.
Leave a comment or question! Let me know how I have helped you or confused you. :D
If you're interested in healthy living, find me on Facebook at Facebook.com/tomacrux. I'm happy to answer any questions you have. Or if you have a body transformation story, I'd love to hear it! Always excited to meet new people!