Centering yourself to write

Centering, focusing and getting rid of distractions

focusHi friends,⁄

Recently I had a question from a reader who was having trouble getting down to the business of writing.  Here is what he (she?) asked:

I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your thoughts prior to writing. I have had difficulty clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out there. I truly do enjoy writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or hints? Thanks!

The creative mind is a funny thing.  Sometimes there are a hundred ideas buzzing around inside your head and you just want to get them down on paper, so that you can organize them into some sensible, logical thread. Sometimes they are like a dream, disjointed, nonsensical, but vibrant and interesting on their own.  Sometimes, try as you might, you can’t think of a single two words to put together on paper!  It’s as if the rat running around on that wheel inside your head just conked out.   Sometimes a scene is just burning inside your brain and the words flow like wine from a bottle.  The trick is, certainly, to grab hold of the inspiration when it comes!  It is virtually impossible to force it, although the best advice I have read about the slow times, is to write one page a day.  It is amazing how quickly a chapter takes shape!

Some people map out a novel, creating a framework from which they flesh out a story.  Some people start with a circle on a page, which represents the two main characters and the main conflict to be resolved.  They build the story by creating satellite circles, adding in other characters and problems to be resolved.  Their ideas will build on the main theme and add dimension to the story, and will arc back to the main characters and their conflict. You can map out your novel like this, adding elements like setting, backgrounds, and other pertinent details.  This gives you an overall “plan”.  You might change the order of events and add in or eliminate characters and scenes as you refine your work, but it is helpful to keep an eye on how your story is moving along your planned pathway.  You may think of other things you want to throw in there to support the plot but keeping your eye on the road keeps you from getting off on a tangent, or indeed, getting derailed altogether.

Now, before you even sit down at the computer, or at your desk to write, it is helpful, if not crucial to optimize your workspace to eliminate as much distraction as possible.  I almost always wait until the family is gone to bed at night, the TV is shut off, and the phone is quiet, before I start to write.  There is nothing worse than to have a chapter in your head that you have been mulling over for the past week, and you’re finally ready to commit it to paper (or screen) and somebody comes out and starts yammering to you about what they were doing all day.  All of a sudden you lose your focus and your concentration is in the toilet.  There are some certain electronic gremlins that will intrude on you like a sonofabitch, and are better turned off, shut down, and kept in the kitchen drawer for a later time.  Three of the worst culprits are your cell phone, Facebook, and e-mail.  Other addictive programs like Buzzfeed, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumbler, and any variety of other programs that suck you in and grab your attention are to be avoided during your work time.  There are actually programs that you can use to limit your access to certain websites for periods you set, which can help if you have poor impulse control.  Anyone who thinks that they are phenomenal multitaskers will be disappointed to learn that your brain can only handle two tasks at a time.  See the awesome post below that I found on Pinterest!

So my friends, even with the best of intentions, there will  be days that will conspire to steal your attention away from your writing, and you will feel like everybody in the world wants a piece of you.  That’s probably a good time to take a break and regroup.  A cup of tea and some buttered toast is my panacea for all things stressful!  Some people believe in dietary supplements, meditation, a glass of wine and any number of other things to help them concentrate.  I know one thing for sure!  Sugar is definitely not the answer, as you will find out by reading my previous blog post on that subject!

Good luck with your writing!  Have faith, your muse will come!

















































































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