- Get up early in the morning to write. 6 am and earlier. I tried writing late at night and got into a counter-productive routine of falling asleep at 10.30 pm, waking up at 2 am and working for a couple of hours. That could be your ideal routine but I’ve found the morning to be best for me.
- Give yourself the chance to write the ‘rubbish first draft’. I was listening to a podcast by Merlin from 43folders.com talking about productivity and being afraid of not having the ability to succeed he spoke of an author who always gives herself this chance, and then from that she might craft it down and only use a tiny fraction of the original draft, but in order to get it all out she doesn’t restrict herself. No matter what you will write, you’ll have to go back and do plenty of crafting and editing.
- Keep a tidy workplace with good lighting and no distractions.
- Music. I am fussy with what I listen to when I write. Some things have been working and some not. For example, Chopin’s piano sonata’s, Vangelis’s soundtrack to Antarctica, Igor Stravinsky- The Firebird, Mike Oldfield’s Music of the Spheres is perfect and Hans Zimmer’s The Last Samurai soundtrack. If it goes a little bit too epic, cheesy, choral, floral, frenetic or catchy then it starts to be distracting. Update: No more is also good.
- Read, read, read. I’m presently reading A Walk in the Mountains of Georgia by Tony Anderson.
- Take notes and keep a detailed journal. I kept a journal throughout travels and a keep notes of thoughts and reflections. It is vital for remembering details. It triggers further memories, and helps to weave the storyline.
- Look at photos and video. After all, a picture tells a thousand words.
- Don’t try to do too much at once. I’m normally writing from 6.30am to 8.30am.
- A rest is good. Take a couple of days off and come back to your writing refreshed and enthusiastic.
- Sometimes its good to plough on. On the contrary, I find it sometimes good to force myself to keep writing, because sometimes you might be being over critical, over analysing. For me, it takes me a short while to get into the zone, so I try to suspend judgement and keep writing until I’m sure I am going to stop.
Originally written in 2011. Updated 3.5.16.