9 ideas to take your writing time from grit to glam
(or closer to it, at least)
If you're rolling your eyes at that headline and have a few choice words for me already, let me jump the gun for you:
"Just who do you think you are? I have 12 work deadlines before day's end (P.S. I don't write full time, sister, so I'm paying the bills as a CPA / doctor / Foot Locker associate / meteorologist), and I don't need your Gwyneth-Paltrow's-Goop-goofball-ass suggestions to make writing luxurious and cost me more money as well as time. I'm trying to fit in writing wherever I damn well can without my partner / kids / boss / parent / sibling / neighbor interrupting me every 10 minutes to ask an inane question and yank me from my creative zone. You think a candle's going to solve it for me? Sugar, you've got another thing coming."
You finished? I am. Boy, it felt cathartic to write that, and I'm not at all surprised by how easily it flowed out. I can get majorly pissed at the suggestion that the challenging practice I try (and often fail) to do every day could be made better with a bubble bath and scented salts. Adorable.
As I write this very post, my dog's clawing at my legs and breathing his hot breath on me because of the thunderstorm rolling in, I can't get this garlic smell off my hands, and oh! Half my house is sinking. You read that right: Half of my house is pulling away from the rest, and there's a crack going through my kitchen floor where the house is breaking apart. So you see, there's always going to be something disgusting when it comes to our writing practice that keeps our mind preoccupied. All I'm saying is there are a few ways to make it less so.
OK? OK. Don't kill me. Let's talk through a few ways I've found to make the practice, the very sit-down of writing a wee bit more enjoyable so I'm more likely to make the time to do it.
Burn a candle
I already said don't kill me! This suggestion is actually practical: When I get into a slump and find myself surfing the web instead of writing (I'm big on opening a new tab to "look up a necessary detail" for the scene I'm working on), I light a candle. I like dark and spicy or light and slightly floral. The rule is that I have to work solely on writing until the whole first layer of the candle is liquid.
It takes longer than you'd think. Almost without fail, I find myself jamming in a writing groove that leaves me so satisfied and proud of myself. (It's OK; you can be proud of yourself. You don't need anyone's permission.)
Also, it you enjoy kitsch, there are literary-themed candles on the market.
Run an oil diffuser
During some nausea issues in late 2016, I ran my oil diffuser like crazy, filling the room with a lemon scent. It helped calm the nausea as well as plain ol' make me happy. I've since read up on the function of oils -- here's one resource -- and have created my own spray mixtures.
Now I use a mix for focus while I'm writing, and it's pleasant to have created a little sanctuary in my writing space. Since I only use that scent while writing, the associated scent memory works in my favor, too.
This one doesn't work for me -- I need total silence to write -- but loads of writers swear by playing music during their creative periods. Make a playlist and have it on shuffle while you work.
If music isn't your thing, use an app like Coffitivity to mimic background noise, like that of a Texas teahouse or bistro in Brazil. I always had Coffitivity on and earbuds in when I worked in an office.
Store the nice hand lotion in your desk
I keep my pricier hand lotions in my desk drawer so I can only use them when I sit down to write. (What's keeping me from sneaking in for the lotion when not writing? Well, honestly, I forget that's where I keep them.) I find that the mini-break of slathering my hands and letting them dry often unsticks my stuckness on a particular plot point. It's the self-care version of opening a new tab and Googling a random thought. It's just a tiny breather.
Keep the fought-over blanket on your writing chair
There's a majorly soft blanket in my house. It's pale pink, melts like butter on the skin and is the envy of the whole household. It stays, in perpetuity, hung over the back of my desk chair. That is its place. This way, the only time I get to use it is while sitting there. It's so snuggly and hygge-inducing that I want to stay in the chair longer. (And if I'm already in the chair, I may as well be working. If you give a mouse a cookie, and all that.)
Use nice china for your beverage
I don't actually have china, but I do have three very pretty teacups I only use while writing. They have dainty handles I'm always afraid will snap off, and coffee or tea looks so lovely in them. I make it a rule not to use them while I'm running around the house and leaving them on counter edges; their only place is on the desk while I work.
Display fresh flowers
If you're a lucky duck with a successful garden, trim your bounty for indoor enjoyment, or buy an inexpensive bunch at your next store run. Don't bother with vases; you aren't looking at the vase anyhow. Just stick them in a jar and place them in your line of sight.
Write by lamplight
This is the biggest, cheapest gamechanger for me: turning off the overhead lights. I love a lamp's glow, and there's a cozy-rosiness that harsh overhead light just can't mimic. I use a desk lamp, a smaller lamp on a bookcase and a salt lamp to create ambiance.
Tell your roommate / partner / children you're busy
Carving out space for writing is not only metaphorical; it's literal. Tell everyone in your home that this is your special time so you aren't interrupted. If they think of a question to ask or need your input on a decision, have them create a list of questions for when you're done or grant them the authority to make decisions all on their own. Whatever it takes to have a calm, open, creative moment, push for it.
Writing needn't always be made out to be a nose-to-the-grindstone, make-it-or-break-it cram session. What are your own tricks for making writing special and not rushed?