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K1P1
01-22-2007, 06:10 PM
I find that I can't create ir write anything until I have some mental space. I need to have some empty time to get rid of all the distractions and demands of family, day job, bills, home repairs, scheduling, you name it. And until I have had a chunk of time to empty out my brain, I just can't write, even if I know exactly what I want to say. And it doesn't just apply to writing. When I want to design a piece of knitting, the same thing happens. My creativity needs an empty, quiet space to flourish. Unfortunately, this looks a whole lot like procrastination.

So... How do you prepare to write? Do you have some little ritual you follow? A warm-up of some sort? Or can you just sit down and words immediately start to flow ( I hate you :))?

Meerkat
01-22-2007, 06:25 PM
If the kids begin to bicker, the television everyone else has decided upon is (in my opinion) inane, and my wife turns to me to say that it has been a bad day, out comes my laptop, and my corner of the living room has just become the villa/mountain cabin/secluded retreat I so sorely deserve. So yes!

DragonHeart
01-22-2007, 06:26 PM
I also have a hard time concentrating with a lot of distractions. This is mainly why the two times I can write are in the morning or late at night - when everyone is at work or asleep.

First thing I'll do is clean off my desk. There's usually a coffee mug or two from the previous day, possibly a snack wrapper, and always books. All of these get moved to where I can't see them. (It doesn't matter where but ideally trash/dishwasher/bookshelf. :D )

Second thing I do is get rid of any noise. TV, music, anything like that. I cannot write if there is some sort of noise in the background. I can for outlining, but not for the actual writing.

After that it's little tweaks to set the mood. I'll change my computer wallpaper to art that sets the current or next scene in my story. I'll pull up any applicable Wiki articles for easy access. Turn lights on or off or set up my glitter lamp, maybe light a candle.

I don't do those things all the time, but it's nice to have the atmosphere. For me the most important step out of all those is the noise, so as long as I can keep the quiet that's all I need to start writing.

~DragonHeart~

Maryn
01-22-2007, 06:30 PM
I retreat to the room where the computer lives, then reread the last two or three pages I wrote. Usually by the time I finish that, I'm "in the zone" and the mental distractions are gone.

Once I start the writing, if it's coming along smoothly I tune out other distractions fairly easily, too. (Music? I don't even hear it.) However, when I'm clawing my way up a cliff for every sentence, I self-distract pretty easily and have to force a return to the work over and over.

Maryn, in the midst of a clawing period

Shadow_Ferret
01-22-2007, 07:03 PM
Is the OP asking if we have to have quiet time BEFORE we write to sort of decompress and relax? Because I just sit at the computer and start writing. There is no prep time, no relaxation techniques, no visualizations. Nothing. I just send the family off to bed, crack open a beer, and put butt in chair and type.

Azure Skye
01-22-2007, 07:11 PM
I just make sure the kitchen is clean and I take a trip to the bathroom. That's all I need. Usually I will read over the last piece I've written and then carry on.

MidnightMuse
01-22-2007, 07:13 PM
No prep for me, just Do It. I'll procrastinate and find other things to do sometimes, but when it's time to write, I just sit down, open up the file and start typing.

K1P1
01-22-2007, 07:33 PM
Jeez, I envy all of you. I think I just need a house of my own.

drachin8
01-22-2007, 07:59 PM
I was having trouble dealing with distractions and keeping a consistent writing schedule, so I recently shifted my writing time to first thing in the morning. I wake up an hour earlier, do a half hour of web surfing (checking email, news, etc) to wake my brain up, and then I write for an hour. Since it is so early in the morning, nothing has really happened yet in the day to distract me or wear me out. If I feel like it in the evenings, I can write some more, but that depends more on all the mental crap I drag home from work and life in general.

Of course, this only works because I am one of those weird people who can function in the mornings with no coffee or anything...

:)

-Michelle

PeeDee
01-22-2007, 08:25 PM
I just write. That's good enough for me. If I'm busy or mentally full-up, I tend to write better than if I have nothing rattling around in m head

Norman D Gutter
01-22-2007, 09:15 PM
I used to write well with distractions, but any more I don't seem to. Well, maybe distractions is not the right word. I find I can no longer write if I have a to-do list a mile long of urgent items that are not writing related. If some home repair is needed, if some personal financial papers need to be files, if the check book needs balancing, if the bills need paying, if I need to do something for the home business that my wife can't do, etc., then I can't concentrate on writing, because of the guilt I feel.

I can concentrate on writing through distractions such as television, music, ambient noise over the noon hour at the office. At home, I have problems concentrating if my wife is talking on the phone. But otherwise, distractions are no problem. One of my favorite writing times, for short poems, is when I have to attend a Planning Commission meeting or City Council meeting for the small city I provide city engineering services for. While waiting on my items to come up, I write these poems, or sometimes write journal-type entries of writing ideas--relatively lite stuff. Occasionally I look around the room and write a human behavior paragraph: how the speaker handles him/herself; how people conduct themselves on the audience or on the commission/council.

As far as pre-writing ritual at home, about all I do is try to clean the area around the computer a bit, as this makes me feel better about stealing time to write. At work, on the noon hour or before/after normal work hours, I just write, no pre-ritual required.

NDG

Azure Skye
01-22-2007, 10:04 PM
Of course, this only works because I am one of those weird people who can function in the mornings with no coffee or anything...

:)

-Michelle

I'm jealous. Mornings are just...well, they're just mornings. My brain doesn't wake up until about 11 with or without caffeine.

jodiodi
01-22-2007, 10:56 PM
I don't have any rituals, but when I write I like for it to be fairly quiet though I don't mind music. I have to have some sort of white noise, be it music, a fan, something that won't distract me. I can't write when I'm at home with my husband because he insists the TV be on something ridiculous; and the weekends we have his kids, they're always saying, "Mom, watch this," and I have to do it because we don't have them but every other weekend and t heir bio mother isn't very attentive (I'm the cool stepmom so I have a rep to uphold). I'd like to go to our bedroom and write quietly during those times, but my husband wants me with him and doesn't want me to leave him alone with the kids. Hence, I now get most of my writing done at work over lunch. Sad but true.

jennifer75
01-22-2007, 11:06 PM
I find that I can't create ir write anything until I have some mental space. I need to have some empty time to get rid of all the distractions and demands of family, day job, bills, home repairs, scheduling, you name it. And until I have had a chunk of time to empty out my brain, I just can't write, even if I know exactly what I want to say. And it doesn't just apply to writing. When I want to design a piece of knitting, the same thing happens. My creativity needs an empty, quiet space to flourish. Unfortunately, this looks a whole lot like procrastination.

So... How do you prepare to write? Do you have some little ritual you follow? A warm-up of some sort? Or can you just sit down and words immediately start to flow ( I hate you :))?

I have to start at a time when I know distractions are minimal. I usually write at work, so once phones die down and co-slaves are nestled in their cubes quietly for the afternoon, I can start writing. And once I get in the zone, no matter the distractions, I remain in the zone until I absolutely have to stop writing.

Soccer Mom
01-23-2007, 12:32 AM
If I waited for peace and quiet, I would never write.


But I do know that I need some quiet space to write a very emotional scene. It's hard to tap into that inner well with kids and dogs rolling around under feet/

maestrowork
01-23-2007, 02:53 AM
I wish I could say I'm a disciplined writer who could write anywhere, anytime. The truth is, I am not. I have short attention spans. I get distracted or bored easily. And while I can multitask mundane stuff (such as folding laundry while organizing my CD collection), I have to devote my time and mental energy exclusively to my creative endeavors. If I have multiple things going on (errands, somebody to call, book signings to schedule, etc.) I find it very difficult to focus on writing.

Tish Davidson
01-23-2007, 03:38 AM
Like the OP, I need some mental space BEFORE I start to write. Once the idea and basic organization come, I can write through distractions. The best way I have found to create mental space is to have a media-free day - no tv, radio, newspapers, computer. I am always surprised at how much of my mind is filled with time-consuming media noise and how hard it is to avoid all the media input. Once I get rid of the mental pollution, my mind is free to think and once I start think, creative new thoughts can appear. Some of them are not very good ideas, but eventually I can winnow out a few good ones, and then it is time to write. I also recommend a media-free day as a way to break down writers' block or to help solve almost any difficult writing (or even life) problem.

TrainofThought
01-23-2007, 04:02 AM
There is no ritual for me. I started revising on the train coming home from work, and it is so much easier for me to write in a notebook then stare at a computer. I am accustom to blocking people out, so the train noise doesn’t throw off my ‘train of thought’. ;)

Dave.C.Robinson
01-23-2007, 05:03 AM
I'm another who needs the decompression time. I can handle distractions once I'm in the zone, but I need to decompress first and that's been getting harder and harder to do lately. I've got a big move coming up and lots of chaos in the meantime so I can't clear the space in my head to start writing.

:(

Hopefully I can clear it all up soon.

K1P1
01-23-2007, 06:57 AM
I'm another who needs the decompression time. I can handle distractions once I'm in the zone, but I need to decompress first and that's been getting harder and harder to do lately. I've got a big move coming up and lots of chaos in the meantime so I can't clear the space in my head to start writing.

I know. It's like the pressure of personalities in the house and responsbilities and all the little details of life takes all my energy, and there's none leftover for writing.

Dixie
01-23-2007, 07:06 AM
I usually read a bit before I actually open up my piece and start reading it to catch up on where my mind was when I left off. But the house has to be ABSOLUTELY spotless and the dishes done before I can even begin. Its a shame I spend two hours cleaning before I can sit down to write even for 15 minutes. But once Im 'in the zone' I can usually just flow nicely and everything comes out fine. Then I go back and reread what Ive written during the session then close it out for the day.

Sean D. Schaffer
01-23-2007, 08:28 AM
I find that I can't create ir write anything until I have some mental space. I need to have some empty time to get rid of all the distractions and demands of family, day job, bills, home repairs, scheduling, you name it. And until I have had a chunk of time to empty out my brain, I just can't write, even if I know exactly what I want to say. And it doesn't just apply to writing. When I want to design a piece of knitting, the same thing happens. My creativity needs an empty, quiet space to flourish. Unfortunately, this looks a whole lot like procrastination.

So... How do you prepare to write? Do you have some little ritual you follow? A warm-up of some sort? Or can you just sit down and words immediately start to flow ( I hate you :))?


I prepare to write every morning by having my morning cup of coffee or tea (whatever it takes to get caffeine in my system :) ) and then I listen to music for a while, because I have to be fully awake before I do any writing.

veinglory
01-23-2007, 08:49 AM
I have to have distractions, the TV at least. If it's just me and the computer I get bored within 5 minutes. I always have a browser window open.

Viva la difference.

Soccer Mom
01-23-2007, 09:00 AM
To expound on earlier, I can write anywhere and anytime. And I do. I write at the soccer fields (practice only, never during a game), I write at work (naughty), I write at church (very naughty). :D

limitedtimeauthor
01-23-2007, 09:13 AM
I recently experienced some of the decompression time you refer to. It was lovely! But by the time I was fully "decompressed," there was no time left to write.

If I am being paid, I can write. The free stuff is very, very hard to do. But I seem to have almost no problem with posting on AW. Funny, huh?

ltd.

Southern_girl29
01-23-2007, 09:36 AM
I have to have some kind of noise to be able to write. I think it's because I work in a newsroom, where it is never quiet. I don't really have a ritual or anything like that I have to do before I start writing, because if I did, it would make it very hard at work. I take that back, I do check my e-mail at work before I get started, and I do the same thing at home.

Chasing the Horizon
01-23-2007, 02:22 PM
I just open my laptop and start writing. Ideally there won't be a huge number of distractions, but if there are, well, that's why we have a headphone jack on our laptops, isn't it? I turn the music up and ignore everyone/everything else. If people actually poke me (which is the only way to get my attention), I hurt them.

The only time I absolutely cannot write is in the mornings and early afternoons, simply because it takes me that long to really wake up. I am an extreme anti-morning person.

Other things I need to get done don't distract me because my writing is more important. The more stressful a day I've had, the more I concentrate on my writing since it offers complete escape from whatever is stressing me.

emsuniverse
01-23-2007, 08:19 PM
TV has to be on in the background - and since it's usually in the evenings it's usually Law and Order reruns (perfect for writing about murder). Other than that, I have no requirements.

Jaycinth
01-23-2007, 09:14 PM
A combination of post #5 and post #7. Substitute 'wine' for 'beer'.
Substitute 'family to bed' with 'family doing chores'.

But, I must have my slippers on. (Well, in the summer, if I write outside, I can be happy in sandles as long as they aren't thongs..)

My 'good' slippers fell apart in October, and I just now found a suitable pair. My writing has suffered.

What? OCD? Huh? Who said that??
***braids and unbraids hair 4 times, washes hands counterclockwise, turns calculator at exactly a 43.572489 degree angle to the doorway, and puts a paperclip on the third coil of thee telephone cord****

Freckles
01-24-2007, 07:23 PM
Great thread! I can't think -- let alone write any even remotely good -- with any sort of distraction. I've taken to using a laptop with just Microsoft - no Internet - when I really want to crank out something. I've had great success with it!! :D

ATP
01-24-2007, 08:22 PM
For purely non-fiction features, the process from after signing of contract to beginning of writing the piece can be, and is often, quite frenetic. Yet, the transition to writing the piece might require a variable period of time, but most often a day wherein I try to do nothing, and simply wind down. Other times, this can be longer, being affected by mood, physiology, response to the article content etc. The writing per se does require a clear mind - I find that at these times, music or other media can be a distraction, and tend to get on my nerves.

Tish Davidson
01-24-2007, 09:48 PM
Interesting how different people interpreted the OP. Some, like me, thought the OP was talking about a time without distractions before writing, while many others interpreted the post as asking about distractions while actually doing the writing. Just another example of how words on a page can take on a life of their own.

K1P1
01-24-2007, 10:35 PM
Yes, it is interesting, isn't it? I just reread my original post and it seems clear to me that it refers to the time before writing, the preparation time. What I think happens is that people either don't read the original post, or they just skim it and answer whatever there is in it that resonates with them. I don't think it's the words that have the " life of their own," it's the readers' responses.

ATP
01-26-2007, 05:47 PM
For better or worse, this is the nature of many threads and forums, it seems...

K1P1
01-26-2007, 05:52 PM
I think the tangential paths and variations are the spice of forum life.

KiraOnWhite
01-26-2007, 05:53 PM
I write best in 'comfort' climate, usually mornings and at night, or when its raining. First, I'll take a nap to see all the scenes running through my mind then get up, switch on the computer, post in the forums, turn on my music and finally start writing. I love writing, yes I do, but it seems like a draggy process if you are more of the envisioner like yours truly.

K1P1
01-26-2007, 06:01 PM
There's no way this would work for me. The nap would be interrupted within a few minutes by either a cat, a kid, or a husband. Or, if I made it through the nap and actually sat down to write, I'd have to get up and drive a child or a father somewhere, or it would be time to cook dinner, or I'd suddenly realize all the bills I'd avoided paying because I was concentrating on writing were past due.

<sigh> All I really need is a wife and a mother to take care of things for me. Sometimes it makes polygamy look pretty appealing.