For all my fellow writers out there, struggling to get through your current work in progress, I see you and I feel you.
This shit is tough. For me, it’s mostly tough because I get in my own God damn way. And I’m so good at that.
Rather than sit and dwell on my brain’s current inability to make anything sound good in the last bits of my novel, I thought I’d take a break to share some of the things that do help me get into the writing mood. Maybe they’ll help you too.
Perhaps you think it’s weird I’ve put this first, but hear me out. I was a latecomer to Taylor Swift. I never understood the appeal (in hindsight, I think it was some internalised misogyny on my part). If you’re not sure about her, watch her documentary Miss Americana on Netflix to get a taste of what she’s really like. She’s bloody unreal.
Her album Lover was the first one of hers I liked and those songs played on repeat at the end of 2019, helping me write countless hours on my first book. Something about her recent music has struck a chord with me (ha!) and provides me with this sort of fuel of inspiration when I’m in my writing zone. I’m writing a contemporary romance, so not sure how helpful her music would be for someone writing a thriller, but hey. You never know.
Looking for some spine-tingling music to get you inspired? Spotify is FILLED with original scores of music from all of the best composers. People like John Williams (Harry Potter and Jurassic Park) and Hans Zimmer are on my list, as well as the music from my favourites such as Normal People, the After movies (of course), David Attenborough documentaries and the choir Two Steps From Hell. There’s something for everyone on there.
When all else fails – I turn off ALL noise and try working with no racket in my ears. It works as well, trust me.
Stephen King’s quote has always stuck with me, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” Reading other works of fiction, both in your genre of writing and outside of it, can help open your brain to things you might not realise you’re missing. Soak up other styles of writing, look for tropes, think about what you love and hate as a reader. Look for inspiration, look for what works and what doesn’t. And if you’re feeling tired and you don’t want to do any of those things, jump into a book that you simply enjoy. Getting lost and switching off your brain will also help.
Heavy, weighted pens and fresh, lined notebooks. That’s where it’s at. I will treat myself to new stationery when I feel the urge, and that’s more than I’d like to admit. Something about new stationery helps with my creativity. It might only be temporary, but it works. I still write a lot of things by hand and always carry a notebook and pen in my handbag in case a new idea strikes me. I’ve got countless listed in my phone as well, but nothing beats pen and paper.
A comfortable workspace
A bit of greenery, some natural light and a comfy chair that doesn’t hurt your back/makes you think about your posture. I would also highly recommend switching up your writing space when you can. Move to the couch/armchair, sit outside, visit a cafe. A change in your surroundings can open the doors to different ideas and new flows of creativity.
Scents and smells
Make sure wherever you are, it smells nice. Sounds simple, but I’ve found lighting a scented candle or pumping all of my Jaya House Organics oils throughout my home makes all the difference.
And finally … remind yourself WHY you’re doing it.
Again, sounds straightforward, but it’s the main one I forget. When things get really tough and I want to give up, I’m usually nudged by my partner to remind myself of why I’m doing this in the first place. Why do I have weekly tasks and monthly goals? What am I aiming towards? Why do I want to write a book? Why am I publishing it? What’s the end game? Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.
I’ve got all that shit written down and even though sometimes I roll my eyes and need to take a break from it all, I always come back. Because the why feels good. The why is worth it. And if it ever isn’t, that’s when I know I’ve got to change something.
Good luck to anyone out their working on their own pieces of art, whatever they may be.
Don’t give up.