Getting Off The Blocks

100 Days of Writing: Day 44

Countdown to NaNoWriMo: 5 days

How do other writers begin? Not in an existential sense, obvs. I’m talking about each day, when you sit at your chosen desk, table, whatever, with pen in hand or fingers poised over keyboard, what then?

Is there a particular ritual you follow to get into the zone? A short meditation perhaps, a mantra? Or is it straight down to business, head down and away you go? Do you approach each day knowing exactly what the plan is, or do you simply sit and see what happens?

I ask mainly out of interest but also because recently I’ve noticed that every day, when I sit down to work, the same thing happens.  Cup of coffee, glass of water, writing surface of choice; there’s my computer, a bunch of handwritten notes, a pencil and a file. OK, begin. At the exact moment I clap my eyes on the blank page or the empty space following the previous day’s copy, a wave of panic washes over me.

It’s as if I’m rooted in the moment without a clue how to move forward and then the doubt monkey starts firing questions: What are you going to write? What are you doing? You’re making stuff up in your head and writing it down. Are you mad?  What’s the point? Why did you choose this?

It only ever lasts a short while, seconds perhaps, before I answer with a mental shrug, in the hope that ‘Dunno’ will satisfy the monkey’s curiosity and send him on his way.  Then I read through yesterday’s stuff, make a rough plan for the day and crack on.

It’s not conscious, the panic.  And while I’d rather not have it, I’ve come to accept it as a necessary part of my process. If nothing else it serves as a reminder that what I do is not a matter of life or death (unless it is) and that the only person affected by the consequences of non-doing is me.

On a helpful note: I’ve recently discovered the benefits of listening to Binaural Beats while working, which apparently uses brainwave technology to tap into and enhance the productive and creative parts of the brain. I know! What a world we live in today, right?

Thanks for reading. If you’d like to join the discussion, I’d love to know what gets you off the starting blocks and into the zone each day.




4 thoughts on “Getting Off The Blocks

  1. Dear Ann, good thought-provoking post. Every writer will find their way with getting into and staying in their zone. You mention you have a pad of notes?? My approach is to type those notes straight onto the blank page (so I have something more than nothing!). I then embellish what’s on that document in any way that feels natural. Re music, for me, I require instrumental (e.g. Moby’s ‘Destroyed’ album) or classical music to really find my perfect zone and actually hear the all-important writer’s voice within… good luck!

  2. I generally tend to go by what I have called ‘instinct’. Sometimes, I struggle away, but other times – even if I feel reluctant, I know that I need to put in this, or that – into a blog post, for instance, now that I have a blog. But – I have other projects – don’t exactly plan when I will get down to those, either – but I just know that it’s time to get on with – whatever – now.

    I have more email, etc now – and so I do tend to see to those first, or it gets on my nerves seeing that little reminder at the bottom of the screen that I haven’t worked out how to switch off yet.

    It all takes discipline – but the sort of discipline that comes from yourself (this is what I find) – a discipline that will mean that, at the end of the day, you feel good about yourself.

    Oh – and it’s not always easy, but you do have to trust that positive voice that is within yourself.

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