3 Ways To Get Into The Writing Zone

There’s not many people out there who can fire up their laptop and write at a moment’s notice. For the rest of us, we need to coax our muse out of it’s shell until the words start to flow.

So, what can you do to get your head in the best place for writing?  Here’s a few things you can try out today.

Change What You’re Wearing  – This might seem like a weird thing to do, but give it a go and you may be surprised by how changing your clothes can change your state.

I’m sure if you ask anyone who has to dress in a uniform for their occupation they’ll tell you that they take on the role of their job when they dress for it.  Putting on a nurse’s uniform, or a police uniform,  I’m sure makes those people change how they talk, walk, and how they carry themselves.  So why not put that to use when it comes to your writing.

What do you picture someone like Stephen King wearing when he sits down to write? Of course you can Google pictures for an answer, but why bother, the reality mightn’t be as good as how you imagine it.  – Is he sitting in formal writing clothes? A t-shirt? Shirt and tie? 

Play around with your wardrobe, dress formally or informally, and see how it affects your mental state and how you see yourself. You may be surprised by  how a small change can make a big difference.

Change Your Surroundings – Like changing your clothing, your surroundings can make a big difference to how easy it takes to get into the flow of writing.

For example, in my own case, big open spaces aren’t good for me. Put me in the middle of a park and I’ll probably struggle to get into flow.  But, put me in a small room, with curtains closed, and small chair sitting in the corner, and I’m in my element.

Even the chair I sit on can make a difference to how I write.  Put me on a small banana shaped gaming chair and I can easily close out the world to write. But put me on a stiff kitchen chair and I struggle to hit my word count.

As well as the chair you sit on, or don’t ( I’ve been known to enjoy a few hours writing standing up), pay attention to what’s on your desk.   Would a writing mug with a writing quotation help you get in the zone?

Or how about some photos of writers you admire, snap shots of book you’d love to emulate, or a print out of positive past reviews, hanging on your wall that you can look up at when you’re looking to get your head in the game.

Like picturing clothing, play around with your imagination and conjure up images of the your favorite authors work spaces.  What does J.K Rowling’s desk look like? Again, you don’t need to Google it. If that’s what you think it is, then that’s what it is. – You just need to convince your subconscious that you’re a proficient author working in a strong writing surrounding.  – Once you do, don’t be surprised when the words start to flow.

Prime The Writing Pump – One thing that some writers like to do is do some form of uncontrolled writing before getting to work. In these situations, you simply write the thoughts that come into your head, editor free, and put them on the page.  After five or ten minutes,  the brain/hand connection grows to a point that your inner critic switches off (or grows bored), leaving you a chance to quickly start on your work before it returns to ruin the flow.

But what if you can’t do that? What if you’re embarrassed by your thoughts?

Although these head clearing sessions can be really helpful to clear the decks,  reading back through your sentences can be akin to the ramblings of a madman scribbled on the wall of an asylum.  For me, I was always wary of anyone stumbling upon my words and left wondering about my sanity.  Because of that, I could never really let myself go.  Maybe you’re like that too?

So, what can you do? Easy, use someone else’s words.

Rather than opening your head and venting all all the craziness that’s in there, go find one of your favorite books and write passages from it instead.  – Working with this material allows you to switch off your inner editor, since it’s already been heavily edited and not your work, but it also helps to improve your own writing style.

Writing out passages by hand not only forces you to slow down and become  aware of how every word, comma,  and sentence structure is used in the piece, but you’re already writing out good material before you begin on your own work.  – So when you do start, you’ll be writing from a higher level than if you were writing from a rambling session.  – Give it a go and you’ll be surprised how quickly your writing will improve.

And there you go, three ways to get your head in the writing zone.  Are these the only ways, or the best ones, probably not. But give them a go and see what happens. You may surprise yourself  by how a small trick can open up that head of yours.  🙂

How To Outline A Product Or Nonfiction Book

How To Outline A Product Or Nonfiction Book

Like a railway line keeping a train on course, an outline for your next non fiction piece or written product will do the same. Not only does it help keep you focused, but it also makes your job a lot easier. You not only know what comes next, but you’ve got the freedom to  jump around to different parts of your text on days when you’ve more interest in writing those parts.

Writing an outline before you start also allows you to put into place all the information you’re going to need, because later when your mind’s working on the text, it can be easy to forget an important piece of information that would have made your book/product even better. This is where brainstorming ideas and topics before you begin can save you from that mistake.

Depending on your audience and what you’d like to cover, there are three routes you can go down.

The Beginner To Advanced Outline

As the heading suggests, this outline is everything a beginner is going to need to get them from where they are to becoming a master of it.

So depending on your topic you’ll need…

An introduction to the topic you’ll be discussing, followed by the least technical part of your topic. For example, if this was on dog training, this could be as simple as buying the right dog and a break down of all the steps that are needed to get them through they’re ‘buying a dog’ phase.  Then once you’ve got the basics in place, you’ll bring your reader’s knowledge up to an advanced level by adding more advanced information.

Like a curve graph or chart, you’re going to take your reader from a position of zero smoothly up to where they need to be using the following outline.

  1. Introduction to topic.
  2. Step-by-step instructions. – Starting at the lowest level information and working your way up.
  3. Close the section with a recap. – To make sure your reader has the knowledge in place for the next more advanced section.
  4. Repeat the process for next section.
  5. Close out with a summary, recommended resources, etc.

Once you’ve got that in place, the next section will follow the same logical pattern. Each one building on the one before and increasing your readers knowledge. You can then close out your piece with a summary of what you’ve covered, and any recommended resources that the reader might want to know about.

Step By Step Outline

Again an easy outline to follow, it’s simply a step-by-step process. Like following a recipe, your reader will go from knowing nothing all the way up to that moment when they’re taking their cake from the stove.

Like before, you want to introduce your reader to the topic and explain what they’ll know after going through this section, then it’s a simple matter of following through on what you said you’d do.  

As you’re going through all the steps you’re going to cover, pay particular attention to any steps that may need to be broken down even further, and require steps of their own.

  1. Introduction – Discuss what you’re going to be doing.
  2. Layout the steps. – Starting at the very first work your way to the last one. – But pay attention to any steps that need to be broken down into smaller ones/or need more explanation?
  3. Close the section with advanced tips/warnings/mistakes/things to watch out for, to make sure your reader knows exactly what they’re doing.
  4. Repeat the process if needed.
  5. Close out with final thoughts, summary, or recommended resource section.

Depending on what you’re writing you may be able to go from nothing, all the way through to step 21 where they’ve completed the task, or you may have to use this layout from chapter to chapter. Like before you can finish you piece with a recap, words of advice from you, or a recommended resource section for your reader to further their knowledge.

General Purpose Outline

If the type of book you’re going to write doesn’t fall under either of the above you can use a general outline instead. This outline may be useful if you’re giving your reader a history of the topic, or an overhead view that doesn’t involve any deep knowledge.

When outlining with the general purpose outline your path is simply taking the first topic your reader should know about, go through a general history of the topic, and explain how it’s relevant to the reader. Again because this outline is an overhead view you don’t have to go into anything too advanced but you can add advice and tips for the reader to make more use of the topic.

  1. Introduction of the topic.
  2. Overhead general view of the history and anything relevant that your reader should know about the topic.
  3. Close out with tips that can add to your readers knowledge of the topic.
  4. Repeat the process, topic by topic until you’ve covered all you need.
  5. Close out with either a summing up or a further reading section for your reader.

 

As you can see, outlining your next nonfiction or product isn’t difficult if you take the time to brainstorm and get everything on paper first. Once you do, you’ll have, like the step-by-step outline above, a simple framework you can follow. Once you have it it’s just a matter of slotting your content into the outline that suits your book and you’re on your way.

If you’re not sure what to cover in your piece, spend some time on Google, AskThePublic.com, or use the ‘Look Inside’ feature on Amazon to find out what questions, topics, and what other writers are putting in their books in your niche.

Now all you’ve got to do is write it. 🙂