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.  🙂

Fiction Writers, Where’s The 2.0 Version Of Your Book?

If you’ve just dropped by for the first time, (where were you?) you may have missed my 2.0 post the other day.

Now, while it was written with a non fiction author in mind, there’s no reason why a fiction author can’t do the same.

While you might have more limits on what you can do, compared to a non fiction writer, there’s no reason why you can’t make more money from your last book.

Here’s a few ideas…

Writer’s Commentary – We’ve all seen those DVD extras where the director of a movie will sit down and go through the whole movie and comment on how they made it.  These are usually why they made choices they did, where ideas came from, and even what they might have changed about the finished movie. -There’s no reason why you as an author can’t do the same.

While you could write a daily diary as you write your book, there’s nothing stopping you from talking into an iPhone,  creating a few MP3 files, and offering them for readers to listen along to.

Not only is it a way for them to look behind the creative curtain, but it gives them a better idea about how your characters came about, why you wrote them the way you did, and what you’ve got planned for the future.

These extra’s, you can add and publish as a second version of your book, or as a bonus for readers to download from your site.

Merchandise – Depending on your book, you may get some more use out of the cover and content from it.  – Take the book cover as an example.

If you’re writing for the Sci-Fi/ Fantasy audience, there’s no reason not to make more use of that image of that Starship or Fantasy character on the cover.  If it’s a particularly good image, you could get more mileage out of it by selling t-shirts, mugs, or other apparel with the image on it.

Not only could you do a limited run, to make them more exclusive, but there’s nothing stopping you from setting up a free competition to get fans to share your book on social media, or as an incentive to get them to join your email list.

Translate Your Book – Want to make two, three or more versions of your book without writing another book? Then simply translate your book into the most popular languages.

Not only will you be reaching readers, but you may find that your competition drops off in the foreign language category you enter.  – Because let’s face it, most people are took lazy to go the effort of getting their book translated.

One site you could go to hire a translator is Upwork.com.  If you’ve never done it before, here’s a post of what to look out for when hiring an freelancer. 

Audio Book – If you haven’t got  an audio version of your book created yet, or in the works, you need your head seen to.  Not only are you missing out on a market, that’s exploding in popularity at the moment, but you’ve also got something for past readers to buy.

Think about the Harry Potter market for a moment. You’ve got all the books, you’ve read them numerous times, and along comes the audio version of the books read by Stephen Fry.  – Hmmm, methinks you’d be first in line to get your copy of them.  – Same content, different format.

And who knows, if you hire the right narrator (something you can do at either UpWork.com or ACX.com) your finished book may actually be better than the written text.

Create and publish your books through Audible.com, and you can pick up some handsome bounty payments ($50 at present) if you can get readers to sign up to the service.  – And all from content you’ve already written.  🙂 

Write A Short Story – If you’re like most authors, you may have content from your book that’s never going to be seen.

Maybe you’ve got a chapter where your character went off to do something that didn’t suit the finished book? Or maybe you’ve written pages of back story on your main character or villain that’s sitting on your hard drive collecting dust?

Could you massage that content into a short story and offer it as a paid or free bonus for readers? Not only could it help you make more money, build an email list, but you may draw attention to yourself in the short reads market which may lead to sales of your longer books.

If Lee Child is doing with his Jack Reacher books, there’s nothing stopping you from doing the same with your own characters too.

Think maybe you should hold off on that second book until you’ve wrung as much as you can from the first one?

Me too. –  Now off you pop and get to work.