5 Ways to get in the Writing Zone

the writing zoneI am flagging on my 30 day writing challenge today.  I woke up knowing that I need to fire up my writing engine but aware that I was painfully low on gas.

There is a lovely moment in the Keira Knightly/ Mark Ruffalo movie “Begin Again” where Keira, heart-broken and terribly drunk is struck by a great lyric for a new song.  Her lovelt flatmate hands her pen and paer and tells her to ‘get in the zone’.  She says “I am in the zone” in her perfectly clipped English accent and is admonished.  “You sound like a posh schoolgirl”.  Keira bounces back with a great impression of a Noo Yoike Cabbie. “Arm in tha zowen!”.

So today I am offering five fab ways to get IN THA ZOWEN as a writer:

Five fabulous ways to get in the writing zone:

1:  Revisit your outline

If you haven’t gone crazy nuts and thrown yourself into a month long pantsting challenge then you are probably using either a detailed plot outline or some story beats to get you through your story from one bank to t’other. If you want t6o get in the Writing Zone, revisiting your plan and getting excited about how far you have come and how close you are to that great, great scene that has been playing out in your head for days is a good way to motivate you to put your bottom in the chair and start writing.

2.  Gaze upon your novel vision board

I talked in a former post about how much I am loving Vision Boards for novels.  Though I have sworn off planning for this month, I was happy to bend my own rules and create a vision board for the novel on Day two of the month.  Having a good visual stimulus can really ignite your creative right brain and nudge the story to present itself.

3.  Create a writing soundtrack

I am a big 8Tracks.com  fan (user julsnolan if you want to see what I am listening to)  There are some wonderful playlists over there.  Some are designed for study and writing, some are created to correspond to a novel that is already published.  Finding some great tunes that really correlate with the mood and feel of your writing is a lovely add-on to your writing experience.  Listening to those tracks outside of your writing time can also be a great  way to keep in contact with that imaginative thread that you are creating.

4. Journal

I find that starting my writing session with a few minutes journaling can be a great method for clearing the mind and dumping any annoying thoughts and issues that could be hanging around.  Get it out.  Get it down on paper.  Then you are clear to let your story fill the gaps left behind by your emotional residue.  It works – believe me!

5. Breathe

Yes I mean meditate.  Spend just one minute breathing deeply and nothing else.  Visualise yourself writing and the words flowing from your fingers.  Imagine yourself turning the pages that you and only you have created.

The Zone is simply a mental place from which creativity and devotion can spring.  It is only a breath away, my friend.  Only a breath away.

How do you get in the writing zone?  Leave a comment with your tips and hints below.

about me

Why choose self publishing?

It’s a good question really?  Sure, ten years ago, I wouldn’t even have been considering self publishing my book.  I would have resigned myself to the whole rigmarole of finding an agent, who then finds a publisher, who then finds an editor etc etc.  The whole process would have taken me years of my time and a hefty amount of plucky resilience.  I would have gone to the stationery store and bought  a pretty,new file which I would entitle ‘Rejections’.  My poor little fragile ego would have taken a bashing and many times I might have given up the ghost and ‘got a proper job’ instead.

However times have changed.  The beauty of the internet is that it has opened up the door to people like myself.  Writers of niche books which do not have mass market appeal are now able to offer their thoughts to the world and anyone with a credit card and an internet connection has the chance to join the party.  At the moment, it’s like a street party and anyone is invited.  I would predict however that, just like any evolutionary cycle, it will be survival of the fittest before long.

So what makes you ‘fit’ in the self publishing world?  I would say that approaching self publishing as a business is the best way to go.  Seeing yourself as a professional who is duty bound to put quality work out into the world and package it as professionally as an established publisher would is essential to success.  Building a robust author platform is also a must.  You can’t be a reclusive Lee Harper type anymore.  No, no, no.  Now you’ve got to get out there and tweet and poke and post and link like your life depended on it.  Truth is that choosing the self publishing route as a writer doesn’t always leave you much space for writing.  And essentially, writing is what I love to do.

Sure I am enjoying learning about all this marketing stuff.  Truth be told, I am becoming a bit of a geek really.  I find myself downloading books about online marketing, building followers, creating platforms, branding, finding my authentic voice, publishing by the moon calendar… you name it, I am reading it.  I have spent whole weekends rebuilding my website, and lost what feel like months of my life trying to decipher twitter. (I still don’t know my @ from my elbow!)

There’s another reason why I have chosen self publishing and that is my location.  I live in New Zealand.  Not just in New Zealand, I live in Dunedin which is one of the southern most cities in the world.  In New Zealand, sheep outnumber people 4 to 1 and sheep don’t buy books.  Due to its isolation, books in New Zealand cost A LOT.  Your average paperback is around $25 which is double the minimum hourly wage.  In this country, unless you are an ex Rugby player or a soap opera actress or both (I am neither) the chances of even getting a foot in the door of a publisher are greatly diminished.  Even once your foot is in and you nab an elusive publishing deal, your sales figures are only likely to get into hundreds.  It’s not a great numbers game really.  Factor in the wait time between being accepted by a publisher and making it into print and suddenly you are collecting a pension before your first royalty check for $3 or thereabouts hits the doormat.  I am not a very competitive person.  I don’t fancy my odds.

So I have chosen to self publish.  It’s not the easy route.  I am developing a Jack of all Trades attitude and, I fear, mastery of none.  But you know what?  I am having a ball.  I love the idea of taking my destiny in my own hands.  I like ‘workin’ it’ like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman and putting myself out there day after day.  It’s fun learning about SEO (WHAT?!?) and meta tags (double what?!?).

So why choose self publishing?  Because I am lucky that I can.  Because I have a product that I am proud of.  Because I want to share my message with as many readers as I can. Sure, I live in the back of beyond but I have the internet and I am darned well going to use it!

Why have you chosen the self publishing route?  Any cautionary tales for those of us just venturing out into the big bad world of self pub?  Any of you ex-Rugby-playing-soap-stars who still chose this route??  Love to hear your thoughts!  Post a comment to make me smile!

Kettle’s boiled – it’s teatime!

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