In the process of finding myself, I found that the career path I had previously chosen for myself wasn’t what I wanted to do at all. In fact, I found that my mind had a hard time focusing on the homework, because I was busy lost inside my own head or still lost in the words I’d just read from a new novel I was reading. In the end, I found that my true passion was the written word. I decided to finish my Associates Degree in Medical Billing and Coding, but that I would return in the New Year and start on my Bachelors Degree in Creative Writing. Now that I’m enrolled and currently engaged in my classes, I’m finding that I made the right decision.
The textbook we use for my Introduction to Creative Writing, is called, The Practice of Creative Writing: A Guide for Students 2nd Edition, by Heather Sellers. Even if you aren’t a student studying to receive a degree in creative writing, I strongly suggest this book for those wanting to become an author regardless. After reading a few chapters into this text, I immediately thought about my blog and that I could help so many new or even established authors by the knowledge I receive in my studies.
One thing I’ve learned so far is that having a scheduled time of day, every day, to write is important. In other words, I needed a writing habit in order to keep me focused long enough to actually get words on paper. I have found that the best time for me to write is either late at night or early in the morning. Today, for the first time, I tried writing early in the morning verses late at night. By doing this little test, I was able to sit and type out an entire chapter. I took time to read the last page of my novel in progress and then BAM! I started writing. I didn’t stop until my son woke up and at that point I was finishing up the last paragraph of my chapter.
Not only am I a fulltime student, I’m also a mother of two little ones under the age of five. It’s because of this that I need time away from others to truly focus and get myself into a good enough rhythm to allow my mind to get into the flow of my stories. With so many distractions, I wasn’t able to get much done in a days’ work, like I did this morning with just three hours of uninterrupted writing. I was even able to go back through and read how well I did. I had started this test thinking early writing would have been an awful idea, but I found that it was my best writing yet. Apparently my brain needs to have no distraction, which is only done when I’m not fully aware of my days’ happenings.
With this little test, I now know that my writing habit needs to be changed from late night or a few minutes here and there through the day, to writing a couple of hours in the early morning.
Aside from having a writing habit, I also learned that you should also set up a writing ritual as well. As Sellers states in the textbook mentioned above, “Rituals help us achieve and intensify focus. Writing rituals are the key to keeping your writing habit in place.” By keeping rituals in place, it will also help us writers stay focused, steer clear from procrastination, and avoid any unnecessary distractions.
So what is a ritual? From my understanding, a ritual is something you can use to trigger your brain to know that it’s time to write. The example Seller used was lighting a candle prior to writing. For myself, I have decided to plug my laptop in the kitchen at night. That way I can push the button to make a cup of coffee and then carry my laptop either to my bed or the couch with coffee in hand. These are my two favorite places to write. I don’t like locking myself up in my office. It makes me feel as though I’m shut out from the world. Even if I am the only one awake at 5 a.m., at least I know that because my kids aren’t out of their rooms and I can see their doors from my position on the couch.
I don’t know about any of you guys, but distractions are a big one for me. Who would have thought, me—someone who didn’t like getting up early to even workout—now finds that writing in the early a.m. is best for my creative brain? I was secretly hoping that I did better at night; however my results are proof enough for me, plus I’ll get to go to bed with my husband every night. I’m sure I will have my days where the words don’t flow as easily, but that’s part of being a creative writer. We still have to do what works out best for us in order to produce our work for all to read.
So now I ask you all, do you have a writing habit or ritual? How long do you think is the best time to write?
Sellers, H. (2013). The Practice of Creative Writing: A Guide For Students (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Bedford/St Martin’s.