We love the comments we receive from our readers and occasionally are asked really great questions that deserve an entire blog post to adequately answer. Thank you for your comments!
One of our wonderful readers recently lamented:
“I truly do enjoy writing, however, it just seems like the first 10-15 minutes tend to be wasted just trying to figure out how to begin.”
How do you center yourself and clear your head for writing? Great question! First off, I have to say, “you are not alone!” In fact, the best writers I know intentionally spend those initial writing moments something other than the work at hand.
One time-honored method for waking your muse is to dedicate those 10-15 minutes (and more) to a writing prompt or creative challenge. Don’t try to write for your official assignment or creative project yet. Just write. Here are some suggestions:
Set a timer. Do not stop writing. That’s it! This is called freewriting. It is a stream-of-consciousness, totally does NOT matter what you write or how you write it exercise that is destined for the trash. It’s a method invented in the late 60’s, early 70’s that’s still used today because it works. One study showed that freewriting significantly improved English fluency amongst ESL students’ writing samples as well as bolstering their confidence in the language. Something about releasing that need for control over every comma enables the brain to tap into that lusher landscape of language needed for quality writing. So “waste” those 10-15 minutes with gusto! Even if all you are writing the first time around is, “I have no idea what to write and this is the dumbest thing I’ve ever tried…” keep at it. I’ve occasionally salvaged some interesting phrases that have emerged from freewriting exercises. But that is NOT the purpose. You aren’t writing for anyone or anything. You are just writing. And writing. And writing.
Tune in. Close your eyes for a moment and focus in on all that you feel, hear, and smell. Open your eyes and write it all down. Get every detail. Every hum, every rhythm, capture it the best way you can. If you still have time, choose a corner or space to describe visually in great detail. You are warming up your mind with rich vocabulary and practiced perceptions.
Zoom out. Start small. Focus on a detail. A fly on a machine. Zoom out to see the room where it rests. Who else is there? Now what about the building? Keep zooming out to take in the big picture. Show an entire town. A society. A world.
Josh’s recent post offers some more great prompts to get your creative gears engaged!
It may seem counterintuitive, but I am sure you will find that allowing your mind to wander along its own paths first will help it settle down to the writing you would like to see. My article on Writer’s Block also shares several proven tips for clearing the head and getting ready to move forward in your writing when it has come to a dead standstill. Best wishes and we’d love to hear how these suggestions have worked for you!