Starting a writing session is often the hardest part, the part that takes the most energy, kinda like getting a plane off the ground takes the most fuel, but once it’s in the air, it soars.
Just like many of us pour ourselves a warm cuppa joe or hot tea in the morning to get going and focused, there are a few things we can do to help us get going and focused on a writing session.
If we take a few minutes to prime our brain, let it know that it’s “time to write” our writing sessions can often flow more smoothly.
Does starting strong mean your writing session will move right along with no hiccups? Maybe! And maybe not.
Before you start beating yourself up, remember that writing is not a linear process. It’s a creative process, more like a spiral with or a messy scribble that a child might draw. This means that writing is sometimes messy and bumpy and filled with u-turns as you discover what it is that you actually want to say.
But in order to make those discoveries, you’ve got to start. So at the beginning of each writing session, take a moment to prime your brain and get it ready to get into the flow.
#1 – Release any Creative Conditions you might have.
Creative Conditions are those things that we think we “need” in order to write or create. We all have them. Maybe you think you need a huge chunk of time or a perfectly hot cup of fresh coffee before you can create or write.
Sure, those things might feel good, but do you need them in order to write? Are they absolutely necessary? Probably not. Be open to writing and creating in a variety of conditions.
I used to think that I couldn’t write in a car or plane. I can and actually have discovered that my writing sessions are quite productive while traveling!
You might take a minute to become aware of what you think you need and release them. I did a whole podcast episode on this if you’d like to go a little deeper on this topic.
#2 – Set a Clear Intention for your session and say it out loud.
This is all about telling your brain (and ego and inner critic) what you’re going to do.
First, pause a minute, take a breath, close your eyes, feel into your body. What do you want to accomplish in this writing session? What feels good and doable but will also push you?
Now, say out loud the following (or some variation that feels good to you):
“I am a writer, and for the next _________[time frame], I have the intention to focus solely on ____________ [your writing project]. Everything else will wait until I ___________________________ [what you want to accomplish].
#3 – Take 5-10 minutes to roughly plan out your writing sessions.
This doesn’t need to be complicated – a bullet list or a few sentences will prime your brain for your ideas.
Think about what plot or content points you want to hit and jot them down. If you’re not sure, take a few minutes and read what you wrote during your last writing session to warm-up and give yourself reminders of where you were headed.
Once you know what you want to write, you can get going.
#4 – Use a writing prompt to “warm-up.”
If you’re still not sure where to start, use a writing prompt to get the juices flowing.
I used to call these quickwrites when I taught HS. The kids would get annoyed until they realized that they really did help them come up with some good ideas.
And if they work for grumpy 16-year-olds who don’t want to write…they can work for you too! In fact when I shared these in my Let’s Write the (damn) Book Club, several members put them to use immediately – one fiction writer and one non-fiction writer – and they were thrilled with what came out on the page.
If you’re writing fiction, write from a character’s perspective. If you’re writing non-fiction, write from your reader’s perspective.
- I remember when….
- My darkest moment was…
- The first time I….
- The thing I’m most afraid of is….
- One day, I will…
You don’t need to use all of these ideas for all of your writing sessions. If you’ve only got ten minutes to jot a few words down in your notebook, you’re probably not going to use a prompt or even plan out your writing session. But setting the intention to even write a full paragraph can be helpful.
And if you’ve got any other ideas or favorite ways to get a writing session off to a strong start, share them in the comments below. I’d love to hear them.