Thursday, August 09, 2012

What helps when you're writing?

Here's what's been helping with writing lately:

  • Standing up. When caffeine just can't get you over that early afternoon slump, here's what I discovered: writing standing up. I know I'm in good company here (see picture), but I never thought this was for me until I tried it. Putting the laptop on top of the small, ancient copier in my study, which is the perfect height for a standup desk (and also free),  forestalls the faceplant into the keyboard and instant descent into dreams that seems just about unavoidable from 2-3 p.m. (Hint: Writing a blog post in this dead zone will also wake you up.)
  • Writing in a cool room. My study gets too hot in the afternoons, even with the blinds closed, so I take the traveling circus approach and descend to the cool basement, where I set up a cardboard box, put my laptop on it, and write, yes, standing up. I also have one of those giant exercise balls that they make fun of on Portlandia, and that works when I feel like sitting down. A coffee shop would probably be good, except that that would mean putting actual going-out-of-the-house clothes on instead of running shorts and a t-shirt.
  • Follow your impulse to jump up and move around. Now we have proof, because the goddess of NPR says so: it's good for you to get up and move around every 20 minutes. The words then start to click into place, like Tetris blocks falling, and you'll get some sentences that way. 
  • Stay away from FaceBook.  Even if you don't find it a time suck, trust me on this: Everyone on FaceBook will be either (1) doing more interesting academic things (fabulous seminar!) than you, or (2) writing more than you and posting about it, or (3) uploading pictures from a more exciting, exercise-filled vacation spot than you are visiting.  This goes double for Twitter, which can only confirm your assessment of yourself as a slothful waste of space. So banish these as best you can. 
Jonathan at Stupid Motivational Tricks asks "What's your fuel?" What tricks have you found lately? 


Bavardess said...

Walking (especially somewhere energising like a bush track) always gets me 'unstuck' when I'm struggling with writing. I'd love to try writing while walking on a treadmill. When I'm actually writing (instead of thinking about writing) I talk out loud to myself and read my work as I go. I find that helps keep the flow going. I've also started using Scivener for the early drafting process. This seems to help me because it isn't as linear as working in a Word document.

jo(e) said...

I'm going to have to try writing while standing up ....

Clio Bluestocking said...

How funny that I was just thinking of trying the standing up method after reading "The Paris Wife" and "A Moveable Feast." Just need a place the proper height to do so. I also have found that, on occasion, writing in a different place or writing long-hand gives the writing a boost.

moria said...

Standing on my head. Lying flat on my back on the floor. Pacing while composing aloud. Remembering to eat, and to eat things that will fuel me and not shut me down. Re-reading the passage I'm working on aloud, talking to myself about it. Power naps, often with music, usually early polyphony. Playing with the cat. And, unfortunately, frequent smoke breaks. Have to find a substitute for that one.

undine said...

Bavardess, I will have to try talking out loud and also Scrivener, which I can't seem to figure out for some reason.
jo(e)--Hope you like it!
ClioB--The standing up thing came to me when I was making copies one day and figured out that the height was perfect, but I'll bet there's something in your house that would work. I use a cardboard box on top of a table when I go down into the cool basement, and, while not elegant, it works. Agree totally on writing longhand or in a different place.
Moria--so many kinds of fuel! ON the eating thing: protein at lunch works for me (eggs, shrimp, chicken) and also plain almonds.

Z said...

I decided today I want a standing desk.

Would love to write and walk on treadmill.

Like to talk out loud and read as I go.

Keep saying I should use Scrivener.