#amwriting Tips and Tricks for Writing during Quarantine
Writing may be a predominantly solo endeavor, but--like many solo activities--that doesn't mean it isn't often more fun with other people. Earlier this week in the Advice to New Writers blog, one of the tips I considered most important was to find a community.
There's a reason people with gym buddies go more often; people tend to be more successful when they have a built in system for both support and accountability. This is true for writing, too. Some days, you need someone to do a writing sprint with you to keep you accountable to getting words on the page. Some days, you need someone to tell you it's okay to prioritize self-care because your mental health is more important than your word count. And some days, you need someone to talk you off the ledge when the Imposter Syndrome demon is whispering in your ear that all your revisions aren't worth it.
And sometimes, you just need a plain, old change of scenery. I for one, used to have a weekend routine that led to some of my most productive writing sessions: visit parents, peruse the local used bookstore, write at my favorite grocery store / coffee shop ... cough, cough breakfast bar and smoothies?? sign me up a million times, then hit the gym. I wrote alone 99% of these days, but I was out in the world. Elderly couples would sit and eat fruit at the table next to me; friends would come in after church in their Sunday best and laugh while splitting desserts; families would traipse in and out between sports tournaments. And their joy was the most beautiful white noise a writer could ask for.
But what now? What do we do during quarantine when we can't meet with the communities we joined? When we can't enjoy the simple pleasure of writing in our favorite local spots?
Here are a few of the tricks that work for me.
Designate a writing spot in your home. Many of us may not have the luxury of a spot that is only for our writing. But even a shared location can be valuable to you if you begin to associate it with, this is where I write. Personalize it, if you can. Put up artwork, get a special lamp, drape a favorite scarf over your desk or lamp to give it some ambience.
Hot tip: if you can safely and responsibly go to a Goodwill that's open in your area, they tend to have really cool vases for under $2. Toss a $5 string light pack from Target inside, and voila! Colorful, warm, simple. Can you match the color to your bookish color palette? Even better.
Get a candle, air freshener, wax melt, essential oil diffuser, or perfume that you use when you write. Trick your mind into knowing, I'm focusing on writing now, anytime you smell that scent. If you can match the scent to something meaningful in your book, that can be a lot of fun.
Hot tip: Check out a site like Alkemia Perfumes (https://www.etsy.com/market/alkemia). You can buy a pack of 6 assorted / themed scents for $15, or buy individual ones in sample or full sizes. I have a few that are designated for different POV characters in my wip. When I write those chapters, I wear that character's perfume to help me get in their head.
Dress up a little and make it fun! I'm not going to pretend that when I'm not at work these days, there's a 99.999% chance I'm in black leggings, a t-shirt, and slippers. No makeup, and hair a wild mess. But if I'm really not feeling in the groove for writing, I may pick out an outfit that makes me feel like I'm going out into the world. It doesn't have to be fancy, it just needs to make me feel like I'm not sitting in the same chair in my house that I have hardly left for the past 5 months. I'll put on makeup and the costume jewelry that doesn't get worn much outside of Halloween month (yes, I believe in celebrating Halloween for all 31 days). And the best part? No one else is going to see my make-up, so I can experiment with abandon. Sometimes, ya girl just wants to feel like a Kresley Cole sorceri.
Music, music, music... or white noise. It doesn't need to be a fancy, intricate playlist that you spend 40 minutes fussing with when you only have 45 minutes to write. Figure out what works for you. Ask your friends or writing community for suggestions. Personally? I like to pick one song and listen to it on loop for my entire session. Currently, I'm working on my romantic fantasy set in a very AU, not historical literature, medieval Germany. So last night's music choice was Wagner's Ring ... today's is Ariana Grande. Balance, right?
That's all I've got for now. I hope you leave a comment, or reach out on instagram to share a few tricks of your own. Or just to let me know if any of these work for you!
Good writing to you all, and until next time,