“Give me six hours to chop down a tree
and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
If Abraham Lincoln did this, you should do this with your writing, because well, Abraham Lincoln.
But really, you’ve got a lot to write and don’t feel like spending the time to prepare beforehand. I can relate.
Hear this: get out of your feelings (I mean that in a non-bossy way. Maybe). Preparing before I sit and write has allowed me to shift from taking hours to write everything (blog posts, articles, book chapters) to now churning out content at a much faster rate. I’m talking about content that’s written in my true voice. Content that doesn’t feel like a dentist is yanking on a wisdom tooth to get it out onto the page; it just flows.
I’m guessing that you have a lot to do. The faster you figure out how to write in flow, the better. And doing a little prep before you write, will get you there. You’ll actually save time in the end. Writing in flow is faster and feels easier and more in sync with your true voice.
So, here’s how we get there:
These first two can be done anytime before your next session.
They do not have to be done immediately before you start writing
1. Get clear on your why
Think about your why in 3 parts:
1.Why are you writing this (for yourself)? What is the reason why you feel you need/want to write it? Your reasons may vary. A few examples: it will help your blog branding or it feels healing for you to write about the topic or you want to practice consistently writing on a particular subject. There are a thousand possible reasons why. Only you know the reasons specific to you and your goals. Dig deep and get clarity.
2. Why are YOU writing this? I’m not repeating the same question; hear me out. What is the reason why you feel you have the experience/knowledge/calling/whatever to write it?
3. Why will you be writing this for your readers? Why do your readers need/want to read this?
Your why is the foundation of flow. Take the time to get clear about every piece of writing attempt. In taking the time, you’ll even get clarity about things that need to go into the piece for it to match your intentions.
Any research you need to do for that writing session should be done before you start. Writing and researching are two separate processes. Trying to combine the two only breaks up your state of flow. You want non-stop writing without interruptions (more on that under #4).
The remaining suggestions are to be done
immediately before you start:
3. Find calm
Meditation and journaling both work for me. For you, it may something else. It can be as long as a 20-minute journaling session or as short as taking a few deep breaths. Find a way to get calm. This is a way to transition from daily activities into writing. It’s a way to quiet the mind and body.
Then, try to maintain that calm while you write. Turning off social media, call, and email notifications all help. You want your mind to be as calm and focused as possible.
4. Gather tools
They say it takes on average 15 minutes to get into flow. Have you ever thought about what that means for your writing? It means that every time you stop writing and oh, say, get up for water or coffee, check social media, randomly open your fridge and stare inside for no reason (oh, sorry, old habit of mine), you’re breaking flow. It will then take another 15 minutes to get back into it. Ouch! Or what likely happens is that you never even reach flow because you keep stopping to do something else before you get there.
Don’t be a flow-breaker. Gather your tools before you start.
Examples of tools: writing music playlist, favorite candle that you always light before you write, tea, water, whatever you do to create the ideal writing environment for yourself.
5. Get in place
I know where I write best, and I go there. Every. Single. Time. I don’t sometimes write at the kitchen table, then other times on the couch, then maybe at the coffee shop. Nope. I’ve tracked my writing and I know that my writing desk is the best place for me to get into flow. Do you know the location that works best for your writing flow?
I write in my journal every morning before I start my ‘professional’ writing. This is like a creative warm-up for me, and sometimes it even sparks writing ideas. If you don’t like journaling, you can do a mental warm-up. Simply reflect on the topic idea, what you’ve already written, the outline, etc.).
Flow state is what you’re aiming for
This is that ultimate place where the words flow freer and it’s not such a strain to write. We need every tip and tool and habit to build a routine that gets us there. Do a little prep before you start writing next time. Then come back and let me know how it goes. If you’re already prepping before you write, I’d love to hear what’s working for you.
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