If you are performing in a band, you probably practice your instrument.
When you have a big test coming up, you probably study.
If you are singing a solo, you probably practice the song you will perform.
Before you go to the dentist, you probably floss and brush your teeth.
If you are running a marathon, you probably train for a few months.
In all of these instances, you are preparing for the upcoming event. But how often do we prepare for a writing session? More often than I like to admit, I just sit down and start writing. I have a routine, and I follow that pretty regularly. But I recently realized there is so much more I can do to prepare for a killer writing session.
How to Prepare for a Killer Writing Session
Understand What Causes You to Feel Unprepared
If you want to have a killer writing session, you need to know what makes you feel unprepared. You can feel unprepared physically or mentally, or both!
You will feel physically unprepared if you did not get enough sleep the night before. If you are too tired it’s not going to be a productive writing session. Feeling hungry or thirsty is another way to be physically unprepared. Trying to write when you are sick is also very challenging.
It can be harder to identify what makes you mentally unprepared. You can feel mentally unprepared if you’ve overworked yourself on a particular project. Or if you are stressed about or thinking about something else. Distractions such as Facebook or your phone can also cause your mental focus to wane.
When you feel physically or mentally unprepared you will be able to take the necessary steps to better prepare for a killer writing session.
How to Prepare Physically
Feeling physically unprepared is pretty easy to fix. If you are tired you can often wake yourself up with a hot shower, a little bit of exercise, or—worse comes to worst—a nap. I’m not much of a napper, but maybe you are. If taking a nap helps you feel rested and more prepared to write, take a nap!
If you are hungry or thirsty, make a snack. Try to keep a water bottle at your desk so you can keep hydrated while you write. Drinking water can also help you feel more awake.
Being prepared to write when you are sick is a bit harder. You can take medicine. Sometimes a box of Kleenex is enough to keep you powering through, but being sick can merit a day or two off to recover so that you are physically prepared when you return to your writing.
Consistently getting a good night’s sleep, taking a shower and eating before you sit down to write, and making sure you have a water bottle at your writing desk can help you prevent yourself from feeling physically unprepared. Eating healthy, washing your hands, taking vitamins, etc. can keep you from getting sick so you don’t have to worry about medicine and Kleenex.
How to Prepare Mentally
It can be a lot harder to mentally prepare for a killer writing session. However, there are a few things you can do. If you feel burnt out from a current work in progress, take a step back. Instead of trying to write words in your actual novel, you might spend writing time strengthening your outline or adding detail to a character sketch.
Or you could do a writing prompt that will help you better understand your character or novel. Maybe you feel like writing a scene from a different character’s perspective or making a playlist of 25 songs your character has on his or her iPod or Spotify account. You may not be writing your novel, but your still working on your novel and getting to know your novel better. Sometimes these exercises will be the only writing you will do that day, but sometimes they will be enough to motivate you to spend some time writing your novel. They mentally prepare you for the larger task of writing your actual work in progress.
If you have something else on your mind that is causing stress, tell yourself “right now is my writing time. I will think about this and worry about this when I am done writing.” Giving yourself permission to write and not worry is hard, but it can be successful. When it is not working, try to take five or ten minutes and think about the issue—why it is worrying you and how you can fix it. This might be all you need to feel better and keep focusing on your writing.
If you are distracted by Facebook or people sending selfies using their favorite Snapchat filter, completely close out of Facebook and put your phone on vibrate (or turn it screen side down).
You can keep yourself mentally prepared by not overworking a project. Take breaks or days off. Balance your writing time with other activities that energize you. Take care of yourself emotionally so you have the mental stamina to keep writing. Plan and balance the rest of your life so that it doesn’t stress you out while trying to write. Resisting the urge to check Facebook or your phone while writing also keeps you from being mentally distracted and unprepared.
Preventing yourself from becoming physically or mentally unprepared will set you up to have a killer writing session!
What will you start doing to prepare for your writing sessions?