How to keep on writing – 5 tips and a back-up plan

It has been hours since you touched the keyboard. The only movement you make it to keep the computer from sleeping. On screen is a blank page and an angry cursor blinking at you. You know you have to write something, anything. But what? What should you write?

I have read a lot about writer’s block. Some people say that it is something you have to learn to live with, others say you have to power on and see what it will bring you. In this post I’d like to give some tips on what helps me to keep the writer’s block away.
If you happen to have another profession than writer, don’t worry. These tips can help you with any type of work where you have to focus and produce something.

Find a comfortable spotPhoto of a relaxing man by photographer Kamyar Rad
When you sit down to write, make sure it’s somewhere you’re comfortable. It doesn’t have to be quiet, it doesn’t have to be free of distraction, you need to feel like you belong there and can sit there for hours.
My spots are at home. I have created an office for myself in the shed behind the house. It is packed with Lego’s (my other hobby) but the desk faces the garden where I have sunlight. Sometimes I sit at the kitchen table or in the second bedroom where my partner has a desk. Those spots work too, but only when I’m home alone.
I do love writing when I’m on vacation, provided the accommodations give an ergonomic workspot. I once stayed in a hotel in Kopenhagen where I sat on the bed writing. This didn’t work. I ended up sitting at a Starbucks overlooking the entrance of a supermarket surrounded by Asian tourists yapping away. I wasn’t productive at all…

Choose the soundtrack that works for you
Music inspires and the emotions in the music you play reflect in what you write. For me a playlist with instrumental soundtracks works. But I do switch between several different music styles, from classical to trance and from jazz to rock. What all playlists have in common for me are the lack of lyrics. The volume I use is tailored to my own ears, just enough to hear the music but soft enough to block it out when I’m in the flow.

Make sure your writing tools work as you need them to
When you write you’re using writing tools. Most writers use a computer or laptop, some use tablets. The device you work on and the software you use must be in perfect order to keep the flow going.
I have a cat. He’s young and playful, creating laughs all around at his antics. But when I write I keep him out of the way. Once he jumped up on my desk and walked over my keyboard. After that, all my settings were changed. While walking, he pushed some keys at the same time, including the CTRL key. So the computer thought I wanted to change settings using hot-keys, and did so accordingly. I’ve spent an hour to fix it.
So, set-up your tools so you have no barriers to keep on writing. Don’t let anyone change them for you, or remember how to set things back to your liking. That way you won’t be hampered by technical difficulties.

Leave the internet alone
no-cellphones-35121_640You are connected to a lot of services. As a writer, of any kind, you know you have to stay connected to interact with your followers, readers, inspirators and let’s not forget the loved ones. But, when you start writing and you want to stay in the flow for as long as possible, turn off the notifications. Close that e-mail client and set your phone to vibrate. Better even, put that phone somewhere you cannot reach it without moving away from your keyboard.
I even go to the extend that I turn off my phone when I’m not home alone. My partner is connected to everyone important to me too, so if an emergency comes up, she’ll notify me.
Also, beware of your browser. That incredibly funny website is just a few clicks away and Facebook always lurks around the corner. Keep it at arms length and restrain yourself.

Eat and drink
As a human being, you need sustenance. Eat and drink before you start a writing session. Nothing is worse than having a empty hole in your belly when you’re on a roll. Your body will keep on nagging to get some food until you can’t ignore it anymore and leave the writing for what it is. After you ate, getting back into the flow can take a long while.
I always have a pot of tea with me when I write. I pour myself a cup every time I move on to another section or when I need to think. It helps me relax. The only downfall is that I use the bathroom a lot too.

If all else fails…
… just get up, change the scenery and clear your mind. Go talk to another human being or go walk the dog. Feed the bunny, do the dishes or do anything that’s not working. That can help you to relax and give your mind the time to reset. After that you can get back to work and get the creativity flowing again.