Getting in the Zone

I spent seven days working on my writing process. My goal was to let go of word counts for a week and delve into creativity and flow. Instead of writing sprints, I aimed for ninety-minute sessions “in the zone.”

First I had to figure out how to get that creativity and flow going.

Duh: Do more of those things that help me get into the zone, and less of those things that don’t.

To get into the zone, I did less of:

  • TV
  • Junk food
  • Keeping my cell phone nearby (thus using energy to ignore the shiny object, ignore the shiny object, ignore the shiny object)
  • National news outlets (depressing, aggravating)
  • Surfing the Internet
  • Late night munching
  • Multiplexing
  • Multitasking
  • Cleaning too much (yes, there is such a thing)
  • Lazing too long on the sofa and getting stiff
  • Unproductive, busy work
  • Caffeinated tea or coffee after 3pm
  • Perfectionism
  • Being a hermit
  • Writing sprints (I know, I know, but . . . )
  • Staying up too late

And I did more of:

  • Adequate sleep
  • Keeping my work area(s) decluttered
  • Meditation
  • Ignoring word counts, not even looking at words produced until the end of the week
  • Healthy food
  • Journaling
  • Love n kisses<3
  • Socializing
  • Indulging in earned rewards
  • Staying warm so I wouldn’t be distracted by zombie fingers
  • Giving back
  • Doggy love
  • Prayer
  • Studying the craft of writing
  • Spending time in front of my envision board
  • Binaural beats
  • Attending my writing group
  • Keeping writing-process activities front and center of attention by posting them on my white board (instead of posting the usual word count or editing goals)
  • Writing in areas conducive to long, focused work
  • Keeping alerts off my computer
  • Keeping my phone silenced and out of sight in another room
  • Checking my posture in my chair (slouching just makes me achy and want to leave my desk)
  • Going to bed on time
  • Stretching or foam rolling
  • Longer writing sessions (60 to 90 minutes)
  • Checking my mindset to make sure I’m chill and not in a perfectionist mood
  • Mindful eating habits
  • Exercise
  • Reading for fun
  • Getting outside

How’d I do?

Over the week, I spent the same amount of time on writing as usual (20 hours), and 5.5 of those hours were not writing at all but either studying the craft or evaluating work in my writing group.

I gasped when I saw the word count for my process week.

I tallied up the words again. No mistake: I had doubled my output by focusing on the process of writing rather than just turning out words. In 14.5 hours of actual writing, I produced 10,500 words instead of my normal 5,500.

I learned three biggies:

  • The library is a great place to write when you’re sleepy. It has good lighting and firm chairs, and library patrons would think you’re odd if you fell asleep, so you try really hard to stay awake!
  • The coffee shop is a terrible place to write. The visual distraction is too much with people walking around and the door swinging open and shut. There are also distracting food smells and chatter, plus it’s expensive.
  • Yes, it is possible to get into the zone when writing. The work flows, and 90 minutes goes by in a flash. This flow state didn’t happen every time I sat down to write, but most of the time it did when my surroundings and mindset were good.

We’re all unique, so what works for me might not work for the next writer. But if you’re struggling with your word count, and pushing your writing sprints isn’t helping, try focusing on your process instead and see if that helps.

Happy writing!

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56 thoughts on “Getting in the Zone

  1. Ha,funny you should write this piece. I have a scheduled post for 8:30 tonight discussing what you call The Zone (I Call it the Writing Magic). High five for getting your Zone on this week… that’s a great word count!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Since I discovered my ‘zone’, (first thing in the morning, before the world wakes up) I no longer have a problem with my writing. Now, If I could make this zone last longer, or convince the world to go back to bed…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like what you wrote here, Priscilla. I believe that sufficient sleep and rest is vital for creativity as well as the ability to focus. I don’t get nearly as much writing done when I am worrying about something else and don’t focus fully. When I am not, getting into the writing zone is fairly easy.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is great, Priscilla! Your transparency is refreshing and affirming. Binaural beats – I’ve read about that and talked to people who swear by it – need to check it out form myself.
    Keep killing it, kiddo! Be the writer!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re so kind, thank you. The alpha binaural beats help me quiet my mind during meditation, but I don’t have enough experience with any of the other frequencies to say yay or nay about them. Thanks for commenting, Alexander!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love that you really focused on things that you know help while avoiding those things you know are a hindrance. I know that the internet and my phone are the things that I need to stay away from when I need to get things done. I think that having a plan is also important. Awesome job!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It concentrates the mind wonderfully 🙂 I’ve done NaNoWriMo the last three years. It’s silly really, since I could call any month NaNo month and make myself write 50000 words, but it only seems to work if there is somewhere official to log in figures every day.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I admire the fact that you were able to list your distractions and focus so well on what works. Finishing what I start is a big problem for me, and I’m working on it. And. like Jane, I always work better with a deadline. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Awesome word count, Priscilla! And some excellent advice. I’ve tried both coffee shops and library, and if I had to choose, I’d probably pick the library also. I don’t drink coffee, but those tempting treats are distracting.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow! You kicked butt on that word count. Congratulations!

    I love the library for writing, too. Sometimes I do okay at my local coffee shop, but often I just do email checks there and then head to the library (if I’m not writing at home). Now I have to get in “the zone” and start writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like the idea of a change of scenery. With summer fast approaching, I’m hoping to get some outdoor writing in. I’m unsure of the bugs and birds, whether they’ll be distracting or not, guess I’ll find out! Thanks for commenting, Alicia!

      Like

  9. Love you process to get “in the zone.”!

    I had to do something similar during this first quarter of the year to stay motivated because the editing process has been tougher than I imagine (so many darlings killed!)

    I did some of the things on your list like journaling and studying the craft but even though I knew I needed to do other items on your list, I never got to E.g. Keeping electronics silenced and out of sight

    So, I’ll print your post and put it on my board!

    Your list will be incredibly helpful in April when I will attempt to finish editing while writing for Camp Nano!

    Are you doing Camp Nano?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. They all feel the same to me because I don’t socialize lot but November is probably more fun because it gets more hype and there are more events. I really like the camps because they keep me writing all year. I need the pressure of a deadline 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I admire your discipline. I still have a ‘proper’ job as well as my writing career, such as it is, so have to write when I have a block of time free, whether I’m in the mood or not.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I have a special place in the house that works. It’s the kitchen table near the deck. Kind of goofy but it works.

    There is no way I could go to the local coffee shop. Plus, I’m a people person and I know I would start up a conversation with someone sitting by. I swear it happens all the time.

    Find that special place and allow the zone to take over.

    Love the list you created.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, the coffee shop, WHAT was I thinking?! I can totally get into the zone at the kitchen table as long as the TV is off (dining area is open to the living room) and Dear Husband isn’t rattling around cooking something.

      Thanks for stopping by, Bryan!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I couldn’t agree more, Priscilla. Both your lists are great. You’re right, the days I obsess over my word count I don’t get much done. However, on the days that I focus on writing and storyline the time goes by so fast and the resulting word count is fantastic. Great article! 😀 xo

    Liked by 1 person

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