When the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak…
Wait, no. Sorry, Gargoyles flashback. But really, though, it is more often than I’d like to admit that I have a project I’m working on, I have the time, but I am simply not in the mood to write. Although sometimes this is due to anxiety or stress (for which I recommend a walk, a nap, playing with a puppy, or a tackling the issue head-first), the lesser reasons can usually be be overcome by a few simple psychological tricks:
As I related in this earlier post, I prefer to write while listening to music. I have a soundtrack for each project. In fact, some projects – such as Sweet NOTHING – were inspired by music. If you need help getting into the mood, create a playlist or look up songs that put you into the mindset of a certain scene or character.
For example, the climax of COLOSSUS was written to Golden Earring’s “Twilight Zone.” The song that gets me into Avery Rhodes’s head is Modest Mouse’s “Shit in Your Cut” (while Thatch’s is “The Whale Song”).
Sweet NOTHING was inspired by Eliza’s songs from Hamilton.
If you don’t know what kind of music might help you get into a certain mood, just put something on in the background. Several people swear by the soundtracks of movies like Lord of the Rings and video games like Assassin’s Creed. I prefer EDM and dubstep.
Rereading is a simple method of recapturing the magic of your writing project. You can reread the entire draft, your best scene, or the few scenes leading up to the moment you left off.
If you think it’s all crap, that’s OK (although it’s not true). Begin to edit and nit-pick at it, which is the second-best thing to writing. Eventually, it will pull you back in.
Go back to the Source
Whatever/Whoever originally inspired you, tap back into that. If your hard scifi was inspired by Dune, pick through your favorite scenes or put on the movie. If your main character is modelled after Viola Davis, pull up some pictures or GIFs of her that fit the character.
If you want to create something you can go back to, I’ve heard of several writers creating Pinterest boards for their works or characters, using their character models, inspiring images from other works, and concept art. I have a folder on my computer I can pop open and gaze longingly at.
If you don’t have a clear inspiration like character models, find some! Find images to associate with your project. These don’t have to be from other works, but can be paintings or artistic photographs that capture the tone or theme.
If you don’t have character models, cast your characters! Find actors you can imagine playing your characters. Play through your next scene with those actors, then force yourself to sit and write it out.
If you have trouble getting into the mood with your normal routine, spice it up a bit. Instead of your laptop, pull out a pad of paper and pens/pencils. Take your supplies – or some portable version thereof – and go to a new setting with writing in mind: A coffee shop, your patio, a park bench.
Reverse the colors on your writing program. Word and Scrivener can both be changed from the traditional color scheme to darker or more colorful frames. (In Word: File > General > Personalize > Office Theme).
Use specific notebooks to jot notes or write scenes for a specific character.
Use multi-colored pens for scenes in different tones. (Get it out of your head that this is a girly idea – just try it.) If your scene is light-hearted, use a bright color like orange. If it’s dark, use charcoal gray. If it’s mysterious, a dark green or purple. (I used to do this, and I’m not certain why I fell out of the habit. Perhaps because I worked in an office where I could harvest supplies for free, which meant blue pens and legal pads became the norm.)
If you use or have used any of these methods, snap a pic of your notebooks, colorful writing, alternative writing spaces, or shoot me a link to your Pinterest board or writing playlist!
If you have any other tips or tricks for getting into the writing mood, or getting into a specific mind-set, post them in the comments below or @ me on Twitter!
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