I’m a process guy – I like to have a system for everything and everything in its place (and if you think it drives my family a little crazy, it absolutely does) . This is true for my writing as well, where I write about the same time each morning, sitting at the same desk, looking out the same window. One of the things I started to do last year was also turn on this silly little light my daughters gave me a long time ago...
It’s not enough to read by or anything - it's actually shaped like a small ball of flame or some weird amoeba. But I've come to think of it as a pilot light, or a now recording lamp. I’ve discovered that turning on that light is like a “Bat Signal” straight to my brain, challenging me, alerting me that it’s time to get down to work. I use that desk and computer for all sorts of things (paying bills, sending emails, playing games, checking Facebook and Twitter), but I only turn on that light when I’m writing.
Now, does any of this actually make me a better writer? No, probably not – and if push came to shove, I could write anywhere (and I have). But I do feel like this little trick makes me more productive. That light focuses me fast; it reminds me of what I’m there at my computer to do, and only do. And since I have to make the most of my limited writing time, as long as it’s on, I know I’m on the clock, too. I also have a station on Pandora that I tend to listen to (that my daughters derisively call “whale music”) - almost white noise - since I’ve learned I can’t first-draft to music with actual lyrics (although I can edit and revise that way...weird huh?). Anyway, these things are no different from other writers having a favorite pen or a favorite notebook or retreating to a particular place that is their “writing spot” (which, for many, seems to be a coffee shop, which I can’t for the life of me wrap my head around). It would be nice to think that our muse is easily summoned, always at our fingertips... that we can simply push-button our creativity, but it’s never worked that way for me, and I'm not sure it works that way for a lot of writers. So we have our rituals and superstitions and tricks to get us in the chair and keep us there. There's always a bit of fear when it comes to facing the blank page, and these familiar talismans can sometimes help us overcome that.
By hook or crook is one of my favorite sayings when it comes to my writing - my willingness to do whatever it takes to get the words down.
Have a good week, and as always, keep writing!