I’m in that point in my master’s thesis where I have to hand in the first 20 pages… in two weeks. I’m calling my method a secret, perhaps a little mistakenly, but it’s taken me long enough to discover it. It’s certainly remained a secret from me long enough! While I’ve used this for thesis writing, it’ll work in any situation where you want and need to write effectively. So here’s the thing:
Make writing an event.
For me, that means making tea in my floral-patterned teapot, lighting a scented candle and putting my thinking cap on. Literally. It’s a white knitted turban and it makes me look like a bohemian thinker, or so I think at least. And that’s the only thing that matters. When you have things and rituals that take you away from your daily life, it’s easier to accept the role of a writer; to forget about being a student, a parent, a doctor, a flight attendant, a friend, a dancer, an enthusiastic knitter; to truly let yourself be a writer.
Design a space where you feel inspired. Photo by me. Also found at instagram.com/ainotuulia
Sometimes making writing an event means breaking the ritual. If you usually sit behind a desk, take your laptop and try writing somewhere else. Your bed, kitchen, or bathroom floor are all creative hotspots. If they aren’t, you can always go somewhere else. I once built a pillow fort in my apartment for Camp NaNoWriMo, you know, because adults are allowed to do things like that. If you want to venture outside your home, try writing in libraries, cafés, parks… Anywhere!
Why is this important?
You know how you’re always told that writing is no-nonsense hard work that’s nothing like those romanticised views ignorant people keep spreading? Yeah, those things are all true. But if you have a persistent image in your head of a writer who types away by candlelight, dressed in an oversized sweater and fingerless gloves, while gloomy jazz plays softly in the background, maybe fulfilling that image will help you accept your writer-self. I mentioned the role of a writer – cast yourself as one! Don’t think about other people’s opinions on how professional and nonchalant you should be about writing. If you imagine a writer whose house is filled with flowers and who only writes in a dressing gown, then try what it’s like to be them. You can always change your mind later.
I think I’m going to try listening to recordings of typewriters the next time I sit in front of my laptop. It’s a sound that makes me so inspired! So why haven’t I thought of this before? I’m also thinking about redecorating my apartment a little, to make it match that bohemian artist and thinker I know is inside me.
Do you have any rituals connected with writing? Is there a writer outfit you wear, or a spot in your home that always does the trick? What’s the first image you see in your mind when you think about a writer? I’d love to know what you think!