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Seven Better Steps to Start Writing

Step 1

Mischa: Wake up early.  The earlier you rise the better, as a cloudy mind, a grumpy attitude, and an inability to articulate verbally are all essential elements in successful writing.

Gilmar: I say wake up after a good 8 hours of sleep.  Sleep is extremely important to productivity.  No writer worth his salt can generate original, interesting ideas nodding off at the computer.  You need to feel refreshed enough to make good progress through the day. I like to get started bright and early—say around 10, or 11 in the morning.

Victoria: Definitely good advice, you have to take responsibility for your writing career and getting sleep AND waking up early to get some actual writing done is key.

Step 2

Mischa: Put on the kettle.  If you don’t have a kettle, get one.  No writer worth his or her salt ever wrote anything without a kettle.  The kettle must be electric.  Trying to boil water any other way makes as much sense as eating sushi with a fork.

Gilmar: Breakfast.  Scientists, athletes and Sesame Street Muppets agree: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Start your day off right with eggs, toast, fruit, toast and a bowl of sugary cereal.

Victoria: Well, always go with healthy. Eat what your body wants but try for healthy fruits and organic when you can. Creativity makes us hungry, or at least feel that way, reach for carrots once in a while if you have a frustrated writer attack.

Step 3

Mischa: Wander aimlessly through the house until the water boils.  Under no circumstances should you engage in any significant activity.  Do NOT pick up discarded clothes.  Do NOT wash any dishes.  Absolutely, most certainly, do NOT return to a now booted up computer to check your email.  All of this will do nothing but disrupt your grumpy vegetative state, the key ingredient to successful writing.

Gilmar: Do your errands.  You’ll need a clear head to write, and you won’t be able to focus if you have other things to do before the day is over.  So do your grocery shopping, mail you bills and update your Facebook status early in the day.  Also, make sure you clean your home, get your correspondence out of the way and check Twitter.

Victoria: Ahh, ok guys, really it is best to make writing the first thing in the day. Don’t look at email, don’t do anything but sit down to write. Close all browser windows. Stay away from the internet! Don’t get distracted. But as you go about your day, notice the time you feel most productive… make that time your writing time.

Step 4

Mischa: Make a cup of tea.  I don’t care if you hate the stuff or have sworn off caffeine since 1967, just make the damn tea (2 sugars and a splash of half and half, please).  Note: Lipton is NOT tea.

Gilmar: Take a nap.  You’ve already accomplished a lot today, and you’re probably already tired.  Take a nap.  There’s still a lot of writing to do today, and won’t get anything done if you’re tired.  Get that nap out of the way now—you won’t want to interrupt your writing flow later.

Victoria: Well the message here is, don’t take this writing thing too seriously. Nothing will block the muse more than thinking you are writing a masterpiece or placing a lot of pressure on yourself.

Step 5

Mischa: Sit at computer and drool.  It’s also ok to stare at the steam coming off the top of the cup of tea.

Gilmar: Now you’re almost ready to write.  By now it should be a respectable drinking hour—like noon.  So prepare your favorite cocktail and prepare to get started.

If you don’t have a favorite cocktail, there are plenty to choose from—just look to your favorite writers—Hemingway, Bukowski, Milne.  They all drank—they drank early, and they drank hard.

Victoria: Let’s stick with M’s idea of Tea and not support debauchery too early in the process. Green tea is perfect to drink while writing, it has many healing properties and caffeine but the caffeine is not too intense and kind of keeps your mind flowing nicely. I’ve started drinking Coconut water as well with little sugar added.

Step 6

Mischa: Open blank page and behold, the writing muses will surely descend on the wings of angels.

Gilmar: Sit down at your computer and wait.  It’s almost time, but you need to get comfortable.  Make sure your favorite music is playing.  The light is just right.  The drink has settled into your system.

Victoria: Sometimes it is that easy, if you are having a good day the muses may be there but other times you do have to wait for the muse BUT that doesn’t mean you wait to write… WRITE ANYWAY!

Step 7

Mischa: Strange as it may seem to read, or even stranger to witness, this is the routine that generates results for ME. I hold to it dearly, finding solace in the structured behavior it provides so that I can be utterly free in my writing.  It’s certainly not the charming, romantic writing process I might have imagined for myself (I picture a rustic wood cabin, doused in late afternoon light, slightly hazy with cigar smoke).  But the reality of how we write is never sexy.  Never romantic.  Certainly not picturesque.  Because if it were one would be wasting energy on how one looked. And one should be too busy writing to care.

Gilmar: Most aspiring writers tend to believe that the keys to being a better writer lie in the concepts of character, plot and theme.  However, so many people tend to overlook how important good preparation is to the process.  Perhaps, it’s the most important part of the process.

Victoria: True, we all come up against a bit of resistance when sitting down to write, it’s natural. Do whatever chore/ritual you need to do to get into your writing mindset. Train yourself to be able to sit down and write. See it as work that you love to do.


By Creative Cartel, a group of contributing bloggers for JenningsWire.