What Fuels Your Writing? (Part 2)

Remember when I posted about what I use to fuel my writing? No? I don’t blame you, that was over a month ago. Yikes! Where does the time go? Anyway, take a look here.

I wanted to follow up with some of the responses we received in response to that post (and to my incessant tweets).

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Of course, most people said they needed their music, snacks, and a chunk of time devoted to writing.

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And some could only listen to music at certain times.

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Katherine Marie even wrote her own blog post as a response to our question.

My favorite response came from mariecreativity in the comments section of the original post.

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I’d never heard of anyone finding inspiration via organizing things! But after reading her comment, I gave it a shot. And I have to say that there’s something oddly calming about organizing items on my desk – it slows my thoughts down and allows some inspiration to leak through. Who would have thought?!

And, lastly, Faye gave me a wonderful reminder of something that fuels my writing, but that I somehow forgot to include in the last post: word sprints!

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Thanks for all your wonderful responses everyone! It’s great to hear what keeps you all writing – and to try some of it out, myself.

So, what fuels your writing? Let us know in the comments below!

What Fuels Your Writing?

I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I have a couple “writing crutches” – things that make it easier to get into the writing mood and transform those mediocre words in my head into flowing, magical prose on paper.

Writers are notorious for having their crutches (or vices). More often than not, writers are creatures of habit. Our chair has be adjusted at a certain height, the wine has to be red, and the phone must be unplugged. Whatever your criteria may be, creating the atmosphere for writing is a science. Or, perhaps a kind of magic, where everything comes together just so and coaxes the words onto the paper (or computer screen).

Some writers like Faulker require nothing more than a glass of good whiskey. Yet other, more eccentric wordsmiths, have needed private hotel rooms in order to write their masterpieces (Angelou) or have found that they can only write in the nude (Hugo) to get their writing done.

I’ve got some of my favorite requirements for writing here for your perusal (and judgement). While much of what I list here is optional, I’d much rather write with these things than without…

For Inspiration: Pinterest, random words from dictionaries, art
For Focus: Music (instrumental)
For Motivation: Snacks, coffee, tea, wine

So there you have it. Those are the key ingredients to get me in the writing zone.

But we’re all different! So what about you? Tell me what fuels your writing. What are your requirements/crutches/vices that keep you writing? I’ll be pulling some of your answers for my next post!

5 Tools to Enhance Your Focus While Writing

5 tools to enhance your focus while writing: Apps, programmes and music to increase your concentration and shut out distractions.Distraction is a demon that plagues all writers. Though we fight against it, often we fall prey to the many distractions of the virtual world—Twitter, Facebook, and that inescapable black hole, Pinterest.

One way to increase our focus while writing is to word sprint. The Sprint Shack hosts sprints almost every day over on Twitter, and when we’re not wearing our fingers down to nubs against our keyboards, other notable sprinters are there to help you with your digit erosion (might we suggest investing in a pair of gauntlets?).

But what if word sprints aren’t enough (shock, horror!) or you’re not able to take part in a sprint at that time? That’s where these five tools can swoop in and save the day through enhancing your focus while writing.

1. Simpleology

Prepare to become a productivity ninja with this programme. If the Internet pounces on your writing time like a clowder of attention-seeking cats, then Simpleology will teach you how to defend your day.

Input your targets each morning, get straight on with what you have to do, and finish early so that you can spend the rest of the day heeding the meows of your Internet clowder, guilt-free. Should temptation prove too much, there’s a bodyguard feature that allows you to block the main offenders—Facebook, Twitter and the like.

To get the most out of Simpleology, select the full tutorial. It takes a little while to do, but allows you to get the best out of the programme and learn skills that can make productivity into a lifelong habit.

2. Full-screen mode

There are many things in our environment that can distract us. The programmes along the taskbar may seem innocuous, but they’re a time-bomb of temptation, just waiting to catch the eye and obliterate your focus. You can cut out that temptation altogether by using full screen mode in your word processor.

I recommend Scrivener. Besides its many fantastic features, it has a full screen mode that’s simple, clean and distraction-free, hiding that pesky taskbar—and any other eye-catching icons—from sight. A free alternative is yWriter, which has several features similar to Scrivener, including a full screen mode.

3. Write or Die

If you’re word sprinting alone or with others, sometimes it’s hard to force yourself to write—and only write—for the allotted period, even with the pressure of a time limit. That’s where Write or Die comes in handy.

Set yourself a word count goal and a time limit and write. Should you stop typing into the programme, for whatever reason, during your sprint, there will be Consequences. Alarming sounds, unpleasant pictures (spiders, creepy critters and Grumpy Cat), and, if you’re in kamikaze mode, the sight of your words disappearing will soon put a stop to your sneaky Internet excursions. The desktop version of Write or Die also has a full screen mode, which helps to shut out distractions on the screen.

4. OmmWriter

If the frantic nature of Write or Die shatters your focus rather than sharpens it, a more soothing app may be just the thing you need.

Enter OmmWriter. Like Scrivener, yWriter and Write or Die, this app employs a full screen mode to shut out distractions. Where OmmWriter differs is the atmosphere. Customise your background to hold your attention and set your mood, choose a calming audio track to play while you write, and select the sound of your keystrokes to immerse you in the writing process—all from the same app. Serenity and focus are yours for the taking.

5. Focus@Will

Since we’re on the topic of calm and concentration, there’s one tool that must be mentioned: the music player, focus@will. All the tracks provided by this music service have been created to maximise your focus, reduce distractions and enhance your ability to work.

Being a psychology enthusiast, I particularly like that focus@will uses neuroscientific research to develop its tracks. It doesn’t just claim to help—it has evidence to back it up. Plus, it’s always good to know the science behind the funny things it’s doing to your brain.

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What tools do you use to increase your concentration and focus when you’re writing?

Making a NaNoWriMo Come Back of Epic Proportions

Hello all you lovely WriMo’s and Sprinters! We’re in the last couple days of November and while many participants have already crossed over the 50k finish line for NaNoWriMo, some still haven’t finished yet! Many of you may be just a few thousand words from the goal – in which case, why are you still reading?! Get back to writing! But for some, that 50,000 words seems unattainable at this point. Perhaps you’ve fallen behind due to work, a poorly timed cold, or Thanksgiving preparations. Or maybe all the pre-Hanukkah excitement has left you with less time to write (seriously – it starts in November this year!). The reasons for falling behind are numerous – and also entirely unimportant. What we need to focus on now is how to get yourself over that 50k word count by November 30 and into the NaNoWriMo 2013 winners circle.

I won’t lie to you and say it will be easy – or that there’s some secret to pulling out a last minute come back. It’ll be difficult. It might mean less sleep – or less Netflix. Whatever the case, sacrifices will most likely have to be made. But I have a few things to help you focus and activities that will offer you opportunities to get those words down!

Word Sprints
What better way to focus and get all those words out than with a word sprint? Here are some upcoming sprinting events to help you catch up:

@VirtualWriter’s Wordscrim Wednesday
Wednesday, Nov. 27
GMT: 12 noon – 12 midnight
EST: 7am – 7pm
PST: 4am – 4pm

@FriNightWrites Write Club
Friday, Nov. 29
GMT: 7pm – 7am
EST: 2pm – 2am
PST: 11am – 11pm

@TheSprintShack Sprint to the Finish Line Party
Saturday, Nov. 30
GMT: 12 noon – 12 midnight
EST: 7am – 7pm
PST: 4am – 4pm

Articles
Need help getting (or staying) on track? Check out some of these Sprint Shack articles:

How to Stay Motivated During NaNoWriMo
Tips on How to Finish Strong
Keeping Up Your Pace

Music
Looking for some new playlists to help inspire your writing? Check out 8tracks – free user-created playlists (searchable by tags like “NaNoWriMo” or “writing”)
How about some ambiance? Try Rainy Cafe for the soothing sound of rain or coffee house chatter.

Now before you scurry off to get back to writing (because this post definitely reinvigorated your desire to win, right?) let me leave you with one caffeine-infused reminder: at this point, do not worry about editing or quality. Worry about getting your words down and reaching your 50k. Leave the editing and doubt for December. Write on WriMo’s – I’ll see you at the finish line on Nov. 30, a bottle of champagne in hand.