One thought on “Ask a Question/Get an Answer”

  1. Thanks for your question, Angelina.

    I think the first thing to recognize is that like participants in any other complex activity (sports, dance, music, art), writers need a warm-up period to transition the mindset they use to navigate everyday life to the mindset they need to write. In my own experience and the experience of my students, the warm-up period can take anywhere from 15-30 minutes. During that period, words don’t come easy, distractions are appealing, and stray thoughts can sabotage your work. But I know that if I just stay with it and work my way through my warm-up, pretty soon I’ll be more focused, my thoughts will flow better, and I’ll be writing more fluently.

    Since I know that the first 15 minutes or so of my session is a warm-up and may not produce usable text, I don’t worry about fits and starts. My main goal is just to keep writing and work my way towards flow. I tend to start writing sessions with something easy to get me going. Polishing a few paragraphs from an earlier writing session. Making a list of points to bring up. Brainstorming questions to try to answer. Introducing and responding to another writer’s idea.

    Having a writing ritual can help you get started. By ritual, I just mean a pattern of behavior that eases you out of a more outward-facing social mindset and leads to focus. It could include one last check of social media, getting a beverage or snack, tidying your desk, whatever. Just something that takes a few minutes and signals to your brain that you’re about to write.

    Another part of the solution is to have a place that’s dedicated for writing and works for you, such that when you settle into that place, your mind knows that it’s writing time. Your writing place should suit your own style. Some people write better when it’s quiet and they’re alone. Others prefer a low-level buzz of people and sound around them. If you’re unable to focus and persist in one place — whether it’s because the place is too serene or too buzzy — try another place until you find one that works.

    Also, it’s important to have a sense of purpose for each writing session, and a limit: Set goals (achievement goals and time goals) for each writing session. For example, you might say to yourself: “In this writing session, I’m going to summarize the thought-leaders on my topic and identify a place in the conversation where I can make a contribution.” Before you get started, estimate how long it might take to do this (maybe 90 minutes for the purpose I just described).
    With such a specific plan, and an end in sight, it can be easier to stay focused and motivated.

    Good luck in your writing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *