Most obvious, I don’t do it alone. I am lucky that my husband is great with the kids and understands when I need “creative time” (usually!). I invest in friendships with other creative people, so they can “kick my butt” or offer sympathy as the case requires.
Second, I need good subject matter. Subject matter – and characters – that excite me or interest me or arouse some passion in me is a must. For me, military relationships and biker themes are things that interest me.
I’m not a fast writer. When I’m “on fire” I can write 1000 words an hour. The trouble is getting to the “on fire” state of mind.
The best way for me get there? Daydream.
Sounds simple in theory. In real life…not so much. There are so many thoughts in my head, it’s like an overflowing file cabinet. Shutting out my crazy life can be difficult. But if my head isn’t clear, I can’t daydream on the level I need.
But when I have time to daydream, I can see entire scenes (even dialogue) before I even sit down with my laptop. And you’d be surprised where and when I manage some of my daydreaming.
Here are a few ideas:
1. While falling asleep. As your mind gets closer to sleep, your imagination is free to wander. If I fall asleep while daydreaming a scene, I sometimes dream about it during the night and, if I’m lucky, I’ll wake with a scene in my head, ready to be disgorged to the keyboard.
2. When waking up. I set my alarm 20 minutes before I have to start waking my kids for school. I have yet to fill my mind with the day’s plans and distractions. And I can still capture any snippets my subconscious has given me overnight.
3. When lying awake at night. OK, so I hope this doesn’t happen to you. But it happens to me. Why not make the most of that time?
4. In the shower (or bath). I haven’t had much luck with this one but some writers swear by it. Stand under the hot stream of water, close your eyes, direct your brain to your story and let your mind drift.
5. When you’re sick. I don’t know about you, but when I’m sick I still can have trouble sleeping. I don’t let that “lay around” time go to waste (and I don’t watch TV).
6. When your kids are sick (I had this happen last week, my son one day and daughter the next). It is so hard to get them to lay down and rest! But I found if I offer to do it with them (especially if they’re invited into MY bed) it’s much easier to get them to do it. Viola! More daydreaming time!
A word of warning. When you become really good at dropping yourself into a daydream, it can happen without you realizing it. I’ve drifted during conversations, while trying to read or while watching a movie. But the worst is when I’m driving. I’ve narrowly avoided a couple accidents because I was in another world at the time!