You’ve made the time to write and you may even know what it is you’re planning to write.
But there’s one problem: you’re having a hard time getting “in the writing zone.”
You’re having trouble feeling like you’re actually “in” your story and you can’t seem to hear your characters’ voices as clearly as you want to.
Thankfully, there are some practical ways to help fix that problem, and it all stems from what is called the flow state.
When you’re in “the zone,” or in a flow state, that means you’re writing at your best. The words are just flowing from your pen (or keyboard) and you rarely have to stop and think about what you’re writing about.
What exactly is the flow state, and how can you get there—and quickly—so you can be at your best during your writing times? Read on to find out.
What Is Flow State?
According to Psychology Today, “Flow is a cognitive state where one is completely immersed in an activity—from painting and writing to prayer and surfboarding. It involves intense focus, creative engagement, and the loss of awareness of time and self.”
Essentially, a flow state is when you are working on a project (such as writing), and you are only focused on the project you’re working on. When people say that they’re “in the zone,” what they’re really saying is that they’ve reached a flow state.
For writers, a flow state can often look like that feeling when it seems that you’re inside your story and inside your characters’ heads. You can clearly see everything that happens in the story and pay no mind to the surroundings around you.
The flow state doesn’t only happen when you’re writing fiction—you can be fully immersed in writing an English paper, an article, even a blog post. It isn’t limited to “creative” activities.
There are a lot of benefits to the flow state, as well. When you’re in the writing zone, you will often enjoy the process much better, and the words you are writing are usually higher quality than if you were out of a flow state.
Being in the writing zone also helps you to be more engaged within your writing project, which means that you are likely to be more focused and faster while you’re writing.
How Can I Enter Into A Flow State?
Now you know what flow state is, and why it helps you when you’re writing.
But there’s one problem: how can you get into this elusive writing zone?
Aren’t writers always talking about how easy it is to write an epic battle scene—but can’t form a full sentence when the characters are walking into the next room together?
Thankfully, there are several practical ways you can get into your writing zone.
The flow state isn’t just for writers who spend hours writing at a time—in fact, there are some tricks you can use to slip into a flow state whenever you need to get a little writing done without spending a lot of money or time on it.
Tip #1: Create A Daily Routine
A great way to easily fall into a flow state during your writing time is to have a set schedule so that you write at the same time each day. This can help you both make time for your writing and help you get in the writing zone faster.
There are a lot of ways to create daily routines. You can use a calendar, a numbered bullet-point list, or a schedule. However you create your daily routine, make sure that it is a routine that works for you—and is easy for you to follow and implement.
Another important thing to think about when creating your daily routine is to think about what time(s) of day you feel you are most creative and excited to write.
For some writers, that’s first thing in the morning. For others, it may be in the middle of the day, or the afternoon, or late in the evening. Once you know what time of day you write best, take a look at your current schedule.
When you sit down to write at a specific time each day, you’re creating the habit of writing during that time every day. By forming this habit, it will become easier to get in the writing zone when you write.
If you have appointments or scheduled responsibilities (such as a job or school) that occur during your optimal writing time, then see if you can find a way to either move these appointments or find another time of day when you can write. Even thirty minutes can make a difference as long as you can have at least some time each day to write at around the same time.
If the only time you can write is after a mentally-exhausting task, try to block out some time to refresh your mind before writing. You may want to take a shower, do some stretches, take a walk, or whatever refreshes your mind the most.
Once you’ve figured out what time of day you’re going to write, the next step is to take breaks. Taking mental breaks from your writing helps you stay fresh while you’re writing and keeps you from burning out.
One way that can help you get into a flow state quickly and implement breaks after writing is by doing writing sprints. An easy way to do a writing sprint is by setting a timer for a certain amount of time, then sitting down and writing as much as you can for that certain amount of time.
When that timer is up, you then set your timer again for how long you’re going to take a break. After that time is up, you can write again until you’ve completed your writing for the day.
It’s often recommended to spend about twenty to twenty-five minutes working when doing these types of sprints, then spending about five to ten minutes on the breaks. This is called the Pomodoro Technique.
Tip #2: Create A Writing Ritual
I promise this isn’t nearly as creepy as it sounds. 😉 Basically, when you create a writing ritual, you’re implementing certain steps to teach your brain how to slip into that writing zone faster. It’s like creating another, separate routine that’s for your writing.
You often see athletes do this when they listen to music, do certain stretches, or other exercises to get in the right headspace for their performance. Creating a writing ritual that’s right for you is a way to do something similar.
So what does a writing ritual look like?
A writing ritual can be pretty much anything that gets you in the mood to write your story. Similar to a daily routine, you want to make sure you’re doing something before and/or while you write for you to get in the writing zone.
For example, let’s say that you’re writing a fantasy novel that takes place in a magical forest. So before you sit down to write, you take a short walk around in a local park to get you in the mood for writing about that magical forest. Then, while you’re writing, you listen to forest sounds on an ambiance app or website.
Or maybe you’re writing an intense thriller. One of the things you could do before you write is find a secluded, quiet place to write. Then, you could listen to a soundtrack from your favorite action movie while you’re writing.
Or perhaps you’re writing a cozy romance, and your writing ritual is wearing your favorite sweater while writing and sitting by a cozy fire.
There are many ways you can go about creating a writing ritual that suits both you and your writing project. That’s part of the fun of writing—it can be completely personalized!
Have fun experimenting with writing rituals to find one that suits you the best. It could be any of the ideas I listed above or completely different ones. It doesn’t have to be long, either. It depends on what gets you the most excited to write and puts you in the right mood for your story.
Tip #3: Eliminate All Distractions
Eliminating distractions is not only an important part of getting in the writing zone but also of staying in the writing zone.
For a lot of writers—myself included—it’s easy to get distracted by a variety of things. Like writing rituals, distractions are different from writer to writer. Maybe you get distracted by the Internet, noises around the house, new emails arriving in your Inbox, or something else entirely.
The best way to make it easy to ignore the distractions is by removing them. Turning off the Internet, going to a quiet place to write, turning off notifications on your computer, or whatever else you need to do to stay away from distractions while you’re writing will help you get into and stay in the writing zone.
Tip #4: Take Care Of Yourself
As writers, it’s easy to want to ignore our physical needs when all we want to do is write. But taking care of yourself by exercising, getting enough sleep, and eating all three meals are another important part of the flow state.
When you take care of your physical needs, it’s easier for you to get into the writing zone during your writing time.
If you don’t exercise, eat, or sleep, it’s harder to focus, and your mental energy wanes. It may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes it’s important to take a step away from writing in order to refresh your body and give your mind a break.
Not only will taking care of yourself help you get in the writing zone, but it will also help you in the long term. You only get one body in your entire life, and taking care of it makes sure that it will be functional throughout your whole life.
As Christians, we know that the Bible tells us that our bodies are temples and that caring for them is important for glorifying God in our bodies. By keeping our bodies healthy, we’re making ourselves available for God to lead us in the directions he wants us to go in our lives.
Tip #5: Have Fun
Sometimes, one of the biggest problems with getting into the writing zone is that we get in our own heads so much.
It’s so easy to worry about whether your writing is good enough and put pressure on ourselves to be better. And while growth is definitely an important part of being a writer, another important part is having fun.
Think about writing as playing and try having fun during your writing sessions. If we can’t enjoy writing, then we might as well be sitting behind a desk typing out nonsense.
Having fun while you’re writing can help you get into the writing zone faster because it helps to break down those barriers that we put up for ourselves and makes it easier to sit down and just write.
How can we have fun while writing?
Like many of the categories above, it will look a little different for everyone. Maybe it means setting aside your current project to write one that you’ve been saving for another time. Maybe it means turning your font to write when you write so you don’t edit while you write.
Whether you want to be a published author one day, or writing is just a hobby, make sure to have fun while you write!
What If I Can’t Get In The Writing Zone?
There may be a lot of reasons why you can’t get in the writing zone, so unfortunately there’s no “one size fits all” cure. Maybe it’s the writing project you’re working on, and you need to switch to a story that is in a different genre.
Maybe it’s the time of day that you’re writing. Maybe you’re having a hard time getting in the writing zone because you can’t fit writing into your schedule on a regular basis.
The best way to figure out how to get in the writing zone when you’re struggling to do so is to think like a detective. Try to find out why you can’t seem to get in the writing zone and try some things out!
Do you need to make your writing sessions longer? Do you need to make them longer? Do you need to try some writing sprints?
There are a lot of ways you can experiment with your writing process in order to find one that works best for you and your writing project.
And don’t forget to have fun while you’re experimenting with your writing process. Writing is a journey of exploration—both of ourselves and of our stories.
Getting Into The Writing Zone Can Be Easy And Fun!
Getting into the writing zone—or a flow state—doesn’t have to be hard or frustrating. It may simply be a tweak in your daily schedule, or maybe adding a short writing ritual to make you feel immersed in your story.
Make sure to take care of yourself and eliminate all those pesky distractions. Getting in the writing zone is a rewarding and enjoyable experience—so don’t forget to have fun while you’re writing.
To make creating a writing ritual even easier, I’ve made a worksheet questionnaire that will walk you through how to make a writing ritual that is right for you.
Click the image to get your questionnaire and start the process of finding your writing ritual.