This is part one in a series of six on strategies for finding focus while writing a blog.
Most writers are going to tell you to find a special place to write and make a nest by surrounding yourself with items that inspire you. That might work for some, but what if you can’t be in your area when you need to write?
I’ve written in airports at 3 a.m. after working the entire day. I’ve written in Haitian summer heat with no air conditioning. I’ve written in the Shenandoah Mountains in January with no heat. I have a work office, a home office and then I have the occasional hotel room or conference center. If I limited myself to one location, I would get nothing done.
The idea behind having a set location is a subconscious cue to the brain that it is time to write. I do the same thing by having a cup of coffee. Instead of having a fixed spot, I have something portable and readily available nearly everywhere.
Drinking while writing serves a couple purposes. First, the mug, glass, or cup is the cue that says it is time to write. It sits in the peripheral vision and serves as a constant reminder. It doesn’t matter where you are sitting as long as a beverage is close by. Second, it guarantees you will be getting up in about 50 minutes to either refill the glass or, well, take care of a certain basic need. It’s a nice break that gives the brain a bit of a rest so you don’t burn out.
Certain beverages need to be avoided because sitting and writing isn’t exercise. Some are better than others:
- Water: Obviously the best choice for health reasons, but let’s be real, we don’t like things that are good for us.
- Coffee and Tea: They aren’t bad and they have caffeine, but you want to avoid more than two cups a day because then it affects brain function. Watch the sugar and fat intake with what you put in them. You don’t want a sugar crash in the middle of writing or have to work off an extra 400 calories every time you have a francy coffee shop drink.
- Juices: A middle ground. Vitamins are good, sugars not as much. If you’re going to take in the natural sugars then you might as well eat the fruit itself and get the fiber.
- Soda: Don’t. At least, don’t do it often. Even diet soda is believed to cause belly fat. You really don’t want to get hooked on the stuff, or come to rely on it for inspiration.
- Alcohol: The absolute worst to get you through a writing assignment. I’m not saying I don’t drink once in a while, but I’m not trying to be a hardboiled detective story writer and I certainly don’t want to end up an alcoholic author.
Reconditioning takes practice. Start with having the same beverage every time you write. After a few weeks, move to another room. It shouldn’t take long to make the switch. As they say, if you do something for 30 days it becomes a habit.