Sunday, May 18, 2014

How I Get in the Mood

I'd like to share a little bit about how I get in the mood. To write, of course.
Like most writers, I wear a few different hats throughout my week.
I’m a crime writer, a newspaper reporter covering crime, and an Italian-American mama.
That often means I shift gears several times in one day.
I have rituals to get in the mood for each role.
For instance, on my way into work at the newspaper, I listen to the police scanner. By the time I get into the newsroom, I know all the crime going on for the past half hour in the city I cover.
How do I get in the mood for being an Italian-American mama?
Haha. That was a trick question. There is no preparation for that. None. Whatsoever. The kids could get off the bus singing and shooting beams of rainbows out of their palms, or they could walk into the house with storm clouds hovering over their heads and lighting bolts shooting out of their fingertips. One never knows. There is no way to prepare.
The question I can answer, however, is how I get in the mood for writing crime fiction, and, let’s face it, that’s why you all are here anyway.
Here’s how I wake up in the morning and get in the mood:
Armed with a cup of coffee, I visit all of my inspirational online sites. I use to organize those websites. I learned about this super smart and efficient way to scan your favorite blogs after a stellar workshop put on by Michael Kelberer, a fellow member of my local Sisters in Crime chapter. Through feedly, I scan headlines on all my favorite blogs and click on those that seem most interesting.
Today, for instance, the sites I read included Jungle Red Writers, The Kill Zone, and Karen Woodward’s page. This not only gives me a chance to interact with my fellow writers, but also reading about writing gets me pumped up to WRITE!
By the time I’m done with feedly, I’ve read several posts on writing and the writing life and have injected myself with a concentrated dose of inspiration.
Even if it is a Write at Home Day, I always make sure to shower, put on makeup and get dressed for the day. Even though I could technically write in my pajamas and fuzzy slippers, there is something about getting ready that helps prepare me to work and gets me in the mood.
I don’t mix up my writing spot very much. I usually park my butt in the chair in one of two places, either on a stool pulled up to my kitchen counter or at my regular spot at the local coffee shop. Sitting down there means writing time. I really find that this ritual of putting my body in the same spot prepares my mind to do the same thing—write!
Every once in a while, my mind wanders and I find myself checking Facebook or Twitter or watching a dog attack a kid and then a cat attack the dog.
On those days, I turn to—and turn on—Freedom. This program blocks online access for a set amount of time. You decide how long. I usually block for about 90 minutes. It sounds like a weird psychological trick, but it works quite well.
And of course, using it at all means you—or rather, I—have zero self-control in staying offline, but that’s the way it is. I’ll take whatever help I can get to get my butt in the chair and words on the paper.
In addition, I always have a pair of headphones with me that I can plug into Spotify if the ambient cafe noise becomes too much. Usually it is conducive to writing, though. Occasionally, like on Friday this week, the screaming kids, the singing of Happy Birthday by 20 adults and the screaming kids ... oh, did I mention that, meant me and my writing buddies all took out our headphones simultaneously.
The last thing I do to get in the mood is have a realistic goal for that day. I’m a member of the Church of a Thousand Words that Brad Parks talks about. That means I don’t stop writing for the day until I have at least 1,000 words on paper. Then, if I’m still in the mood, I keep writing. If not, I call it a day.
For writing, at least.
And then prepare to shift into Italian-mama mode, which could involve tears or laughter, but will never be boring. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What do you do to get in the mood for your writing day?

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