I'm always fascinated by how other people write. If I'm having a day where the words aren't flowing well I sometimes imagine other authors breezily typing out page after page of brilliant work. And of course, it's easy on those days to believe that everyone else but you can simply sit down and start composing - easy as pie.
The truth is that beginning to write - whether it be the beginning of a new project, or even just the beginning of a new day's work can sometimes be a little difficult (possible understatement there).
It's not that I'm one of those people who believes there's nothing to be done but wait for 'The Muse' to show up and then I can begin work. If that were the case I'd probably never have finished a book. That muse can be darned elusive and I'm sure sometimes it's just a nickname we use as an excuse to do all the other things we'd love to do - see friends, read a book, go to the beach, window shop, whatever.
I believe that the more often we write the easier it becomes. I don't mean 12 hours a day to the exclusion of all else, but if you can do that, good on you. I've found writing as often as possible keeps the story in my head and makes me less inclined to question what I'm writing so that I can just plunge in and create a draft to look at later. I'd love to say I have a strict regimen of writing from time x to time y every day or 5 days a week, with no interruptions. Instead I have a certain number of days when I know I can write more or less free from interruption and I scrabble to make the most of those days, and sneak in a little extra where I can. But the more I write the easier it is to write more.
Nevertheless, there are times when facing a blank page is daunting. It seems like there's a story there, waiting to be told but I don't have what I need to access it. It's as if it's behind a sturdy, locked door and I don't have the key.
Have you ever had that feeling? Isn't it frustrating? Especially if you know, even vaguely, the story you want to set down, or the scene you want to tackle next, but actually getting the beginning down is incredibly daunting.
There's no magic fix (I can hear your sighs from here) but after years asking other writers how they get through that problem, I've decided that training yourself into some sort of routine is the best way. If your mind gets used to the idea (yes, we're playing mind games here) that you're going to write in certain circumstances, over a period of time you'll find the block to beginning ease. I don't promise it will go away, but with perseverance you can still made a start.
I know writers who have very strict routines to help get them in the zone. Some light specially scented candles and then sit down to write. Others listen to music (sometimes a playlist they've designed especially to fit the project they're working on ) and then sit down to write. Others go for an early morning work and then sit down to write. One writer I know vows she can't write anywhere but in her own office - presumably because that's the place she associates with creativity.
Have you noticed the important point here - the sitting down to write is a constant. No point lighting gorgeously scented candles if you then do nothing. You have to make yourself follow through and get some words down.
Some people I know set a timer for 20 or 30 minutes and tell themselves they must write in that time, not browse the net or play a computer game. Usually, by the end of that time they've got something down, and from there they can proceed.
For me, the process is a little varied, like my routine. Because I don't have the luxury of setting exact times and space to write all the time, I tend to use activities as a trigger. It could be that first cup of coffee after I've dealt with some of the 'must dos' on the day's list. Sitting with a coffee and reading over yesterday's words is a way that works to get me in the zone of the story. Alternatively it might be having a shower immediately before I begin work - something about water always seems to help me concentrate on my story. Occasionally it will be a walk before writing. In that case the activity seems to wake my brain up, ready to concentrate on writing. Of course the other key factor is not letting myself get up and do something else till I've got some words down. Even words I think will need cutting or amending - they still help drag me back into the story and the more I write the better the words (at least I hope so).
How about you? Do you have a special trigger or routine that helps you start work, whether that be writing or something else? Do you follow a strict routine, or do you prefer to vary the process and see what happens?
If you want to find out more about Annie or her writing, visit her website. where you'll find news, excerpts from her books and other information. Her current release is DEFYING HER DESERT DUTY which recently scored a lovely 5 star review from CataRomance. Her next book, CAPTIVE IN THE SPOTLIGHT is available to order now for new year reading in February.