A couple of weeks ago a friend posed a question on Twitter to those writers who have other jobs or an otherwise limited amount of writing time. The question was in two parts – the first was where do you fit in writing time and the second was how do you “change gears” from not writing to writing.
I squeeze in writing normally in the evenings and occasionally during lunchtimes while at work. For the second one, apparently I use something called Classical Conditioning (which didn’t actually twig until said friend pointed it out). I write using the almighty power of tea.
I love tea, but the only time I ever actually drink tea is while I’m writing. This isn’t deliberate, it’s just how things turned out. I don’t eat or drink in the morning because my stomach says no. I don’t trust the hygiene of any of the facilities at work. I never have tea on the go because it’s never right unless I make it myself (I, like many others, am very particular about my tea). I don’t drink tea while I’m gaming or drawing, as I always end up letting it go cold – something all my fellow tea lovers will agree is a horrendous crime. As a result, the only time I drink tea is while writing.
My writing hiatus ended in the middle of 2012 and thus began the tea conditioning. An accident? Yes. One I would change? Not a chance. Three years later and now just the smell of tea makes me think of writing and gets my fingers itchy. It helps me focus, helps me switch off from the other things that loudly scream for attention in life. A bad day at work can be difficult to shrug off, and it was something I used to struggle with far more than I do now. Now, I make myself a nice cup of tea and let that writing feeling come.
Obviously this isn’t perfect. It doesn’t always work, some days there’s just no helping being unproductive. It also does not cure writer’s block – but it can help keep me wanting to stick at it until I hit the break through. There’s no ultimate fix to make you super productive all the time, but if something helps a little then why not?
Of course some people simply can’t live limiting their tea intake per day – and it would be cruelty to suggest! – but there are lots of cues that can be used to train the brain. It could be a different beverage, a particular scented candle, a genre of music – whatever works for you! It’s not a quick solution and takes time for the association to stick but if you, like so many others, have a hectic life and have trouble shifting into writing mode then I’d recommend giving it a try. It’s definitely worked for me.
And if anyone already uses a similar method, I’d love to hear about what you do in the comments below!