I think of the weirdest things when I'm supposed to be writing. My mind has an unbelievable capacity for wandering. Some days I don't have much problem with it, if what I'm writing is that one scene I've been looking forward to writing. But let's face it, how often does that happen? Not often enough.
I have learned, though, some tricks to convince my mind that writing is exactly what it needs to be doing.
I have a writing place. I have a specific seat in the house where I usually write. Actually, I have two now that I have a laptop again. I get into my seat, knowing that as soon as I sit, the cat is going to jump up in my lap and make a general nuisance of himself till I lift the footrest, then he can curl up by my feet and go to sleep. I sit down with the specific idea of what I'm going to do at this time, in this place, which is write.
To add an odd note here: it is proven that rocking has a calming and stimulating effect on the brain. Ever think about writing in a rocking chair?
Before I sit, I bring a cold drink to the table. There's something about taking a swig of something cold that refreshes your mouth and your mind. Fruit juice or Pepsi on ice comes is first on the preference list, but a tall glass of ice water will do if that's what's in the house. At times what I'm writing will have an effect on the choice of drink. If I'm writing medieval or fantasy, it'll be in a goblet. If I need to get into a western mood, we've got a big beer-stein that comes to the table with me.
I've also been known to dress the part. Yes, I've been known to change my clothes, or get dressed for the day with a certain work in mind. I've dressed in a peasant blouse and gypsy skirt just to w
rite. You feel different in different outfits, and believe it or not, it can help. Are you writing the part of a high powered female attorney in jim-jams and bunny slippers? How's that workin' for you? Try dressing the part in heels, hose and pencil skirt. You'll feel more powerful, I guarantee it.
Perhaps the most important quirk on my list of writing rituals is my music. I'll play it on the computer, though if I'm alone and can plug in to a set of headphones, I prefer a mp3 player, so I can switch tracks without switching screens. I have whole sections of my music collection that I only listen to when I write. There are instrumental pieces, there are certain songs for certain moods. I have playlists labeled "apocolypse", "romance", and "battle", and I use them regularly. If I find a song that meets the mood I need for my scene, I will put it on forever repeat and let it play over and over till that scene is done.
There is a side effect to using music this way I must warn you about. I have a really great piece of music by Paul Winter*, and I used it to write an epic battle scene. It played constantly on repeat for six hours while I wrote. To this day, the moment that song starts, my heart starts to race and I start to shake. Music has an innate power to make us feel things very deeply, which is the very reason it works so well as a background for writing.
I also own a 'Scentsy' wax-warmer. It currently holds the smell of worn leather. If I could just find a candle that smelled like the Pacific Ocean, I'd be in heaven!
They say "all's fair in love and war". Let's face it, writing is both. Find the things that work for you. Borrow my quirks if you want, they're not patented. If the smell of roses makes you feel imaginative, light a rose-scented candle. If music puts you on a battlefield, play it. If an outfit of clothes helps put you in the corner office in a character's skin, wear them.
My point is simply this; if there's a tool you can use to help yourself get into the mindset you need to be in to write, use it!