Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Getting in the Zone

Way back in those happy childhood hours of shooting baskets with my Dad, he told me that lots of basketball players had a special routine they went through before making a free-throw shot. Some would dribble a few times, and there was even was one who always dried his hands off on his socks. Whatever they chose to do, it was something to help them get in the zone. Something that said, "Time for a free-throw." Something to ease mind and body into the practiced pattern that would send the ball arcing through the air and swishing through the hoop.

To this day, when I shoot a free-throw, I bounce the ball three times, then sight the rim over the orange sphere in my hands before getting set to make the shot. I don't make it that often. Out of practice.

But what I do practice every day is my writing. And when I sit down to write I do better if I take a few minutes to get into the zone.

First, I sit at my desk and stare at my tack board for a while. I've usually got some part of an outline for my current project up there, plus maps and diagrams, a small prop or two, and motivational quotes like "When Revising, Add Awesome," and "Anticipation is the BEST PART! Make 'em wait," and "CHAPTER 8 NEEDS SERIOUS HELP!"

Then, I listen to a song. This is my favorite part. As I listen, I close my eyes and let my mind play through images from my story. I see the characters, I feel their emotions, I experience their world. And then when the song is over, I wake up and write.

So what do you do to get in the zone?

P.S. Here's the song:


  1. It's a great idea to develop a writing ritual to help signal that change over into "writing thinking".

  2. I like to write first thing in the morning. Then I have all day and all night to think about the next part and how the characters will handle it. I don't have a ritual, other than the fact that no one bothers you in the wee hours, and I usually have a full brain that can't wait to spill onto the page.

  3. I love your "get in the zone" routine. Mine consists of 3/4 of whatever song is queued up in the iPod when I drop the kids at school. Brew a pot of tea. Write.

    Unless it's summer, then it's just madness.

  4. I need to get back into a routine so that my brain knows it's time to work. It's so interesting to me that little rituals actually work.

    And summer is madness here, too.

  5. I'm getting a ton of work done this summer, but only because (my husband is off work) + (teenage daughter) = always someone else around to watch the boys while I hide in my cove for three or four hours.

    Of course that was until I got marooned on the mainland. Now I'm catching an hour or two while waiting in the airport or on a plane. I should be able to go home tonight and get back to the routine again.


What be on yer mind?