Get into the FLOW of writing

Seriously, look at this! Doesn't this look divine? Heavenly?
Let me tell you, IT IS!

This week I'm lucky enough to be able to pry myself away from my group of guys (3 teenage boys, hubby, and two four-legged fury friends) at home and go to this exact cabin, in the woods, with two of my writer buddies (Heather Webber/Blake and Wendy Lyn Watson).

We are all on deadline for our next novels.

Heather is traditionally and indie-published with a book due to her editor at NAL (Penguin  Group) on October 1st, and a deadline for her seventh book in her Nina Quinn series, that she's self-publishing, somewhere close to December.

Wendy is traditionally published, and her deadline to her NAL editor is September 1st.

I'm self-published and my deadline is August 15th.

Each of us are at different stages of the writing process, but we are ALL on deadline. Since our deadlines are so close, we thought it was a great idea to have a writer's retreat where we only sit and write all day. (THANK GOD someone's internet is not secure b/c the cabin does not have wifi. )

Anyways, one thing was for sure, no matter what, I had to get into my writing mojo. And by mojo, I mean flow. In order to justify leaving my husband at one of our families busiest time (all three teenagers are heavily into sports and AAU sports, and this weekend two of them have tournaments), I promised him that I would get at least 20,000 words written from the time the rented Chevy rolled up to the cabin, until the rented Chevy drove away from the cabin. (Four days)

This meant that I had a lot of preparation to make to get into the FLOW of writing. I came up with some easy tips to help (which also work on a daily basis, not just a very cool cabin treat with some great writer friends)

1) Set a goal.
I know some of you aren't goal oriented. But when you are on deadline, or wanting to get the next book out,  and whether you make a tangible goal or not, you have made a goal. You got that book completed and ready for publication.

My goal at this retreat is to write 20k words. (blog post NOT included) Plus I know a little bit about where I need my story to go. I'm a panster, but about 100 pages into my novels I have a pretty good sense where the story needs to go until the end. That is when I make a list of scenes that I know have to go into the book.
And you don't have to write those scenes in order! This is a great way to get the flow going. If you are more motivated about the murder scene or one of your conflict scenes, write it. You can stick it in the story later, or go back and beef it up during your edits. This will also get your flow going and lead to more writing.

When you set a goal, it puts a concrete idea in your head and forces your brain to wrap around the idea that you have to get this done. So why not go ahead and set a concrete goal.

2) Keep a journal handy.
Don't roll your eyes! We all know that I'm old school and love to write long hand. When you sit down to write, try to write a few sentences long hand to get your brain warmed up.

3) Set a timer for ten minutes.
Sit down and write, ten minutes straight. Get up and walk around, and then set the timer again. Most times than not, you have begun your flow. You hit the timer just to write one more sentence or finish the scene, and before you know it ten more minutes or thirty minutes have gone by and you are in the writing flow.

4) Create a writing work space.
Here at the retreat, we each have our own bedroom if we want to go in there and just be alone with our laptops. We also have a nice deck outside with a few tables and chairs to plant ourselves and get the muse of nature on our side. Or we have the amazing section, comfy, big pillow couch where we have decided that is where we want to spend our time writing.

The TV is OFF, the batteries are out of the ticking clocks (because I'm crazy and the tick makes me crazier) and the coffee is brewed in the pot.

The three of us are here to write and keep us accountable. We aren't going to lounge around and flip on the TV (okay, I did last night for Big Brother and Project Runway), but we are setting our environment to get into the writing flow and get some words on the page.

Now....go get in the mood to write! Let the words FLOW!

Do you have any tips for our writer friends on how to help them GET INTO THE FLOW OF WRITING?


  1. Great advice! What a lovely way to retreat and buckle down on writing. Thanks for the tips. :)

    1. Thanks so much, DeAnna! I've NEVER written four days straight without having the TV a ton completed!!

  2. Tonya! This is exactly what I'm trying to set up with some of my local writers. I hope you hit the 20k goal.

    1. Christina, I highly recommend it! We had a blast, and we all got so much written. I got 18k words.

  3. Have a brilliant and productive weekend..xx

  4. Jealous! Love the timer idea. Going to try that today.

    1. Docmon, by the end of the third night, we were using the timer method. We all started to get slap happy and had to buckle down! The timer did it.

  5. Oh, wishing you all three make your individual goals. :)) Looks like a lovely, inspirational place to write.

    1. We all came a little shy! We aimed high, but all made a good shot at it! Not bad:))

  6. Great advice, Tonya. My writing buddy and I get away for a week once or twice a year. It makes all the difference. We've been to B&Bs, to other states, last year to Italy for a month! This year, we're staying in town, but going to a writing site each morning, just as though we're going to the office. History says we'll get a LOT of writing done.

  7. Great post. Especially, as I am sitting in a coffee shop with two and a half available hours to write before I have to pick my kids up again.. and here I am reading blog posts instead of writing. Aaargh! I better go google a timer website so I can scare the bejeezus out of the people sitting comfortably next to me....

  8. I definitely need to incorporate writing into my schedule more. Its been so easy getting sidetracked with working full-time and apt hunting in the evenings but I have to make it work!!! Too bad I don't have a cabin to retreat to!!! Thanks for the tips!!

  9. Great tips on getting the Flow going!

    I agree with the ideas of setting goals. For longer projects, I usually give myself at least a month with the goal of completing the novel or screenplay by the end of the month. I also give myself daily goals of one or two chapters or scene per day. If I have other story ideas that I have to get down, this gives me time in the day to make note of them.

    Whenever I'm stuck and I can't compose on my MacBook Air, my Pelikan fountain pen and a Cambridge Mead notepad get the ink flowing.

    I used to have a long process of brewing an espresso, lighting incense, putting on music and getting into the perfect spot on my couch to write. Sometimes this set up would be great to get into my flow (even though it took 10-15 minutes). Other times the simple act of unscrewing my fountain pen cap can get me in the zone.

    The most important thing for me now is making space to write - carving out time when I don't have any other distractions to just focus on the writing.

    Good luck on your lovely writer's retreat!




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