Drink water, avoid carbs
Before you’re even at your desk to begin typing anything out, I drink lots of water, and avoid foods high in carbohydrates. I already eat paleo anyway, but I’ll still avoid rice, which is difficult as I live in Japan and rice is everywhere.
Tonight, I ate two large takeout dishes from a conbini (Japanese convenience store; a gas station without the gas), both with lots of rice, and I am really struggling to maintain the mental focus to write this article.
Water is the best fuel for your body for feeling alert, possibly even more so than caffeine. Plus you need water to survive, whereas you do not need caffeine. (I’ve already writtenextensivelyaboutthis.)
I don’t mean just have a glass of water. Have several glasses of water per hour. Your urine should be clear, and you should be getting up to go to the bathroom at least once an hour. Getting up from your desk to use the toilet is something else that keeps your blood flowing, which you also want.
Look at attractive women (straight males only)
This one is a little weird, but it works very, very well. For reasons that are pretty obvious after you think about it.
Women find humor attractive in men. This is well documented:
Instinctively, your brain knows this. I’m always always always funnier when I’m around women, whether I’m trying to or not. Even if they’re absolutely platonic friends, I’m still much funnier, I crack more jokes, better jokes, with better timing, everything. (I’m the funniest when I’m with a girlfriend / significant other, whoever she is at the time.)
So, if you are a straight male, periodically open a Google image search of some attractive woman. The sight of a beautiful woman tells your brain, “Hey, you, it’s time to get funny.” Funny men are attractive to women, and a straight guy’s brain knows this. I have absolutely no idea if this concept works for other genders or sexual preferences. I only have my own perspective.
I recommend Sabina Altynbekova.
Refresh with those who inspired you
Read a bit by one of your favorite authors before you start writing. My biggest writing influences in my life were Tucker Max, Maddox, and PhilaLawyer. While I’m not as debaucherous, angry, or philosophical as any of them, most of my writing I do is humor-based stories about my life, so they’re still who I look to for writing style cues.
So when I’m writing a new story about some stupid thing my friends and I did, I read a couple old posts by one of them to absorb their style of writing.
Don’t copy them directly; that’s pointless and ineffective. I’ve done it, and it makes my stuff less fun and funny to read. You need your own writing voice. But absolutely get a feel for how they lay out their stories. I’m a drummer, and my drumming style is absolutely influenced by the types of music I listen to. Same with writing.
It depends on what kind of writing you do. I don’t read or write fiction, but if I did, I might read a few Harry Potter chapters before I begin. If I’m doing my advice writing, or just blogging out my thoughts, I don’t really do any preparation. The advice writing is pretty to-the-point, and my thoughts are just that: mine. I speak straight from the heart.
Do a puzzle
Anything, really. My favorite is Sudoku, because I am actually pretty terrible at Sudoku puzzles. Their difficulty for me is exactly why I choose them: It requires me to think creatively and concentrate, two things that are involved while writing.
Do something that gets those parts of your brain working. The areas of your brain that are used while writing should already be warmed up and ready to go. The worst thing you can do is wake up, go right to your computer, and stare at a blank text document for 10 minutes while you try to think of what to write.
You need to warm yourself up. Like a little pre-jog before running a long distance for a workout. I don’t actually know anything about exercise. I don’t think I’ve ever used exercise for a metaphor, and I probably never will again.
Listen to the right music
I have to have music playing at all times, forever in my life or I go crazy. I find it slightly more difficult sometimes to write while listening to music that has any lyrics, because part of my brain is focused on hearing the words in the songs.
These are the music genres that work best for me:
Each of those is generally lyricless, but also pretty high energy.
I find low-key jazz and classical music to be beautiful, but also soothing. Not conducive to the type of writing that I do. Maybe if I was writing something boring like the chapters in Lord of the Rings that describe what kind of vegetation grow in the Northern Valley or whatever.
If you’re into fitness, do some pushups and/or situps. Don’t need much; just 10 or 20 or so. Anything to get your blood pumping.
This can be done prior to writing, or even as a small break if you find yourself losing focus.
This may not be feasible depending on where you do your writing, but it helps me a lot. Even if nobody’s talking to me, just being at work at all around other people distracts me. I see what they’re doing, I hear what they’re thinking, and it doesn’t work.
Even if I’m just on my couch, and a friend or [ahem] lady guest is over, I wouldn’t be able to let someone watch me type. It makes me too self-conscious, and part of my brain is going to be devoted to analyzing what that person is probably thinking right now.
I’m also hyper-socially-conscious, so maybe this is just my problem and I’m weird.