How to Get into the Rhythm of Writing

Hear that stuttered beat? It’s intriguing, hopeful.

You don’t quite know where the song is going until after the 8-measure intro, and the full beat kicks in (after another mini intro).

That’s what writing is like sometimes. It’s difficult to sit down and just start typing or scribbling away all the time. That’s what NaNo has been like for me so far this month.

I’ll sit down to write and get distracted or simply won’t have enough time to really find my rhythm. This has resulted in a pitifully low word count so far this November.

I dare not even write it aloud (although you can see my “progress” on my NaNo profile: dia820).

After two months of occupying myself with other things, like owning a house, rekindling my writing habit has been a struggle.  It’s not that I don’t want to write, mind you. I’m quite looking forward to the first evening I can churn out 2,000 words and go to bed satisfied and optimistic.

It’s more that a lack of solid writing time through the first six days of the month has kept me from getting back into the habit of writing. Because writing is a habit, or it should be for anyone who considers themselves  a Writer with a capital ‘W’.

This website has suffered too. I can’t even count how many of my posts over the last two months have been thrown together last-minute, or even written late. Definitely more than half.

So how am I finding my writing rhythm again?

  1. It starts tonight. Why? Because I’m present and because if it doesn’t start now, when the hell will it? That’s half the battle.
  2. Appropriate background noise. Football, while entertaining, is a bit too distracting for writing. As much as I want to see whether the Lions or the Packers will emerge as the second-tier contender in the NFC North (my money’s on the Lions), watching TV is not conducive to writing.
  3. But music is! Or, at least the right music. RJD2 has fueled this post so far, and it’s working out fairly well for me. Instrumental music is my go-to when I just want to leave the real world behind for a time.

So that’s my advice: don’t put off starting your project, whether it’s writing 2,000 words in a night or rebuilding a fence because it blew over in a strong wind because you didn’t know that the previous owner literally didn’t even cement the fence posts into the ground!


I highly recommend listening to post rock for some solid background noise and ambiance: all instrumental, heavy in tone, and just melancholy enough to take me to all of the dark places of my mind where my creativity tends to shine brightest.

How do you find your writing rhythm?


Steve D

4 thoughts on “How to Get into the Rhythm of Writing

  1. Listening to nonlyric music definitely helps, sometimes with foam earplugs and headphones on top, to block out other sounds.
    For me I think the biggest challenge is accepting the lack of control that I have. I can decide to sit down and write, but I can’t decide whether what comes out of that effort is going to be worth keeping, and in the long term it’s counterproductive to push myself to some arbitrary break through. Instead I focus on putting in the time, requiring that I sit at a computer or with pen and paper, and try to do something writing related for that time.
    Recently I’ve actually been struggling with a cold, so some types of writing have not been feasible, but I still manage a little.
    I think that’s another big factor, making sure I put in some time, even if it’s only 15 minutes, even if I feel run down. It keeps writing fresh in my mind, and keeps me in the habit.

    1. Putting in the little amounts of time may be more important than the big writing binges. That’s a hard concept for me to wrap my head around, but I have seen so much value come out of ten or fifteen minutes of outlining or note-taking. I agree, though. Do what you can, when you can.

      1. I think one of the missing pieces to that equation is recognizing that we don’t just write when we sit down with the tools.
        Creativity has a momentum to it, a kind of inertia that builds up if you keep at it.
        Many times I’ve found myself in the middle of something else, when suddenly I have a break through in writing; either a new idea, or a new way of approaching an existing one, and suddenly I’m hot on the trail once again.
        I think choosing to keep writing active and fresh in our minds allows our minds to continue working at it, in the background, while we go about our daily lives.

      2. Great point! I have often had creative revelations come when my mind is otherwise occupied. The dozens of .txt files I’ve emailed myself from work to use later will attest to that 🙂

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