Making Magic

There’s something to be said for routine in the life of the “artist type.”

In every book on writing I’ve ever read, there is a common piece of advice: “Establish a routine, and stick to it. It will train your imagination to come at that time you’ve dedicated to writing.”

Honestly, it seemed like bullshit. The whole concept of a “fickle muse” is deflated, killing the magic associated with that “Eureka!” That stroke of instant genius that has to be committed to paper before it disintegrates.

Until I tried it.

Being a mom, the only time I can truly dedicate to writing is in the evening, after the little monsters are in bed. Even then, I still have my phone going off with text messages, facebook notifications, and emails. I’d turn it off, but it’s against the religion of my generation to do so.

After some tweaking, I came up with a process that – magically – has proven flawless. Two hours, and I have a completed first draft of a flash piece, without having considered an idea before writing time.

It’s simple: I sit down on the couch, in pajamas (this part is important), with my laptop, a notebook for errant notes, and a good pair of ear buds. Usually, a drink of the adult variety is waiting patiently on the coffee table. I pull up a youtube station to suit my mood, blast the music in my ears, and make notes. Music has a way of manipulating emotions, and unfortunately a lot of writers forget this. If I decide that I want to write a heart-wrenching piece, then I pull out the heart-wrenching, gut-twisting music. If I want attitude, I listen to rock – something that punches your eardrums. If I want sass, sarcasm, or swagger – rap.

Once I find a song that fits perfectly to the mood and feel of the piece I want to write, I put it on repeat. Annoying? Maybe, if I was actually paying attention to the song. By that point, I’m in that perfect zone where all I can focus on are the words that are on the page. Outside distractions don’t exist. I keep going, until it’s done.

Then, I put it away. No editing until first thing the next morning, when my brain is fresh and I’ve let my subconscious marinate on the piece. If I try to edit the same night, I overthink it.

I do this every night that I can, and so far, it’s yielded some of the best work I’ve done.

What is your routine? What gets you in that place where magic happens?