Zoning Out


Every writer knows the thrill of the “writing zone”. When the muse whispers the words in your ear and they effortlessly fill the page. Those times when you write something, read it, and whisper, “Man, that’s good stuff.” The joy inspired from the zone is both rewarding and addictive.

There are many ways writers get into the zone. For me, it involves a comfy chair, dim lights, pictures of my characters near by, and Pandora.com. Recently, I added lavender-scented lotion because it’s what my MC uses and it helps me connect to her.

What techniques do you use to get in the zone? Do you have a special place? Is music helpful or distracting? What helps you connect to your characters?

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15 comments on “Zoning Out

  1. kellyhashway says:

    No music for me. I like to completely tune into my manuscript and tune out the real world. I like complete quiet. Sometimes you have to listen carefully to hear those characters whispering in your ear. 😉

  2. Candles and definitely music… It’s funny how you mentioned lavender lotion because that’s what your character uses. I do that, too, use scents or textures that my character would be in to. Sometimes I even walk around my house and ‘get into’ character. LOL I’m a former theater freak.

  3. Susanna says:

    Alas, I have yet to find a reliable way into the zone. I find my way there by luck, not nearly as often as I’d like!

  4. Nicole Mc says:

    Hmmm, I’ve never considered using a scent! I like that.

    My muse comes when I have no children screaming MOM in my ear. Maybe that’s why I work slowly!! 🙂

    • Oh, Nicole. Unfortunately, I can relate.

      I can’t explain the science behind it, but I think I’m training my brain to get into writing mode when I smell lavender. Probably also helps that it’s a relaxing scent.

  5. mrsjanegrant says:

    Hi, crusader popping over. I like background noise, but I can’t actively listen to music because I’m (hopefully) too wrapped up in my novel. But I’ve trained myself to work while my younger kids are killing one another, cooking the dinner, and eldest son is playing Bon Jovi full blast!

  6. I think music is a big part of the process for me. Dim lighting, though, makes it tough to edit (when I’ve printed out the pages, lol! 😉

  7. For me it’s getting up before the sun. There’s a quiet then like no other and I’m so in the zone. After the rest of the world around me wakes up, I do email and junk, but during those dark hours I write.

  8. Jessie says:

    for me, music is a must. it helps me tune all else out and get into the mood of the scene I’m writing. other than that, give me my laptop and I can compose just about anywhere.

  9. Hi crusader,
    I like noise around me because I can usually switch that off in my brain. Quiet can sometimes be too unsettling. However, I find it difficult to listen to music. It somehow breaks my connection to the story I am writing. I like the idea of lavender, and lighting a candle seems to help more than anything. I can see how developing a few ritual habits may help turn on the creativity.

  10. I need quiet time, peanut M&Ms, ice cold Pepsi, and a hubby willing to take on the kids. 🙂

  11. I usually read really descriptive writing. Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite, or The Soul Thief by Charles Baxter. Very different, very beautiful. This method aids in unique descriptions of my own, and enhances my vocabulary. The right style of music is a must. This also enhances my ability to write the scene. I usually can’t write well without listening to music with emotion in it. What’s been nice with my two novels is that they are both based on people I know. If I need to connect to my characters, I read writing from their “real life” models. This reminds me of their style of writing, or the way they speak.

  12. @Jane – talk about multitasking. 🙂
    @Laura – teh heh. Sometimes I like to edited on paper too.
    @C. Lee – I so know what you mean about those quiet hours.
    @Jessie – the music helps me tune everything else out too.
    @Linda – I think the ritual definitely helps conjure the muse.
    @Shannon – Ah, chocolate. I hear you.
    @Jennifer – Great way to get in touch with your characters.

  13. I often listen to music to get into the “zone”. I find that classical is the best, since it’s easy to find just the right music for a certain scene–and I have trouble writing with lyrics in the background.

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