Today, I had the luxury of spending the morning at home, a steaming cup of tea beside my laptop, the rare appearance of sunlight filtering through my bedroom window. I was facing the dreaded blank screen. A fresh day. A fresh page. A fresh chapter. I thought about something Daniel José Older, author of the urban fantasy series Bone Street Rumba, said in his pep talk over a week ago. If you have an account on the NaNoWriMo website like I do, you’d have gotten it as well (and have hopefully read it). He shared a little nugget of his writing process in that pep talk, and told readers that sometimes after he has settled in his chair with his coffee, he will listen to a song. Though the song itself didn’t matter, the process was what made an impact on him. What was important was that he listened to the entire song, doing nothing else but drinking in the moment. When he listened to that song, whatever it may be, he was pulled away from the mundane world and settled into a more creative mindset.
“Let go of the shame about how long it’s been since you last wrote, the clenching fear that you’re not a good enough writer, the doubts over whether or not you can get it done… Concoct a hot beverage, play a beautiful song, look inward, and then begin.”
— Daniel José Older
His words remained with me, even though I had yet to try his technique. I don’t think it’s something he does every time he writes, but the thought of it was so completely romantic and intriguing. This morning, it was time for me to indulge. I turned on Ragged Wood by Fleet Foxes and just sat back to listen. I resisted the nagging impulse to check Facebook while I was at it. I ignored a short buzz of my phone. I had trouble settling into a quiet mindset… until something in me shifted, like a switch, and I let myself hum along to the familiar melody. For once, I was actually listening to the worlds, letting them saturate my mind. When it was over, the urge to purge every social media was gone. I dropped my phone into my backpack so it was out of sight. I turned to the blinking curser and began to write.
Though I won’t always be home to play a song every time I write, the experience definitely did something. I met my word count in one sitting, leaving the rest of the day to plot, clean my well-used kitchen, and write a few hundred words before bed. I’m sure I’ll be thanking myself for that tomorrow.
Week one is a milestone. Whether you are ahead of the game or floundering in the shallow end of the word count pool, hold your head up. So what if you’re behind? You’ve made it this far without giving up. Take a moment and bring yourself back to your project, to the love of writing that gives us all something in common. Reach that creative space, type that first word, and don’t stop.