Yes, there is a writing zone, but there are a few rules to getting in it.
For people writing as a second income stream or second career after retirement finding your writing zone may be hard, even frustrating. The difficulty may be based on your current or past work routines. You see, some jobs force you to let go of your creativity. They push policies and procedures at you and evaluate you based on how well you tow the company line. People cave, bite their tongue, and ignore that little voice in their head begging not to be turned off. Decades of stifling your creativity may make it hard to find your writing zone at first. The reason for this is simple. Your creativity is built on your imagination and your imagination doesn’t recognize rules, patterns, or roads. But rules are good you say. Yes, they are but not when you’re trying to set a fire–a creative fire inside your imagination.
There’s a reason for patterns. A pattern is like a job description, it sets out the rules to be followed. People are told what time to report to work and what time to leave it. There is comfort inside these patterns because you know the rules and what’s expected of you. Some people call the pattern a box, a place that cycles out creativity, and they deliberately test the rules or push the envelope. This mindset isn’t what you want. What you’re looking for is a creative spot that’s been sparked by an idea. And that idea excites you. I’m talking about a mental zone where minutes fly past unnoticed, you miss meals, forget to call your friend as promised, and in general lay out the story that’s been jailed inside your head for possibly decades. For a writer that zone is a beautiful thing.
Every writer is different but most of us have a routine we use to get into the zone. This routine can be something simple like drinking tea on the patio, cloud gazing, or even a hike in the woods. The routine does something that changes your normal thoughts and daily worries, and lets your imagination run wild. Eventually, letting your imagination run free will tap a spark, but once you tap it, it needs a direction. That’s why every time you try to fire up your imagination you need to be prepared to direct it into the story. Fair warning–the writing zone can be elusive, sometimes it lasts just minutes but the words created in the zone really zing. But if I waited until I mentally reached the zone, I’d get very little writing done.
The key is to stimulate your imagination, groove on it, and put your bottom in a chair and type out the words. The zone may not show up in the first paragraph or first page, it might take weeks or months, but if you stay consistent in keeping your imagination open the zone will come. Think of it as a magic elixir that doesn’t come often but when it does, you’re ready to run with it.
Follow your instincts when it comes to how to fire up your imagination. Let loose your inner child, you remember that kid, the one that wanted to wear mismatched clothes or stay up late looking for shooting stars? What are your favorite tricks to fire up your imagination?