Turn up the Marvin Gaye, you guys. We gotta set the mood. Wait. Not that mood. Sorry. My bad. Let’s talk about how to set the novel writing mood.

How to Set the Novel Writing Mood | If you're looking for ways to get in the right headspace to finish your novel, check out these tips for how to set the novel writing mood.

Original photo by Thought Catalog 

It has recently come to my attention (which means that I’ve known this about myself all along, but have tried to ignore it) that I can’t just write at the drop of a hat. It’s hella hard, you guys. So, if I walk in the door from work, I can’t just go to my desk and start writing. I mean, I can once in a blue moon, but mostly, it’s not possible.

So, in order to make it easier on myself to finish my novel before this year ends, I’m finding ways to enable success. That’s why I’m sharing how to set the novel writing mood today.

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If you’re struggling to stay focused on your writing, or find that you get really distracted when you try to sit down and write, I think these tips will help you. And I have to say, I think it’s really important to make sure you create the right atmosphere for writing, because it can be so easy to get down on yourself when you’re not as productive as you want to be.

How to Set the Novel Writing Mood

001: Clear away distractions.

This is obvious, and probably something that you think you’re doing already. But if you live in this, the year of our lord, 2018, then you are not. Here’s the thing about our lives as modern, first-world consumers. We’re always distracted, and we’ve paid a lot of money to get that way. So, as you’re reading this, you’re probably getting a ton of other notifications to let you know of all the other stuff available to you. And I would bet even money there’s a TV on the background. Or a radio. Or a podcast.

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I’m not saying this to be a jerk or to judge you. Know that I’m living the same way. So in order to set the novel writing mood, you have to be hyperaware of all potential distractions and cut them out. Novels aren’t written while you watch TV or binge your favorite podcast. They aren’t written in between text messages of group chats. You have to give yourself space away from those things to give yourself energy to write a novel.

002: Light a candle.

I am not a scientist. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how brain chemicals work. I have no earthly idea as to why I do the things I do, other than they work for me. And believe me when I say that lighting a candle is what works for me when it comes to setting the novel writing mood. For whatever reason, it’s like as soon as that scent hits, my brain is back in the story world.

I don’t know if this works for everyone, or if it’s worth even sharing. But I do know using a particular scent to get me in the mindset for writing has always worked for me. So, I try to use the same candle or essential oil as I make my way through a project. And I make sure not to use it for anything but writing. As soon as I light it, my brain knows it’s writing time.

003: Drink some caffeine.

This is probably ridiculously obvious. And if you’re a person of a certain age, you probably can’t get anything done until you’ve had some caffeine. But I think it’s important to build trigger habits, and in order to set the novel writing mood, I know I have to make some coffee or tea. So, when I’m trying to tell my brain it’s time to write, I make something warm in a mug, and I know it’s time to work.

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This works for a number of reasons. One, because as I stated, it’s a trigger habit, which means I do it and then follow it with another habit — writing. But another reason it works is because when I sit down to write, there’s a good chance that I’m worn out from the other stuff I’ve been doing. So a nice cup of tea is a great way to wake up my brain after teaching or paper grading so I can get into my story.

004: Drown out other noises.

It’s really hard for me to stay focused on writing if I keep hearing other stuff. Voices outside my window or music with lyrics can make it impossible for me to focus on what it is that I’m trying to do. And if I’m being honest, there are times when my heart isn’t 100% in it, and hearing something like the dishwasher or the air conditioner is enough to throw me completely off track.

To drown out other sounds that might distract me, I like to use Ambient Mixer. I’ve written about my favorite atmospheres before, but there have been so many added since then. I like how the noises are all natural sounds like wind or birds or rain. And you can adjust the individual sounds in each atmosphere to achieve the best results for you. If you also struggle with getting distracted by noises, this is definitely something you should try.

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005: Be comfortable.

Look. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. No one can write anything while wearing anything but dog hair-covered yoga pants. I refuse to believe that Shakespeare, Ernest Hemingway, and Miguel de Cervantes wore anything other than yoga pants. And because they wore these yoga pants, they have achieved greatness.

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I refuse to believe that Shakespeare, Ernest Hemingway, and Miguel de Cervantes wore anything other than yoga pants. Share on X

I mean, I don’t have proof of this. But I do know that it’s hard to focus on writing when you’re busy focusing on how uncomfortable you are. So when it comes to setting the novel writing mood, I know I need to put on some comfy clothes. I’m a yoga pants and a hoodie type of girl, but you’re free to wear whatever works best for you.

How Do You Set the Novel Writing Mood?

What’s the one thing you do that gets you into the headspace of writing? How many pairs of yoga pants do you think Shakespeare owned? How much caffeine is too much caffeine when it comes to your afternoon writing session? Let me know in the comments!

6 Responses

  1. It’s either yoga pants or sweats for me. I’ve been trying so hard to figure out the best writing time for me. I used to be a night time writer but I didn’t get home quite as late as I do now. I also have a young do that requires too much attention. But I absolutely love ambient sound mixer! Great post!

    1. Thanks, April! And I’ve been experimenting with my time too. Sometimes it’s first thing in the morning, but sometimes it’s also 3 PM — which is in the middle of my work day. It’s so tough to find a writing time when your day job is in the way.

  2. I’m an exercise pants girl. Yoga pants aren’t loose enough. LOL!
    I can write anywhere, but when I really hit a wall, I make myself sit down and write for 20 minutes. It works! I always write much longer.

  3. These are great suggestions. I especially love the candle idea! And to have the same scent each time you write is brilliant. I also love the 20 more minute rule! Thanks @Susie Lindau!
    I always make sure I have what I need in arms reach to limit the times I get out of my seat. A research book, my water, the remote to turn down the ambient music if needed. I keep it parked as much as possible.
    Thanks for the tips Marisa!

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