One of the places I go when I need a brain break is zenhabits.net. I don’t always agree with Leo, but he’s got an interesting perspective. He recently did a post called “the three-day monk habit” (go read the post and poke around, he’s got lots of good ideas, and come back). This one is one of the ones I disagree with. See, I write every day, and I don’t do any of the stuff he suggests. I write 1st thing in the morning so I circumvent free will, I don’t listen to music because it would distract me, I doubt constantly, I don’t gradually increase because there’s no time in my 20-minute writing block, and I don’t have any momentum.
I am apparently totally a three-day monk. The best way for me to do something is to find a way to turn it into a sprint. Editing, I have to sit down and slog through as fast as possible. Last year when I was editing that novel, I broke it into six sprints, and sat down with it for hours at a stretch, then took some days off from it to recharge and let my subconscious have at.
Short stories lately, the same thing. The best thing for me to do is sit down at the kitchen table (having washed the dishes, wiped down the counter, and tidied up the piles of paper) and just write for about 90 minutes. I can write two or three thousand words that way.
Of course I have to have all my stuff lined up first. I find I need to know where it's going now. I have an outline, even though I'll probably ignore it. I need my phone because I have to answer questions right away or I can't keep going. What color is a mishepishu? What did that purple dye come from? How is Roundup sold? So many distractions! And yet, for that 90 minutes, I can focus like a three-day monk.
Maybe that's why I like writing short stories so much -- you can just punch through like that.