I have pre-conditioned myself into being a multi-tasker; a habit that I found to be extremely distracting while trying to write. I used to turn on music, or even a favorite tv show, quietly in the background. These are things I no longer do when I'm getting ready to write.
I like to think of myself as an adaptable creature but if I'm being honest there are some things that I simply do not want to accept. The idea of scheduling when and how I'm going to write has always been something that I've struggled against and therefore my commitment suffered. So, in order to appease my inner rebellious child, I made a bargain with myself: I would schedule one hour of writing time at least two to three times each week where I would participate in a sort of pre-writing ritual.
Here's what I came up with:
1. I schedule my sessions for some time between 4:00am and 8:00am. This time works best for me because I love how peaceful the morning is before the world is fully awake and moving around. There's something about the morning atmosphere that is breathtakingly serene.
2. I start with either a short walk (15 minutes or so) or a light yoga/stretching exercise. These activities not only help my entire body to feel fully awake and focused before writing, but generally provide a deep sense of awareness as well.
3. I cover my small kitchen table with my first crochet project from ten years ago - a clumsy attempt at a table runner with uneven rows in green, brown, and cream colored yarn. This is to remind and inspire me that creativity takes practice.
4. I make a cup of coffee in my giant 'Keep Calm & Carry On' mug. This mug was a gift from a woman I used to volunteer at a dinner theatre with. She was the director of a play called 'No Sex Please, We're British' and I was her stage manager. Everytime I see this mug it reminds me of her and how much she taught me in the world of theatre.
5. I place my seriously over-used copy of 'The Complete Poems of Thomas Hardy', with its broken binding and a few loose pages, on the table next to my computer. Hardy is one of my very favorite authors and there is something so beautifully blunt about his poetry to me. When I get stuck in a piece I'm working on I pick up the book and flip it open to a random page and get lost in his hauntingly realistic phrases.
This is how I set the conditions for my writing. There are times where I write without going through all of these steps first, although I'll still cover the table with my crocheted runner and Thomas Hardy is never far away, but this is the process I use on those two to three scheduled mornings of writing.