I Trick Myself Into Writing


There’s something beautiful about the metal pop that comes from pulling open a flip-top can.  Slide your nail under the aluminum tab, get some leverage, pull it open until the metal tears.  The sound is charming; a nice and sharp ‘click-crack-fizz’, followed by the slow hum of bubbles.

Or, wait a minute, back up… how about this one?

Flip the switch on the back of the machine first.  Listen to the water swirl, grow louder, come to a boil that causes it to jump around merrily.  Take a plastic container and put it in the ammunition slot, close the lid so the machine is loaded and ready to go.  Find the winking blue button, press play.  Wait through the silence (did it work?) until you hear the satisfying hiss of coffee pouring out of the Keurig machine.

Ok… just one more, I promise…

“Hi, welcome to La Colombe.  What can I get you?”

*Point to the tap that holds the draft iced coffee*

“A regular Pure Black, please.”

“No problem, that’ll be $2.50.”

Right, that’s it.  That’s the soundtrack behind the three tricks I use to make myself write.  P.S. No, that first one is not about soda, it’s about Monster Energy Zero Ultra (I would swim in a pool of that stuff if I could).

So what’s the big deal about these three scenarios (drinking Monster, making coffee, or going out and getting it)? 

Other than the fact that they all make me have to pee really badly, they also all send a signal to my brain that it’s time to work (write).  I could spew some random synopses of the psychology and habit-research studies backing up the science of signaling, but that would be boring!  So instead I’ll just say that using consistent signals to bookend working sessions is super helpful, and that it works for me.

Some people use coffee.  Some people use a few minutes of meditation.  Some people have a writing desk that they only use for writing; sitting down at it automatically puts their brain in the write** (get it?) frame of mind.  I feel like I move around too much and enjoy writing in weird places too much for the latter to be effective, so I use coffee/monster (sometimes wine).

*Completely random thought that throws off the flow of the blog post* Something funny that came to mind as I was describing the sounds above (I read this a few weeks ago): I challenge anyone to spell the sound of a sniff.  H-effffff?  H-iffffff? Heh-ifffff?

Anyway… does anyone else use a signal that helps get them into work mode?  If you do, what do you use?  I’m always hunting for helpful new habits to try.

27 comments on “I Trick Myself Into Writing”

  1. I go to the library usually. I mean, I study there as well (uni life, ugh haha) so it’s not JUST writing but it works on helping me focus. Going to a coffee shop works as well. I think it’s just going somewhere that’s not close to my kitchen or bed with a set purpose that gets me into writing mode.

    1. I actually miss the library. I’m a few years out of college, but the library was always my spot on campus to get stuff done. There were two (Central or BioMed) with completely different vibes, but at either one you could find a desk/nook, set up, and work. Something about the fact that there are also a hundred other people there doing work makes it a lot better

  2. I get myself a cup of coffee, a cup of water, and attach my ipad to its keyboard, then I’m good to go. Location varies, but usually at home either at the dining table or the breakfast bar.

    1. My location varies a lot, too, which is why I like the idea of getting a certain type of drink. I wonder if a certain song or something like that would work

    1. My music choices vary when I’m writing – sometimes it’s my normal playlist, sometimes it’s movie soundtracks. Is there a specific type of music you listen to when you write?

  3. I guess, just about having something to say and some silence. And if there is a little green anywhere to look at it, I will be the happiest! 🙂

    1. Green is sneakily my favorite color – give me a spot overlooking a field of grass or some nice trees and I’m the happiest. It took the throne from blue a few years ago

  4. Great post, I enjoyed reading! It’s not very healthy but I like to drink red bull before I write to get that caffeine inside of me (I should probably just drink tea instead). I also have a study playlist (generally video game music) at the ready as that usually gets me into the right frame of mind.

    1. I have some video game tracks sprinkled into my movie score playlist that I like – I feel like they’re very similar, and they definitely help me focus

  5. There is something about coffee that says “write” to my brain. The process of making it lights something up and I love that.

Leave a Reply