Using Sensory Input to Get Your Head into “Writing Mode”

Recently I have been experimenting with different sensory inputs to try and get myself into the “Writing Mode.”

What kind of things have I been doing?

  • Lighting a candle and having the scent tell my brain to focus.
  • Writing at the same times every day
  • Scheduling time to write and sticking to it
  • Writing in the same places so I get similar input
  • Listening to a certain playlist every time I write

What has been helpful or not and why?

So far, the most helpful part has been the candle. The act of lighting the match and my vanilla scented candle has been overwhelmingly helpful. As soon as the strong scent of vanilla hits my nose my brain has been able to snap into focus.

An idea I had was different scented candles for different tasks. I will experiment with this and let you know later.

Listening to the playlist is helpful too because I usually only listen to it when writing and it is filled with songs I am familiar with but don’t know the words too well. This way I can tune out the music and just listen to the emotions it gives me to draw inspiration from.

Scheduling time to write and writing at the same times every day can help but it can also make me feel blocked depending on what I am working on. But it’s better than not writing at all and getting out of the groove because I have too much other stuff I’d rather be doing. I’ve done that too many times to count and often have to force myself to make writing a priority in my life again.

The reason writing in the same places hasn’t really helped much is because I use my writing space to do other things as well, such as read, browse the internet, and sleep (yes, it’s my bed). This is not especially helpful but I haven’t found a comfortable place that I feel safe writing in. The voices limit the places I can write. Any public place is automatically off the list because I don’t feel safe and can’t fact check.

Some other things you can try:

  • Eating your favorite candy bar or snack before every writing session
  • Wrapping yourself up in the same blanket while you write
  • Wearing a certain bathrobe, sweater, or another piece of clothing while you write
  • Read a passage from a book that inspires you before you write
  • Anything else to engage your senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, or hearing.

Rituals have been shown to put the brain into a programmed mode. So by engaging your senses with a regular ritual, you can quickly and easily snap your brain into the mode connected with the ritual.


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