Stack The Deck: Tips For Getting Started

Truck stuck in the mud

*SpinSpinSpin* I may be stuck here. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Captain Marvel t-shirt, red lipstick, something good on the stereo, and two cups of coffee in my stomach. I have done all I can to stack today’s deck in my favour.

And sometimes you do what you have to in order to get started. Because we can be an incorrigibly lazy species.

So, in honour of this morning and how blurry my brain feels, here are my top tricks for getting started:

1. Caffeine. Apparently I’m feeling obvious today.
Actually, the point I want to make about caffeine, in whatever delivery system you find most palatable, is that is shouldn’t be a crutch. You shouldn’t need it to get started. But on those days when it feels like there’s sand in your brain and ice in your fingers, it can sometimes provide just enough of a jolt to get things moving.

2. Something Else. Here’s my hierarchy of daily writing, ranked from least amount of brain power required to most: journal entries, cosmetics copy, emails, blog posts, new fiction writing, rewrites of aged fiction.  If I can’t do the one I’m supposed to be doing, I switch to something on a lower difficult setting. Just until I get warmed up. Then I use the momentum of that to get started on what I really need to be doing.
Caveat: don’t get bogged down doing a low reward task at the expense of something else. For example, I usually switch to the cosmetics copy first because, while it doesn’t require a whole lot of energy due to the system I’ve set up, it is high reward (I get paid for it).
Caveat the second: don’t switch to something totally mindless. That’s why I didn’t include the mileage logs and other paperwork I do for my day job in that list. Useful tasks, in the sense that I earn money for them, but they’re absolutely balls for getting the brain going.

3. Music. I rarely work without music playing. But for difficult days, I choose movie soundtracks. No one is better at manipulating emotions through sound that the composers who score movies. Hell, that’s how they make their fucking living.
I favour big movies with big scores that make you feel like the you’re going to save the world all my yourself. For the last month, it’s been Pacific Rim.* Using that type of music makes…goddamn it, it just makes me feel more inspired. Like I can do this. And it’s going to be awesome.
Other favourites for difficult days: AC/DC, power ballads**, and opera (lately it’s been Madame Butterfly).

4. Outside the Lines: This is a weird one. I pull it out when I can’t seem to get started on a particular scene. Instead of bashing my head against that wall, I write something non-canon. Something that maybe could have happened but didn’t, something that’s never shown in the story itself, a random conversation between a couple of characters…that sort of thing. A lot of times doing that will unstick whatever jammed itself into my brain and get things moving. At which point I switch back to whatever the hell I was trying to do.
Bonus: those non-canon snippets can sometimes become new plot points and scenes themselves, or just give me a better understanding for certain characters.

…Right. I think this unstuck me. I’m going to do more rewrites now. Cheers.

*Also awesome for running music.
**Sometimes I sing along. I’m sure the neighbours love it.

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