How To Find The Writing Zone And Stay There

The runner’s zone is a situation that occurs when you have run for a long time, and your body finds a "place" where it hits its peak performance. Your body synchronizes your breaths and move more efficiently, essentially putting you "in the zone". Well, writers have a zone as well. It is that precise spot where our minds and bodies begin to function as one.

When a writer gets in the zone, inspiration, imagination, posture, keyboard command, focus and concentration, and even the perfect amount of emotion all settle in, making us type much faster, make fewer mistakes, automatically correct the mistakes we do make, and essentially enter a supercharged writing mode.

Giotto’s Circle

It is rumored that the famous painter Giotto, an artist working in 13th century Rome knew about the zone and learned to enter it upon self-command. When Pope Boniface VIII was in the midst of choosing artists to be commissioned for paintings for Saint Peters, he sent a courier to all of the renowned artists for a sample, including Giotto.

Why The Pope Chose Giotto

When the courier explained, Giotto slipped into the zone, dipped his brush in red paint, and drew a circle. This he gave to the courier, who was visibly affronted. In fact, when he presented it to the pope, he explained that Giotto, out of disrespect, (so thought the silly courier) used no compass or any instrument at all. Rather, he drew a big, red circle with just a paint brush.

Of course, the pope was nobody’s fool. He had his people check it. Giotto had drawn a perfect spherical shape freehand and apparently, did so without regard to thought, preparation, meditation, or parlor tricks. The ZONE!

So how did he do it? That is an excellent question.

The Four-Step Flow Process

Different writers will tell you different things just as different writers call it different things. To some, it is the writer’s zone. Others call it the kill zone. I have even heard it referred to as simply "the flow", which is more apt. I have a 4-step process that gets me into the zone almost every time.

1. Leave Your Troubles Behind

The first step is to let go, of everything. In order to get to the place where we can write so that the words just flow from us, we have to stop caring about everything and just write. When we do not care about mistakes, misspelled words, grammar, or even time… that is where we will find that uninterrupted flow.

We can fix everything later but right now, we just write. Once we get completely into it, you will be surprised to find that you will make few mistakes anyway. By the way, you have to stop being your own worst critic as well. Let go of everything.

2. The Quiet Time and Place

Choose a time and place to work in carefully. It does you little good to be in the zone if you have four kids running around, the phone ringing off the hook, and an appointment looming in 20 minutes. If you must leave the house to find peace… do so (and leave your troubles behind you).

I have an office with a door I can lock but I also have a park with a bench not too far from my home. Be creative with where you choose to work at.

3. Get the Junk Out By Writing It Out

Write about anything. It does not have to be about a current project at first. Even if you have nothing in your head, just start writing. Clear your mind and write from nothing. If you begin to struggle, keep writing as fast and as hard as you can. You will find that after a few minutes of this, it starts to become easier.

The idea is to get the junk out of your system. You are beginning step one again and starting to let go. You are in a distraction-free place and time, and you are writing. All of the ingredients of being in the zone are falling into place.

4. Stop Writing and Breathe

You are writing, you are not distracted and you do not care about anything. Continue to do this for several minutes until you feel the earth spinning beneath you. When you feel that, you are ready. Stop and breathe in through the mouth and out through the nose. Wait for it: your starting point. Sometimes it comes fast. Sometimes it comes slow. It will come if you wait. The moment you find your starting point… begin to type.

This form of self-hypnosis for writers helps many of us find our writing zone, or flow, or whatever it is that you may call it. Many people also use this process to break the spell of writer’s block as well. Simon, of the uses a similar method except he incorporates music as well.

Finding Your Rhythm

Once you have reached the last step and begin to write, the words seem to flow from your mind and your body is completely relaxed. You form symmetry between them that allows for an excellent writing set without the muscle cramps or aches that come with it.

Once you have found your rhythm, enjoy it!

Show Comments