Your Default Writing Mode: How to Be Productive and Kick Writer’s Block

Posted May 8, 2014 by Amanda Shofner in Writing / 6 Comments


If someone gets in your face and says, “Sit your butt down and write,” where do you sit down? What do you need to prepare yourself for writing? What does writing look like to you?

If I was going to sit my butt down and write, I’d grab my laptop, settle on my couch or bed, put in my headphones, turn on the TV, and open Scrivener.

Default writing mode = the environment and tools you need to write

And this is mine:

1. Laptop (not desktop or tablet or paper)
2. Couch or bed (not my office or library or coffee shop)
3. Music (not silence, which is more distracting to me than music with lyrics)
4. TV on (like not sitting in silence, having the TV on is soothing)
5. Scrivener (not Word or paper or another word processing program because I can keep all my pre-writing and important notes in the same place)

And more often than not, I write in the afternoons or evenings—mornings and fiction writing rarely get along. The squabbling devils.

Your default writing mode won’t magically appear

I never started off with a solid idea of what I needed to write. I experimented with where I was, which computer I wrote on, and what software I used. That’s why an event like NaNoWriMo proves so valuable: it provides the excuse to play with these variables until you discover what works.

Once you’ve got your default writing mode nailed down, propelling yourself into the writing zone is easier and faster. If you know when you write best, you can carve out time in your schedule. Knowing your default writing mode increases your productivity.

And when you hit a block? Toss out your defaults and tweak until you break through.

Experimentation smashes slumps

Never deviating from your defaults is silly. Sometimes it’s impossible to focus, and that’s when you change your defaults. Like switching the channel from Investigation Discovery (death all day gets pretty depressing) to History 2 (Ancient Aliens, I can’t quit you).

And yeah, I’ll admit it: sometimes watching the TV is too distracting, so I venture into my office and work on my desktop. When I’m antsy and unmotivated, road tripping to the library or local coffee shop snaps me into productive mode.

What are your writing defaults—and how do you snap out of slumps?

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6 responses to “Your Default Writing Mode: How to Be Productive and Kick Writer’s Block

  1. 1. I love the new look of your site! Sorry if I’m slow to notice. It’s probably been updated and fantastic for weeks, but I’m just starting to get back to perusing blogs for fun after one of those months where everyone wanted “just one more thing” and they needed it right now. :/

    2. It’s so interesting for me to see other people’s defaults. Strangely enough, I have different go-to writing methods for fiction and non-fiction. Predictably, fiction likes to hang out on the floor with my laptop while non-fiction is all professional at the desktop in the office.

    3. Congrats on your book release! πŸ™‚

    • Thanks! I changed up the design one week I was supposed to be doing something else. (I think maybe it was an editing deadline.) Nothing like a little procrastination to create a complete design overhaul. πŸ˜‰

      Defaults are pretty cool, just because we are so different. It’s like asking people their default reading mode. I read with the TV on all the time (the act of blocking out the noise helps me focus), but I know how incredibly distracting it is for other people.

      And thank you! I still have quite a bit of work to do (getting it on other platforms and marketing), but I’m proud of hitting publish. πŸ˜€

  2. Mine begins on the computer, but I prefer to move around rather than sit in one place. I finally broke down and bought a laptop, which gives me freedom to write in my office, living room, local coffee shop, coworking space, etc. Best new business purchase ever.

    Sometimes, when I’m totally stuck, the good ole pen and paper method does the trick. I might print out the piece I’m stuck on and scribble all over the paper, or get the wheels turning with some freewriting in my notepad.

    • I agree! My laptop is one of the best business tools I have. And the freedom to move can really help whenever you’re stuck. (Or for me, when I truly need my writer’s cave, I can close the curtains, turn off the light, and huddle in bed with my laptop. Bliss.)

  3. I obviously haven’t found my ‘perfect’ spot, but there are a couple of things that I do know. I write much ‘free-er’ when I physically write – not type. I think I realized that during the last NaNoWriMo. I just couldn’t get into the flow, but I was trying to work on my laptop.
    I am also more creative – regardless of what I’m trying to create – with music in the background. Not so much TV – that’s too distracting, but music definitely gets my creative juices flowing.
    I think that with this NaNoWriMo coming up I’m going to get out pen and paper, find my daughter’s old ipod, find a nice quiet corner and see what happens. πŸ˜‰
    Thanks for making me think about this …

    • The pen and paper realization is super important, Shirley! It may be what you need to dig into writing. I’m excited! Sounds like you’ve got a good idea already of what you need to write—and now you’re going to rock July. πŸ˜€

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