make it sacred

Richard ArthurWriting

This is the latest article from Neil on writing. If you want to create compelling, unputdownable writing. And feel fulfilled by the process, read on below:

After my last writing tip about spilling all your secrets…

These next couple of blog posts should feel a bit easier to take on.

They are simple tactics with the potential to have a large impact on your writing process.

Because you can have the greatest ideas in the world, and the most fascinating stories, but without the right habits and tools, they won’t amount to anything.

Since writing begins with the ability to sit down (or stand up if you have a standing desk) and do it, we continue here:

#5: You need a sacred space. 

To do your deepest work, it helps to have a sacred space for writing.

A place or a time of the day that’s sealed off from the outside world, with no distractions, where you can get in touch with your inner self and enter undisturbed flow states.

This means ideally having a physical space to work and a recurring time each day or week where you cannot be interrupted from your creative process. No Internet. No texts. No calls.

This is how I’ve done my best work, and the only way I’ve finished anything of substance.

There are many practices I use to create this space and protect my time and focus. We touched on some of these in The Attention Management Plan blog post recently.

My core strategies for creating a sacred space:

  • Giving my phone to someone to hold before working, or locking it in a Kitchen Safe

  • Training those around me not to interrupt (and how to interrupt if it’s essential, and what qualifies as “essential”) and informing people of the times I’m out of touch

  • Blocking Internet access with the Freedom App (so I can’t go online to look up one small fact, and then get caught in a thirty-minute vortex of checking my favorite sites or the news)

  • Setting aside specific time blocks after writing to catch up on all emails and messages, and never looking at them before then

Since our technology habits can be so hard to break (even harder for some than divulging their darkest secrets) you may need outside help to save you from yourself, and cut out distractions.

Consider recruiting trusted friends to take your phone, change the passwords to your social media accounts, or set up a website blocker and keep the login details.

The other side to this, which many writers recommend, is setting aside a time every day or week for writing. And making this block of time more than a priority…

It should be a sacred ritual. Not to be changed ever except in the case of true emergencies or important travel.

If you really commit to following through with these ideas, the difference in the quality of your work will be so obvious that you’ll start getting excited about giving your phone away. And most importantly, you’ll be doing the work instead of thinking about it.

Often we expend more energy beating ourselves up for not writing than the writing itself would actually take from us. It feels good to accomplish something each day or week, to move forward, to be immersed in your own passion project.

Joseph Campbell, who I seem to be quoting a lot in this series, put it best:

You need “a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be.”