writing triggers

One of the important things about setting a writing schedule is to have a writing trigger.

What I mean by this is something that you do, or something that happens, that signals the start of your writing time. I thought of this when I was having breakfast and watching The Daily Show a few mornings ago — as soon as I was finished with my food, I put the plate down on the floor. My one cat, Isosceles, immediately went for the plate, as though me putting it on the floor is her signal that she can have whatever’s left. My other cat, Tangent, takes that same signal as her cue to get on my lap for her morning cuddles.

Maybe you might be astounded that I seem to have trained my cats. (I think it’s the other way around – they trained me.) But really, that single act of moving the plate to the floor is a trigger for them to behave in their particular ways. And so it is with writing.

A trigger can’t be “opening Microsoft Word”. How many times have you opened Word and then let it sit there while you looked at Facebook? I know I have.

A trigger should be something simple, though. For me, it’s a combination of two things: Turning on the Pittsburgh Jazz Channel and making a cup of  tea. This was a deliberate choice that I made as a way to get me into the mood to write. The music and the scent of the tea help me get into a writing groove; what’s really cool is that now, when I get inspired to write, I sometimes find myself craving ginger tea.

One person I know uses making her morning coffee as a trigger for writing. She writes very early in the morning, so she gets out of bed, makes coffee, and then writes. That works well for her, although it doesn’t work for me since my early morning writing is generally pretty awful and lacks logical consistency.

Do you have a writing trigger? Did you make it on purpose, or did it just happen that way?

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