Getting Into “The Zone” When You’re On A Deadline: Emily’s Tricks for Inspiration

A guest blog post by Emily on her tricks for inspiring writing creativity and productivity when she’s on a deadline. 

Anyone who knows me and knows my working style has probably heard me talk about “the zone.” I’ve never been one of those people who can plop down anywhere and just write. If only… Rather, to produce my best work, I need to feel inspired, to feel called. I need to… get into… “the zone.”

Now there are some consistent physical factors about the zone where my best writing magic happens. It is always clutter-free. It is always outside of my apartment. It occurs early in the day. It can’t be silent (coffee shop hum, anyone?!). It usually involves my mom as sounding board. And it absolutely involves an endless stream of strong coffee. Refills (preferably free ones), too. I mean, duh.


Getting into the zone is tough, but once I’m there, that is when things really get crazy. I get hyper focused. I lose track of time. Ideas race into my mind and my job is to get them down on paper, taking a break every now and again to read through and make sure it flows. After all, flow is everything, especially for speeches, which is the lion’s share of what I write these days.

When I complete a section and feel good about it, I send it to my siblings and read outloud while they follow along on their computers. Nobody else. Just them. Their check of approval is everything.

So clearly you can see that the zone is the holy grail for my writing quality and productivity. With a bunch of big speeches quickly approaching and the zone nowhere to be found, I’ve been trying to figure out how to nudge myself into that special space and do it on a tight timeline.

On a walk the other afternoon, I came up with a list of things that inspire me. They’re the things that provoke deep thought, spark the best ideas, and ultimately help me get in the zone where the writing magic happens:

  • Coastal towns – the combo of mountains and water does me in, think California, Maine, Amalfi Coast…
  • Cute coffee shops
  • Coffee in general – lots of coffee
  • Visionary dreamers and believers
  • Flowers – the ones in the ground, not in a vase
  • Chic, sleek design
  • Fashion magazines
  • The life of Dan Fredinburg – random, but true
  • Novelty – routine is boring
  • Traveling to faraway places
  • Thought provoking articles
  • Disruptive, courageous and honest illness narratives
  • Brainstorm sessions with my mom
  • Being busy
  • Showers
  • The outdoors
  • Walks
  • Sunshine

So I pretty much think I have to jet off on a trip to a beautiful, sunshine-filled place on the coast to get this next batch of speeches done. A place like this one, don’t you think?!


But in all seriousness, what inspires creativity for you? How do you get into the zone on a timeline? I need all the help I can get!

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