Here are some additional recommendations from FWC fellows and staff:
Before the pandemic, I frequently wrote in coffee shops and my favorite cafés usually had a mix of instrumental jazz, electronica, and acoustic guitar. I made this Spotify playlist to replicate the café experience at home. If writing with music is not your thing, this mix also works as an accompaniment to a neighborhood walk while you are mulling over some new ideas, or as the soundtrack for a quick yoga session before sitting down to write.
I only rarely put on music when I write, but when I do I reach for an (odd?) array of jazz, movie score instrumentals, and the kind of angsty indie rock I listened to a lot in the mid-2000s. It's not clear why, but those are the places I want to go. Oh, and Aretha. Because...Aretha.
Having some kind of music in the background helps me focus on a particular task when my mind really seems to be wandering–something that has happened a lot during the pandemic! But my taste is eclectic, and rather than pick one of my own playlists, I’ll share a couple of other options. On the first day of our virtual writing groups last spring, a student recommended a playlist of “relaxing beats” which can be accessed through Spotify or YouTube. Like Anna, I too used to enjoy writing and editing in cafés, and though the phenomenological experience cannot be replicated, I have on occasion streamed various mixes of “coffee shop ambiance” with accompanying jazz. Finally, though this choice might not always be the most conducive to focused writing, sometimes I like to edit with some Bob Marley or Van Morrison or other classic artists that generally make me feel more upbeat!
Stretch It Out
Taking mini stretch breaks helps me refocus and get back “in the zone” after staring at a Word document for too long. I love all of the content Harvard Recreation has been posting during the pandemic, especially stretches you can do in a few minutes. (Here are stretches part 2 and stretches part 3!) If you have more time, check out their recorded workouts on YouTube and live and on-demand classes. I’m also getting better at the 20-20-20 rule: Look at something 20 feet away from your computer every 20 minutes for 20 seconds to give your eyes a break from screen time.
So put on some tunes, touch your toes, and take a deep breath—you’ve got this. And be sure to reach out if we can be of any help. Happy writing!