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Writing Rituals
Friday, March 5th, 2010

I suspect that every writer has his or her own ritual, however elaborate or simple. Something the writer does to coax the muse out of hiding. Why do them at all? I think it’s all about creating habits.

I’ve said it before, but a professional writer can’t sit around waiting for inspiration to strike. The pro sits in front of the PC, hands on keys, and writes. Writing, for the pro, is something you practice and do often.

When I was in the corporate world, I attended every productivity seminar out there. One thing stressed over and over was the idea that habits, good or bad, are created by repetition. And it takes about 21 days of doing a particular task, over and over, to make it a habit.

Rituals are a palatable way to “set” a new habit. Maybe you decide you’re going to hit the treadmill every morning, but you hate exercise. If you know you have to do it 21 days in a row to establish the habit, you will want to turn part of that daily task into a pleasant ritual—so maybe you play the theme to Rocky to make you smile before you step onto that rubber track. Maybe you create a playlist of inspirational songs to keep your feet moving for the entire 30 minutes you set as your daily goal.

Writing needs to be a habit, reinforced with repetition and maybe flavored with a ritual to make it a little more fun.

When I decided that I wanted to create “morning pages” every day like Julia Cameron suggests in The Artist’s Way, I tried it, but couldn’t keep up with the exercises. I felt like I was “wasting” my muse on getting words onto a page that no one would ever read. I think I’m a little too German for the “fruitier” creative strategies. I took her idea of “morning pages” because I could see the benefit of opening up the tap every morning, but I decided to turn it into something more productive for me. I now blog religiously every morning. It’s the thing I crawl out of bed to do before I’m fully awake and before I’ve brushed my teeth, had that first cup of coffee, or talked to another human being.

My daily “getting-ready-to-write” ritual now includes: “morning pages” blog, cup of coffee, quick update of my To Do list, then opening my page counter spreadsheet and my WIP.

I’ve shared my ritual, now I want to hear about yours. Maybe we’ll all see something we’d like to try.

5 comments to “Writing Rituals”

  1. Heather
    · March 5th, 2010 at 8:30 am · Link

    I make notes in a comp book I carry with me everywhere. Its the only way I can keep track of all my ideas.

    When it comes to actually writing I open my document and write. When I was working on my thesis my advisor keep stressing that I needed to have words on the page. So I do that. Then one day a week I read through and edit. Im not a professional author..yet!

  2. Rachel Lynne
    · March 5th, 2010 at 8:42 am · Link

    I also blog, every day, no excuses. Sometimes it’s just an update of goals or an admission of something silly I did but the words are thrown out there for all to see. Every morning I make a cup of tea, check emails, then blog. My next ritual is to visit all the blogs I follow …after that, I open my work in progress. It’s helped me tremendously and I modeled myself after you cause you’re the most succussful writer I know. Thanks for being the inspiration and enjoy the conference!

  3. Gale
    · March 5th, 2010 at 11:14 am · Link

    I get up, grab the notebook on my night table and jot down whatever my characters planted in my head during the night. Then I make a pot of coffee, check the email and Facebook and start elaborating on those notes. I never thought of it as a ritual but I guess it’s become one.

  4. Delilah Devlin
    · March 5th, 2010 at 11:04 pm · Link

    Heather! Just carrying around that comp book for those moments when you have a second to spare to write is a good habit.

    Rachel! Make sure that you set a time limit for all that blog-hopping, or it will end up being a time suck! Of course, you have permission to visit mine anytime you have the urge. 😉

  5. Delilah Devlin
    · March 5th, 2010 at 11:06 pm · Link

    Gale! I so wish I would remember to write down my dreams first thing when I wake up. Sometimes, I’ll be rushing to the computer in the morning, have my hands on the keys ready to go, and the darn dream is already gone.

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