by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador
I have a few rituals in my life. Most are forced upon me by my cat Pinkerton. Cats are ritualistic. If you did something yesterday, cats expect you to do it today. Very simple. Open the curtains by 9 am. Fill my bowl as soon as you wake up. When I drop a toy mouse at your feet, you will toss it.
Writers have rituals, too. Many famous writers have had quirky rituals. Truman Capote wrote in bed. Victor Hugo wrote naked. Gertrude Stein wrote in a parked car. Steven King writes in the same chair with his papers placed in the same spot daily.
When you hear the word ritual you might think of religious activities or rigid dogmatic rules. Some people may think rituals are superstitious or border on obsessive-compulsive. Writing rituals are a custom or practice that cues your brain that it’s time to tap into the artistic and creative side and start writing.
There are as many writing rituals as there are writers. Every writer can establish a writing ritual, no matter how busy you are.
Some people have literal writing rituals, where they write three pages of stream-of-consciousness, write a poem or do some type of writing prompt before their actual work-in-progress writing.
Some people’s rituals are religious in nature. Perhaps they pray, meditate, read a psalm, chant or sing a song of worship.
Some writers use relaxation techniques or traditional relaxation actions to invite the Muse in: a cup of hot tea, glass of wine, or a warm bath. Some need more stimulation to bring their minds and bodies to the alert state that works best for their creative activity: a good jolt of caffeine, brisk exercise, a cold shower, some head-banging rock music.
Others might use the techniques that a lot of athletes and competitors use, like wearing a certain piece of clothing, carrying a lucky penny or touching a certain item before they settle into writing mode. The key is finding what works for you and working it.
Be open to discovering what works for you. Don’t pass judgement on it. Just because no one else you know screams into a closet for 5 minutes before writing doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do it. Maybe it’s as simple as having a Star Wars figurine on your desk that becomes your writing mascot. Or you walk the dogs and then you write. Light a candle. Do some push-ups. Eat a square of your favorite chocolate. Or it’s a body position. Stand at the counter and write. Sit in the chair by the window. Lay in bed wrapped up in your sheets. Sit in the same booth at your favorite coffee shop. Place the same order. Open computer and begin. Place pen to paper and begin.
Doing the same thing the same way will train your brain to expect the same outcomes. Cue yourself to expect writing to happen and you give yourself the psychological freedom to make it happen.
How do you discover your writing rituals?
- Keep a journal or list of what you do as you feel yourself slip into ‘production’ mode.
- Pick a ritual or habit. Make it small and enjoyable.
- Link it to writing. Immediately after doing this ritual you write.
Doesn’t matter if you write for 5 minutes or 5 hours. Must be time to write. After a while you’ve programmed your brain to follow your habit. A writing ritual will help you focus and have more productive writing sessions. So simple a cat can do it. 😉
Need a little more motivation to start a writing ritual? Check out these links:
- The Right Writing Rituals at Absolute Write
- Writing Rituals from Her Circle
- Stephen Pressfield video on Writing Rituals