How to Write Using Writing Rituals
Writing is a mental state as much as it is a physical practice. A lot of writers find that their write mind gets into gear by following set rituals, and developing some writing rituals of your own might just be what you need to get that idea turned into that novel you know you can write.
Some writers will have rituals that border on the odd – William Faulkner never wrote without whiskey, John Cheever wrote in his underwear and Francine Prose wears her husband’s pyjamas. Other writers might drink from a special tea cup, listen to a particular piece of music. Tin House published this list of ‘Super Sad True Habits of Highly Effective Writers’. It includes everything from eating nuts, wearing ear plugs, and setting a screen resolution to 135% to writing in the nude and setting a toy rhinoceros atop the computer to ward off passive aggressive emails.
The options for writing rituals are as endlessly unique as the people doing the writing.
I drink a cup of strong coffee from the same mug every day – it’s a NANOWRIMO mug, so it’s particularly relevant. I write in the morning, starting straight after or during said coffee. How long I write for depends on what I’m working on. For more creative work, it is generally only a few hours before I switch to a different project, and I typically won’t write anything after lunch. When I was writing my NANOWRIMO draft a few years back – one of my only attempts at high fantasy – I listened to a CD of Celtic harp music and would wear a medieval style cloak while I wrote. Silly? Perhaps. But it really helped me get into the groove of writing in that world, and earned me an 85k manuscript in 22 days.
There’s no point me telling you what rituals you need to write. What works for you is going to depend on who you are, what you like, and what inspires you. You might take a brisk walk before you sit down to work. You might do yoga for 15 minutes every hour. You might only type your draft in 16pt Comic Sans Type. Your might not work well with rituals at all!
In the end, it isn’t that hat, that mug, that cloak nor your spouse’s pyjamas that are going to get your writing happening. It’s you. Only you can write your story. Your writing rituals are there to serve as a reminder that this is your writing time, so you better well sit down and write.
What are your writing rituals? Tell us in the comments below.