A “ritual,” as defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary, is “an act or series of acts regularly repeated in a set precise manner.” As writers, we all have our quirks; some are beneficial to our writing goals; however, others can be less than productive (I’m looking at you, Twitter addicts). There are times for marketing; but now it’s time to write. While most of the rituals listed here have no magical powers that will make your writing better, they are useful because they:
- Set up your writing environment.
- Tell your brain that it’s “writing time.”
- Make your writing time something to look forward to.
What music really makes you want to write? Perhaps the soundtrack of an inspiring movie you’ve seen, or a list of songs that are about writing (post on this topic soon to come). I like to listen to “Defying Gravity” *cough*ChrisColfer*cough* when feeling discouraged, or epic trailer music while brainstorming , or “Paperback Writer” by the Beatles and songs with similar themes.
This is probably the most obvious one. Whether you do it for the caffeine or just to feel like part of the club (all of the great writers drink coffee!), having your favourite writing beverage by your side can never hurt when sitting down for a productive writing session. Due to chest problems, I’ve recently had to switch to decaf, but you can still buy me a coffee here! (It makes me a better writer. Honestly.)
4. Do some housework.
I don’t know about you, but there’s something about scrubbing floors that always seems to enlighten me. Maybe it’s the rhythmic motion of the rag on the kitchen floor that tickles the poetic side of my brain, or perhaps the hysterical state I’m already in when I start my compulsive cleaning, or maybe it’s just the sleep deprivation from the 2-o’clock-in-the-morning part of my cleaning routine. Whatever the reason may be, see if cleaning (or some other form of physical exercise before writing) works for you. This way, you can sort out your thoughts before sitting down to write and keep your family off your back all at the same time. Isn’t efficiency great? 😉
5. Recite an oath.
I’m not suggesting anything freaky, but you may find something like Gail Carson Levine’s (Ella Enchanted author) “Writer’s Oath” does the trick to keeping your writing morale:
I promise solemnly:
- to write as often and as much as I can,
- to respect my writing self, and
- to nurture the writing of others.
I accept these responsibilities and shall honor them always.
6. Come back to your main focus.
Why is it that you write? What, out of all of the things in the world, are the most important to you? Your faith? A cause? Are you writing for that? If you want to be truly productive, take a minute before each session to rediscover this focus, this cause for your writing. Brainstorm. Meditate. Pray. When I feel that I’m not getting anywhere with my writing, I come back to what’s most important to me. “Would God be pleased with what I’m writing?” I ask myself, because if He wouldn’t be, then why am I writing? Your cause may be different from mine. Maybe you haven’t established it yet. If not, find a quote that inspires you to write, and post it above your desk. I have a bunch of quotes pasted all over the walls of my writing space. One of them is Proverbs 16:3.
“Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.”
Do you put any of these to use before your writing sessions? What writing rituals do you have that aren’t listed here? Leave your thoughts in a comment below. (I promise I won’t think you’re weird.)