Enter the Ritual

Many writers have rituals they go through before they begin to write, or while in the midst of doing so. Despite my being a creature of habit to a large extent, I don’t generally go through any writing rituals.

I have a few rituals for when I am performing on stage. I don’t do anything complicated or disruptive. I like a few minutes in quiet solitude. When there is room I like to pace quite a bit. There’s a specific penny I play with for a while before taping it to my foot for the duration of the performance. That’s about it. But I have nothing even so simple as that to enter the writing frame of mind. However, I’ve thought recently that it’s time for me to establish some sort of ritual or habit for my writing times.

As it stands now, I do in fact do most of my writing in the first segment of my day. Not right when I get out of bed, and not at the exact same time every day, but within a range. If I may say so myself, I’ve gotten a decent amount of writing done this year, even though at times it’s like digging a ditch with an ice cream scoop.

But for the last few months or so, I have felt just a bit distant from my writing. I agree that a writer can’t wait for transcendent inspiration each day before he starts writing. Little gets completed that way. At the same time I do believe that a writer should feel a certain degree of connection to his material and his process. A comfort or motivation that more often than not I have been somewhat lacking for most of 2013.

There are probably several reasons for why this has been happening. I’ve addressed some of them. (The last week or so, I write earlier in the day than I had been. I’ve worked on all of my writings in a row, instead of spreading them throughout the day.) I’ve also tried to eliminate certain stresses in my life with varied results. More remains to be done as I explore this certain sluggishness of spirit; my goal is to become more engaged in my writing again. (Small signs are it is slowly working thus far.) Enter the ritual.

By ritual I don’t just mean writing at the same time each day. Truth be told I don’t think i could adjust to that one. But like the things mentioned in that link at the top of this article. I don’t intend to climb inside a coffin and write, (that’s really troubling to me…), but I do plan to establish some kind of habit(s) which will specifically dictate that I am about to enter the “writing state” as it were.

As for the more practical ideas, I don’t have  much room in my home, so I can’t comfortably establish a separate office for just my writing, as is recommended by many. Though it goes somewhat against my grain, I might revisit the idea of doing some of my writing in a coffee shop once in a while. Once in a while, I do play with the billiards 8-Ball I have sitting on my desk as I write, but not regularly. But what I’m really thinking of right now is clothing.

I think I’m going to look for an article of clothing that I will wear only when writing or am about to do so. Something that can remain dormant, and waiting for me in the same place each day, which, when donned, opens my mind more fully to the specific experience of writing. Something that I will never wear for any other reason. In theory, much like the separate office, the coffee shop or the coffin, (again, creepy), my mind will with time learn to associate that clothing with the act of writing-hopefully to the point that I will be more ready to do so just by putting it on.

I don’t mean that a piece of clothing will give me all of my ideas, and fix the problems with a manuscript for me. But I need something ritualistic to get me into the right frame of mind to engage with my own writing, and I think this may be an inexpensive and simple way of pursuing that end.

Though I already have an idea of what I’m looking for in this regard, I’m reluctant to share more of anything about it here. Not yet, anyway. I don’t want finding it to be a crusade or a mission in its own right. I don’t want to associate the article with other stresses or significant thoughts. It needs to be associated with my sitting down to write and nothing more. If I find something and try it out for a bit and if it works, then MAYBE, if you’re good, I will tell you about it in more detail.

I can say I will begin my search this very day, and that it shouldn’t be particularly difficult to find.

Do you have any rituals for establishing the writing mindset? Tell me about them. (Unless it’s the coffin thing…I don’t think thinking about the coffin thing.)

1 Comment


    1. My Writing Process | Ty Unglebower

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