Writing Rituals


I apologize for the late post this morning!  Maybe I’ll be forgiven, if I tell you that I’m currently sitting at a table, staring out at a brilliant blue sky, sipping from a steaming cup of tea. The air is cool enough that I *know* fall is on the way.  Summer was filled with a lot of odds-and-ends, writing-wise.  I prepared a number of proposals for new books, and I did a fair amount of editing on existing manuscripts.  My freelance work boomed, and I was wildly busy for several weeks.

But now, it’s time for me to shift into my autumn writing agenda.  I have an under-contract novel to draft between now and the end of the year, and I have another that I’d like to write on spec by no later than March.

I’ll get the work done, in large part because of my writing rituals.  These little routines get me “in the mood” to write – they let my brain know that it must focus on Story, let my body know that it must stay put in my desk chair.

My rituals are fairly simple.  I brew a pot of tea (black in the morning, green in the afternoon, herbal after that.)  I check my email accounts, my blogs, and Facebook.  I look in on my business interests, checking how many copies of which books have sold electronically.

And then, I write.

If I skip a step (go without tea, ignore the blogs, forget to check on book sales), my mind wanders.  I remember a hundred other things I have to do.  I leap on any possible distraction.

But if I complete the ritual, then I produce.  And after I produce words, words, words, I end with a few mini-rituals.  I save my work.  I complete my calendar to-do list for the next day.  I read through my synopsis to know what I’ll be writing the next day.  And then, I walk away from the office for the rest of the day.

Nothing too complicated.  Nothing too time-consuming.  But it gets the job done.

How about you?  What are your writing rituals?  What makes you the most productive writer you can be, session after session?

(I’ll be away from my computer for most of the day, but I’ll look forward to reading your comments when I’m able!)



13 comments to Writing Rituals

  • Mindy, I too have my little rituals. Like you have tea. Golden Monkey is my greatest vice, but once I splurged and bought Red Emperor. OMGoodness. I drink it hot in winter, iced in summer, sometimes with some chocolate mint it it. And I sip it all day.

    Email, Magicalwords, and Facebook. Then write. And like you, if I start with parts missing, it’s hard to get into the story. I woke this morning at 2 a.m. as if I’d been hit with a cattle prod and knew I’d never get back to sleep. I decided to write. And I had to go through the ritual, though I’d only had the PC off for 3 hours. But I got a lot done in the wee hours, thanks to ritual.

  • My ritual starts with “what can I do to procrastinate, as revising this next chapter will be a bitch.” They, I usually read email, blogs, twitter, facebook, and all the other good distractions in the metaverse. If the guilt hasn’t grown sufficiently by then, I may even throw in a round of Left 4 Dead or some television.

    Hopefully, the guilt has built to the point where I drag myself back to my word processor, read the last paragraph that I wrote, cry a bit, delete the next two paragraphs and add another.

    I should probably change my rituals.

  • Wake up at 8. Stagger around. Lament the pain in my body. Stagger around. Make coffee. Turn on computer. Wait bleary-eyed for coffee while pretending to check messages. Leap from the chair like Gollum going after the One Ring at the beep of the coffee pot. Pour coffee. Sip hot coffee. Sear throat. Sip again. Return to messages. Wake daughter at 9. Make daughter breakfast. Turn on TV. Put on Headphones. Open focusing box with the four stones. Place next to laptop. Open Bergamot Cedarwood candle. Smell it. Put next to stones box. Boot up Mobile Suit Gundam 00 soundtrack 2. Turn on Word and bring up WIP and scene synopses. Try to write. Make daughter lunch at 11. Start checking clock like mad starting at 11:30 and get nothing done. Get daughter ready for school at noon. Get a few hundred words written until alarm goes off that it’s time for the bus. Wait for bus. Wave god bye. Put headphones back on. Write. Get up. Pace. Write. Get up. Pace. Talk to self. Pace. Take a drink to mellow out. Sit down. Put headphones back on. Burn through the next 2-3k words until alarm goes off at 3:45. Go out to wait for bus. Ask daughter how school went. Make daughter snack. Turn TV back on. If not satisfied with word count, continue till wife gets home. Wash…rinse…repeat…

  • Coffee was an essential part of my routine – I even budgeted the calories for lattes – but I’ve had to give it up because of my migraines. During the school year, getting off campus and away from my house are also essential. I go to a coffee shop where no students will come talk to me and turn off my wifi connection. I get some tea. Then I have a quiet little internal hissy fit about being incapable of writing and not able to handle this and blah, blah, blah. Then I write.

    Apparently I NEED twenty minutes of staring at the page muttering neurotically about not being able to handle this before I can handle it. Once I gave myself permission to have the hissy fit and get it over with, I got a lot more efficient at using my writing time well. I guess I just need time to face the fear, look at it, and then set it aside as I get focused on the book and not myself.

  • Coffee. Chocolate. Word. BIC.

  • Razziecat

    Check this site, check email, check a couple of authors’ blogs. Then write. I need coffee or tea, sometimes music to drown out household noises. And for some mysterious reason, it always helps to hug a cat first! 🙂

  • Unicorn

    I need to come up with a cool ritual. All I ever do to prepare for writing is eat something…

  • Writing my dreams down first thing in the morning, or when I first get the chance, is at the crux of my practice. If not many dreams, a few pages of journaling. Then I check email and read a few blogs. Writing emails and/or comments, along with the journaling, primes my pumps sufficiently to set in on whatever articles or stories I have at hand. And with so many ideas to choose from there is always something to write.
    I like tea as well. I drink a pot of Oolong, Lapsang Souchong, or Earl Grey when I’m at home on my day off from the day job… and attack the keyboard!

  • My writing space is flexible—I have to work with the space available to me. My laptop is my main writing computer, because I can take it with me to work and to my write-ins, and at home position it on our poker table out of sight from the television. (Yes, my main writing desk at home is a poker table. The cats don’t mind because they can flop within pettin’ distance.)

    But because I need to create my writing sacred space wherever I go, I’ve found that I need:

    1) A bevarage—usually my water bottle.
    2) My laptop open and unnecessary windows closed. I don’t turn off the Internet because I tend to use streaming audio, and I find thesaurus.com way too useful.
    3) My headphones, to help minimize distractions. (DH also has a pair, for when I’m writing and he wants to watch TV.)
    4) Time. If I know that I have something looming, like an appointment or a meeting with friends, I get anxious about it and I don’t get much work done. So I typically need at *least* an hour-block.

  • TwilightHero

    Oh, the usual. Turn on Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack (or other orchestral music)/My Chemical Romance (or other darker-toned music)/an eclectic mix of Top 40 songs, alt. rock from 5-15 years ago and instrumentals (must have instrumentals),depending on mood and inclination.

    Spend an hour or two going over what I’ve written so far looking for typos/sentences to improve/flaws in my story logic until I feel inspired (read guilty) enough to actually work. If the first few sentences come slowly, keep at it until I’ve built up a head of steam.

    Once head of steam has been achieved, maintain by pacing, talking to self and sometimes, if no one else is around, acting out bits of fight scenes.

  • Get my kid to school, go to the gym, having my morning smoothie, and then get to work. Work entails not just writing, but also answering emails, checking in at Magical Words, and taking care of other online commitments. Usually, when I’m in the middle of a book, I shoot for 2000 words per day. If I can go past that, great. If I fall short, I try not to beat myself up too much, but I do make a concerted effort to make up the deficit the following day.

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