What rituals do you follow when you’re writing? Cup of tea or coffee before you sit down? Certain music to set the mood? Switch off the internet?
I’ve tried them all.
Before I had my daughter, back when I worked full time a forty five minute drive from home, in a job that required long hours and a lot of time in airports and hotels, my core writing time used to be 6am to 7am. My ritual was pretty much set. I’d roll out of bed at the alarm, make myself a cup of tea, and plonk myself down in front of the keyboard to write. It wasn’t much of a routine, but it worked, and I got words down. If I had any other time to write during the day, that was a bonus. If I didn’t, well, that was okay too. I’d done my hour.
But as my life changed, so did my routine. With a baby, then a toddler, a guaranteed hour to write was no longer possible. So I had to find a way to make sure I was in the mood to write, whenever an opportunity presented itself.
I started with tea – a certain cup and saucer set I only used when I was writing. Then peppermint tea, because the scent and taste of it told me I should be getting words. Then scented candles, a certain spot in the house, or my favourite coffee shop, or the library. A playlist, a soundtrack to the WIP, or just classical music, or no sound at all. A certain pen, a certain writing programme, a certain book beside me on the desk.
Everything worked for a short time, but nothing worked all the time. Eventually, I stopped feeling that I had to have a strict order or ritual to get to work. Whatever feels right on the day, now, is what I go with. Sometimes I don’t bother at all.
I think this probably says more about me, than about the inherent usefulness of writing rituals. I need to keep ringing the changes, to help keep the feeling fresh. I like having things to remind me that this is writing time, and I don’t need to feel guilty about spending time following my dream. But mostly, it’s about words on the page and, usually, I get those regardless of what rituals I follow.
I do always need a cup of tea, though.
Anyone want to share their writing rituals?