I’ve heard quite a bit about authors having “writing rituals,” things that they do to get them in the mood, or to tame all the wild thoughts in their brain.
Supposedly, these rituals help you become a better (or at least a more regular) writer.
Some rituals are just choosing a specific time and a specific place. Some rituals are as simple prepping a beverage of choice, be it tea, coffee, or booze, and grabbing a snack before sitting down. Other rituals are a little more elaborate: grab favorite pen, organize notes, do some calisthenics (stretch that hamstring! Don’t want to pull a hammie), beverage, snack, writing warm-up exercise and then, then the real writing begins.
I’d like to tell you all that my writing ritual is majestic and sweeping. I’d like to tell you all that before I write, I slip into this trance-like state and gather all my thoughts close to my bosom, gently persuading them into a neat, orderly line. I’d like to tell you all that I drink calming, herbal tea and snack on exotic fruit. I’d like to tell you all that my two cats, the loveable little fur balls, settle in a cuddle-puddle at my feet for the duration of my time at the computer.
If I did tell you all that, however, I would be lying. Through my very solid teeth.
Alas, I’m not sure that I have a particularly solid ritual. I mean, there are things I do, in no particular order and for no designated amount of time, before I start writing in earnest. I review what I was doing before. I grab pertinent notes. I turn on the computer. Aside from that? Well, let me describe the average “writing prep” that happens.
First, I decide to write. Awesome. Then, I decide about what time life will be orderly enough for me to ignore it for a few hours and choose that time to write. Sometimes, it’s in the morning. Others, at night. Occasionally, the time is designated as the completion of chores, errands, and social obligations. So, I carve out the time, and then I sit down at my desk.
I turn on the computer and realize I’m thirsty. Okay, so I go back down the stairs and turn on the coffee pot/tea kettle/pour a beverage. While I’m waiting for the liquid to brew I realize I’m hungry, so I put together a snack. Haul all that back upstairs and sit down again. I open up the document.
Well, now I have to use the bathroom. And then I have to plug the computer in because the battery is low.
Shit. Where did I leave off? I scramble around for some notes and re-read what I did. Oh, right. Crack knuckles, start typing.
Suddenly, cats! In my face. On the keyboard. Attempting to eat my food. STEALING. MY DAMN. PEN.
Ember, that’s mine. Give it back. No fetch right now. No. Give it. Retrieve pen. Shoo Raven off the keyboard.
Shit. What was I doing?
The phone rings. Hello, Mom. No, I’m writing. Uh-huh. Okay, sure. Loveyoutoobyebye.
At this point, I usually kick the cats out and barricade the door. Then I utter a desperate little prayer to whatever gods are listening and type out a paragraph.
After that, I’m usually called to do something pressing away from my desk, like, I dunno, participating in life. Or sleeping so I can go to work in the morning.
Does that qualify as a ritual? I think it qualifies as a ritual. They are the things I do before I write, so it has to be. Right? Right.
Am I alone in this insanity? Who else has….um, un-ritualistic writing rituals?