Today at DIYMFA, we are discussing our writing rituals, or those habits we subconciously fall into in order to get in the mood for writing. Rituals remind me of when a dog goes to lay down. They primp and pace, sniff around, then turn three times and flop down in their favorite spot… every time.
It’s not unlike the ritual of a writer, except I don’t do any sniffing around. The reason our rituals or habits are important is because it tells our minds and our muses that it’s time to get down to business. So, let’s chat about our habits and rituals.
What are yours? Share in the comments!
As for me, I’ve been trying to shake things up a bit, but typically it goes like this:
Get plenty of rest: I have to be well-rested, awake and coherent in order to write. That means I write first thing in the morning, just after a nice nap, or after I’ve been awake for awhile. Worst times for me to write are just after a heavy meal or late at night when I’m not firing on all pistons. Not only am I unable to string words together into meaningful sentences, but the next day, I have no idea where I was even going with said thoughts and I delete it all. The effort is wasted, so I don’t even try to write sleepy anymore.
Get Fed: I like to have some snacks nearby– Popcorn, hard or chewy candy, M&M’s, what have you, and something to drink, usually water. I try not to eat anything heavy just before writing, because that makes me sleepy and we’ve already discussed how well that goes.
Set up a perimeter: My writing space, for the moment, is on my bed. One day I’ll have a desk and a desktop PC like a “real” writer but for right now, I write in my bedroom. I did upgrade from my lap to one of those portable desk top things. Changed my life, I tell you! I set up my laptop on the desk, a drink and snacks nearby, the remote, my iPhone (with Pandora queued up), my earbuds, a notepad and a pen. The TV, if it’s on (if I am going to write after work, I don’t turn the TV on when I get home. Turning it on makes it hard to turn it off) is muted. The earbuds are in, even if I am not listening to anything.
Queue the Tunes: My writing music, most often, is either Dave Matthews Band or Coldplay radio on Pandora. Not only do I love both bands, but the music is solemn without being boring. Music has to be loud enough to cover the sound of the keys clicking but not too loud as to be distracting. I need it to be just loud enough to tune out and smooth enough to where I am not removing my hands from the keyboard to skip songs. I don’t use playlists or anything… although a song can occasionally spark a story idea, I mostly use music as a buffer between me and the world.
Write or Die: I’m kind of a perfectionist… if I can’t start off a chapter or a story just right, I can’t get the flow of the words right and it’s difficult to keep going. My inner editor goes in on how this is weak and that doesn’t make sense and I should just shelve this because it’s stupid. I put so much pressure on myself that I start to suffer from performance anxiety… I can’t even start. Write or Die kind of solves that for me. It’s a blank screen, a writing goal and a timer. Once you start, you can’t stop for more than 5-7 seconds before the screen starts blinking and flashing and turning red. And that’s on the Normal mode. I’ve never even tried strict or Kamikaze mode… I’m not hardly crazy. What it does for me is it forces me over my performance anxiety hurdle and makes me just START. And once I start, I can keep going. Other DIYMFAers use the Pomodoro method, which involves writing for a set amount of time, taking a break, and jumping back in for a longer span of time. I tried it the other night and it worked pretty well.
Until I took my break and got distracted and never went back to writing, again. *headdesk*
But at least I get going…and once I get going, whoa mama!