Nests, Noise, & Vacuuming (or, Writing Rituals)

I wonder if one of these would help?

I recently ran across this article on writing rituals and found it really interesting. You should definitely go and have a look at it. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Back? So wow, some folks have some interesting writing rituals, huh? And although a lot of (non-writing) folks would consider some of these behaviours odd, weird, or outright bizarre, apparently they are a good thing. Rituals for writers, the article says, help reduce anxiety, increase our sense of control over the writing process, and increase fluency.

Which made me think–what are my writing rituals? (And if I don’t have any, should I get some?)

So I’m sitting here thinking. And thinking. Do I have any writing rituals?

Do I require a tidy desk? (OOh, ouch, I actually hurt myself laughing there.) Okay, maybe I require a messy desk? No, not really, I can write in either of those two states. However, sometimes before beginning a big, new project, I do give my desk a good cleaning. It’s cathartic, and it makes me feel better. I’m not sure it’s a ritual, though.

Do I perform any ritualistic motions or tasks before writing? Hmmmm. I make a lot of coffee…I do like to have a fresh cup of java to start a writing session. It’s not necessary, though. The need to vacuum the house? (More painful laughter ensues.) And no lucky shirts or socks. Or pens. Rats.

Special music? Well, I do enjoy music when I write, although I don’t always put it on. When I do, it has to be instrumental only, no lyrics because they’re too distracting. All my characters would be spouting lines from the latest top ten if I wasn’t careful. I particularly like video game soundtracks. Assassin’s Creed II. Halo. Skate. Command and Conquer. And movie and tv soundtracks. You get a nice mix of moods and themes. But as a ritual…no.

Sigh. I’m starting to doubt that I’m a real writer!

You know, I used to have a ritual. I used to play games before I started writing. Tetris. Mah-jongg. Solitaire. The problem was, I wouldn’t just play a game “to relax.” It might have started out that way. But then it changed. Suddenly I had to win a game before I could write. And you know what that meant–I’d hardly ever get to write, and spend all my time playing games. My brain tricked me that way for a while before I caught on (because, of course, playing games is so much easier than writing). Bad, lazy brain. I discarded that ritual, although it was difficult.

Okay, wait, I’ve got one. It’s small, but I think it really is a ritual. When I am starting a new project, I always set up the title page just as it will be when I’m submitting the final piece. For a short story, name and address in the top left corner. A line for “Approx. word count” although of course for now it will be blank. Space down to the middle of the page, center the title in all caps (fortunately I usually have a title by the time I start writing. If not, a placeholder will have to do, although it’s not as satisfying.) For a novel, a proper title page, too.

That’s it. That’s my ritual. Wow, so boring. Maybe there’s something I’m not even aware of…I know one thing–if I can’t think of something more interesting, I’ll have to invent one. Or risk being more anxious, less in control, and less fluent. There’s a lot at stake, here.

What about you? Do you have writing rituals? What are they?

Photo By MalcolmLidbury (aka Pinkpasty) (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. I am so loving this ritual thing.

  2. Hmm.. Interesting article.

    I think part of my problem when it comes to writing is that I don’t have many/any rituals, it’s actually something I’ve thought about several times.

    Not to play the blame game, but a lot of the issue (in my opinion) comes from my real life job. I’m a shift worker (12 hours day/night shifts) and as a result, it’s quite hard to set up an routine.

    I know my personality well enough, that I need routine to be calm and relaxed enough to write in any meaningful way.

  3. Darn it, it “ate” my reply!

  4. Pingback: Writing Rituals, or the lack thereof… – Peter J. Foote Amateur Author

  5. No worries, Peter, it was just in the approval queue. :) Thanks for reading!

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