Dark stories, tales of whimsy and random brain droppings.

Writing Rituals

Last week, I posed the following to my fellow writers:

I do most of my creative writing soaking in a hot bath with my head immersed and my editing listening to metal dubstep trance. What are other people’s writing rituals? What gets you in contact with your muse? What helps you get into a state of flow where time disappears? Curious minds want to know.

I got such a wonderful variety of responses, that I think I’ll just leave them here as is. Enjoy.

  • How about after a nice shower when all school work has been completed and my head is clear? Literacy at the max. Add a bottle of water and I’m golden. I can’t say I can relate with most of you on the music listening. I become too immersed in the music to be able to write properly.
  • I love listening to music when I write, but often times I do get too caught up in the music and it ends up distracting me. Not all of the time, but it does happen. Glad to see you joined the conversation!
  • Usually it’s when I should be sleeping. Other times I write best with headphones in. I like to have candles or essential oils burning preferably one with cinnamon. A can of cherry coke or code red Mountain Dew if I have it. Candy on hand. My fave pens and a notebook. Also generally need to be alone though my cat is good when she’s not on my notebook or laptop.
  • I have two dogs and I like to have them close when I write, but no humans. Humans get in the way. It is like they want to converse or something… I have no idea what that is about.
  • I write best alone- if I’m not alone in the room, then I seclude myself by plugging in my headphones. My family hates this.
  • I like to have background noise too- preferably music, but can write to movies, TV, etc when I’m not by myself.
  • I like to have a drink next to me too. Anything but water, and lately, pop.
  • I do the headphone thing too; and I forget to turn music on sometimes, just wearing them is enough to keep me focused.
  • I don’t have a ritual. Very little is consistent from one writing session to the next.
  • Last week when I had the Cybercop brainstorm I was at work in between student appointments to see me and some other work I had going on. Last night I had a birch beer float and three books of poetry on my lap with my computer on the other leg and Notepad open. Yesterday when working on Cybercop some more, I had my computer and a deck of cards on my dining table. Two days ago I had cheeto fingers and was typing one-handed while watching Big Bang Theory and munching crunchy corn snacks. Today I’m at the dining table again, in a different seat. I just play-tested a few rounds of Cybercop and I’m about to take my daughters to a birthday party. Poems will pop up later. I might have a dram or two of Scotch tonight so that I can further postpone grading papers until tomorrow.
  • I love soaking in hot baths! They are quite relaxing and refresh not only the body, but the mind as well.
  • As for me, I write best in the mornings, when my son is still in bed and I can enjoy the stillness of my home. I usually sit at my breakfast nook table and write while sipping hot coffee with lots of creamer. At times, I have bluegrass, country, pop, folk or rock playing for enjoyment. I take short breaks and check Facebook or read articles. I do this to sort things out in my mind. It actually helps me from becoming overwhelmed with finishing a essay, or chapter. I enjoy “ME” time, but do not get to experience this often. My son wakes up early or I sleep in. I hope to get back into the groove, so that I can be more productive.
  • My ritual is I start writing and it just takes on a life of its own. All I do is follow it and try to make sense of it. Sometimes it makes sense and sometimes it doesn’t. And of course the coffee.
  • I prefer writing in the mid morning, I am up at 6:30 or 7. which gives me a comfortable window of hours to work with in. Before lunch is when my brain and body are the most relaxed and rested. Allows short break for breakfast. When it hits half past noon; I stop, regardless of productivity, because by then my attention span waivers. The method leaves me far less worry that I am wasting time. NO matter what my brain decides to churn out, sotry, character sketches, back stories, I will feel that I have made goodf progess.
  • I always have to have music blaring and then I close my eyes and imagine myself putting on the skin of my character. Creepy, eh? 😆Once I’m suited up, I go on my way!
  • Very simple. I start off with a decent cup of coffee followed by reviewing posts at WC and Fanstory, which always provides incentive to write. Next to the recliner I keep a notepad handy to jot down ideas, names, data and whatever piques my curiosity.
  • I like it to be nice and quiet and usually looking outside. I can be anywhere on holidays, at home or work so long as I get some peace and can look outdoors.
  • You must have one of those waterproof pens, Doug. My dog, Buck, ate my rubber duck so I had to immerse him under the water. 🙂 He wasn’t thrilled with the earbuds but he got the message. Rituals? Erm… just real life stuff like, Buck.
  • It depends…I get inspiration from weird places. I was standing at the kitchen sink one night doing dishes, and for no reason whatsoever, I blurted out, “Of course you realize, this means WAR!” (A phrase immortalized by Bugs Bunny). As I finished the dishes, I started thinking about how I could write a story around that phrase. I do most of my writing at home, with something on in the background—usually a DVD that I’ve put on just for noise. I wrote most of Armageddon’s Clock that way, alternating between the three “main” Star Wars movies (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi). It just depends on what I’m in the mood to have as background noise.
  • Thanks for the post on writing rituals, it really made me ask myself ‘do I have any’. I don’t have a designated writing space and often can’t find pen & paper when I need one, so the idea of doing something regularly or following a routine of some kind really struck me. Since I write picture books, I find that physically writing down the ideas as they come to me is the hard part ( if I can find that pen )! Ideas tend to strike when I’m on the verge of sleep, another nights sleep ruined so I simply get up and write everything down. Sometimes daily activities might spark an idea or I will see something occurring and ‘put it into a story’. I do carry notepad and pen at all times of course, if the kid doesn’t get them first but then I have to find a quiet place to put everything together so it all makes sense — that’s the hard part! Thanks for the post and the thought process that it started, who knows? Might make a great story!
  • If I want to get totally immersed in writing and not just dabble here and there while checking Facebook, then I absolutely have to be alone. Day or night, it doesn’t really matter though I prefer night and I normally need a drink (beer, cocktail, whatever) and my music. The piece I’m writing normally dictates my choice of music, though I tend to pan between hair metal, techno, and folk. In an ideal world my desk wouldn’t be a jumble of family papers and bills but, it is. I like to have pictures around me somewhere, my desktop, on the wall, just different little things that have gotten me thinking about one thing or another.

The whole sordid conversation can be found here: http://www.writerscarnival.ca/writing-rituals. Many thanks to Annalie, Anisa, Rachel, Tara, Tim, Sherry, Cameron, MJ, Carol, Ray, Emmex, Robert, Helen, Shanna and Riss for their colourful input.


NOTE: This post also appears at WC Writing Tips & East Coast Creative.

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