Both writing challenges started today. For the first few exciting days of any challenge or new goal, it’s easier to get started.
But sooner or later, something happens. Enthusiasm leaks away. Boredom sets in. Discouragement invites quitting.
What do you need then? A way to “jump-start” your writing. (To “jump-start” means “to give something new energy and cause it to start quickly.”) And for many writers–past and present–that “jump-start” is a particular writing ritual.
Ritual = Automatic Habit Creator
A writing ritual is something you do–usually several small “somethings”–that signal to your brain that it’s time to write! A sleep ritual of bath/stories/song/prayer signals “time to sleep” for a child. In the same way, our little rituals can signal to us that it’s “time to write.”
My own writing ritual is very simple. I’ve tried longer and more complicated rituals, but this is what works for me:
- (1) silence
- (2) hot chocolate or hot cider
- (3) light a votive candle in my pansy candle holder
- (4) 15 minutes of journaling or “morning pages” to plan or dump feelings
- (5) short prayer
- (6) five deep, slow breaths
- (7) start the timer that is set for 30 minutes and WRITE on the novel
That sounds like a long ritual, but it only takes twenty minutes (as long as I “prepped my writing desk” the night before, getting my writing notes ready.) On a day when I’m rushed, I skip the journaling part, but I can always tell a difference. For some reason, I don’t require any rituals when writing nonfiction.
Writers and Rituals: Take Your Pick
If you Google “writing rituals,” you’ll find many articles suggesting different types of music, wearing certain clothes or socks, being alone, being in a crowd like a coffee shop, etc. Writing rituals take into account your environment, the time of day, and particular behaviors. All are designed to reduce your anxiety and help you slide into writing, almost without thinking. One very good article on writing rituals is by Susan Perry, author of Writing in Flow.
You might enjoy reading about the Writing Rituals and Routines of famous writers to get some ideas. Skim through the 8 Strange Rituals of Productive Writers too, because that is the whole purpose of rituals: being productive.
Finding What Works for You
Experiment until you have a ritual–or series of little rituals–that helps you get into your writing. It can take a while before you discover what works best for you, but it’s worth the search to find something that helps you start quickly with energy.
Do you have a favorite ritual that helps you get in the mood to write? Please leave a comment and share!