What if you’re ready to write again?
You may not have hours every day to write, or you may have tight deadlines. So you need to make the most of your time. And that means getting started quickly.
Write on Cue
A jump-starting activity is something that makes your brain realize immediately that “now it’s time to write!” If Pavlov’s dogs could be trained to salivate at the ringing of a bell, I thought surely I could learn to write on command.
Rituals and Routines
I’ve always loved reading about other writers’ rituals, the things they do to “prime the pump” for writing. I never felt much need–nor wanted to use the writing time–to do much of that myself. I tried a few times, but the writing exercises would take me 30-60 minutes and Julia Cameron’s morning pages took me an hour. (I consider myself a pretty fast writer, but most of the things that “only take 10-15 minutes” take me considerably longer–including these blog posts.)
What I needed, I realized, was a short cue along the lines of the ringing bell for Pavlov’s dog. I needed something to trigger an automatic writing response–and it needed to be something I could do at home, on the road, or when staying with my grandkids.
If your writing time is short–and you need to get started quickly–here are some rituals and routines that other writers have used:
- Light a special lamp or candle
- Put on a particular kind of music that works for you (Lyrics? Instrumental?)
- Prayer, meditation and/or affirmations for writers
- Hot tea or hot chocolate
- Eat a banana or apple or something healthy
- A short walk–ten minutes or so
- Stack dishwasher, pick up house (Some writers do this for their jumpstart, but it doesn’t appeal to me!)
Again, I needed short things to do. The danger is always that the ritual takes over your whole writing time. If you have all day to write, that’s a different ball game. You can take a whole hour to get started, if you want to.
Make a List
It’s a good idea to have a number of rituals to choose from too. “Create as many practices as you can, because sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t,” says Vinita Hampton Wright in The Soul Tells a Story: Engaging Creativity with Spirituality in the Writing Life. “Their effectiveness will vary. When one thing doesn’t help so much, go to something else…adapting practices according to the season of the year.”
This makes sense to me. While in the winter, a good cup of hot chocolate is perfect, during hot Texas summers, it’s about the last thing you want. I think a written list posted near my writing space would be a good idea too. I might have a whole list of rituals to choose from, but so often when I try to think of one, they all escape me.
If you want to read more about the power of these little habits, see a book by Mason Curry called Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. In the book 161 artists, writers, and other creative types give insights into the specific rituals they use to get the creative juices flowing on command.
And doesn’t that sound appealing?