Rituals for Writing, Writing as Ritual

As I shift my creative focus from art back to writing I remind myself of what I need to do to enter my writing life. Rituals are a good place to start. We all have our own personal rituals even if we don't identify them as such. We have mealtime rituals, bedtime rituals, morning rituals and perhaps exercise rituals. Here are a few of my writing rituals that I will implement once again.

Five rituals that get me writing:

  1. Cleaning my desk: The first step is to clear my desk of anything art related to eliminate distractions. Gone are the water glass, the paintbrushes, the art journals. All moved to another part of the room. The desk is then dusted and my mug of pens is placed in the corner.
  2. Setting up notebooks: I print labels for a notebook and binder for each writing project. Sometimes it is only one of each for a novel but often it is several. One for each flash fiction or flash memoir chapbook I am writing. Sometimes for a poetry collection in progress.
  3. Buying and/or reading books on writing craft: Somehow having books about writing in clear view acts as inspiration for me. Seeing them reminds me of my commitment to write. Admittedly reading these books takes up time when I could and should be writing. But a ritual is something we do all the time and this is one of mine. It has worked in the past to get things written and my mind back to writing so I will keep it around.
  4. Brainstorming: Keeping lists and outlines of future books helps too. Anything that gets me thinking about writing. Having a stockpile of ideas for fiction and memoir motivates me to keep writing.
  5. Taking online classes: Last but not least is taking classes. Once I hone in on a genre--poetry, novel or short fiction--I search or online classes related to the genre. I know just where to look too. I go straight to two websites: www.storycircle.org and www.wow-womenonwriting.com These two sites offer classes all year round and there is always something to pique my interest in my chosen genre. I like to follow teachers too. Len Leatherwood and Melanie Faith are two excellent teachers who have kept me writing and revising despite life distractions. And when it comes to poetry I head for Lorraine Mejia at www.lorrainemejia.com
Those rituals truly help to get me back on the writing track.

But writing itself can be a ritual. For me I need to deliberately set a time each day of day in which to focus on a work in progress. That may vary due to daily errands and life in general. The thing doesn't waver, or rarely wavers, is morning writing. Every morning after my other hygiene rituals I head to my desk, now cleared for my writing mind. I open a notebook, which must be a one subject, spiral bound, wide ruled affair, and begin to write. This might take the form of morning pages as per Julia Cameron and The Artists' Way. It might take the form of scribing a few poems from prompt books of which I own many. It could be writing based on a lesson for a class I'm taking or may even be some solid writing on a story. 

Like exercise, writing is best done early in the morning so you don't become distracted by other responsibilities. It sets up the day with some progress and keeps my mind on my writing life.

No matter how I look at it rituals help me be the writer I want to be. The writer I tell myself I am.


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