5 Odd and Sometimes Simple Creative Writing Rituals You Should Know About
How do writing rituals help you show up to write and 5 writing rituals you should know about
There are writers that swear by writing rituals and those that don’t.
I see myself as an in-betweener. Sometimes writing rituals are central to my writing practice and other times they simply are not.
But when they are central, writing rituals are guaranteed to get me to the page and help me stay there.
Over the years I’ve collected scores of writing rituals from writers both current and past.
I’m fascinated by what writers do to coax themselves to the page, some rituals out of the box, some so obvious and yet simple enough that anyone could give the ritual a try.
Rituals are about inviting in routine. It's the order in what can sometimes feel like creative chaos. When I light a candle or burn an incense stick before write or get up at 5am before the rest of the house is awake, these are the signals to the muse that I’ve showed up for my writing appointment and I’m ready to rock and roll on the page. Don’t worry about the reality that I may not know where I’m going; the fact that I’ve showed up is good enough.
Here are some of my favourite writing rituals.
To Be Inspired
The author Somerset Maugham was once asked how he got inspired. His reply, “I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at 9 o’clock sharp.”
The poet Molly Gordon hand copies poems into her journals and notebooks for inspiration.
Jack Kerouac used to light a candle, write and then blow the candle out once he had finished.
Once you show up in some shape or form, inspiration is likely to be not too far behind.
Leave Your Writing At A Place Where You Know What You’re Going To Write Next
Ernest Hemingway suggested leaving your writing at the point when you knew what you were going to write next. That way when you returned the next day you wouldn’t have a problem knowing where to start and you wouldn’t sit there twiddling your thumbs thinking about what should I be writing.
This ritual really works for me and is a permanent feature in my toolkit of writing rituals that helps me get unstuck and it’s an excellent method for avoiding writer’s block.
Smell Fruit To Stimulate The Senses
The poet Schiller kept rotten apples under the lid of his desk and inhale their pungent bouquet when he needed to find the right word.
Research from Yale confirmed that the smell of spiced apples has a powerful elevating effect and can even ward off panic attacks.
More recent research by Dr Alan Hirsh, founder of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago discovered that the quickest way to change someone's mod is with smell, rather than with any other of our senses.
"Smell is a potent wizard that transports us across thousands of miles and all the years we have lived," writes Helen Keller.
Invite the senses to stimulate your imagination and improve your mood for writing and creating.
The Early Bird Gets The Worm
According to Twyla Tharp choreographer and author of, The Creative Habit, “The most productive ones get started early in the morning, when the world is quiet, the phones aren’t ringing, and their minds are rested and not yet polluted by other people’s words.”
Nigerian author Buchi Emecheta would wake up to write at 4am in the morning while her children were still asleep and before the demands of her work took over.
Writer and author Alice Sebold knows that getting up at 4am is no fun, “But having an image sneak up on you before the rest of the world wakes up is heaven.”
Ernest Hemingway had a ritual of writing as soon as possible after first light in the morning and Anais Nin did her best work in the morning.
Get to your creative work early and lessen the threat of distraction and work responsibilities sabotaging your well-intentioned plans.
Break Convention, Write On Scraps Of Paper and Kid Yourself Into Thinking You’re Not Really Writing
Artist and singer Phoebe Snow cobbled together words and dis-jointed pages from her journals and poems and managed to organize them all into a song.
The book the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron began as tiny essays written in-between the school run and after completing school homework with her daughter. The book grew an essay at a time, a thought at a time, “Because that was all I had time for, and, besides, I wasn’t really writing.”
Author Sue Bender started writing on little pieces of paper and threw them in a room upstairs in her home containing no furniture and wall-to-wall carpeting. These scraps eventually became the book, Plain and Simple that became a best seller.
Author Susan Jeffers kept her scraps of paper in a box which eventually materialized into the best selling book, Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway.”
Writing on scraps off paper sends a message to your inner critic that you’re not really writing, getting them out of the way and freeing you up to be you on the page.
At the end of the day rituals help get us to the page but as this delightful quote I found by E.B. White on the Brain Pickings websites shares, “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”Join Psychologies and NOW Live Events for a wonderful writing workshop with coach and speaker Jackee Holder in London this May: Writing to heal your life with Jackee Holder.