I turned to the very last page of my red Post Office notebook and started my novel, and every time I wrote it after that I wrote towards the first page.
Sound strange? Not really. Apparently, lots of writers have a ritual they follow to (mentally) limber up and get into writing mode. This blog reports that the poet Friedrich von Schiller used to keep rotten apples under the lid of his desk and would open the desk, inhale and then compose, Edgar Allen Poe wrote with a cat on his shoulder and Willa Cather (My Antonia was one of my all-time favourite books!) read the bible before putting pen to paper.
Stephen King is reported to have said that doing a series of things in eaxctly the same order every day helps to signal to his mind that it’s time to go into that dreamlike place where most writers find their muse. I believe him. I remember the point in my life when my writing most productive if I got up from sleeping very late at night, rolled over in bed and started scribbling in a waiting notebook. I did that for weeks on end while I finished that particular project.
I’m sure that there’s a perfectly logical explanation for the magic of the writer’s ritual, but at this point, all I’m interested in in what works for me when I’m bursting with the story I need to get on to the page.
I’ve found that my writing suffers when I don’t have a routine (and a ritual!) attached to it. Since I’ve been back in the Caribbean, in a house with extended family, working and trying to soak up a little sun, my writing has suffered. Perhaps it’s the uncertainty of not knowing whether I’ll be stealing a few moments on my lunch-hour one day and then an hour while the toddler’s asleep on another. Perhaps it’s the mixture of writing bits on the laptop, others in a notebook, yet others on loose sheets of paper borrowed from the printer at work.
Maybe what the writing ritual signals most is consistency, and therefore dedication. It tells the muse that I’ll be in my ‘write’ space at the same time every day, ready to give my craft the time and care it requires to survive.
What’s your ritual?
I thought this blogpost was interesting:
The Eccentric Habits Of 8 Classic Writers (thoughtcatalog.com)