Chocolate? Fuzzy Betty Boop pants and flip flops?
I know there’s coffee…
Every writer has a ritual that kick starts the flow of creative juices. For some, it’s music or TV in the background, for others it’s complete and total silence. Others have a particular outfit or chair that holds the key to unlocking their inner muse.
Famously, our rituals have branded us as crazy and superstitious, and there is plenty of evidence to back it up. Victor Hugo, the French novelist to be thanked for the Hunchback of Notre-Dame, wrote naked (in fact, he paid his valet to hide his clothing so he couldn’t be tempted to leave the house and his work).
Not all of us are so eccentric (and probably cold), but the truth is we all have some routine that we insist on… some are even sane.
Sounds of Writing
One of the most common writing rituals involves our personal soundtrack. Almost every writer has a specific sound they feel brings out the best words.
My soundtrack is loud (to drown out my minions), and MUST be entirely comprised of songs that I know by heart. I sometimes sing along, and I know the words well enough that I don’t have to think about them. A new or unfamiliar song can throw me completely off-track. A few of the things in my work soundtrack (which by the way is titled “Shut Up and WRITE”):
- The Supernatural Soundtrack. All that classic rock… love it.
- A few newer country songs… those that are just almost rock.
My particular brand of writing soundtrack is uncommon; most writers tend to prefer instrumental or classical music… something with no words to distract. Others must have a silent world to work in.
Taste of Writing
Coffee and chocolate… the good kind that’s dark and bitter. Actually both are best when dark and bitter, but the coffee must be scalding hot and the chocolate must be refrigerated.
The coffee is in a black mug proclaiming “It’s a JUNGLE in there!” There is a wild animal/jungle schemed mural coating the inside of the cup, and it sits on a Peace Sign coaster. The chocolate is Gevalia, and broken into little pieces in a purple toddler’s bowl. Both are carefully prepared and arranged on my desk before any serious writing can occur.
Coffee is a big one with writers. There are also the tea-drinkers, the drinker-drinkers, and the foodies who munch on junk the entire time they work. Plenty of writers sit down after a big meal, or go the opposite way and fast… rewarding their accomplishments with the end of starvation.
The Cloth of Writing
I don’t have a particular outfit (or lack of) for writing, but I have discovered I work better in day clothes. I can go straight from bed to the computer in my jammies, but I’ve found my productivity is at its best when I actually put on jeans and a shirt (usually a tank top), some real shoes, and brush my hair.
Maybe it’s that feeling of “getting ready for work” that does it…
Some writers do their best work naked, while others have their “lucky” bunny slippers. This ritual is less common than coffee, but plenty of writers will tell you their creative flow is dependent on their attire.
The Locale of Writing
Some writers cannot work from home. There are famous serious thinkers who check into a hotel daily just to write in the quiet, neutral environment. Others choose outdoors, and carry their laptop or journal to a park or the backyard.
Some crazy souls do their best work in a crowded coffee shop, sitting in a corner with their leather-bound journal, scowling at strangers and complaining about society.
I create rough drafts, do some personal blogging, and other non-important tasks on my laptop from a couch or anywhere else, but the real stuff is done at the desk with my chocolate and coffee props (and of course, the soundtrack).
The Oddities of Writing
There are plenty of other little rituals that writer’s come up with and stick to. For instance, my desk has to be wiped down with a baby wipe before I work. …of course, I have OCD as well, which may be to blame for some of my habits.
Other writers have a very specific set-up they insist on… closing all computer tabs and windows except their work, all ideas and notes written out long-hand on a yellow legal pad, or a blog/newspaper/humor site they read before working.
Some great wordsmiths write standing up. In fact, there is evidence that shows it’s better for your back and health. Me? I prefer sitting on my butt with my feet on something.
It doesn’t matter what the ritual is, if it’s the same every time you write, then you are a victim of Writing Weirdness.
Enjoy it, Strange One, you’re in good company!
What’s your writing ritual? Let me know in the comments!