I’m a writer, which already pegs me as a little odd. I make stuff up. Crazy stuff, sweet stuff, scary stuff. I write down my dreams and nightmares and build worlds around them. Weird.
But to get to the actual business of smearing thoughts across white space, I have a few rituals I practice. Some of these are absolute MUSTS, others are just when I’m having a tough time with motivation.
Always, I get started with coffee. Not weird; lots of people do that, whether they are writers or not. Coffee is important. Not only does coffee wake me up and energize me, the taste and aroma sort of work like a time machine, transporting me to wherever else I need to be. It’s magic.
Sometimes I listen to music. It can be the perfect way to get into the needed emotions of a scene. I don’t do this every day, because if my playlist shuffles badly, I get distracted. Nothing worse than having the Goldfinger theme song stuck in your head while you’re trying to write a story about a Bible character. And Song of India is too relaxing to sufficiently inspire a fight scene. My playlist is extensive, so I get pretty picky about that.
I prefer to be alone when I write. That means when people walk in to chat or ask a question, I will minimize my story. This isn’t really a ritual, but it keeps everything secretive, and that mind-set helps me write. When I find myself being interrupted too much, I declare a National Get Out of My House Day, and that usually fixes the problem.
When I first begin writing each day, I go back to my last chapter or last page, and read for a minute or two. I want to get back into the “feel” of the story, so the next part develops naturally. I don’t edit, but I like the more organic approach, as opposed to reviewing my outline (I use that term loosely) or checking a to-do list. Also, I cannot stop writing until the chapter or scene is finished. Walking away from my keyboard mid-scene is not an option. If my house catches fire while I’m writing I will probably die.
Then there is break time, which is about doing chores (How would my main character feel about washing dishes?) or getting a little exercise. If there is music, I will dance. I’m not a great dancer, but that’s never stopped me.
If I get stuck in a scene or situation, I jump to my Pinterest board for the story in question. Here is where I have cast my story and pinned all the research links I might need. Sometimes just reviewing the “facts” gets my stream of thought back on track. If I’m really stuck, I will stare at the photos of my characters and ask them questions. You would be surprised how often they answer. Some of my favorite chapters are the result of this technique.
Another thing that I find myself doing– when I’m working something out in my mind’s eye– is playing with my earrings. Because I do this fairly often, I keep myself focused by wearing earrings that coordinate with my story. What? I know it seems silly. I’m discovering that I do quite a lot of silly things. Yes, in the morning while I’m getting dressed I ask myself which story I will be writing today. Little Black Dress is set in Paris, so I put on my Eiffel Tower earrings. Shooting Stars Traveling Circus calls for my pistols. Her Most Precious Gift is about Mary of Bethany from the Bible, so I wear my favorite cross earrings. When I start fiddling with them, they become inspiration. My fingertips, which usually hop from key to key, now explore the edges and form of real symbols from my stories. Sometimes the tactile bond is just what I need to keep going.
As I look over my list, I’m noticing something that has never occurred to me before today. All of my quirks, my weird little writing rituals, revolve around my five senses. I suppose these are just some of the methods I use to make my story real.
Would you like a glimpse into the novels I’m writing? Here are a few links to my Pinterest boards. Follow me!
Little Black Dress Novel Research
Shooting Stars Traveling Circus
One thought on “My Weird Writing Rituals”
Enjoyed your presentation with Dr. Bellah on Oct. 5. Found your tips (on this website) “You might be a writer if” amusing and sometimes descriptive (of me!). Regarding your book “Her Most Precious Gift” (which you mentioned at Bellah’s class) I have some suggested resources (which you may already have). The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) has an informative article on Spikenard. A book I co-wrote, “New Testament Chronology” is helpful with several issues regarding the life of Christ. My commentary “John 1-12” has some things to say regarding Mary of Bethany. If you need research resources (e.g., ISBE, Gospel harmonies, commentaries on Luke and John, other), I have a rather large library of books concerning the Bible, which I will be happy to share to help a fellow writer.