“Any serious attempt to try to do something worthwhile is ritualistic.” – Derek Walcott, Born Jan. 23, 1930.
Are you serious about what you're doing or what you want to do?
I once heard a talk by late copywriter Eugene Schwartz where he talked about how he keeps his desk and surroundings when he writes.
I know many other writers have their superstitions and good luck charms. I don't so much have a set writing ritual, but I do have an idea ritual, where I do my thinking in a room filled with books and toys and music.
Rituals are about creating a pattern and imbuing that pattern with power and will and meaning.
The idea is that these intentions and deliberate efforts will impart the work produced in that psychological space with the attributes that you want it to have.
So think about your ritual. Who do you want to write as? Who do you want to write to? What do you want them to do with what you have written? What do you want to come back to you as a result of it?
What tokens and thoughts can you surround yourself with to put that mindset into play? What constellation of objects and attitudes will help you work your magic to its full potential?
Note: I don't believe in magic. But I believe in placebos if they are convincing enough that you BELIEVE they will work.
Become a wizard.
Draw your circle. Light your candle. Open your book. Ring your bell. Prick your finger. It is done. Cast a deadly spell.
What's your writing/thinking/executing ritual?
<!—- lagniappe I want to tell you something about rituals here. A warning. Against relying on them too heavily. Why? Because if you become too dependent on a particular set up for how you do your work, you will become STUCK in it, unable to work without it. And if you have trouble re-creating it just so, you are blocked. If it becomes interrupted, you get derailed and find it hard to get back into your sweet spot flow zone. So while they have their place, my suggestion is to change them up. Re-set them. Shuffle details around. Swap the soundtrack. Change the location. Try someone else’s workflow model if it’s different than yours. The goal is to use the ritual ONLY to create a mental space where your brain completely aligns to focus on the work at hand. But you want to have multiple ways to do that. For me, for years (pre-pandemic) I used to go to the dive bar down the road after the wife and kids were asleep and write there, in the ill lit neon and noise. Chaos. Most people absolutely cannot do that - but I can ONLY because of practice. Not only could I write there, I used to bring a novel and read there. Which a lot of jovial drunks are annoyed by for some reason, lol. Makes them want to interrupt. But within that, I had my ritual. A stretch. A song on the jukebox or earbuds that I like. Half a shot of tequila and the reward of finishing it when I finished my work. But due to that, I can write literally anywhere. I can shut out a hurricane or a freight train and can even get work done with drunks bumping my chair and knocking my elbows on either side. I don’t know how practical this is for others, but if it sounds interesting to you, it’s challenging practice, and will really increase your productive power. —->
1 thought on “Coffee? Whiskey? Weed? Noise? Tea? Silence? What Do You Need to Sit Down and Write?”
I don’t really have a ritual of sorts but I do practice the *work even in chaos* formula. My younger brother plays video games at full volume while I study or work. This practice has given me the ability to work anywhere I want lol.