My Writing Rituals

A songwriter friend, Charlie Cheney, asked about my habits and rituals. This is my quick unedited response to him. Later, a detailed wrap to the 6 tools to get you writing.

Here are the rituals I developed which allowed me to write 4,000 words a day quite often and as much as 10,000 words at least once, and how they’ve changed over time.

  1. An office with a door. When I had a writing office, separate computer, the whole deal, that room was for writing. Books, music, whatever, but that room was for writing. Going in and closing the door was the most powerful signal I gave myself that this was writing time.
  2. I had a bunch of cilantro lime candles I’d light every time. Smells are powerful. I haven’t experimented now with lighting them to see if they make me want to write. That would be the pudding of proof. I’ll let you know.
  3. Loud music. I always listen with headphones, and I don’t play music loud. I think it’s rude to make other people listen to something without their permission. But Best Beloved knew that what I did in the writing room overruled manners and whatnot, so I’d run my turntable through my 400W PA and play records so loud I couldn’t hear my fingers on the keyboard.
  4. Now that I don’t have a writing room, I’m working on a new ritual: my writing disguise. I was having a hard time getting started recently, so I went upstairs and put on black sweats, black turtleneck, and black socks to disguise myself as a writer (the word disguise seemed to matter.) I came down and hammered out 5,000 words. Just bought some black shorts and a shortsleeved black shirt so whatever the weather I can don my disguise.

From anything I’ve read, there are 3 criteria for creating these rituals, and not much else matters:

  1. It should be something you only associate with your writing time. No point making “have a cup of coffee” a writing ritual if you’re also going to drink it the other 23 hours of the day.
  2. It should be something you’ll respond to emotionally. We’re not looking for intellectual stimulation, we’re looking for as purely an emotional response as possible. It does not have to be positive. I prefer positive, but if you want to play music you hate while you write, and you discover you can still write, go for it.
  3. It has to be a ritual. You must repeat all the steps in the same order including sitting down to write. That takes planning.

Helpful? Anything more specific you’re wondering about?

Posted in Uncategorized

2 thoughts on “My Writing Rituals

What do you think?