The Artistic Process

the problem with writing rituals


I woke up today at a reasonable hour. I ate breakfast, showered, blow-dried my hair. Then, I sat down to write. I turned my computer on at 9am… and that is where my productivity halted. I turned on my WiFi, checked my emails, looked at the latest news reports. I scrolled through cute pictures of puppies and grumpy cat memes. By the time I had my fill of disgruntled cats and the weather report it was already 10am. And, in case you had not figured it out: I had ZERO words written. By this time, I felt it necessary that I should make a cup of tea. I stood shuffling through my assortment of teabags for a good ten minutes before deciding on plane black tea and pondered whether I needed sugar or not. After I made my tea, I sat back down with the intention that I would write. Then I realised, I hadn’t done any washing in a while and it would be good to get it done. My clothes could be washing while I was writing and hanging it out could be a break from the computer. By the time I sat down again it was 11am, which was practically lunch time.

To save you from the boredom of my household chores, I will cut the story short. I didn’t actually start to write until 3pm, even though I had the most valiant of intentions to start at 9am. At 3pm I told myself, “Well at least it was productive procrastination. Right?”

It’s not uncommon for me to get into a bad habit when it comes to my writing rituals. It usually ends with everything except ‘writing’ being a part of the rituals. Sometimes I have days better than others and sometimes I need to look myself in the mirror and say, “There is nothing else to clean, brew, scrub, wash, bake, or organise! Go and write!” Along the way I found some helpful tips to give me that extra push to write. Here are some that I have found useful:

The write time…

Each day that I intend to write I make sure that I give myself a three hour slot in the day where I can sit down and write. I am more of a mid-morning kind of gal, so I start around 10am. I have friends who are crazy enough to start at 6am and others who couldn’t bare to look at writing anything before 9pm. Ultimately you need to find the right time for you.

Rewards…

I try to give myself a reward if I have had a good block of writing. This can be in the form of going out, making a tea or coffee, or checking the interwebs. This tip though can have its downside. My mother recently bought me a one kilo box of chocolates for Easter and lets just say that my rewards have also helped with the expanding of my waistline.

Some days just suck…

I’ve heard people say that you should write no matter what, but I don’t agree. If you’re having a day that feels like you’re one step away from killing someone with your laser-beam eyes, then take some time out. Sometimes you just need to have a bad day and start tomorrow.

Eating the elephant…

Writing, no matter what it’s for can feel overwhelming, especially if you are working on a larger project. The key though is breaking it down. And I don’t just mean by chapters. Even in each chapter look for sections. Start with writing the introduction for that chapter and then break the plot up into further smaller pieces. If you want to eat an elephant. You need to take a small bite each time.

If you have any extra tips about your own writing rituals please share.

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