Four-Step Writing Ritual

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There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein. Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith

Ah, how I love that quote. I shared it with my husband (who’s not a writer) and he looked at me for a long moment before going, “Huh?” I guess to truly appreciate it, you have to know what it’s like to sweat blood onto paper and then think your blood isn’t red enough.

So, in an attempt to get you to understand our “process” (or possibly to show you just how strange we writers are), this go-around we’re talking about weird writing rituals. I’m working on book two of my urban fantasy series (tentatively titled Entangled), and I’ve done my fair share of weird “ritualing.”

When I was writing my first book—only my second full-length manuscript; the first will never see the light of day—I did everything short of standing on my head to get the words to flow.

I Skyped with one of my writer friends who swore by writing longhand. I tried that, and it worked for a short while. A very short while.

Then I read somewhere that someone else “wrote” while taking walks around her neighborhood. She’d dictate notes into the voice recorder on her phone. I tried that one night while lying in bed. My husband, who was taking a bath, poked his head out of the bathroom.

“What’s that creepy sound?” he asked, looking around with shifty eyes. I sighed and told him it was just me, talking softly into the recorder. After that I was too self-conscious to continue with the dictation plan.

What I’ve consistently stuck with, though, are the steps that lead up to my writing.

Step one: Get a giant tumbler of coffee.

Step two: Open the blinds in the study.

Step three: Turn on my sun lamp (even if it’s bright outside, I have to have my sun lamp on).

Step four: Write! Something about lots of bright light makes me write more productively.

If we ever move to some place like Seattle, I’ll have to buy stock in one of the sun lamp companies. At the very least, one whole wall of my study would have to be lined with them.

If you write, do you have a weird writing ritual you’d like to share? If you’re a reader, do you have a reading ritual?

21 thoughts on “Four-Step Writing Ritual

  1. Too funny! I appreciate habits, Adriana, really I do. I have a few myself. Ha! Hey, whatever makes the words come, right? And I love the quote. I’ve never heard it before.
    As for the creepy dictation, I wonder if that’s what using ‘Dragon’ would feel like? (You know…the software that allows you to speak into a microphone and it ‘types’ for you? I soooo want it – if it delivers what it promises. I hate typing. ;]

    1. LOL I have a funny story about Dragon that an author shared with me. She said when her back went out, she used to lie down and dictate so she wouldn’t get behind in her writing. Well, when she got better, she looked over her notes and saw “heart knit pulls.” She couldn’t figure it out. She kept reading the sentence going, “Huh??” Turns out Dragon had changed “hard nipples” into “heart knit pulls.” 😀 So be prepared for some funky translation!

      1. I’ve tried to use Dragon too – it’s great for text messages but when it comes to dictating anything of length it transcribes what you say as though you’re talking backwards. Initially this is amusing, but it soon becomes rather annoying!

  2. My husband doesn’t really “get it” either. I try not to even write when he is in the room… because sometimes I move my lips while my characters speak, and I’m worried he will make a comment.

  3. What a great quote! As for ritual, depends on the time of day. Biggest thing is natural light. I’m so dependent on it I don’t write much as night … of course, that could also be because I’m brain dead by then. And coffee. That’s a newly added must-have to morning writing!

  4. jocelynrish says:

    My ritual involves lots of procrastination. First I check my email, then facebook, then twitter, then my blog, then a few other blogs, then twitter again, then email, then I walk around the house aimlessly for a while, then I play with the dogs, then email, twitter, facebook, then maybe I can finally sit down and write. Maybe.

  5. That photo is too much! I was relieved to find that your ritual has nothing to do with how-to writing stuff, but emphasizes the importance of sitting your tooshie down and making it happen. 🙂 My ritual varies, but typically I wake up, am writing within minutes, and move between the kitchen table and sofa—minus dog walking and food breaks.

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