I’ve been thinking over the last few days about my own habits that facilitate my writing process, and some patterns have emerged.
For starters, there has to be music playing somewhere in the background. Lately I’ve found that when I can’t focus and have to turn the music off, it’s better to stop writing for the time being. When I can’t tune out the music and channel it, there’s really no point in trying. Conversely, I need silence in regards to my surroundings. The music is for the ambience, and “silence” refers to everything else. I can’t write with a TV in the background. There can’t be a lot of movement or commotion going on around me. If I’m writing at my computer, I’ve probably got my headphones on and am completely oblivious to everything else.
There is a ritual of sorts, though. Before writing, I get a glass of a non-alcoholic liquid (usually soda), I turn up the music, and then I pace. I’ll walk around and occupy myself with something else for a few minutes. I’m not really conscious of what I’m doing during this phase – my head is a million miles away in the moment of the story I’m about to enter. I’m focusing, channeling, seeing what I’m about to write happening before me like a slow motion movie. I’m hearing the words these people are saying. After a few minutes of this, I close the door, sit down and crack my knuckles (a bad habit I can’t shake). And then I either start pecking away at the keyboard or pick up my pen and start scribbling.
That’s another thing – if I’m writing by hand, I have to write with a pen. Never a pencil. I find I become too preoccupied with the lead and having to resharpen the tip every page or so (I’m particular about my writing utensils, and I absolutely must have a fine, sharpened point). My pen must have a good flow but not prone to bleeding and smudging. My current favorite is the Uniball Jetstream. I write in print. Never cursive. I underline for italics, and double-underline for, well, underlining. Titles are in all-caps.
On a good day, two or three hours will pass without my awareness. The album that’s playing will have repeated three or four times and I’ve listened to none of it but heard it all the same. That’s the beauty and necessity of the music – it’s a channeling technique much like a seer goes to a stone. Think of it like a form of meditation. Once it clicks and you fall into that wonderful creative space, time ceases to exist, and you’re off on a journey of your own creation. And this is all while you’re sober.
I’ve started writing the second draft of imagiNATION. It’s going more smoothly than I imagined it would. And, the best of it is, it’s moving along at its own pace. I’m not forcing it. That in itself is a relief and a blessing. It was upon my reflection of my own writing ritual that I decided to set some parameters for myself. These are little quirky things to which I must adhere every day when I sit down to work on this story.
So now we come to the rules:
- Write by hand in that snazzy notebook and nothing else. Don’t type a single word until it’s done.
- Listen to whole albums only, and only one album on repeat per session. Mixes don’t work very well for me.
- Headphones are preferred.
- Minimum of one hour writing time per day, every day. More if possible.
- And finally – let the story be what it wants to be, and not what I think it should be. I broke this rule before, and that’s why I’m rewriting a 108k word novel from scratch.
And with that, I am off to write for my second hour today. I’ll most likely be listening to the album Keep Telling Myself It’s Alright by ASHES dIVIDE, though I’m also in the mood for something by TOOL as well, so we’ll see. Oh, and I’ll probably light some candles, too.
For now, it’s your turn. What’s your writing ritual? Hit the comment box and let me know. Happy writing and weekend, folks.