Weird Creative Rituals

It took me two hours of this afternoon to get a single three-hundred-word section written on one of my novels. Granted, that is desperately slow even for me, and the three hundred words contained an interaction that was quite challenging to portray believably. But an article by Mark McGuinness suggested to me today that in order to boost productivity, I just need to be more eccentric.

Apparently it's not enough to be a gangly, slightly awkward semi-recluse who enjoys Gregorian chant and techno songs about Harry Potter. I'm supposed to have something that directly affects my process while writing. But music distracts me, I refuse to smoke on principle as a vocalist, and I definitely will not be employing Victor Hugo's technique. I write beside the living room windows.

My only preparation for a day's writing work is to get up at my husband's alarm, shower, and do makeup and hair just as I did when I worked downtown. Whether that's eccentric, I can't say, but the morning rite keeps me from entirely losing my ability to differentiate between work and procrastination. And maybe from losing my sense of day and night as well.

Do you have a helpful creative ritual, eccentric or otherwise?


  1. smoking really does do wonders in producing an interesting and "gritty" singing voice - I don't sing, but my husband does, and a few cloves do wonders in making it even more ruumbly and soothing.

    I don't do well with rituals - I have no memory, so when I try to begin a ritual, I tend to forget all about it the next day. I tried desperately to get myself addicted to cigarettes and coffees as teen (it seems so artistic!) but I'd forget I had a pack in my purse for months before discovering it again and suddenly "realizing" I was desperately in need of a smoke. :) It's pathetic.

    I do like being in attractive places though, if that counts, and writing out everthing before typing it up (which has almost as much to do with having no way to charge the computer at home as it does with loving nice, black pens).

  2. Contemplative actions. I brew and drink a large mug of loose tea, I'll smoke my churchwarden (one doesn't inhale pipe smoke), or I'll sit by the open window and watch birds.

    Sometimes I need a change of scenery, and go out to the local coffeeshop to write.

  3. The article is interesting, and I'd like to try incorporating more into my own writing routine. Aromatherapy comes to mind. If I come to associate a certain scent with my writing, then perhaps I can help ease myself into a creative place through the use of a particularly scented candle. If I can reserve a particular desk as my "writing place," if I can do Pamuk's "circular commute," perhaps it will help.

  4. Masha, true--smoking adds grit to your voice, which is distinctively unhelpful when you're trying to sound more like the Celtic Women than Bob Seger or Wynonna Judd. Also, your attempt to get hooked on nicotine and caffeine made me laugh, though it probably shouldn't have. :P

    Being in beautiful places is helpful, and I wish I wrote by hand more easily. I'm totally spoiled by typing.

    Chris, I liked the idea of aromatherapy, too! I'm just not sure what scent to use, and I'm a little afraid of getting dependent on it.

    My get-up-and-get-ready routine isn't all that different in nature from Pamuk's walk-around-the-block. A little less interesting, though. Maybe I should add that. :)


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