If you’ve been a part of the writer community for long, you may have heard of a writing ritual. Usually, rituals consist of a writer’s favorite snack, the essential fingerless writing gloves, a lit candle or two, and of course, a laptop ready to go.
I personally love the idea of writing rituals. I have one of my own that I try to stick to when I can. However, often times we get so hung up on the perfect mug for coffee and the fuzzy socks that fit just right, we forget what our writing ritual really needs.
So, here are the top 5 things you writing ritual needs:
1. An Open Mind
Writing may require a lot of time, a few pens, and perhaps even a playlist of inspirational songs, but what you really need is an open mind.
Whether you’re a panster or a plotter, you’ll need a mind that’s ready to delve into your world in order to bring it to life.
You’ll need to be able to breathe in the ambience of your settings, feel the shivering of your scared characters, even hear the silence that comes with the tension you’re writing down.
So, take the time to put your non-writerly matters to the side. Respond to any pending emails or messages. Put a pin in any work you have to get back to after your writing session. Take a second to declutter your brain so all your focus is on your writing. This will ensure a most productive writing session.
2. Blocked Distractions
We all get distracted while writing. We’re human; it happens. Still, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take measures to try and prevent those distractions from popping up. You may feel energized and ready to tackle a scene, but if you forget to block distractions, you may get more interruptions than you anticipated. Next thing you know, all that energy is gone.
Let your friends and family know this is your writing time, so you’d appreciate that they don’t contact or interfere unless it’s an emergency. Silence your phone, though you may want to keep it in your peripheral vision in case there is an emergency. Put yourself in an area where there aren’t a lot of distractions that bother you.
If you want to take it a step further, try deleting the social media apps on your phone, or find an app that blocks those apps from your laptop or phone for a certain amount of time. Unless you’re really good at multitasking, stay away from videos that may pull your attention. These may be great for background noise, but if you find yourself paying attention to that video more than your writing, it might not be the best idea.
Take the few minutes it takes to block those distractions before sitting down to write. It’ll make for a far more productive writing session.
3. A Quiet Word with the Writing Demons
If you find writing difficult due to negative thoughts in your head, you may have to add this step to your ritual. When you write, you will often hear those nasty comments from your inner critic and your doubtful enemies that you are not good enough. These writing demons are louder some days than others.
When you know you want to write, but you’ve been hearing these thoughts all week long and haven’t been able to write a word because of them, it may be time to have a quiet word with these demons.
Start your writing session off by writing a letter to these writing demons. Tell your inner critic, your doubts, and your fears that though they’ve been with you for some time, they are not needed for this writing session. Explain to them why you disagree with them. Remind yourself in this letter why you love writing and that you are a writer no matter what anyone says.
Taking the time to sit down and work through these thoughts will not only help for this writing session, but it will help in the long run. The best way to deal with the negative thoughts is to face them with positivity and self-encouragement.
4. A Note to Self
Daily, weekly, and monthly writing goals are fantastic, but you can’t meet those goals unless you write. Even as a pantser, I recognize that when I sit to write, I need to have some idea of what I want to happen by the end of the chapter.
So, don’t forget to make a mental note of what your goal is for your writing session.
Do you want to finish the next two chapters? Do you want to revise the description of that important setting? Do you want to polish up a conversation between two characters?
Having a set goal in mind will definitely help you have a really productive writing session. It will help you focus on what you need to accomplish; it will help you tackle big projects by making them into smaller, obtainable goals; and it will make starting the writing session just a little easier.
5. A Reward
Though the act of writing itself should be plenty, sometimes it’s just not enough to motivate us. Especially if you’re trying to get on a daily writing schedule, small rewards can be a big help.
Perhaps after you write 500 words, you get to watch your favorite AuthorTuber’s new video. Maybe after your writing session, you get to have that slice of pie you’ve been eyeing all day. For us night owls, maybe we finally get to hit the sheets once we’re done with that scene.
Small rewards are incredibly helpful in motivating us to get to our bigger goals. They’re also nice in helping us create a habit, because soon enough, it becomes such an important part of our schedule, we no longer need those rewards.
You can even make yourself bigger rewards. Maybe once you finish your first draft, you get a small shopping spree at a local bookstore, or once you’ve sent out that query letter, you get to have ice cream. Whatever it is, it should definitely put a smile on your face, one to match the smile you had for finishing up that writing goal.
Bonus Step: A Writing Buddy
Writing is a solitary hobby, so the writer community is great when it comes to finding writer buddies. However, unless you’re writing on a live feed with other friends joining you, it really is just you and your story.
If you’d like to have a writer buddy while you actually write, make your own! Whether it’s a rock with a top hat or a little alien you won at an arcade, that little writer buddy can sit right beside you as you write, encouraging you along the way.
Accessories are fun when thinking of a writing ritual that works for you, but you simply can’t forget the essentials. I mean, what’s the point of the mug, fingerless gloves, and headphones if you can’t actually write because your mind is still buzzing with other things? Once you’ve got the essentials, then you can light the scented candle.
Do you have a writing ritual? Let me know in the comments below!