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Writing Rituals Can Continually Put You In A Writing Mindset

by Jennifer on September 24, 2009

By Jennifer Blanchard

One of my good friends recently introduced me to her writing “ritual.”

Every time she’s about to start writing–whether that be for her job or for the writing she does on the side–she follows this routine:

  • Sits down in front of the computer, closes her eyes and takes a deep breath.
  • Visualizes the outcome of her writing session (whatever her goal is for the time that she’s sitting down to write).
  • Then she opens her eyes and starts writing.

This ritual, she says, helps her to get into a writing mindset.

I find it interesting that my friend is so successful (always hitting her goals) and that she also has a writing ritual. I don’t have a ritual. And I tend to sometimes hit my goals, and other times not so much.

So does this mean having a writing ritual equals goal-meeting success? Possibly. It’s all about what works for you.

But why does having a writing ritual work? Here are my thoughts:

  • Having a ritual that you continually do before you start writing will train your mind to focus on writing.
  • Getting into a routine of any kind helps keep you on track, without even realizing it.
  • Establishing a habit of writing begets additional writing.

Do you have a writing ritual? If so, what is it and how has it helped you?

About the Author: Jennifer Blanchard is founder of Procrastinating Writers. Be sure to follow her on Twitter.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Marisa Birns September 24, 2009 at 2:38 pm

So here’s my ritual:

–Sit in front of computer, see a newspaper nearby, get a cup of coffee, read paper. Then close my eyes an hour later.
–Visualize how I’m going to be really pi**ed off when I open my eyes and see I haven’t written…AGAIN.
–Open my eyes and… well, just see above.

Rinse and repeat the next day.

Until I do finally sit and write. I don’t know if I could have a ritual since it’s always a hit or miss with me. But maybe it’s something I could try.

Thanks for your post!

2 Mari Mayborn September 24, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Mine are quirky. I have a lovely writing room with rich caramel walls and thick, honey carpet. I turn on an old carved alabaster lamp that throws a warm glow across the room and I vacuum the carpet so I haven’t so much as even one, teeny-tiny piece of lint to distract me. I often burn a scented candle and have a cup of coffee or tea by my side. With every sense engaged, I settle into this peaceful place…and then I write. (I start with free-writing either from a list of topics I keep in a little notebook or pick a random word or object and just let it go.) I have a goal of 2000 words per day. In the summer I write under a maple tree in the garden.

3 jblan September 24, 2009 at 3:11 pm

@Mari Mayborn That’s a pretty interesting ritual 🙂 But I say, do what works for you. So if this works–keep doing it!

4 jblan September 24, 2009 at 3:17 pm

@Marisa Birns That sounds like a very negative ritual. The attitude you approach your writing with is what will help you actually get started and get it finished. Try approaching your writing task with a positive attitude: “I’m a great writer and I’m going to get this article written” (or whatever project you’re working on). This may help you stop procrastinating.

5 mvs September 27, 2009 at 9:04 am

I usually write in the evening, after 2 or 3 hours of archery practice.

6 Eva September 30, 2009 at 7:28 pm

I’ve been on a roll lately and I think it’s because of an accidental ritual. I’ve been writing my morning pages (from the Artist’s Way) after lunch (better late than never) and then I start reading a memoir (any) and then I think “I can do this” and I put the memoir down and start writing my stories. The morning pages get me primed and the memoir reading, albeit brief, reminds me that I too, have stories to tell. Oh, I also recently started praying to God for a miracle. 🙂

7 jblan September 30, 2009 at 7:49 pm

@Eva Sounds like you found yourself a good ritual! I’m glad to hear it 🙂

8 Emily Shepherd July 28, 2011 at 7:35 pm

My ritual is listening to music (classical usually) before I write and usually playing it quietly while I write. I do this because in the ninth grade, my English teacher weekly made us do an exercise wherein she would play music while we free-wrote. She trained us to be able to write whatever came to mind without thinking about it first. We learned to completely lose our minds in the music and then just write about anything (though often it didn’t make much sense).
Another ritual is that I do most of my writing during school (while I’m in school). While I’m at school, I have a productive mind-set anyway, so I use that to my advantage. Not during school, I write late at night because it creates a sense of urgency, like when you’re trying to finish an assignment that is due the next day. Plus when I finish my goal, I get to sleep. 🙂

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