Pre-writing Traditions


When it comes to my writing process, I am a creature of tradition. And I’m not even talking about the actual writing process. I’m talking about before, in that strange limbo between when I say, “Okay, it’s writing time” and when I actually put words on the page.

These little rituals have evolved over time, but at the moment they include the following:

–                     Lighting three writing candles (yeah, those same ones I have at the bottom of every post…)

–                     Making tea

–                     Finding suitable music (normally movie scores)

–                     Putting on my writing necklace

–                     Staring at notebooks or the computer for a meditative length of time

And that’s not including other methods of writerly procrastination. Rearranging my desk. Painting my nails. Juggling. Flossing. Petting the cats. Picking dust out of the keyboard. Etc…

I’ve heard it said that people who have trouble falling asleep should set a routine of bedtime activities such as reading a book or writing in a diary to signal to the body that it is time for sleeping. In that context, it makes sense to me that writing should have a similar process. Writing is, in many ways, like dreaming. Traditional activities help me make that transition from the real world to the one inside my head.
Candles 05 16 14
So, my original reason for posting this was so I could ask: What are your getting-started rituals?

Or, if you’re one of those magical people who can just start something: How do you do it?? Seriously, I’d love some pointers, because life is busy, and some days I can only carve out a half-hour of writing time, during which I light candles, make tea, and then say, “Well, that was fun.”


22 responses »

  1. I used to have to pretty much clean the entire house before I could write. I still like rituals, and enjoy them when possible, but what made the huge difference for me was having small children. When I do get a precious hour or two to write, I have to maximize my time. I think it’s that sudden sense of urgency that has helped me to become (sometimes, but not always) a sit-down-and-write kind of writer.

  2. I usually need to check all of my internet things (email, WordPress, etc.), fuss around a little, and then put in my headphones. The headphones are the only super important part–sometimes I don’t even put on music, I just put ’em in silent and away I go. It’s like what you say about having a routine to tell the body it’s time to sleep; I pop in the earbuds and my body knows it’s time to get down to business 🙂

  3. So I’m about to get myself writing something new and I’m having a bit of a hard time with it! Maybe I need my own pre-writing tradition. I usually start creating a playlist and drink coffee. Maybe if I got some lavender-scented candles……

    • I heartily recommend candles. HEARTILY. In addition to the ambiance and lovely smells, I find that it’s good for the moments between sentences. I can watch the flames, and it’s just interesting enough that my mind doesn’t wander too far, but bland enough that I can still think about the story.

      Getting started on a new project is always so intimidating 😦

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