If you are a writer, you might have heard of the term “writing rituals”.
A writing rituals, as the name suggest, is a set of activities that writers perform before actually doing some writing sessions, in hopes that it will get them into this so-called “writing mode”.
There are a lot of theories discussing on how this would work. The general idea is that we can actually program our brain to get to a certain mood by always doing a set of activities until it sticks as a habit.
Think of it like how your body instinctively pick up spoon & fork before you eat. You didn’t even command your hands to pick them up, but because you have been doing the same thing over and over again every day, it comes naturally that you should pick up your eating utensils before you actually eat.
Now, we all know how hard writing is. And writers in particular, are very prone to mood swings. Oh don’t make me start talking about our mood swings.
One day we might wake up thinking like we could write any scene we want. Often times, we would roll in bed and think of every single activities imaginable aside from writing, simply because we don’t want to do it.
It happens. And most of the time, you wouldn’t know what to do with yourself. Or, if you’re anything like me, you would be organizing your own writing retreat in desperation, hoping that a change of pace could get you back into writing your project.
And, frankly speaking, if having a certain writing rituals could help us writers to get into the mood to write, then it is only natural that we gravitate towards creating our own.
I am no exception. I have a set of writing rituals, albeit quite simple.
Now I know that every writer is different, and that what works for me would probably not work for others. And I can’t exactly say that I have the qualifications to give out legit writing advice.
I mentioned in my previous blog post about how writing every day might be ideal, although not exactly realistic. And I still think that everyone deserves a break every now and then.
But there’s no denying that doing these things helped me get into my writing mood, especially if I’m working on a project.
So let’s just look at several things I do before doing some writings, and see if that could inspire you to create your own.
1. Read through my writer’s notebook.
If you have been following my blog, then you would know that I have created my very own writer’s notebook to store my ideas. I find it really important to have a writer’s notebook you can reference to, both for reminding you key aspects of your stories, and to chronicle your writing process.
Right before I start my writing session, I usually take some time to read through previous journal entries in my writer’s notebook. By doing this, I could refresh my mind of what I had written the day before, and even recall some small details I might have otherwise overlooked.
Of course, it also goes without saying that reading my notes would get me into the mood easier, since I tend to forget stuff about the project I’m writing at any moment.
If you do not have a dedicated notebook for your projects, I really encourage you to create your own. You don’t have to use a Midori Traveler’s Notebook setup like me—I still think that a cheap composition notebook would also serve well, depending on what you decide to write in it.
If you’re not a writer, a notebook of your own could also be very functional. If you’re an artist, you could keep track of your commissions schedule and your sketches. If you’re a working professional, you could keep track of your projects, appointments, and meeting summaries. Think of it like your very own personal assistant—only in a book format.
2. Pour myself a nice cup of hot beverage.
Another thing that you might know about me if you’re following this blog: I am an avid caffeine drinker. Coffee, tea, chocolate, and even soda—I drink them all.
I don’t know about you, but I always feel like something’s missing whenever I write without my beverage of choice. It doesn’t have to be fancy TWG’s tea, or the rarest coffee bean in the world. I just need something hot to accompany my writing session.
Most of the time, I would just take one sip from my cup, and then start my writing session.
I’m going to be perfectly honest here and admit that 9 out of 10, I would forget all about my hot drink until it has gone cold. So it’s not like I have to keep on drinking those stuff in order to write. I just need a cup nearby, and for some reason, I could focus so much better that way.
Maybe this is because I used to write in cafés a lot, and even when I’m not thirsty at all, I still need to purchase a drink so I can sit down and use their power outlet. Maybe this is because unconsciously, I have already made this my habit, long before I realized it is a part of my writing rituals.
That makes me wonder, though. What are your favorite beverage to accompany your writing sessions? I personally like tea the best, coupled with a huge jug of water to keep me from getting dehydrated.
3. Light up my scented candles.
Now I will be realistic and say this: I do not bring my candles everywhere I write.
That would’ve been ridiculous.
I usually light one of these up when I’m writing at home, not when I’m out and about in the nearest café or shopping mall. If I were to bring my candles everywhere with me, I would probably freak out that it’s going to trigger the smoke detector or something. (Although the chances of that happening is very slim, I suppose.)
But as is the case with hot beverages, I am also a fan of scented candles. I do not, however, have an extensive collection of them, simply because of their relatively high price tag. For the time being, I’m quite satisfied with my peppermint, jasmine, and vanilla candles.
Since I don’t light them up every time I write, I took the liberty of associating each candle with a specific mood. For example, I would only light my jasmine candles when I’m writing an alluring scene. My vanilla candles never fail to bring a homey feel to my writing space, which made it easier for me to write my recently published novel, UNSPOKEN WORDS.
I know that owning just three different candles is not enough to call it a collection, and I’m sure that I will be purchasing other scents in the near future. But for now, I’m happy to stick with my peppermint candle as my general purpose scented candle to light. (I bought mine from Miniso, by the way.)
And that concludes my so-called “writing rituals”.
I know the list is very minimal, and there are probably other writers out there that have more interesting writing rituals to get inspirations from. But these are really the only things I do before each writing sessions. And although it could not prevent me from my irregular productivity waves, it does help me a lot by keeping me on track when I’m in the momentum.
For the better or worse, I still think that a writer does not need much in order to write. In a sense, this should be an advantage we can leverage, because doing the things we really love is quite easy. But at the same time, we might feel like we need a lot of stuff in order for us to write—in order for us to feel like we’re working.
Ultimately, your writing rituals should be a tool to help you get into that writing mood. It should never be the excuse for you not to write. Having them around might make writing a little bit easier, but at the end of the day, they’re not the ones that could get the words on the page.
That’s all I have for this topic!
I hope that reading through my writing rituals could give you an idea or two to make / add your own.
Feel free to comment down below if you have a different writing rituals, because I’d love to see how different writers (or anyone who works in creative industry) force themselves into that “creating mode”.
I will be posting new content every Saturdays, be it writerly stuff, or just things that I like to write about. This includes my own stories, information about my books, and things that interest me. Keep yourself updated by following me on Twitter and Instagram.
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