Robbie: I’ve thought hard about what rituals I perform before I can slip into ‘the zone’. Emails and surfing the net, cups of tea, thinking about doing the laundry…yep. But there’s something I hadn’t noticed before. I always write (at home) dressed a certain way. No, not in black lingerie or a lucky multi-coloured beanie, lol. But in one of my husband’s shirts.
Hmm, even that sounds a little weird. Let me explain.
My dh isn’t a small man and through his business he’s often given shirts from other companies. Shirts that don’t fit him but do fit me, and in a wonderfully roomy, comfie sort of way. If I need to go out in the morning, when I return home I’ll change into an Ark Marine or a Suzuki Australia button-down before diving into my WIP. Not a very flattering wardrobe for a romance writer, I confess, but I do own some impressive shoes, if that helps J
Yvonne: I’m totally a creature of habit when I’m working on a book and if I don’t follow each step in my routine I definitely falter by the wayside. For total immersion I find I need to close my office door, light my oil burner and add pure essential oils that enhance mental focus, I switch on my water fountain and turn my iPod on, put my earbuds in, open my file and I’m off. Well, in theory I’m off. Sometimes when things are still not flowing I will choose one of my collection of puffy hearts (crystal/semi-precious stones) and I’ll hold it in my hand until it’s warm, spending that time mentally seeking an answer to whatever problem I’m facing with the manuscript. For me, these steps anchor me to my work and help me get into ‘state’ for writing. If I miss out something as simple as shutting my office door, I’m nowhere near as effective or productive as I am if I’ve closed it. And I’ve noticed, if I just get a whiff of the oils I use for focus at any time I’m in my office, it’s as though it automatically switches me into work mode. I tend not to work anywhere but in my office so these steps really work well for me (well, most of the time! J )
Bron: Does time spent circling around the writing before starting count as a pre-writing ritual? I write in splendid isolation, in a corner room far away from the mid-house activity and the internet computer. I play a few games of spider solitaire, hearts, freecell, while listening to music on my iPod. I need a cup of coffee when I first sit down and if I also have Starburst Babies (my current addiction), then I’m an even happier camper. I also am a bit specific about what I wear: a very good friend gave me citrine earrings last year for my birthday. One of citrine’s properties is turning negative energy into positive, so a perfect choice for me! Now the weather’s cooling down I always wear cosy, fluffy socks, sweats or jeans and one of variety of my writing T-shirts. This is my current favourite which I bought in a charity auction last year as it’s signed by a host of my favourite authors.
Sandra: The writing rituals and talismans are on the simple side for me. I like to have a cup of tea beside me and absolute silence. I can’t seem to work if there’s any noise. So many authors I know love to play music, particularly if it’s evocative of the mood they’re after, while they write. I wish I could – but it just distracts me. I’ve also discovered that I work best at my desk on my trusty desktop computer. I have a laptop and it’s great if we’re going away and I have to work – but the words just don’t seem to flow as well.
Rachel: I don’t have a talisman, and my rituals change constantly – much like the location of my writing. I have a writing desk, but after I’ve been there a month or two it always starts to feel… stale. So I take my laptop and any notes I have and move to the dining table. It’s fresh and full of possibility and I love it! Then after a month or two or three that starts to feel stale too. So I take my laptop and notes and move to the bedroom (which is where Marian Keyes says she writes all her books!). It feels great and relaxed and I love writing there. And then… you guessed it, after a month or two I move on again. I think I have some nomadic genes. Speaking of which – perhaps it’s time I moved…
Paula: Hmmmm… writing routines and talismans? Can we call Subway and iced coffee a talisman? Seriously! I actually think of it more as ‘getting in the mood,’ because sometimes sorting your bookshelves or flipping through iTunes is more appealing than putting words on a blank page J Sometimes I’ll listen to my story soundtrack (music I specifically pick to convey the mood and feel of my characters and theme), sometimes I’ll think about fragrances and scents that my characters encounter (men’s fragrance is a favorite!!). But the routine I seem to be attached to is Subway and iced coffee. While I eat I get rid of my emails (if I haven’t already earlier that morning) because I cannot bear the thought of leaving them unanswered. Then I have to re-read my last chapter before I can get into the story. And I simply must close my door. No distractions because the narrative in my head is disturbing enough J
So, those are our rituals, folks. Do you have rituals in your work or daily life that you just can’t do without?