Is it woo-woo or does it work–our writing rituals and talismans!

woman-in-a-mans-shirtRobbie: 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



lapis-puffy-heartYvonne: 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 )



t-shirt1Bron: 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. 



writer-at-workSandra: 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.



laptop-in-bed1Rachel: 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…




iced-coffee2Paula: 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?


14 Responses to “Is it woo-woo or does it work–our writing rituals and talismans!”

  1. March 29, 2009 at 6:15 am

    Cute post! And … haha I was telling my [current roommate for the weekend] – I like counting my age before getting out of bed in the mornings. I don’t HAVE to do it- but it just… feels kinda weird if I don’t. O_o
    That’s about it, really. Although I do generally check my email and the weather before I do anything else. Never know what crises needs to be dealt with – or, possibly luckily if a class is canceled etc 😛

  2. 2 Jane
    March 29, 2009 at 6:47 am

    I usually check my email before heading for the shower. Next is breakfast and then I’m out the door.

  3. March 29, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Limecello, that’s so funny. Do you count out loud? I’m wondering if you’ll have to start waking up earlier as you get older so you have more time to count 😀

    Jane, I know! That checking email before doing things in the morning can be such a ‘necessary’ thing, but I found while completing my latest book that I achieved so much more in my writing by saving email and the net in general until I took a breat at lunchtime.

  4. 4 azteclady
    March 29, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Since the computer is in my bedroom (which is bad, I tell you, bad I turn it the moment I get out of bed. Then it’s walking the dog, feeding the pets, and making my coffee. No coffee, no functioning brain (or whatever it is between my ears that passes for one, anyway)

  5. 5 azteclady
    March 29, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    :sigh: And that should read, “I turn it ON the moment…”

  6. 6 Sandra
    March 30, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Yvonne – what oils do you use?

    Rachel I do occasionally change my writing location but I’m more likely to rearrange the room I use and try the desk in a new position to see if that stirs up a little more creativity. I currently have it so that my back is to a wall and I’m facing the door – it’s supposed to be good feng shui – but maybe it was just an excuse to avoid writing for an hour or so while I rearranged everything and vacummed those spaces that used to be behind a bookshelf.

    Azteclady – when I start my next manuscript I’m going to try keeping my laptop in my bedroom (especially now that it’s getting colder here of a morning) and pulling it onto my lap first thing every morning and writing. I have visions of myself being wonderfully productive :).

  7. March 30, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    Yvonne – really, it’s an excuse to not get out of bed. Because I never sleep (it is in fact 2:46 AM right now), I’m not a morning person. >.<
    Haha – and if/when I’m rushed, I don’t count. Or I just rush through the numbers. 😛 It’s my little quirk/indulgence that came from nowhere, but stuck.

  8. 8 Mel
    March 30, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    I love the sound of wearing your hubby’s shirts Robbie, that also happens to be one of my favourites, have to ultra comfy to be in ‘the zone’ of writing. Usually I wear trackies and a tshirt and in winter my trustee sheepskin boots. Oh and I also like the nomad writing ideas. I love the outdoor vibes and often sit poolside beneath the umbrella on our deck though that’s only when my daughter is very asleep in bed!! My dream is when I’m famous and um rich! to sit in every restaurant under the sun and do my writing, waiting as someone else cooks my meals…

  9. April 1, 2009 at 5:50 am

    LOL! Azteclady. If I had a computer in my bedroom I don’t think I’d ever leave the place! 😀

    Sandra, when I’m working I use Basil, Rosemary and Lemon. Really crisp fresh scents that work for me. Sometimes I’ll use Bergamot in there instead of Basil. I also use a Refreshing oil blend sold by Le Reve which I love. They sell a huge candle in a twin pack with a Romance oil candle (good for those love scenes 😉 )

    Limecello, how on earth do you function with so little sleep! I’m finding I need more sleep these days than I used to. Regressing maybe? 😀

    Mel, I often think I’d like to be nomadic with my writing but I’m paranoid that someone will take my bag while I’m working and I won’t notice, or that they’ll be busy reading over my shoulder. I know I really need to get over myself but I just can’t shake that niggly feeling off completely.

  10. April 1, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    Oh my – I’d love to have your routine Yvonne – that sounds so blissful!!!
    Mine is horrendous in comparison – my writing day begins in the evening in the darkened twins room on their spare bed keeping them company while they go to sleep – “You go get your ‘puter Mum” they say.
    Then, when they’re asleep, I move to the lounge – have a giant green 1960s lazy-boy chair that is comfy… or sometimes its the sofa, sometimes bed. In the weekends when I get some day writing time then its the local library or (preferably) my favourite cafe – I sit on the soft seats against the wall so noone can see my screen!

    But bergamot or basil and lemon sound so much more magic!!!!!!

  11. April 1, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Routine – what’s that? 😉

  12. April 2, 2009 at 6:54 am

    Hi Nat! Lovely to see you here 🙂 Hey, while your kids are small I think you have to grab what time you can, when you can. Otherwise you’ll miss out on all the fun stuff they do while they’re so little. I am in constant amazement at what you achieve with your family commitments. You’re a legend!

    LOL, Eleni! 😀

    I figure people need to do what works for them for as long as it works for them. So long as it works, yes?

  13. April 4, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    As much as I try different routines Yvonne, I just can’t seem to work to them (having CFS doesn’t help). So sometimes it works having no routine, and other times it doesn’t. I’m going with the flow. 🙂

  14. April 5, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Eleni, I think whatever you do that works for you is the key, especially when battling CFS at the same time.

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