Before I became a writer, I thought writers sat down at their desks, took out their pens or booted up their laptops, cracked their knuckles and began to write. Just like that, the words flowing in a never ending stream from the writer’s brain onto the paper or screen, novels springing forth fully formed like Athena from Zeus’s head. Effortless. Seamless. Easy.
Writing is hard work, as I have since learned. It is also deeply rewarding at a visceral level to create something, to pull it kicking and screaming out of your creative self like a newborn child.
One reason, perhaps, that we writers continue to put ourselves through this torture.
I try to write every day. I don’t always achieve this goal, especially during the holiday season, but if I’m not writing everyday I’m thinking about it. At work, at home, in the car. Mulling characters and scenes over in my head, worrying about NOT writing as I bake and clean and do sundry other tasks that don’t—gasp! heresy!—involve writing.
Most days, it’s like pulling teeth. Some days—and they are few and far between—the words come easily. I don’t have rituals like some writers I know. I don’t listen to music or light a scented candle. I don’t brew myself a cup of tea before I sit down to write, or don a particular hat or sit in a particular spot. I work full time and I have a brilliant, talented, demanding fourteen-year-old daughter who requires my attention and a husband who is stretched to the max, too. I lead a very busy life. I have to write when and where I can.
Or . . . er . . . TRY to write.
I guess the closest thing I have to a ritual is that I always go back and reread the previous chapter to put me in the mood. This also allows me to take a fresh look at what I’ve written, to see the words with new eyes and to tweak them. I am an inveterate tweaker.
I write at home propped up on my bed with my miniature Dachshund warming my feet. Or I write at work on my lunch hour or after hours at Books-A-Million or in the car while I wait for my DD, or late at night after everyone else in the house is asleep. I write at my church on the weekends to escape the telephone, and the sound of the television in the living room, and the hubby playing war games on the computer. If our little town had a Starbucks, I’d live there. But, alas, we do not. Too podunk.
So I sit and I write wherever, whenever, with a glass of iced tea or diet coke (or a glass of red wine and a bowl of ice cream if it’s a love scene!) at my side.
What about you? What rituals or triggers do you employ to rouse your recalcitrant and uncooperative muse from slumber and put her to work? How do you make the words flow or, if you’re anything like me, trickle onto the page?
What gets you in the mood?
Oh, and in the spirit of Christmas and our December give-aways, one lucky person who comments on this post will win a Starbuck's gift card. Drawing and winner announced tomorrow!