Rituals. I have them. Do you?
I admit, I like routine. Somehow there’s security in it. Maybe it goes back to my childhood and the need to feel safe. For whatever reason, I like the idea of knowing what I’m going to do each day and performing that task in a certain, ritualistic way.
In the beginning, long before I even considered submitting my words for publication, I created a writing routine. I would get hubby off to work, grab my fur-kid, who was a puppy at the time, and put her in my lap. Then we would sit at my computer and disappear into a world of my own making. We would take the occasional bathroom break and grab a snack or two, but for the most part, I was glued to my screen and my fur baby was right there with me. At night, when hubby came home, we’d close down shop. A simple routine with few frills but it suited me.
Now, admittedly, it took me a year to write my first book but I was learning, growing as a new writer, and when it was finished, I had a 144,000-word manuscript. LOL If only I had known when to stop, I might have written a couple more books that first year.
Now, ten years later, my simple little routine has grown into a ritual I dare not break. Holding on to it much like a beloved old blanket, I find comfort in my habit. I rarely change my method, fearing it might get me out of my writing mojo.
I greatly admire those writers who can multitask. The ones, who, in the midst of their busy lives, squeeze in ten to fifteen minutes of writing when they can. What focus they must have!
However, I’m working on my twelfth book in five years, and though I’m sure there are smarter, more efficient ways to go about getting the job done, this works for me.
Here’s what I do before my writing day can begin:
1) Drink coffee from a special mug. Yes, I have writing mugs. The mugs are a signal to my brain that it’s going to be a writing day. If I drink from another kind of mug, I’m off my game from the beginning. I have seven different writing mugs and, in fact, I just bought another one at Pier One last week. I liked the colors and thought it looked inspiring. The first day I drank from it, I wrote ten pages, so I think I’ll keep the mug.
2) Feed the fur-kids and myself. Hubby fends for himself.
3) After breakfast, my fur-kid and I head to my office. (She no longer sits on my lap but sleeps at my feet while I work.) I sit down in my chair and check the following, in this order: Email, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter and book rankings. (Though, after several months of a book being out, I don’t look at the rankings because it bums me out.)
When I’m heading toward a deadline and really need to crank out the pages, I prepare by cutting my nails, cleaning my office and loading up on Pop Tarts, chocolate and wine. Then, I warn family and friends that I’m out of pocket for the next few weeks. When I reach my deadline, I order Chinese food from the restaurant close by, that delivers to my door, and veg out in front of the television.
Years ago, I read my first and favorite Susan Elizabeth Phillips book, It Had To Be You. I remember how astonished Phoebe, the heroine, was by the rituals some of the football players went through before they went out onto the field for a game. At that time, I laughed and agreed with Phoebe at how silly and unnecessary it all seemed. Now, I can totally understand the need to do things the same way. Telling my brain it’s time to work by performing these rituals helps me get into my writing mode and stay there.
Now that I’m writing under two names, I’m contemplating developing a different ritual for my pen name. That way, when I perform certain tasks, my brain will know it’s either time to be Christy Reece and write in the world of kick-butt, action-adventure Last Chance Rescue operatives or that that I’m going to be in Midnight, Alabama as Ella Grace, where murder is afoot but the pace is slower and the romance takes center stage.
What about you? Do you have rituals or a routine you must perform before you can get to work? If so, please share. Who knows, maybe I need to add one more to make my day even more productive!
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