Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Writing Rituals

Every time I think about writing rituals I picture Michael Douglas in the movie Wonder Boys sitting at his desk in a pink chenille lady’s robe and a wool ski cap, typing page 1,029 or some much nightmarish number at the top of the manuscript page.  He couldn’t write without wearing that regalia and he couldn’t bring himself to finish his book.
Would I ever do such a foolish thing? Perish the thought.  And yet…there was the hot day in July when I was writing a snow scene and got so cold I had to put on a sweater, leggings and a stocking cap. Suddenly, I noticed the mailman stuffing letters into my box, so I raced outside and nearly fainted from the blast of heat. Naturally, every neighbor I had saw me in my winter get-up in July. I was the talk of the neighborhood until the next time I did something equally eccentric.  It involved a snake in my house, and me in a wet t-shirt screaming at the top of my lungs, but I won’t go into explicit details. This is, after all, a family-friendly blog that encourages nice people to join us to talk about writing and reading.
          Do I have a writing ritual? You bet your boots, I do. Here’s the way it goes:
1.      I have to face a window when I write. Put me at a desk facing a wall, and I can’t come up with a single paragraph, let alone a 90,000 word novel.
2.      I have to have a cup of something warm, preferably green tea chai, sitting on the trivet on my desk. The trivet says, “Give your soul a bubble bath,” and that’s part of the ritual.
3.      I have an eclectic collection of mugs, and I make a ritual of selecting the one that (a) suits my mood or (b) suits the book I’m writing. When I write the Southern Cousins Mysteries, I select one of my Elvis mugs from the Birthplace Museum in my hometown of Tupelo, MS. When I’m writing literary fiction, I’ll go for one with Native American sayings on the side: “May each new day shine brighter than a thousand stars.” When I’m editing my classic romances and romantic comedies for reissue as E-books, I’ll choose a whimsical mug – for instance, one from the Wizard of Oz Museum in Kansas that says, “Dear Dorothy, Hate Oz, Took the shoes, Find your own way Home! Toto”
4.      Sometimes I listen to music while I write, but not always. When I do, it has to be Native American flutes or Opera. Otherwise, I’ll get caught up in familiar music and lyrics and sing along. I’m a musician, you see, and my second greatest love (after writing) is singing with my church choir or sitting at my antique baby grand belting out a Broadway show tune while I tickle the ivories.
5.      I wear caftans while I write, wonderful, colorful, flowing cotton caftans with pockets built into the side seams. Sometimes I’ll have pajamas underneath, sometimes nothing at all; but even if a courier surprises me at the front door, I’m still perfectly presentably. Usually. Unless I’ve just committed murder and mayhem ((fictionally, of course) and go to the door still in that frame of mind.
For the holiday, of course, I’ll add a festive touch to my ritual. - a sprig of mistletoe for my hair and jingle bells on my shoe laces. I hope all of you have a wonderful, safe and peaceful Christmas! Some of my books are on Holiday Sale, so do visit my website and take a look.

Peggy Webb has been writing for so long, it’s getting hard to remember that far back! Theough she has written more than 75 books, she still loves spinning stories and chatting with the people who read them. Do write. She’ll personally answer your letters.   


Louisa Cornell said...

What a funny and oh so true post! And what terrific writing rituals. I think I need to set up my own writing ritual. Like you, I have a truly eclectic collection of mugs and I am a devoted tea drinker.

Peggy Webb said...

Oh, Louisa, I'm like Pavlov's dog - you know, the one who salivates when the bell rings. Trying to write without that hot drink by my side is like trying to take a bath without benefit of soap and water! Good luck creating that perfect ritual!