On Sunday's the Write Every Day blog will feature a guest post or interview. Today's guest post is by C. Bryan Brown.
The Writuals - A Guest Post by C. Bryan Brown
The Writuals - A Guest Post by C. Bryan Brown
It wasn’t long ago that my daily writing ritual consisted of sitting at this keyboard staring at a blank Word document... and that’s what I did. That’s all I did.
The reasons why—some of which I’ll share—are many and varied, but I overcame them. You can, too. You just need a little discipline, a lot of passion, and the development of some personal rituals.
And no, I’m not talking about goat sacrifice on an altar of volcanic rock, but the principle isn’t much different. Besides, it’s wise to save the bloody stuff for when you need a sale.
Rituals are about comfort and they exist in all facets of life. We perform them to ease our conscious minds or, to look at it another way, to put us in the mood for something. For example:
Think about sporting events: the National Anthem, the team introductions, and the coin toss are all rituals designed to ramp up our competitive spirit...
Think about birthday parties: people sing “Happy Birthday,” blow out candles, and make a wish before eating cake...
Think about sex: foreplay is a ritual designed to excite people about having intercourse...
Think about your Monday morning: how often do you climb out of bed and change the order you use the restroom, brush your teeth, take a shower, and get dressed?
While many of us won’t have identical rituals, it’s pretty safe to conclude we’re all participants in some. They’re ceremonial, they’re grounding, and they’re necessary. I say necessary because rituals are—by their very definition—repeated actions and repetition forms habit. And habits that encourage writing are always welcome in my house. They’re how I started getting into an active and productive writing schedule.
I’ve abandoned some of my personal rituals as I’ve grown more accustomed writing every day. However, anytime I find myself slumping, I don’t hesitate to sacrifice myself to those starter rituals again. As I said, though, people don’t form the same personal rituals. The ones I used to kick start my writing each day won’t be the exact same as yours, but I think, in the end, they’ll be close.
Let’s find out.
Every ritual needs its own space, a sacred spot where the magic happens, if you will. I’m married with two young kids under 10, so sitting in a home office or at my dining room table wasn’t productive. I’d give up after about a half hour of constant interruptions. My ritual space was anywhere not at my house. I’d pack pens, paper, laptop, earphones, and resolve into my book bag.
And hey, every writer has to drink, right? Some of the greats were lushes, but I prefer coffee.
I found a few local coffee houses and I’d sit for hours in solitude. No kids, no wife. And the smell of the coffee! For me, it’s always been the smell more than the taste or the caffeine. I imagine it’s the same when Catholics smell the incense during Mass. The aroma of fresh brewed coffee transports me someplace magical while I’m already sitting in a very special place.
I’m grooving now, can’t you feel it? In that special place, with my beverage of choice, so what else could I possibly need?
I know a lot of writers use music as a mood setter for whatever they’re writing. Admittedly, I do the same now. Back then, though, music was another barrier between me and distraction. I’d pick a loud band (Metallica was a favorite) and inch the volume up. That way, I couldn’t hear the door to the café opening, the crash of dishes behind the counter, or the useless conversation between the wrinkled women playing Mahjong at the next table.
(As an aside here... If the opportunity to watch the elderly in a social setting presents itself, pay attention. You’ll learn more about people and how they feel as they age in ten minutes than you’d ever think imaginable.)
So I’m in my special place, wrapped in the cocoon of my aromatic coffee, my earholes barricaded with plastic and heavy metal and all that’s left is the writing itself. There’s nothing between me and the words, nothing to keep me from writing the next short story or chapter in my novel.
So, there I’d, sitting at this keyboard staring at a blank Word document...
I still wasn’t feeling it.
My music jammed and my head bopped to the beat, but no words came. So I broke out my container of writing prompts and pulled one at random.
Ten minutes on the clock.
It’s gibberish, but now my fingers were moving and they kept moving until it was time to go home.
I was writing.
When it was time to go, I’d pack up, and smile to myself because, tomorrow, I’d do it all over again. And I knew that.
That was my daily writing ritual. Sure, the wife or the kids still interrupted me from time to time, and still do. Case in point: I wanted to have this post done and turned in last weekend (the 8th), but my eldest is got married Saturday (the 14th) and today is Monday (the 16th). As you can see, I’m still working.
Do you feel like a tool when you miss a day of writing? I do, but don’t fight that feeling, embrace it. It means you’re doing something right, that your writing has a place of importance in your life, and writing must be very important.
So, get in there, figure out what works for you, develop those comforting rituals, and write your ass off every single day.
Only good things will happen.