Writing can be a ritual, a habit, an early-morning meditation, a semblance of peace. Or, conversely, it can be a dreaded exercise, a chore, even a mindless pursuit. It is difficult to maintain a balance of work and play, direction and creativity. For this reason, writers have spent centuries developing countless routines and practices to keep their writing fresh and their minds free from distraction. And we, as today’s writers, can learn from and add to these experiences.
I read an insightful post today about the daily routines of famous writers. It aggregated quotes, interviews, and anecdotes from the likes of E.B. White, Simone de Beauvoir, Jack Kerouac, and my personal favorite of the bunch, Joan Didion. Whether it’s a drink before dinner, a manual typewriter, a yellow legal pad and felt pen, or a one-legged balancing act, these rituals have nurtured creative genius and inspired some of our most beloved literary works.
Like a few of the writers featured, I find that I need complete silence. I’ve tried everything over the years—classical music, Icelandic playlists, cafe simulations—and I still find that I write best without competing stimuli, when my brain can rest empty and my inner writing voice can speak without interruption.
Do you have any writing routines that work? Rituals, superstitions, even compulsive habits? Do you work in a coffee shop, a museum, a library, or do you prefer the local pub, or an attic room? I would love to hear about your writing rituals, and how these rituals help you to produce your best work.
And, for my fellow typists, check out these great distraction-free writing sites.
P.S. Orange Frazer Press authors, let us know what writing routines and rituals work for you, too!