Writing Rituals that Work


We all have them. You know what I’m talking about. No, not germs (though this is true). Quirks. Things we do as writers that we think we MUST do to write–or write well. Writers swear by certain times of day, particular pens, certain chairs, foods, even fonts. To be honest I can’t write without serifs. Without our rituals, tricks, traditions, whatever pretty name you call your vice, we all know what happens when we try to write without them: we don’t.

To be frank, you can write with any pen. The free pen from your bank works the same as a Pilot or BIC. You can write on patio furniture, not just your favorite chair. And you never need a bobble head, stuffed animal, figurine, or other trinket nearby to write. They have no power. Trust me, I’ve rubbed the bellies of troll dolls raw trying to make wishes happen. So what does work? Here are some writing rituals to replace your old ones; they may seem weird, but they are backed by science.

imagesCASR4JGQThe usual writing position is sitting up: back straight against the chair, feet flat on the floor and elbows in the correct position: your keyboarding teacher would be so proud of you. This position says one thing, focus. A study from the School of Psychology has discovered the best position to write may be lying down. They found that people were able to solve problems faster while on their backs then sitting up. They’ve attributed this to chemicals in the brain being more present while we are standing: chemicals that may block focus. As silly as it sounds, I find this works. That is why we get so many eureka moments when we are in bed. Try this and that 3 a.m. epiphany moment can come to you any time of the day. Just be careful not to fall asleep.

Drinking is one of my writing rituals. I’ve spent a lot of time looking for the perfect teas, wines, and energy drinks to stay focused and energized while writing, not to mention inspired. Most drinks only deliver on one of those criteria. It seems that the key to writing well is to drink two beverages. Coffee is famously associated with writing for obvious reasons. Did you know beer may be beneficial as well? Instead of explaining it, I found a chart that shows why the best drink combination may be to drink beer while you plan and coffee while you write.

photo provided by digitalsynopsis.com

photo provided by digitalsynopsis.com

So next time you get ready to perform your daily writing ritual of sitting cross-legged on your favorite chair, with your coffee of choice, and only red M&M’s because red helps you write better, with your action figure (a.k.a. writing buddy), try a couple of the things above. Let me know what works. Better yet, what are some of your weird, tried-but-true writing rituals that help you stay focused and inspired?

4 thoughts on “Writing Rituals that Work

  1. Kylie Betzner

    I have a few vices I need to cut out. First, I have to take a nap before writing, second I have to have a caffeinated beverage, and third I have to be sitting facing the south wall on my leather couch . . . is that too ridged?

    • Whatever works for you, I say, as long as deviation from your ritual does not prevent you from writing. That’s why I like to adopt methods that prove to help creativity, focus, or energy. I don’t need my squirrel pen or someecards mug to write, but I prefer them. I justify using them as long as I don’t become dependent. I will try facing south and see if the poles contribute positively to writing 🙂

  2. Dancing–good music that goes with the scene and any kind of exercise really. It works with running really well, too. Ideas just started coming during workouts a couple of years ago, and though it’s awkward, I started keeping my notebook by if possible. Notes on random reciepts and torn envelopes are hard to keep track of. 🙂

    • Oh, I know, those pesky little peices of paper have a nasty habit of getting lost. I keep everything in a notebook and on evernote. I’m a big fan of evernote. Check it out if you haven’t yet. But exercise is a good idea. Anything that gets the blood going gets the brain going too.

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