Rituals

Writers are a superstitious lot. There’s no getting around it. We’re the ones in the restaurant tossing the spilled salt over our shoulder without a second glance. As a group we seem to think that our rituals will ensure our success. Not financially, but something even better than that. Success at pouring out the words. Something to make a bleh writing day a bright writing day.

Ernest Hemingway wrote each morning just after dawn and continued until he came to a place where he knew what would happen next. Then he stopped and tried to make it Weite Drunkthrough the rest of the day. His early morning start time makes one wonder about the truth of his allegedly voracious appetite for drink. But then, maybe that’s why he stopped when he knew what was coming next the buzz was wearing off. His writing advice did include the quote “write drunk, edit sober.”

Kurt Vonnegut was another early riser. His workday began at 5:30, he stopped for breakfast and then pushed on until 10 when he went for a walk and started his day job. Vonnegut had a DAY job. Impressive.

It is said that Stephen King begins his writing day with a slice of cheesecake. Why do I think King’s tongue was firmly in his cheek when he told that to an interviewer? Maybe because Bangor, Maine, for all that it’s a lovely place, is not exactly known for its cheesecake. Now a Whoopie pie, okay, I could believe that.

At the other end of the foodie spectrum is Joyce Carol Oates. No morsel of food touches her lips until she’s finished writing for the day. This particular interviewer didn’t specify her rising time, but Oates does say that on good writing days (thank you for admitting you have some not to good ones too) she doesn’t get breakfast until 2 or 3 in the afternoon.

Not Writing
Not writing
Writing
Writing

 

As for myself, I can’t write if I have “stuff” on my desk. I can Facebook, read blogs, comment on blogs, and of course, tweet and e-mail. Ask me to write-nope. All the creativity in my brain is sucked out by the piles of papers and notebooks. So, before I settle in for a good writing session, all the “junk” hits the floor. Not too far away, just beside my chair. Then I’ve got it handy for reference, but it’s no longer a distraction.

Pretty tame stuff. I think I shall take up having a glass of sherry before I write. Something with a little class. You know, in a Waterford sherry glass. Does it get any better than that? Oh, wait, I’m not famous, sigh – gotta go clean off the desk. Garçon!Waterford sherry

Readers and writers-what’s your ritual and when does it call you?

 

 

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6 thoughts on “Rituals

  1. Interesting post, Kait. We (writers and others of the human species) are largely creatures of habit. For the majority of my writing “career” I would have coffee, read the newspaper, sometimes eat a little something, and then place butt-in-chair around ten and write until four or five in the afternoon. And then it was Happy Hour. Unlike Hemingway, I would write sober, and then either revel in a good day’s work with a few adult beverages, or despair over a lousy day’s work with a few adult beverages. It got the job done.

    As I’ve grown older, I’ve grown lazier and less disciplined. There is also the distraction of the Internet which wasn’t a problem in my earlier days as a writer. Now I seem to use it as an excuse to delay my “start” time. The Internet is both a blessing and a curse. I’m almost addicted to checking my email first thing before I begin writing. My excuse is that sometimes there are legitimate emails from my agent, editor, or publisher with news that must be addressed. BUT there are also distractions galore that rob me of valuable writing time, or at least delay it. It is totally my weakness and my fault. On the other hand, the Internet is an instant and valuable source of research; I find myself Googling for information or confirmation several times during any given writing day. I can recall in years past driving several miles to the local library for research purposes in the old, “pre-Internet” days. So, the WWW is both friend and foe.

    However, through it all Happy Hour has remained a constant. It’s a time to unwind, discuss the day’s work with my wife, mentally map out the next day’s session, the good, the bad, and the ugly of where the plot is headed.

    Seems like me and Ernie aren’t that far off in our approach to writing and editing. It’s simply a matter of putting the cart before the horse. Or something like that. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. So true that the Internet is both friend and foe. On the one hand, it’s a major distraction, on the other, it’s so great to get to a point in your writing where you need research and all you have to do is change screens instead of pursuing your bookshelves and flipping through indexes for the answer or getting in the car and heading to the library. Of course, once you find what you are looking for, it’s best to sign off and not follow every other interesting header that may or may not relate to your original question.

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  2. I wake up at five and think about my latest nightmare. Lie there and wait to see if I think I’ll live through the day, if not I take some medication. The dog whines, my husband wakes up and gets ready for work. I make his lunch. He leaves. I sleep an hour if I can and think about what I’m going to attack.
    I start about ten. I answer my emails or flag them. I do marketing for awhile or I write first and do it next. I forget to eat a lot of the time. I work until six-thirty not always on the computer. I have happy hour. I can’t write drunk and don’t try. I make dinner. I don’t discuss my work with my husband because it annoys him. I watch a movie. Sometimes I play around on the computer later and have some fun. I work on the weekends too with a slightly different schedule. I also use the internet for research and it also distracts me. I have heard people say use another computer not on the net, but most of the time the marketing and writing are done back and forth in sections of half an hour or so.
    I have also heard Hemingway worked early in the morning and stopped when he knew what was coming next and I also try to stop when I know what’s coming next.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Very interesting MJ. You have great rituals and they work for you. Do you find it makes a difference if you attack e-mails/marketing first or if you write first? I don’t think I’ve ever forgotten to eat! That’s dedication.

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  3. My favorite time to write is between 4-5 a.m to whenever the muse leaves me. But when I’m reading ARCs that’s when I do most of my reading, so it messes with my writing schedule. I usually get back to it after lunch, reading blogs, marketing, social media… Sigh. If only there were more hours in the day. I get so cranky when I feel like I’ve spun my wheels all day and gotten nowhere. Like today, for instance. 🙂 Two more blogs and I’m back to writing.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hi Sue. I’m with you on the early (or late) writing time. I like to write in the dark when I can.Must be the sensory deprivation. So glad I’m not the only one who takes no prisoners when witting time is impinged on. Hang in there.

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