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