Deep Dive Into A Writing Ritual
My biggest struggle with setting up a writing ritual is showing up for my writing in the way I envision. Unfortunately, my vision is sipping cocktails while I write in a cabana on the edge of a tropical body of water. Any will do. I live in Minnesota. The land of 10,000 lakes, none of which are tropical. Instead, reality buzzes around me as I write. A husband working from home part-time, two teenage sons distance learning, and a cat demanding attention throughout the day (by the attention, I mean sitting on my keyboard until I give him treats). I realized I need to create a writing ritual, a habit that works for my life. That’s the simple part, the realization. The hard part is making that realization come true.
I know struggle stems from fear. The impostor syndrome. My evil inner critic, Nellie. Whatever you name it, insecurity lives under the surface of procrastination land. Have you been? I visit it every month as my alarm goes off. I am not a morning person. But, and I mean a big “but,” once I’m physically upright, I’m fine. It’s the fight between opening my eyes and my feet hitting the cold wood floor.
Most people who dream of being a full-time writer need to write unpaid for years, decades. No one checks to make sure I’m writing. But to achieve the larger dream, one needs to create that daily ritual now. And don’t use age as a barrier. Trust me, I did. I went through a stage thinking I waited too long. I started writing seriously last year, at the age of 46. I am done feeling sorry for myself for allowing 20 years to pass. There are no age requirements here.
I need to write before I start my day job but struggle with pushing the snooze button on my alarm. I looked to the self-help section of my bookstore and found Atomic Habits by James Clear. It sat on the bookshelf for many months. After several writing friends told me, “You HAVE to read this book,” I finally did this past month. I highly recommend this book to help readers learn to break bad habits and build productive ones. “Redesign your life so the actions that matter most are also the actions that are easiest to do,” writes Clear.
Be realistic when setting time aside. Last month, I scheduled my writing. First, I plugged in the non-negotiables: work, school, kids, extracurricular activities, etc. Then I created free spots dedicated to writing, even if it’s 15 minutes here and there. That’s okay. Do it. Schedule writing time to make the commitment to show up for writing. I show up for my day job because I need to get paid. I need to treat my writing the same way to give myself the chance to live my dream of being a full-time writer.
I start my day by writing and end my day writing. It serves as the bookends to my day. Since my kids don’t wake up until 9:00 a.m., I take advantage of the peace, which fuels my writing. I feel the most productive when I have written for at least an hour before they get up. During the weekday, I have a day job during regular business hours, and after that, I help my kids with homework, cook dinner, and spend time with the family. Then I end my day writing. When the day is over, I leave a note on what I need to work on in the morning. I’m blurry in those early hours, so that helps me to focus.
A writing ritual signals to the brain and body, “It’s time to write.” My weekday morning ritual looks like this: make coffee, light a candle in my writing space, and write with an accountability group on Zoom for one hour. This is freewriting, which means no stopping to edit any type of mistake. This allows the writer to freely create without stopping to think, “Does this sound good?” In order to write this way, I need to put my phone away. No distractions. I also use an app called Freedom to lock social media on all my devices.
At the end of the day, I repeat my ritual but not with a writing group. I either continue freewriting or editing what I wrote in the morning. When I go to bed, I keep a journal by my bed to capture my thoughts. My subconscious likes to throw out ideas when I’m least expecting it, like when I brush my teeth or try to fall asleep.
With freewriting, remember the first draft will not be perfect. There is always time to edit later. I think of when I was young, playing in my make-believe world. I didn’t care about how I sounded or what I said. That is the place I set to visit when I write that first draft. The land where I don’t care about judgment and restrictions. Dive into writing and be open to what can be found below the surface.
Tips for diving into your writing ritual:
- Create a realistic ritual.
- Schedule time around non-negotiables.
- Practice freewriting.
- Join an accountability group.
- Read Atomic Habits.
What is your writing ritual? Share below in the comments on what works for you as a writer.