Rituals: They’re Not Just for Cults Anymore

As a writer, you need a ritual.  I’d recommend staying away from anything poor-hygiene related, and most states tend to frown on animal sacrifice, but whatever oddball habit you need to cultivate to get your mind right, latch onto it, and repeat it over and over and over again.

When it comes to your writing routine, you need to be as superstitious as a major league baseball player on a hitting streak.  Think back to a time when you went on a particularly productive writing binge.  Your fingers flew across the keys, your characters were equal parts witty, insightful, and funny, and the voice of self-doubt that so often whispers in our ear was silent for a change.

It was a good day.  Now go and recreate that experience.

Maybe you were wearing your favorite Bardalicious t-shirt, or your desk lamp was at an angle that created a spotlight around your autographed picture of Captain Jean-Luc Picard.  The one where we wrote, “The Ferengi are punk-ass bitches!  I made it so!”  Whatever was going on from a physical standpoint, do it again.

Now, will wearing your Hemingway boxers inside out and on your head make you a better writer?  No. But if that’s what you were doing when you went on your creative bender, repeating that detail every time you write will eventually transform you into a literary version of Pavolv’s dog.  You’ll roll on those Winnie-the-Pooh knee highs, and the little imp in your head who churns out ideas will know it’s time to go to work.

If for some reason you haven’t had one of these satisfying creative outbursts yet, I recommend the “fake it ‘til you make it” approach.  Choose a ritual, make it fun, and keep hammering away at it until it works.  It will.  Eventually your imp will get the message.  You just need to be dedicated to the cause.

For my money, I think the best routine involves comedy.  Good humor is my Barry White.  If I read or watch something that gives me a good case of the giggles, I am in the mood . . . to write.

My office is laden with silly little totems like a statue of Bigfoot, a collection of Easter Island heads (not to scale), and pen that’s shaped like Jesus, only to be used by the “Religious Write.”  It’s an atmosphere that says don’t take this too seriously.  It’s just words on paper.  If you’re not having fun, then why the hell are you doing it in the first place?

Larry Jenkins is an aspiring Word Pimp. Has laptop, will travel. Let's make this happen, people.

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