Let’s Talk Process: The Ritual
While the brain of a writer is an unpredictable, highly tangential thing, the writer herself tends to crave routine the way a small child does. Perhaps because, like a small child, so many of us have a myriad ideas zinging around in our minds at a given time, we need to follow a specific sequence of steps to focus our rampaging imaginations before we can even consider productivity. The writing ritual also serves as a sort of Bi-frost between reality and fiction, between an oft harried multi-tasking, phone ringing, Tweet tweeting, Facebook dinging, kids screaming, oven alarming sort of life into the mentally frenzied, if physically quiet, task of writing. Lack of transition makes, for me anyway, an agitated, internet distract-y, pen chewing, stress ball exploding session rather than one where I actually manage to do anything productive.
Hell, maybe it’s just me
Haha. My blog. And so wackiness shall spill forth!
My writing ritual varies by time of day. Which is interesting because, as someone who has been formally diagnosed with OCD, and who works very hard at maintaining flexibility when it is necessary, I seem to find peace in it when it’s something I don’t have to participate in. Ain’t that always the way.
Morning: I love writing in the morning. I love mornings in general. I am, as the kids call it, a morning person. Not at two a.m. when I’m awake against my will but definitely between 0500 and 0700. My brain is most alive in these hours, sharpest. My focus is unforced. Caveat: it is unforced wherever it may land, which isn’t always where it should, but that said, it is honey and cardamom sweet-spicy.
0501: snooze. But only once.
0515: first sip of coffee.
0530: check Twitter, check Facebook. Start reading author blogs. Get engrossed in author blogs (see? focus).
0600: Start writing. Writer desperately until…
0630-0700: MMMMMMOOOOOOOMMMMMMM!!!! *boom boom boom boom* I’m up!
0701: *grumble grumble fuck fuck fuckity fuck fuck*
Yep. I’m one of those. I completely fail to maximize my best time of day. Why? Because it’s quiet. I can hear myself think, catch up on book recommendations and cool art. This is not bad. It also isn’t ideal.
Here is what Morning should look like:
0501: GO GO GO GO GO GO GO
0505: First sip of coffee.
0515: Write until……
0630-0700: MMMMMMMMOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMM *boom boom boom boom*
At least I have a goal. Goals are good.
This time is variable, making the ritual variable as well. All depends on kid naps and noise, how many Legos are laying around, whether Luke and I are recording LCSP, or I need to make dinner… Freakin’ real life. Afternoon is my least awake, least focused time of day because I love getting up early and don’t sleep that well generally. Though, as I’ve noted before, I do a lot of my best writing exhausted and/or half unconscious because the trace-state slams the door on my internal editor. Afternoon is also the time of day I least enjoy writing because I’m up against an unpredictable kid clock. Nice to stumble across but hard to appreciate as it can all be taken away in the time it takes to drop a glow stick down a vent or fill a tiny bladder.
1400: Coffee. Sensing a trend?
1410: Resist urge to be distracted by internet.
1411: Start writing. Make decent progress. Get to point where research is needed. Open Safari. Resist urge to open chat program. Do research. Open FB but leave in background. Hush, what if someone has something really important to tell me. Or something.
1430: Swipe cats off table. Resist urge for chocolate, get low fat cottage cheese instead. Look sadly at it and eat while typing furiously.
Write until boy stands at top of stairs and yells, “MMMMMMOOOOOMMMMMM!!! I have to poop,” instead of just doing it or until children stir, whichever comes first.
Not my preferred time but probably my most productive. Usually starts between 1930-2000 and is the time of day my writing buddies are all online (aka: people breathing down my virtual neck (at my request) to whom I’m mutually accountable). Accountability to others = productivity to avoid shaming; one of many reasons this writing thing can’t happen in a vacuum. When I have to tell Denise or David how many words I’ve managed at the end of a 20 minutes sprint, I’m far less likely to drift or get distracted during the 20 minutes.
Kids are asleep, hubs is occupied with his own down time, and the house is (relatively) quite.
2000: Drink tea that is still too hot. Message writing buddies.
2010: Agree we’re ready to go. Contemplate whether I want the duck alarm or the chimes. Decide on chimes because I’m bored of the duck.
2011: Message “Ready.”
2012: Receive “Set.”
2013: Message “Go.”
2014: WRITEWRITEWRITEWRITEWRITEWRITEWRITE… Oh my god, I’m actually writing … WRITEWRITEWRITEWRITEWRITE …
2034: Chimes. Or duck. Word count. Cry or laugh maniacally. Which one is joy and which defeat? Depends on the day.
2035: Report word count. Decide on length of break. Snacks and more tea.
2045: Repeat until dead. Erm. Dead tired.
2230 (ish): Tally word counts. See previous reactions. Realize I’m starving, which is weird because all I’ve done is move my fingers. Decide use of brain requires more energy than anticipated. Think about having one more piece of chocolate. Have clementine or apple. Reward self for good decision with piece of chocolate.
Is this my exact ritual? Of course not. Reading my own ritual is boring, I’m certainly not going to make anyone else plow through it without adding a little fun.
As humans, we thrive on ritual. Except for those of us who don’t. Though if you squint, that’s a ritual all it’s own.
This is how I do it, baby. How ’bout you?