I’m a lover of the zodiac and a Southerner, so there are certain superstitions I honor, but you don’t have to be super into woo-woo to use writing rituals to get your words flowing. Another way to look at it is that by recreating a certain series of actions, you’re tapping into the “muscle memory” that helps you write. Try out these suggestions, you might be surprised to by what works for you.
Light a Candle
Your memories are strongly tied to your sense of smell. To use scent as ritual, choose a candle with a specific scent like lavender. When you’re ready to write, light the candle and let the smell of lavender trigger your writing reflex.You can use scent to your advantage in other ways when writing. If you’re a memoir writer, you might take a few sniffs of your mother’s favorite perfume while working on an essay about her. If you’re a poet trying to perfectly describe your favorite pasture, you might visit the pasture, inhale deeply and discover what memories surface.
Designate a Space
If you’ve ever had trouble sleeping, you’ve probably heard the advice to only use your bed for sleeping. If you spend time in bed reading, writing or TV watching, your brain can get confused. When you use your bed for one specific purpose, it sends to the signal to your brain that it’s time to go to sleep. Try the same technique with writing. Choose an area that is specifically for writing. Keep it clutter free and conducive to creating. Any time you enter that physical space, you’ll also enter a mental space that tells you it’s go time.
Create a Signal
That first cup of coffee is your morning ritual that tells you it’s time to get the day started. Putting on your lucky shirt is the ritual that makes you feel more confident during your job interview. Tucking your kiddo in at night is the ritual that shows them they are loved. What ritual can you create that signals you’re ready to write? This may sound odd, but when I’m getting down to it at night, I like to have a mug of hot tea and a glass of wine when I write – Both are soothing in their own way and make me feel like I’m taking good care of myself. Your ritual could be picking up a certain pen or a series of stretches you do to get limber before you settle into write. It’s totally your choice!
Make a Mixtape
I had a grad school professor who makes a mixtape for every book project she’s working on. She listens to that same playlist over and over again until the project is done. The sound of that music playing helps put her in a creative place and allows her to the enter the world of the book she’s writing. I personally, use the Spotify playlist “Lush Vibes” or “Mellow Beats” when a need a little something-something to help me focus. I’m also a fan of the free white noise app Noisli – Maybe you can train yourself to write whenever you hear thunder mixed in with the sound of the ocean.
Take a Walk
Getting physical can help you get your head in the game – The writing game that is. Whether you write in the morning or the evening, ease yourself into the act with a leisurely stroll around the block. Follow the same path every walk, so your mind is free to wander, instead of focused on making choices. Your ideas will be percolating by the time you sit down to write. And if you’re the energetic type, a walk can help you burn off any restless energy before you confine yourself to a chair.