The idea of starting my own “writing rituals” never occurred to me until recently, but I’ve been able to think of little else since it did. I have always had a few reading rituals, especially on rainy or wintery days…or whenever in the year I decided to return once more to the chill but happy comforts of Jane Eyre or Little Women or Anne of Green Gables. I brew a cup of vanilla almond tea, throw an afghan across my lap, wait for the cat to get comfy and start my book. And if people talk to me while I’m lost in that other, beautiful literary world, then I fear for their future safety.
Truth be told, it’s likely that I wouldn’t be pondering the comforts and luxuries of the writing life at all if I had anything in my head worth writing down, but since I’m going through a dry spell, I have trinkets and teacups on the brain. Also, I keep adding memoirs and biographies to my read/watch lists. Those who can’t do, I suppose, must observe others doing. Also, they apparently must make pro/con lists on the merits of purchasing a new MacBook, even though there’s no real reason for it except for The Shiny-ness Factor and there’s no way in hell that it’s in the budget.
And then there are those purist days wherein I decide that all writing must be done on actual paper with actual writing implements. And wow, those are the real doozies, let me tell you, because there is no world in which it’s easy to choose between yellow legal pads and Moleskine notebooks. One says I’m a penniless bum dammit, but I’m not a sell out and I care about the work, and the other one says I’m a pretentious snob, but that’s what it takes to make it these days. Haven’t you ever heard that “you have to have money to make money?”
Seriously. I wouldn’t kid you. THESE ARE THE THINGS THAT GO THROUGH MY HEAD. But in my defense, I do know better. I actually do know that I’ve gone slightly ’round the bend. The truth of the matter is that I haven’t lacked any of the detritus of the writing life since I was ten years old. (If you’re ever in need of a notebook, come see me. And rest assured that I will have no problem supplying at least the first hundred “customers” through the door.) I am a connoisseur of mechanical pencils and I am always on the lookout for smooth-writing, non-smearing black ink pens. I also have an insane supply of page markers and sticky notes. And then, as I said, there are The Notebooks. I am an unwavering believer in the sanctity and power of a good notebook. Unfortunately, however, I do not treat them the same as I once did. Nowadays, I find myself lacking the necessary staying power to keep writing in a given notebook after the first five or ten days. This is the point at which I skip a week or two in my journalling, and then I go well, FUCK, I’ve skipped too many days now to keep going, there’s no damn continuity, I might as well just chuck the whole thing, I can’t BELIEVE I used up a perfectly wonderful notebook just to screw it up AGAIN.
I honestly don’t know what has caused this insanity. When I was in junior high and high school, I don’t think I ever skipped a day writing, but even if I had, I wouldn’t have been so ridiculously Type A as to then stop writing in the notebook. No, my guess is that this is a disease of excess, one more in a long list of First World Problems that I have manifested simply because I could. If I were as poor now as I was then, I’d write in my notebooks until every page was used up, and then I’d run to Wal-Mart and spend a buck-fifty on a brand spankin’ new 7 inch spiral-bound Mead notebook, never mind the color.
Is it possible that I’ve now become silenced by the sheer number of blank notebooks that I simply can’t stand to “ruin” on another failed attempt at something? Maybe. Probably. But the blank computer screens have lately become just as daunting. I spin in circles trying to decide which program I should be using to most efficiently catalog ideas and characters and outlines and pages and chapters, and whether I want to write on a cluttered idea board or a blank page, and which features I’m willing to sacrifice in order to one day be able to simply push a button and have the whole mess instantly transformed into an ebook.
And WHERE do I want to write? If I sit in the living room and pound away at my keyboard looking busy, I inevitably attract the attention of every teenager in the house, at least one of whom then spends two hours showing me YouTube memes even when I stare at him for an hour like I could poke a pen in his eyeball. And when I actually say as much, he’s still reluctant to return to his bedroom. I think I maybe need an office, but then the cat would go insane without a lap to sit on, and I wouldn’t be able to put a blanket on my lap, and I don’t even have an appropriately sized desk or a comfortable chair.
I’m beginning to wonder (as I sit here finishing this entry that I really didn’t even intend to start) if perhaps I should aim to have no rituals whatsoever. Maybe I should sit down every day with my crochet hook and yarn, turn the television to something I’ve seen eight million times, and see what happens. I think I might be far more likely to grab the computer next to me if I have absolutely no goals (that I am bound to fail to attain) in mind.
What say you? Do you have any tried-and-true writing rituals?