Creating Writing Rituals That Work

Creating Writing Rituals That Work

Even if you don’t feel like writing!

We’ve all had those days. Days where just rolling out of bed seems like too much effort. Not to mention, writing is hard work on the best of days. What do you do when you have goals and deadlines you’ve agreed to?

One way you can set yourself up for success is to create a writing ritual. One that moves your writing forward and create a habit that will get you moving no matter how you feel.

Creating Rituals

When you begin to create rituals for yourself, the first place to look is what you are currently doing and what is working? If something is working, keep doing that. However, if you are struggling to maintain what you are currently doing, perhaps looking at the following items will help you find ways that work.

1. Setting: Where are you currently writing? Does that work? If it doesn’t seem to be working, look around, what things do you like about your space? What things aren’t working? If your space is in the living room with your kids running around and the TV on, perhaps it is time to carve out another space. What about a coffee shop? Are there too many distractions? Do you need quiet or a bit of chaos?

2. Time of Day: There are writers who swear by morning writing and others who can’t write until their families go to bed? Still others who write on their lunch hours, if they get one. What time of day to you feel the most creative? Are you a morning person and don’t mind getting up an extra 45 minutes earlier to write? Or, do you feel your energy renewed in the evening and can crank out 1000 words with little effort? Finding the perfect time of day may take some experimentation but eventually you will find your sweet spot.

3. Beverage: I cannot begin my writing ritual without a hot cup of coffee. I may not drink it all but the sips I take help me to think and unclog my mind. Do you need coffee, tea? Or, nothing but water. If you write in the evening, does a glass of wine help you to relax and pump out those words? Do you need anything at all while you write, finding liquids too distracting? Not to mention, all the trips to the bathroom break up your flow.

4. Tools: What are your favorite tools you can’t live without? Do you need to write (and count) every word on a lap top or tablet? Can you write with a simple word processing program or do you like something with a bit more substance, such as Scrivener? Do you like the sound of that old typewriter, to get those creative juices flowing? What about pen and paper? Do you like writing with a roller ball or fountain pen? What about pencils or gel pens? Having your favorite tools on hand and in good working order takes away any barriers that may keep you from sitting down to write.

5. Music or Silence: This is a hotly debated subject within my personal writing communities. Some of my fellow writers create writing play lists on their favorite music sites. Others, like myself, prefer mellow music, played at random, often without words. Still others need absolute silence and resent any breakthrough sounds. What type of environment you can write in is a matter of taste. There is no wrong answer. However, a word of caution, if you feel the need to create a writing play list to accompany your current WIP, please do so outside of your chosen writing time. It takes time to create the perfect music list; time that you’ve dedicated to writing.

To be a writer, you need to write. It’s as simple and as difficult as that. Creating rituals can encourage writing. By spending a few minutes to think about what works for you, will help in the long run to keep you writing.

My Own Ritual

My own ritual involves the previously mentioned coffee, lighting a candle, a short affirmation and then morning pages with some meditative music playing in the background. I read Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, a few years ago and have been hooked on morning pages ever since. Once those words are done, I’m warmed up and ready to begin work on my current project. After my words are written, I blow out my candle and move on to the rest of my day.

This ritual is what works for me. Though it has evolved over the past few years, the basics don’t usually change. I’ve been able to create and maintain my writing habit so that even when I don’t feel the muse, I can still sit down and get the words out. They may not be the most wonderful words I’ve ever written but the truth is you can revise crappy words but cannot do anything with a blank page.

Until next time,

P.S. I have openings for creativity coaching. Please click Yes! I want to work with you!!! and we can get started.

Sleep And All Those Other Necessary Things

I’ve decided that it’s a good thing that breathing is automatic otherwise as a human being I would screw that up. I think it is simply sheer stubbornness that I struggle with sleep.

Unfortunately I am a night owl or I was made that way because my house didn’t get quiet until after 10 pm when the kids were home. Or perhaps it’s because I worked a second shift job for several years.

Who knows but to this day I struggle with sleep.

I’m not one that falls asleep instantly in general but lately the minutes tick by as I lie away, brain wide awake.  When I do fall asleep, the middle of the night trip to the bathroom will wake me up enough that it takes a long time to return to sleep. And I can navigate my house without turning lights on.

The struggle is real

As I do with most things in my life, I’ve decided to look into how to get a good night’s sleep.

You know, I work with people talking about sleep hygiene all the time. It is one of the biggest issues I deal with and now I need to deal with it myself. Let’s see what I discovered:

Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene is the term used to describe good sleep habits.

Just what are good sleep habits? I’ve found 15 tips to help you get the recommended 8 hours.

1. Get regular – Go to bed and get up at the same time every day regardless of what else is happening.

2. Sleep when you are sleepy

3. Get up and try again – If you aren’t asleep after 20 minutes, get up and do something quiet and boring. No bright lights or screen time. These will delay your sleep even further.

4. Avoid caffeine & nicotine – The recommended time is 4-6 hours before you plan to go to bed.

5. Avoid alcohol – It is a misnomer that alcohol helps – alcohol actually interrupts the quality of sleep that you are getting. Again, the recommended time is 4-6 hours before bed.

6. Bed is for sleeping – Keep your bed for sleep or sex – not TV or screen time. This one is hard for me because my hubby likes TV on when he goes to bed.

7. No naps – Dang. I like naps.

8. Sleep rituals – Developing a ritual so your body knows it is time to fall  asleep can be helpful. Relaxing stretches or a cup of caffeine-free tea for 15 minutes before bed can be a ritual.

9. Bath time – A hot bath 1-2 hours before bed can make you feel sleepy.

10. No clock-watching – Checking the clock during the night can wake you up.

11. Use a sleep diary – For about 2 weeks so you can track where the issues are and what is working for you.

12. Exercise – It’s good to do but the caution is for strenuous exercise 4 hours before bed. Strenuous exercise can stimulate you enough where falling asleep may be difficult.

13. Eat right – That means a healthy well-balanced diet.

14. The right space – Make sure your bed and blankets are comfortable. And that the space a sanctuary where you can truly relax.

15. Keep your daytime routine the same

Last thoughts

Change takes time. Decide on one or two things to try to see how they work. As you add good habits to your life and your night time routine gets better, changes may be seen in other parts of your life.

I, myself, am going to try a few of these to see if I will be able to get my sleep patterns back to something normal and get more than 4-6 hours each night. I wonder how much more productive I will be if I can get the 7-8 hours that are recommended.

Of course, even getting good sleep hygiene is all about balance. So do your best and try not to beat yourself up if you “fail”. It is simply a lesson in what not to do.

I’ll try to do the same.

Until next time,