Last week, I commented on prescriptive routines. Let’s pull that thread. Humans are driven by habit and ritual, after all.
Do you have rituals that serve you?
A little over a quarter of a century ago, I committed myself to completing a novel that I’d been working on since high school.
I had a little ritual before I began writing.
I would make a mug of espresso.
I would turn on the Bring on the Night live album (stop laughing at me).
I would sit down at a large, heavy desk, and fire up the household’s Apple IIe, place my fingers on the keyboard, feeling the ridges on the F and J keys, moving my fingers slightly in the curves of the other keys in the home row, take a deep breath and plunge into the writing.
On Federal Holidays or days when there was too much snow for my husband to go to work (we lived in Virginia, so you’re looking at a couple of inches), I couldn’t really write. I had someone trying to talk to me as I was trying to get into the groove.
I did finish that first draft. It was deeply terrible. But finished.
I sometimes think about that little ritual and laugh at myself for my attention being so fragile that I couldn’t write if my groove were thrown off.
Or, I used to.
Today, I needed to write a blog post about productivity, and I couldn’t get started. So, what did I do?
I made myself a mug of coffee.
I started playing Bring on the Night (on a device that hadn’t been INVENTED yet. I love living in the future!).
I rested my hands on my laptop keyboard, moved my fingers along the keys in the home row.
And I plunged into writing.
As Kenny Kirkland is diving into his keyboard solo, I’m in my groove.
The point isn’t that writers are weirdos or something. We are, but the point is that where proscriptive routines sometimes can be thrown off easily, sometimes a little ritual can serve you when you need to get something done.
Do you have rituals that serve you? Can you develop them consciously?
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