Updated: Sep 3, 2020
I always wrote as a kid. I used to create stories, with illustrations, in old exercise books.
At the end of the school year, I would carefully cut out the written pages, salvaging those that were blank so that I could transform my imagination into stories. I used to tuck myself away in our formal lounge room to write. I loved writing in that space. It was clean and quiet, and I could hide away and write for hours.
In my 20s, I started to keep a journal. It was a grown-up version of my diary. I had learnt how to keep a journal in senior English at school. We were encouraged to write poetry, describe a place, person or moment, or write our dreams down. My journaling is always a bedtime activity; always after a shower and before some reading.
Since working on my novel, I have developed a writing ritual that helps me to sit and work every day. In the morning I wake at 4 am, make an espresso, wear my cashmere writer’s wrap and burn a Jo Malone Orange Blossom scented candle. In the afternoon, after work, I make a peppermint tea, with a teaspoon of honey, in my Miranda Kerr Royal Albert mug, read for an hour, light my candle and write for another 30 minutes. Simple. Yet effective.
They’re not showstopping rituals but they're mine. They give me a sense of order and provide comfort. They set me up to write.
Writing rituals help writers to start. They establish patterns that create a routine. Developing habits that provide a purpose and brings inspiration to the writing.
Writers are said to have superstitions and little rituals. Readers have them too. Ian McEwan
Many famous writers have had, and continue to have their own unique writing rituals.
Joan Didion sleeps with her manuscript when it is nearly completed. Ernest Hemmingway would write until midday and then get drunk until 3 pm. Charles Dickens slept facing north. While Maya Angelou had a hotel room in her small town which she paid for by the month. Virginia Woolf and William Wordsworth took long walks in search of inspiration.
What is a ritual?
The Cambridge Dictionary defines ritual as a 'set of fixed actions and sometimes words performed regularly, especially as part of a ceremony.'
Having a ritual will guide us to take the time to write. They offer a moment to celebrate and remind us, that as humans, we have a great and wondrous gift. Our imaginations. Writing for me is spiritual. I am grateful for it and I honour it. My writing heals and comforts me after a difficult day at work, when life is bumpy or when I need an emotional pick-me-up. It delivers every time.
In his Blog, Jaime Fleres sets out a structured plan for rituals. Do something before you write, something while you write and end with an activity. Do the same activities each time and repeat. This will help develop a strong writing habit. Your inner self will recognise these activities and subconsciously prepare your creativity to begin to flow.
Rituals are personal and unique to each writer. They bring a sense of consistency to the writing and adds emotional comfort. They help to motivate you by getting you to associate activities with positive experiences. Rituals are the anchor to the writer's creativity and the lifebuoy when the road to being published is a bumpy one.
And so, as I snub out my orange blossom candle, run a warm bath, before ending the day writing in my journal and reading, I ask you ... what is your writing ritual?