Blog by Toby Welch

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Writing Rituals

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Writers who can write anywhere and under any conditions are the luckiest. Having to go through rituals or having to work in specific circumstances seems to make the task of writing a heck of a lot more challenging. Yet it is a reality for most of us -- we need to go through an obstacle course of rituals in order to be able to flush out our words.

As you go about your writing life, strive to keep the number of criteria that you require to get your words flowing to a minimum. It will make your writing life a lot easier, I promise. Once you are able to jot down words in line at the grocery store or pound out a chapter in your car while waiting at a railway crossing, your productivity will skyrocket.

If you believe you can only write in a certain location with strains of Bach in the background, a bowl of grapes at your side and six candles lit, you are setting yourself up for failure.

Vinita Hampton Wright makes an observation in her writing book The Soul Tells a Story: Engaging Creativity with Spirituality in the Writing Life, “I know from experience that inspiration arrives under certain conditions. I will make sure to re-create the conditions that invited it initially.” All writers strive to create the perfect conditions for their own exorcism of words. Some prefer a chaotic surrounding while others require complete silence.

One writer who attended Viable Paradise, a science fiction and fantasy writers’ workshop, said that his instructor warned them against ritualizing the writing process. “His message was that you needed to be able to write under any conditions. You couldn’t fall into the trap of having to smoke a cigarette, or drink a drink, or sit at your very special writing desk on your very special writing day just to get anything done.”
Life does seem easier for writers who don’t need rituals but is that possible to attain?