OWL writers doing their thing.

Writing Rituals and Writing Places

We all know writers who seem to want to mystify writing by claiming that special rituals are places are needed before they can write.  I remember a young lady who posted that she absolutely could not work on her novel until she made a specific brand of tea in a special clay teapot imported from Japan.  Another posted on a forum that she found it impossible to work anywhere other than at a coffee shop.  Then there was the writer who liked to meditate before she wrote.

Well, that last one sounds reasonable.  But what about the others?

Certainly it is easier to write when you’re enjoying your favorite beverage, in a comfortable location and a peaceful frame of mind.  But it’s important not to make the external issues more important than the actual writing.  Take that imported teapot.  What happens if the teapot breaks?  Will the young lady have to give up writing?  The tea ritual makes her writing feel special.  Talking about it makes her feel more like a writer.  The coffee shop writer liked to write in public so that everyone would see she was a writer. What happens when the coffee shop is closed?  Does she really write when she’s alone or is being perceived as a writer more important than being a writer?

We have to keep in mind that goal of writing is actually getting words onto the page.  The real proof that you’re a writer is in the work, not the rituals.  Making the process more mystical doesn’t improve the final result.

What about that third writer who liked to meditate before writing?  Actually, it might not be a bad technique to try.  A little trick to shift the mind into the writing mood.  After all, there’s nothing to break and you can meditate at any time. There are some reasonable accommodations you might make for your writing life.  I work much better in a comfortable chair and I’m turning one room in the house into a writing and meditation room.  Certainly a private space away from distractions can be useful for any writer.  Some writers prefer an office environment. For others a coffee shop might be an escape from the distractions of home. These are all fine, as long as you don’t attach more importance to them than to your work.

Remember when you write, it’s what happens in the story that’s important. The reader won’t care that you made tea in a special teapot or sat in your favorite coffee shop.  They want to know about the characters you put on the page.  Keep your focus on them.  Meanwhile, if you want to write in bed while wearing your PJs, it’s all right with me.

Happy Writing