Ah, rituals. They can give order to our lives, or hamstring the crap out of 'em. There are those that swear by them, those that refute them, and those that sort of look at them askance while backing away slowly.
When it comes to writers, it seems we're a rather superstitious bunch - I've read about writers who can't start unless they have a certain number of pencils at the ready, those who clear their desk of everything except the computer before starting, and of course the ones who swear by coffee shops are among the most visible out in the wider world. Googling "writing rituals" gets you upward of 281,000 hits. There are probably at least as many rituals as there are writers, but no clear consensus on the rights and wrongs of the matter. Clearly, however, they are a big deal. Me? Errrrm...
Well, to be honest, as with most things in my life, it's a bit of a mad scramble. When it comes to those things I churn out in a typed format, I'm usually flopped on my bed with my laptop. There's frequently a kitty or two curled up on or next to me, and generally speaking, if I'm typing, there's a deadline (this blog, for example, or a WriMo). However, the computer has a major drawback, which I'm sure you've all spotted already - that's right, it has internet access! While this can sometimes be a bonus - I've just come from the Wikipedia page for Scottish Gaelic, for example, doing a little bit of "research lite" - mostly it's a distraction. Oops.
So if it's such a distraction, how do I get anything done? Ah, well, that's where the notebook comes in. If you read my last Writing Tuesday post (about handwriting vs. typing), you've probably already guessed where I'm going with this next bit too - namely, that when I really want to get something hashed out, I grab a notebook and a pencil (a mechanical pencil, mind - no sharpeners needed) and leave the house. Sometimes I pop down to the nearest coffee shop and feed my caffeine addiction while roughing out the next story point; sometimes I head in the opposite direction, to the cemetery, where I curl up under a tree and get down to business; this week, it was over to the Arboretum to rhyme up a storm for a picture book project one of my oldest friends dreamt up for us.
My first successful WriMo had some serious rituals to it - I'd get home from teaching around 9 PM, make a mug of hot chocolate and grab a pack of tuna jerky (yes, I'm serious. There is tuna jerky. It's not bad, either), then park my butt in my desk chair and pound away until midnight, at which point I'd write down my word count and take a five-minute stretch break; then it was back in the chair to get as much of a jump on the next day as possible before my brain went into shut-down mode. And I did exactly that every night for a month (well, except for the weekend I went dog sledding, but I made up for it afterward), and lo and behold, I clocked in at 50,006 words at the end of the month. I can't help thinking that I got more done when I worked at my desk (currently covered in books, bills, knitted gifts, and other items to keep my cat from jumping up there and wreaking havoc on cords).
Maybe I should go buy some tuna jerky. :-P