On Writing Rituals


By Liz Everly

I recently picked up “Daily Rituals: A Guided Tour of Writer’s and Artist’s Creative Habits” by Mason Currey. images-8

I love these kinds of books between reading other books. (Right now, I’m writing a lot of fiction and tend not to read a lot of fiction at the point in my process.)  I think it’s a good idea to reflect over your own writing or creative rituals and wonder how you might possibly change things up a bit so that creativity doesn’t get stale for you.

When I dream about my ideal writing day, it would include the lighting of candles, a little meditation, good music playing, and the drinking of plenty of good tea and coffee. I have thought about adding wine to my ideal routine, but anytime I’ve written while drinking has not turned out well. But throughout my writing life, I’ve always had to just sneak in the writing where I could. And I think it’s been a great teacher for me. If you want to write, you will find a way in between jobs, kids, and a million other things pulling at you.

Before I had children, I use to rise early in the morning before work (as an editor) and write poetry. I wrote everyday. Some of these meditative pieces later became real poems. But many of them did not. It simply did not mater. I was practicing. I was all about Natalie Goldberg’s writing practice, which looking back, has help me a great deal in the long run. (Her book Writing Down the Bones, remains one of my favorite writing books.)

images-7

After having children, writing became a whole new exercise in flexibility and self-expectation. Okay, if I can’t write now because the child wants to play or eat or whatever, I need to write when I can. In some way, it’s still like this for me as the mom of a 15-year-old and a 12-year-old. I write when they are in school. Period. It’s gotten to the point that when they are home and occupied and do have the time to write, I still find it hard to write because they are in the house—even though they are no bother at all.

At this point in my life, my routine includes getting up earlier than everybody else and cranking out at least 1,000 words on my work in progress. After everybody is out of the house, I shift gears and either go for run or to the gym. Exercise has become key in getting my brain cells fired up for the rest of the day. Then I sit down and write. Now, it may be blog posts, or social media posts, but I am writing, right? Having a break like this in the day helps me when I’m writing two very different books—cozy mysteries and erotic romances.

As a mom, my schedule is sometimes completely affected by my kids. And I think that’s okay at this point in my professional life and this point in my girls’ lives. I’m sure my routine will change the older they get. I just need to be open to it. But at this point one of the things I can’t imagine writing without is my exercise. Seriously. It’s become so ingrained in the creative process for me.

What about you? What does your writing routine or creative process look like? Do you have a ritual?

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11 Comments

  • Kemberlee
    January 21, 2014 at 6:39 am

    When I worked outside the home, I used to write at night and on my days off. When I started working from home, the work was seasonal so I wrote mostly in the winter months. Now I’m in publishing and my own writing time has suffered greatly. Have intended to spend one day a week on my own work starting this year, but so far my day off from work-work so I can work on my stuff has seen me in the car rather than another day in the chair. Lots of ideas spinning in my head, lots of notes taken. Just need extra hours in the day to make it happen.

    • LizEverly
      January 21, 2014 at 7:34 am

      Yeah–running a publishing company would be a huge time suck for you. Good luck carving out that day!

      • Kemberlee
        January 21, 2014 at 8:12 am

        I know. Good luck with that, right?

        We’ve hired on extra cover artists, a new editor and another proofreader. Next is someone to help in production. I’m freeing little bits of time here and there. Just need to put them all together into one lump I can use for something besides sleeping 😉

        • LizEverly
          January 21, 2014 at 8:37 am

          There ya go! Sleep is a good start. 😉

  • C. Margery Kempe
    January 21, 2014 at 8:57 am

    I love Writing Down the Bones; when I first started ‘daring’ to submit work (imagine, I was once that self-doubting) I found a lot of encouragement in Brenda Ueland’s If You Want to Write. Of course I recommend to everyone How to Keep Writing with a Full Time Job which gathers up a lot of my useful rituals [she says with a burst of self-confidence].

    Back when I was trying to write my first novel as an adult, I would come home from work and be inclined to give in to fatigue and then I’d see the note on my monitor: “Do it anyway.” And I did. Bit by bit — sometimes that’s all the time you can steal, but if you make it that little bit every day and not try to ‘save up’ time, you get more done.

    • LizEverly
      January 21, 2014 at 9:58 am

      Absolutely true. I used to write during my lunch hour at work. Just fit it in! I took a “Fast Track” class from Candace Havens once. Very interesting–I think the goal was to write a book in two weeks or something. She talks about preparing, “clearing the decks” and then writing in every spare moment.Take notebooks or lap tops with you where ever you go. I’ve done that–I’ve written blog posts while waiting for my girls in music or dance class!

  • Elizabeth Shore
    January 21, 2014 at 10:10 am

    I think it’s a little bit like beginning an exercise routine. You just have to do it – just a tiny little bit – but it’s enough to get the process started. Don’t make the hurdle too high. If you think to yourself, “today I’m going to write for eight straight hours!” it’s too much. You’ve set the threshold too high. But if instead you say, “today I’m going to write for ten minutes,” it’s much easier to do it, and what ends up happening (at least for me) is that the ten minutes stretches far beyond that. But if it doesn’t, that’s OK. Even if I actually write for ten minutes, and i literally write a single sentence, it’s one sentence more than I had before i started.

  • LizEverly
    January 21, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    Reblogged this on Liz Everly and commented:

    On Writing Rituals

  • Author Charmaine Gordon
    January 21, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    Well done. And I agree with exercise as an essential part of writing. You write letting it all out and do your routine to get the blood flowing. The, if you have the time, write again. Let your fictional characters keep you company and open your veins once again to let emotions pour.

    • LizEverly
      January 21, 2014 at 8:22 pm

      Thanks for your thoughtful response. Cheers!

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