It’s no secret that authors and other such misfits are found of crafting needlessly complex rituals. And if you don’t find this description to be true, then chances are that you might have only recently begun to write or that you’re just a plain liar. Maybe both.
But independent of whatever your own disposition towards this matter is, the fact remains. There’s a sizeable chunk of authors that enjoy setting up routines. And these can be based on some of the most mundane parts of your day, to complex processes that many might view as akin to meditation.
Some people like to prepare a cup of coffee at a certain time of the day, other people like to bust out the ol’ laptop in the mornings, and some folks enjoy performing a brief freewriting excercise before they start working their fingers on their novels. And to these people I say, cheers and best of luck to the lot of you. If your traditions are something that assist you in accomplishing this arduous task we like to pretend is our hobby, then by all means, preserve it.
But if you’ve read the title of this post (if not, why are you reading this?) you’ll know that I no longer belong to this category of author. Now before any of your jimmies get rustled, I’m in no way trying to be a special snowflake here. I came to the conclusions that I came upon due to a series of realizations I had this week. But enough stalling, let’s move on to that already.
I too, used to be among the ranks of authors whom held complex rituals before their sessions. I would make sure to brew myself a cup of black coffee laced with the blood of orphaned children, all the while praying to Baphomet in the hopes that my writing sessions would be fruitful.
Alright. So maybe I took advantage of my poetic license to hyperbolize the account of my traditions.
Either way, all allusions to Satanism aside, my traditions were not as obscure as occultism, yet they certainly had their quirks. But the quirks of my traditions were not the problem. Seeing as I am an all around peculiar individual (No one says this about me, I just enjoy believing I’m unique), I could handle a quirky tradition here and there. The problem was that they took long.
WAY too long.
The minimum of time I spent “prepping” for a session of wordsmithing was an hour, and there were occasions in which this lasted for most of the evening. It consisted of a few things. Firstly, I would spend the first few hours of my free time perusing through YouTube and exploring my favorite channels. I told myself this was a moment to relax after a long day. As it turns out, this “moment” often composed a goodly portion of my day.
If I was lucky enough to remember that I had to write, what I’d do later was head over and make myself some dark coffee. After which, I, in my impeccable brilliance, had thought it apt to turn on YouTube yet again. This time so I could listen to music for another half-hour.
Again, this half-hour, more often than not, found itself extending to an hour. Maybe more than that.
Finally, once my coffee was done, I’d retreat into my room and proceed to writing. Oh wait, there’s more!
On occasion, I’d find out that my computer was not fully charged. So instead of trying to write while it was being charged, I took the most rational, and logical route that was available to me. You see, it was simple.
I’d get my headphones, recover my cellular device, and…I’d watch YouTube till the computer was charged. Again!
Yeah, I haven’t been really efficient for the past month.
And only after ALL of that, would I begin writing. As you can see, this is a system that is flawed to the core. But after realizing that all this time I was just throwing away precious hours, I decided to do something about it. Firstly, I tried to reason in my mind just why in the Nine Hells I had thought this to be a good idea in the first place. Any schmuck with half a brain cell would be able to tell this was a miserable way of going about doing things. I sat in a profound, philosophical silence, until I reached a conclusion.
The only reason I did this was because I told myself that this was to mentally prepare myself for writing. And I was dumb enough to believe it.
I discarded that foolish notion from my head, knowing how destructive it really was. Afterwards, I scrapped the massive chunks of time I wasted without writing, and created an efficient system. Now, whenever I come home I make it a goal to turn off my phone. Afterwards, I brew myself coffee, the only aspect of my ritual that remains in place, and proceed to write.
So far, this has worked well for me. I realized that the more time I spent “prepping” was time in which I allowed fear of my manuscript to fester in my mind. I find that I work best when I just jump into the fray of writing and get stuff done.
But hey, I might not be you.
Maybe your rituals work fine for you? Maybe you feel that they truly do prep you for writing? If so, keep them. But I’d ask all of you to inspect your current ritual and see if it works to your benefit, or if it is a waste of time.
My challenge is this. Whenever you have the free-time, start a session without doing any of your traditions. Force yourself into your seat and write, write, and WRITE. Try this for three days, and see how you feel.
Do you find it harder to get your sessions over with? Then maybe you actually have good rituals in place. Do you find yourself breezing through the words? Then it’s quite possible that your current rituals were holding you back. Every writer is different, but that is no excuse to not question our quirks. It is our responsibility to experiment with different systems to see if we can maximise our productivity.
As always, this has been the QuestingAuthor. Keep writing, my friends.