Trafford Publishing knows the extent to which a blank piece of paper often causes intimidation. There are many different types of preparation that authors will assume in order to make the most of their writing abilities. However, for some authors, it is not just pre-writing preparation, but writing rituals administered throughout the writing process as well.
Why Writing Rituals are Important
Some techniques are complex to the extent that the term ‘ritual’ would be more fitting. These methods consist of several variables. This is consistent with neurological scholars who contend that when two completely independent experiences that process behaviors or sensations are activated simultaneously, connections are realized and subsequently new ideas and thoughts are ignited.
“Neurons that wire together, fire together.” – Donald Hebb
Another reason writing rituals have proven to increase productivity and efficiency in our writing is that they allow us to emit what is necessary for our writing, rather than think about the externalities of the writing process that invariably cloud are thoughts and creativity.
“Writers need rituals to distract us from thinking too much about how we do what we do.” – Robert Olsen Butler.
Every individual is unique in terms of the complexities of their thoughts, thus, there is no correct technique to pursue. Rituals will have to be realized subjectively, as it is 'whatever works for you.'
Don’t be afraid to trial certain experiences if they are unorthodox, eccentric or provoke self-consciousness. The majority of the time your rituals will be undertaken by yourself. Therefore, it is encouraged to experiment with unconventional methods that would cause embarrassment if carried out in the presence of others. The more senses a ritual connects, the more potent and effective it can be.
Although Trafford Publishing encourage you to experiment with unique elements to arrive at your most effective ritual, to give you an idea, we have compiled a short list of rituals performed by some of the most productive and successful authors.
Trafford Publishing exposes Writing Rituals of Famous Authors
Truman Capote. ‘Horizontal author’ was what Capote named himself. He believed that in order to think, he needed to be lying down. Whether on his bed or a sofa, he would stretch out with a cigarette and a coffee to commence his writing for the day. Throughout the course of the day, the coffee would change to tea, then sherry, then finally martinis.
Maya Angelou. Without trying to encourage excessive drinking habits, the late Angelou would leave her home each morning and head to a small hotel room with nothing but a bed and a desk. The only belongings she would bring to the hotel room were a deck of playing cards, a bible, and a bottle of sherry. She would stop writing everyday at 2pm.
Honoré de Balzac. Similar to Angelou finishing her writing each day at 2pm, many authors consider the time of day or the duration of being awake or asleep an important element in maintaining superior writing abilities. De Balzac had a very stringent and irregular schedule. He would eat a very early dinner and make sure he was in bed by 6pm sharp, before getting up at 1am to write for 7 hours straight. At 8am he would have a snooze for 90 minutes, before writing for a further 6.5 hours until 4pm.
Ernest Hemingway. Like many other famous writers, Hemingway wrote standing up. He would have his typewriter at chest height, and always wore a pair of oversized loafers. However, one of the most uncommon, albeit very practical elements of Hemingway’s writing process, was that he would always stop writing for the day when he knew exactly what was to come next in his story. This way he could start writing the following day with a fresh mind, without writer’s block. We all agree that once the words are flowing, our creativity and productivity are not held back, which is why this part of Hemingway’s ritual should definitely be considered.
Philip Roth. Roth’s ritual has several simple elements that have helped many writers find the right frame of mind. He also writes standing up and claims that he has walked half a mile for every page he has written, taking notes as he walks, as different surroundings aid in his emission of creativity. He never writes in his house, he has a separated studio from his house where he writes at a lectern that he faces away from the window to avoid distraction – although he desires changing surroundings to rouse the muse, once he begins writing, he maintains rigorous focus on the words in front of him. This also relates to the notion that once the words are flowing, they will continue to flow.
There are distinctive similarities in these rituals that shouldn’t be overlooked. The environment, time and behavior are all elements of these rituals in one way or another. When establishing a ritual that is appropriate to effectively enhance your writing, consider these elements and you’ll be on the right track in no time!
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