If, as happens, your world starts to fall apart a strong writing ritual or habit will see you through. For example, yesterday I had a real shock to my love life. It through me into a tizzy. I discovered that my unrequited beloved was going out of town for three days and he’d not told me he was going. I found it when I he cc’d me on an email. Since we aren’t really a couple in theory I have no room to complain, or not much, but theory doesn’t work well when it comes to emotions like fear and anger and a wild imagination. Besides we do work together so I could make a case for needing to know. Fortunately I didn’t discover he was out of pocket until after I’d done my writing yesterday.
The rest of my day was a mess. No, I was a mess the rest of my day. I got a few piddly things done, wept on a couple of shoulders, wrote out my anger, fear and disappointment in 5 pages ranging from accusations to recognition I truly don’t know what’s going on. I reviewed roughly an acre of texts and… well, I suspect you know. I have grown up enough to know I’m not alone in this sort of drama. I actually got some sleep last night even. Yea me.
My ritual kicks in
This morning I got up pretty close to the usual time, made coffee, fed the cat, turned on the fountain, did my meditation and here I am writing another article for Medium.
What I really want to do is run in circles and scream and shout. I want to text him angrily or even, gasp, phone him and demand to know what’s going on. We are scheduled to meet Saturday and part of me thinks I’ll die if I don’t hear from him, as I usually do, before then, at least about work. Our work together is both a pain and a joy.
How am I able to write in such a mental storm? I won’t say it’s easy, because it isn’t. But there are two reasons I can get coherent words on the screen, words about writing that might even be helpful.
The first is I’m writing about the upset that, had I not formed some writing rituals and practiced them over time, could have stopped me cold and had me back in bed weeping.
Sharing our stories is a powerful healing act in itself and all the angst I put on paper yesterday makes it seem possible to write this piece. So yes, I suggest part of your writing include writing about what’s going on with you, even, or maybe particularly, when it isn’t pretty.
It’s the ritual, however, that provided the strong pull I felt to come to the computer this morning and write. My personal ritual is: up early, meditate, start the fountain and with coffee in hand sit at the computer and begin.
I knew I wanted to talk about writing even though I’m upset, and believe me I’m still upset. I started with a working title — Writing While Upset! Not a bad title actually, but I realized that it was my ritual, my habit of sitting down early in the morning at least five days a week and writing that made it almost easy to look at a blank screen and start putting words down. That ritual sees me though tough days, great days, days when I’m on the road and even days when I’m feeling physically off.
Notice and create your own ritual
Should you follow my ritual? Probably not, although I haven’t patented or trademarked it. ; — ) You really need your own, and you may already have a good start on it. Do you, for example, usually start writing about the same time most days? Perhaps with a cup of coffee or tea at hand? That’s the start of your ritual. So is something as simple as dumping the cat off your writing chair, or reminding the kids you’re starting to write and they need not to interrupt you unless the house is on fire.
If, on the other hand, your writing takes place at odd times during the week, or only when your muse strikes, or when you feel like it, a ritual could be exactly what you need to develop a regular writing practice. It doesn’t have to be complicated or fancy. You can use anything you like, perhaps some music that inspires you, some incense if you’re so inclined, fresh coffee or tea rather than finishing an existing cup, a special only-for-writing beverage or snack. You might even encourage that cat to sleep next to your computer while you’re writing — if the cat will go for it. Let your imagination soar and think about what would please you.
Try this and that until you find something that seems to work. Use that for at least a week, maybe two and notice what happens. Does it make it easier to start? Help you look forward to sitting at the computer and writing? Help you spark ideas as the time for starting approaches? Do you at least once and awhile find yourself a wee bit excited about starting your writing day?
Any or all of these internal responses signals that there’s something about what you’re doing that is helping you get your writing done. Figure it out and expand on it, or shorten it if it feels like it’s taking to much time. This is your ritual, to invent, and change as needed.
Practice your ritual knowing that as you deepen your practice of writing the writing will improve and so will your view of yourself as a writer.
Write well and often,