My Writing Ritual

blog-july13My writing altar

I’m writing. A lot. Maybe a book. For sure a way home to myself.

I’m headed out next week to Taos to teach our annual writer’s retreat. (Next year’s dates will be the same).

I thought it might be helpful to share my writing ritual because it is helping me.

The night before ritual:

  • Straighten desk, sweep floor, turn off email, cue up yoga playlist, fill dog bowls – basically get out of the way ANYTHING that can stop me in the morning. It’s easier to empty the dishwasher than to climb the stairs to the studio.

Then the morning ritual:

  • Get up, do the minimal to get to my studio (wash face but not empty dishwasher, hug Bob but no lengthy chats with Bob).
  • Practice yoga and meditate. About 30 minutes. I’ve tried many yoga sequences over the years and I’m currently enjoying Jeffrey Davis’s from his book The Journey from the Center of the Page, page 49. Jeffrey’s sequence includes asking yourself, “What am I writing for?” before and during the practice, which I really find powerful.
  • I use a playlist for yoga with a lot of Snatam Kaur’s The Essential Snatam. I often meditate to Eric’s Mantra Wave.
  • Then I make a few quick notes about where I’m going to start writing, maybe a very rough mind map.
  • I turn on Freedom for the exact amount of time I can write that day + 15 minutes. This gives me a tidy container that feels safe. The 15 minutes is a breakfast-time add-on.
  • I eat breakfast & check email on my iPad while eating. This reassures me there are no emergencies but keeps me from getting pulled in because I can’t type on the iPad and it’s very slow on Facebook. Perfect!
  • Back in my studio, I light a candle, bow to my little altar, put on my headphones, and turn on my writing playlist. I listen to this kind of wacky recording over and over. It seems to help me focus.
  • Now is the tricky part: writing. Word by word. Lowering my standards. Staying out of my to-do list get-things-done head. Stay loose. Write only what rings true. For me, it’s like a long meditation practice when writing a first draft.
  • End with clarity. When Freedom goes off, I wind up my thought, then make a note where I will start the next day – so important. Say thank you, blow out the candle.

What helps you create? Do you have a ritual? I’d love to hear. Please comment on the blog if you can rather than email, so we can all share your thoughts.

Love,

Jen

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Marrianna Dougherty - July 13, 2014

Oh, shoot, my long and wonderfully written comment got lost in the need to sign in. Guess I’ll do it on my blog soon. Anyway, Jen, I believe this is just what I needed today so I would stop trying to be someone I’m not, especially on my personal blog. Thank you.

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    jenlouden - July 13, 2014

    sorry about that. the good news: once you are logged in, it’s super easy to comment in the future!! and yes, let’s be ourselves. Everybody else is taken.

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Body Image Boosters From the Blogosphere 7.13.14 | Weightless - July 13, 2014

[…] Jen shares her writing ritual. […]

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bjmwriter - July 13, 2014

Bravo and thank you. Love your integrated ritual. Love that you are writing!

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    jenlouden - July 13, 2014

    thanks for your always wonderful encouragement Bobbie.

    Reply
LundieP - July 13, 2014

Still haven’t quite found the way to my words. Love hearing your methodology. I was just realizing that yoga in the morning as a way into my day is what I want to do and need to carve out the time for it. It won’t happen by accident! Thanks for sharing this!

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    jenlouden - July 13, 2014

    no it won’t. best writing advice I know: do the work. Good luck to us both!

    Reply
Lora Jansson - July 13, 2014

As a ritual junky, I just LOVED this. The honoring of the practice, the altar, the container, the intention contained in the ritual. How many hours are you writing each day? Curious… Or do you have a word count to reach? There is much for me to contemplate about this write. This is structure in the best way, and hope you do not mind if I create something similar — imitation is the best form of flattery they say 🙂

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    jenlouden - August 3, 2014

    1-3 hours a day!

    Reply
Sandra Pawula - July 13, 2014

I must confess that I don’t have any writing rituals at all! I absolutely love that you do yoga and meditation first. I meditate every morning, never skip a bit. But would love to include a yoga practice in there. As to writing, basically whenever I feel ready, I write. Whenever I feel done, I stop. But, I’m not writing a book. That would be an entirely different story.

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    jenlouden - August 3, 2014

    yes sometimes we need more structure, sometimes not. Thanks for reading!

    Reply
Ophélie - July 13, 2014

Hooo love this post! Exactly what I needed this morning as this day is planned as a writing day! I am already in the mood and vibes!
I might ad some encense, I find having a good smell around helps for inspiration, and usually before I start I always go out for a while and breath, that helps me relax and be open to the flow!:-)

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    jenlouden - August 3, 2014

    nice!

    Reply
Paula - July 16, 2014

My dream routine: wake up, get work out duds on, make coffee, read the paper/something inspirational, take the dog for a walk/go for a bike ride, stretch/do yoga, eat breakfast, put on music, WRITE! My real routine: wake up, make coffee, read e-mails, transition into breadwinning tasks with a promise to write in the afternoon (and you know what happens to that promise…). So I’m working toward the dream.

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    jenlouden - August 3, 2014

    hope the dream became reality in the last weeks.

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Debra Eve - July 17, 2014

What a wonderful way in! And thank you so much for the sound files, Jen. I find sound really enhances my ritual experience. Can’t wait to see you next week!

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    jenlouden - August 3, 2014

    Hope you wrote this week. So truly wonderful to be with you again.

    Reply
Gabriela Steiner - July 21, 2014

Hey Jen, if you like Hindu gods and goddesses (and from the picture I reckon you do), you should put up a picture of Saraswati. She is the goddess of knowledge, music, arts, wisdom and nature – and the one who will help you inspire your writing 🙂

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    jenlouden - August 3, 2014

    Gabriela the picture is of Saraswati, painted in Bali! She’s my gal.

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Shayla Dougher - July 23, 2014

I definitely will begin to integrate music. Thank you for naming who you listen to. I walk the balance of being gentle with myself and raising my expectations. I really can do more!
Love that you clear the way at night before. Funny that a full dishwasher is so distracting unless you decide that it is not!
Thank you oh Queen of Comfort! Your message today really is about that.
Heeded!

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    jenlouden - August 3, 2014

    so glad it was useful!

    Reply
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My Writing Ritual - Eusophi - August 25, 2014

[…] Originally published at JenniferLouden.com. […]

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