My Writing Ritual

Jul 13, 2014

My 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.



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