Woody Allen’s Olympia portable SM-3 typewriter has been used to type everything he’s written since he was 16 years old.
Stephen King sets up a specific tableau to get his juices flowing:
“There are certain things I do if I sit down to write,” he said. “I have a glass of water or a cup of tea. There’s a certain time I sit down, from 8:00 to 8:30, somewhere within that half hour every morning,” he explained. “I have my vitamin pill and my music, sit in the same seat, and the papers are all arranged in the same places. The cumulative purpose of doing these things the same way every day seems to be a way of saying to the mind, you’re going to be dreaming soon.
“It’s not any different than a bedtime routine,” he continued. “Do you go to bed a different way every night? Is there a certain side you sleep on? I mean I brush my teeth, I wash my hands. Why would anybody wash their hands before they go to bed? I don’t know. And the pillows are supposed to be pointed a certain way. The open side of the pillowcase is supposed to be pointed in toward the other side of the bed. I don’t know why.” Lisa Rogak, Haunted Heart: The Life and Times of Stephen King (Thanks to St. Martin’s Press/Thomas Dunne Books and http://dailyroutines.typepad.com/daily_routines/2009/01/stephen-king.html)
As for me?
Mornings are best, after two cups of coffee, on my laptop, before I head in to the office. I usually marinate on my chosen topic for a few days without writing anything down. Then when I sit down with the intention to write, I am already mentally organized.
Problogger published a great list of bloggers’ daily routines. Do any of those sound familiar to you?
Discover Your Own Writing Ritual
You may already have a routine, but you haven’t noticed it yet.
Here’s a method for uncovering and fostering your own ritual:
Step 1: Document your writing habit for a month. In a notebook, jot down time of day, location, and general mood you were in, each time you write a blog post or article.
Step 2: Review the notebook data. Is there a pattern? Can you correlate your best posts of the month to specific locations, times of day, or other environmental surroundings? Think about the last time you felt “in flow.”
What was your environment?
Was there music, or silence?
Did you outline first, or just start writing?
Step 3: Create “flow” on purpose. If you’ve determined that you feel “flow” most often in the evening with a glass of wine and soft music playing, try replicating that environment for the next few weeks. Experiment with various factors to find the ideal “tableau” that supports your best writing. Do you work best on an empty stomach, or after a full meal? Do you need to be alone, or in a busy Starbucks?
The key is to be mindful, and notice your ideal writing conditions, so that you can create “flow” at will.
Featured image via Flickr CC: Heather