On writers and rituals

Are you a writer with a ritual? I am. Once I get into a work, I do the same thing day after day with only minor deviations. Every now and then this gets screwed by some obligation, but largely it’s a very specific set of things. Down to which pens I use. When it’s working, I call it my “Obsessive Compulsive Order”. Sadly, my ritual has gone shitual. I can barely even get the posts for Bookninja done, much less work on the novel. Are you making it work? Adapting? If so, please, outline below?

According to literary legend, probably false, Edith Sitwell used to lie in an open coffin for a while before she began her day’s work. This was supposed to serve as inspiration for her macabre writing. Maya Angelou could work only in hotel or motel rooms. Truman Capote couldn’t begin or end anything on a Friday. Igor Stravinsky performed headstands when he needed a break, and Saul Bellow did 30 push-ups. For the work to go on, John Cheever required erotic release.

These examples appear to us as oddities, but what needs to be stressed is the importance of ritual in the creation of work. I tell my students that they must “write every day and walk every day”. It is not essential that they write a lot; only 150 words each day is enough. All that matters is the routine.

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