Writing Rituals: Sticktoitiveness

Here I am to report back on how my writing rituals are working (or not working) for me. First off, my writing has been spottier than usual. But I have a good reason: I’m in promo mode. My new book (#2 in the Corrie Locke series) will be released next month, so a good amount of time is spent on marketing. But I’ve been forcing myself to sit and write. Have I tried using any type of ritual to get in the writer’s frame of mind? Sort of. After working all week at my day job, I encounter a certain stubbornness that keeps me from sitting down and working again…even it if it involves working on something I absolutely enjoy. So how to get into writing mode?

1. Do something mindless: For me, this equates to thumbing through a fashion magazine or a shopping site, petting my dogs, baking cookies, or cleaning (this last item really works for me, especially if the task involves organizing. Organizing a closet or a drawer readies my mind to organize a story. I can hardly believe it, but it’s true. For me anyway.);

2. Get a move on: I’m not a fan of sitting for too long. I get up frequently and while I’m up, I think about what I’m writing or what to write. I think this beats staring out into space (which can also be helpful).

But this is a balancing act because if I move for too long, I won’t come back to my writing. So instead of taking a walk outside, I’ll walk in place indoors – about 100 exaggerated steps – before resuming the writing; and

3. Switch creative pursuits: My writing brain needs a break now and then. This is not an excuse; just a change of direction. So I turn to a different creative pursuit like gardening. Music (playing or listening) is a solid change in creativity, as well. And my favorite: Reading something different from what I’m writing. Maybe a poem or a newspaper. This can help promote ideas and clarity, or remind you to change direction in your own writing.

Wanted: Tried and True Writing Rituals

Many a professional athlete utilizes a pre-game ritual to rev up their engines. These rituals can be as simple as kissing a rabbit’s foot for luck. Or as jolting as taking a cold shower 45 minutes before every match.

Writers have their own rituals to help them slip into the writing zone. I know one author who drinks a cup or two (or six) of coffee to crank the writing gears. Standing on one’s head for a solid length of time can do the trick, too, so I’ve heard. It’s a surefire way to rush blood…and ideas to the brain. Here are a few examples from well known authors:

Charles Dickens wandered around London without any destination, sometimes for a dozen miles. This allowed his feet… and his mind to roam freely. If he didn’t walk, he said, “I should just explode and perish.”

– For some authors, it’s not any one thing, but a series of actions needed to sink into the zone: NBA basketball player turned author Paul Shirley starts his writing day with a bit of exercise and meditation, followed by a “fun” song; one that “energizes” him to get into the groove.

With all of this said, I confess that yours truly doesn’t have any set ritual. I’m a Dr. Jekyl and Mrs. Hyde when it comes to my writing. I tend to write in fits and spurts, as time permits, around my day job. On weekends, I’m expert at wasting a good amount of writing time before I sit myself firmly behind my laptop. And even then, I drift around before I throw out my anchor. Over the past two months, I’ve written 10,000 words of the first draft of my third novel. Do you think that’s a good amount? Wow, I nearly went deaf in one ear. I don’t either. Especially when those painful first drafts are crying out for revision.

But reading about other authors’ methods has inspired me. As I hope it has for some of you. I know that when I do sit and complete my writing goals, I feel utterly fantastic.

So, I’m going to dare myself, no double dare myself, (and any other willing participants) to find a writing ritual and stick to it. For the next month, I’m going to do just that…and report back. How about you?

Rules to Break

I was fortunate to find a wonderful publisher fairly soon after I’d reached The End of my first manuscript. To reach that point, version #1 went through multiple revisions by yours truly (some say the number of rewrites was close to a hundred. I say it was 142). Although I had a few interested agents, when the offer to publish arrived, I couldn’t sign fast enough. And my publisher (The Wild Rose Press) ended up being absolutely wonderful. Author friendly, all the way. And my editor? Well, she, too, is fabulous.

When it came time to write Book Two, I was in a state of constant activity – between my day job, and writing and promoting, my head rarely stopped spinning. In a good way, not the demon possessed way of The Exorcist. Marketing opens many doors and some of these doors led to meeting truly great authors who write mysteries. But I was also lucky enough to have a book signing at a wonderful bookstore that catered to fans of romance. I discovered that romance authors were just as fab as mystery authors! Life was good.

Although my heroine skates around a possible romance, her main focus is solving a mystery. My publisher’s main focus was on romance. So I got to wondering what it might be like if I’d had a publisher who focused on mysteries? Could I even change publishers when I had a series going?

“No way,” I was told by other authors.

Except that I discovered one mystery author who’d switched after Book Two in a series from one publisher to another. Don’t know why or how, but I knew it had been done.

Fast forward almost a year, and I’d completed writing Book Two (with fewer revisions, thankfully). I set it aside and submitted a short story (my first!) to a mystery anthology publisher. It just so happened my submission was accepted. And that same publisher just opened to publishing mystery novels. I sent a query for Book Two and voila! I signed up for my next in the series along with two more. Hooray!

The road to publication isn’t a straight one. It has many offshoots, which means many different possibilities.