Everyone has a set way of doing things. A certain process or procedure they follow deliberately and zealously. A ritual. Whether it be how you get the day started, the roads you take to work, the way you eat your lunch or dinner, how you wind down. Whatever you do, there’s a ritual. And certainly applies to writing. Some writers can be meticulous—borderlining on OCD—when it comes to their rituals. It’s like the stars have to be aligned just right—figuratively—in order to have a great writing session.
Over the last week or so, I watched YouTube videos on authors and their writing rituals. YA authors Kim Chance and Mandi Lynn started the tag and I’ve seen other videos by authors participating in the tag. Their answers are quite fascinating and they take pride in their rituals. As I listened, I found myself agreeing with some of these activities. More than I thought or imagined. So, even though I don’t have a YouTube channel, I thought I’d share my rituals with you, my blogging audience.
So, let’s get started.
1. When do you write? Day? Time? I don’t have a set day time to write. I work two jobs throughout the week, but when I have a break, which varies upon the schedule, that’s when I write. Evenings or weekends don’t work because I’m either working or spending time with the family.
2. How do you seclude yourself from the outside world? That’s hard for me to do. I steal time to write whenever I’m not with the wife and kids. I’ll put the phone on silent and will go somewhere else. Most of the time, my room. I’ll put on earbuds, turn on Spotify, and tune to a station that I know will help with my writing. I wear a Fitbit so I’ll get a notification when someone calls me. So unless it’s someone important, I won’t bother answering it.
3. How do you review what you wrote the previous day? It depends on the stage that I’m at in my story. Overall, I don’t go in depth on what I wrote the previous day. I’ll skim over it and mark on my outline the section I completed. If I get a new idea for my story, I’ll revise my outline, then start fresh on a clean page in my notebook if it’s the first draft. On later drafts, I’ll start a new paragraph.
4. What song is your go-to when you’re feeling uninspired? I listen to a few stations on Spotify, and it will usually depend on what I’m writing at the time. For everyday writer’s block, I listen to Lindsey Stirling and the like. Recently, I found an artist on YouTube I really liked named Taylor Davis. She does violin covers of popular anime and gaming tracks. So I subscribed to her station recently. I have a “writing music” station I listen to when writing Contemporary Fiction. I love listening to music scores and Hans Zimmer and Steve Jablonsky are two of my favorite composers. And lastly, a band called Two Steps From Hell. Kim mentioned this band in her Writing Tag video. If you’ve watched any action film trailer in the last several years, you might recognize their work, or something similar from artists like E. S. Posthumus. I’m trying to branch out to different genres like science fiction and fantasy, and those songs get me pumped, especially when writing an action scene.
5. What do you do when you find yourself struggling with writer’s block? I do a few things. Instinctively, I’ll turn to YouTube and watch videos from different authors. I recently subscribed to Kim’s channel. But I watch videos from Kristen Martin and Jenna Moreci. I also watch TV show clip compilations or Internet-based shows. I subscribe to ScrewAttack, a gaming channel. The channel does Top 10 lists and a show called Death Battle. If you want a good laugh watching characters from gaming and anime fight to the death, it’s worth watching. I also write in my journal. I write to vent my frustrations about a story or whatever is going on throughout the day. I have a journaling app on my phone called One Day I use mostly. I also have a hardbound journal, but I fear losing it when I’m at work.
6. What tools do you use when you’re writing? I have several tools depending on the stage of my projects. For brainstorming, I use Evernote on my phone. I have a notebook for writing notes. Then one for each project. They usually compose of character sketches and plot outlines. When writing first drafts, I use a pen and composition book so as to force myself to get the story out on the page. I don’t really bother with separate notebooks for my stories, unless they’re for a series of stories. For later drafts, I have WordPerfect on my laptop. I recently bought the software so I’m still getting a feel for it. I also use Google Docs when I don’t have my laptop on hand. And finally, I have a 4-in-1 pen I use mostly for editing. I use red ink for striking out words and sentences, the green for adding words, and the blue for highlighting questions on certain sections of a story.
7. What’s the one thing you can’t live without during a writing session? I have a couple of things, but since I have to choose one, it would be my 4-in-1 writing pen. It’s my go-to pen. I love how the smoothness when I’m writing with it. It’s wide enough to where I don’t have to worry about my hands cramping during a writing session. And most importantly, I love the convenience. I don’t have to fumble around my laptop bag or my pencil case to find the right pen for whatever task I need accomplished. And it’s useful for not just for writing stories, but pretty much anything where I apply pen to paper.
8. How do you fuel yourself during a writing session? Just about any beverage except tea. I used to not be a coffee drinker, but my wife turned me on to it. I don’t have a preferred flavor mostly because I use flavored creamer and whatever sweetener is available to offset the bitterness. Sometimes, it’s sugar; sometimes, agave nectar. If I’m at Starbucks, depending on the season, I’ll order either a Strawberries and Creme Frappuccino or a Caramel Apple Spice. Anywhere else, it’s a toss-up. I won’t order food because I worry about leaving my grease prints on the paper.
9. How do you know when you’re done writing? I really don’t have a way of knowing when a story’s done. When I feel like I’m dragging a story along, that’s when I know it’s time to end it. Now, if it’s a lengthy piece, I’ll refer back to my outline, noting specific plot points. When I feel like I reached a good stopping point, I’ll call it a session. I don’t go by time or word count because–again–I try to write whenever the opportunity presents itself.
So, there you have it. My writing rituals. In the videos, Kim and Mandi tagged certain authors, but that’s optional. I’m not going to tag anyone on this blog, but I am interested in what everyone’s writing rituals are. If you want to participate, go right ahead. And if you have any questions or comments about my rituals, let me know.
Until next time…