Creative Rites

Hi Writers,
The December issue of Writer’s Digest goes out to subscribers this week, and it will be on newsstands October 16. We’re featuring a great collection of articles on how to better tap into your creative side.

I wrote about my own creative rituals in my editor’s note:

I realized a while ago that in order to sit down and compose a piece of creative writing, I need to first make myself sick to my stomach.
    Procrastination, anxiety and outward chaos seem to be part of what it takes for me to get into the flow. I pace around my home or office doing busywork: compulsively shuffling papers, doing laundry, wiping down already-clean counter-tops—any mindless task, really. And all the while I’m mulling over the piece I’ll soon force myself to sit down and write. I know when it’s time to start writing when I feel it in my gut—sometimes as a tingling, sometimes as a subtle ache.   
I often wonder what spurs writers on to write when creativity seems to have this prerequisite of anxiety. But maybe these creative rites are necessary to propel us forward, to enable us to shut out the world around us and focus our energies fully on developing our random, chaotic thoughts into a singular piece of writing. We often need these humble rites to harness our creativity, don’t we? 

Your Rites: 
What are your creative rites? Do you pace and clean, like me? Go for long walks? Stare at the ceiling? Paint your toenails? You can bet you’re not the only one. Tell me about your creative rites here in the comments or you can post it on our forum in the Creative Rites thread.

Keep Writing,

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11 thoughts on “Creative Rites

  1. Jacob

    My over sized green sweatshirt and a fast approaching deadline almost always help me succeed. The combination of the comfort of the sweatshirt and the pressure of the deadline really get me into the flow of writing.

  2. Dennis Wenzel

    Over the years, I have developed a trust in my abilities to hit my deadlines. I have written a weekly devotional for seven years now and three of those have been printed in my local newspaper. Here’s how it happens: I sit down at the computer, open the Bible and say "What should I write about this time?" About 30 minutes later with 300 word devotion, I send it into my editor. This happens when I speak as well, most of the time without notes. When asked how I can hit deadlines like this my answer is, "Sunday’s and Wednesday’s come around every seven days."

  3. :Donna

    Well, I don’t have any specific rituals, other than going to the Barnes & Noble cafe nearly every day to either write, sketch, do research, etc. I can only write at home when a great idea inspires me and I HAVE to get it down on paper; otherwise there are too many distractions at home: TV, computer, chores, interruptions, etc. I also found that I usually need what I call "back-fill", that noise that doesn’t really distract, like the background noises in a cafe and music that’s not loud enough or my taste to distract me.

    When I want to focus on writing, I simply do just that: focus. Once I’m in that place, I let my mind roll and wander to create, and when the truly good ideas come, they click and I’m instantly inspired and man — I BETTER have a pen and paper nearby! That’s also the case during the times I’m thinking about a scene (or whatever) while doing other stuff, and if it fits, I have to write it down as soon as possible or it may be gone forever (terrible brain fog).

    : Donna

  4. Michele L. Tune

    I’m similar to Helen. If I can sit in a quiet room, the inspiration will just come.

    My favorite time to write is in the still of the night, though. Oh, I love the silence!

    I’ve also had ideas flood my mind in the middle of the day. It’s like a tea pot tilting and pouring words, ideas, and the flow is just endless.

    I love those inspirational spells. Those moments produce my best writing. Most times, I submit after little editing and few changes, and hear back from the editor quickly with a "good news email."

  5. HP van Duuren

    Well I don’t think that I really have a specific ‘Creative Rite’ a procedure that I use usually is to write about the end result that I have in mind, start writing about it. (ending up with a horrible ‘Stream of consioussness’) Afterwards trying to organise this stuff into something with a ‘Head and a Tail’.
    I think that’s basically it.

    O yeah…, I also have my Idea Generating Procedure (IGP)
    You can find it in the blogpost you can find at the link here below:

    All the Best,

  6. Helen Gallagher

    I’m very low maintenance. All I need is
    1. time to think, and 2. a quiet place to sit.

    I wrote the first draft of my first book when I got locked outside on the riverfront deck at the East Bank Club in Chicago. Most productive writing hour I ever had.

  7. Clary Lopez

    I wake up early and go over the previous day’s writing. Sometimes reading a book helps me get some inspiration but most of the times are my emotions that moves me. The bad thing about that is that emotions comes and goes so I try to have a permanent "inspiration" in my heart. I push myself to write every day even if it is only on my blog and that a lot times translate to better writing when it’s time to get to work.

    I’m a Writer’s Digest subscriber so I can’t wait to get my issue and read all the articles. It’s hard for me not to read your magazine at once, you are doing a great job. Thanks Maria.

  8. Gabrielle Linnell

    I usually set very short deadlines for myself and inform the editors I work for. I work best under pressure. If I have a piece due in a month, I’m much less likely to work on it and what work I do, is probably going to be crappy.

    So, while working under tight time restrictions, I also need to be alone, on a laptop, with really loud music playing.

  9. Mike Davis

    I like to skulk off to my writing room, close the door to the outside world and sift through my CD collection until I find something that I think will echo the mood of the piece I’m about to write.

    I have certain ‘trigger’ songs that, if I close my eyes and listen, can bring a lump to my throat, a tear to my eye or a hero’s determination to my heart. Then I surf that wave of emotion.

  10. Cheryl Wright

    Maria, I dust and wipe and sweep and straighten. Sometimes it helps me to settle down and focus and other times, well, let’s just say that there are other times. Okay?

    Whether we procrastinate to write or procrastinate not to write, we have a unique connection to each other. At the end of the day, we are writers, in love with the written word and passionate about writing.

  11. CSS

    It’s interesting that the conditions necessary for you to write are the same ones that prevent me from writing at all. When I procrastinate or otherwise let myself get anxious about writing, it’s as though I’m squeezing every word out with tremendous effort.

    I don’t have any really unique writing rituals. I write first drafts best with a pen but revise most comfortably on the computer. Ideas flow most easily when I’m calm, sometimes just after waking up, before I’ve let all the stress of the day cloud my mind.

    Interesting to think about, thanks.


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