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Creative Rites : Conversation question • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Creative Rites

Every month in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a question related to the writing life. Tell us your thoughts.
maria
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Creative Rites

Postby maria » Tue Oct 09, 2007 5:57 am


maria
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Creative Rites

Postby maria » Tue Oct 09, 2007 5:57 am

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-topsany mindless task, really. And all the while Im mulling over the piece Ill soon force myself to sit down and write. I know when its time to start writing when I feel it in my gutsometimes 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, dont 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 youre not the only one. Tell us about your creative rites here

novembergal
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RE: Creative Rites

Postby novembergal » Tue Oct 09, 2007 7:47 am

For 30-plus years I worked for a criminal defense attorney—a powerful, successful advocate. He was my mentor—my teacher, and during the last twenty-five years of our work association, I wrote nearly everything that went off his desk with his signature (I could even do his signature quite well).

Many assignments weren’t easy, and neither was he, and when it came to writing briefs, particularly appellate briefs, I would have to psyche myself up and write it in my head, before I could put pen to paper (I always wrote briefs in longhand before typing them). A couple days after giving me the assignment, he’d ask how I was coming on it. "Okay" I’d say. A week later? "I’m working on it." Two weeks? "Still doing research."

A week before the deadline, he’d ask, "Where’s the brief?" I’d point to my head and say "It’s up here." And, he’d explode. "#%&*@$#^&, I can’t read it while it’s in your #%&*@$#^&-head, I want to see something on paper by 5 o’clock tomorrow." He’d leave the office muttering and still swearing. A typed rough draft would be on his desk the next day.

It took him a while to realize that it was necessary for me to obsess-over and formulate everything in my head before I wrote a word. But once he swore at me, the words would come pouring out.

So it became a ritual, although I don’t know if being sworn at could be considered as "creative": I continued to over-think, and he’d wait an appropriate length of time and ask. I’d point to my head (it wasn’t necessary to say anything by then—he knew), and he’d start swearing. We never missed a deadline.


jnbammer
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RE: Creative Rites

Postby jnbammer » Tue Oct 09, 2007 7:22 pm

I iron clothes. There's something about the mindless yet repetitive activity that helps organize my thoughts, so that I can sit down and express them more clearly.

shayd
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RE: Creative Rites

Postby shayd » Wed Oct 10, 2007 4:19 am

I have two operating modes, story developement and the actual writing.

When I'm developing a story, I split my time between hard research and long walks, people watching and communing with my sketchpad to capture the vision of key scenes, settings and character which I have in my mind's eye.

When it comes to writing, especially a long peice that will be written in many short bursts (i.e. 2000 words a day for two months) I try to exploit state dependant learning principles to put my mind back in the same place it was the last time I wrote a section of the piece. I try to keep as many things constant as I can in my writing zone (chair, lighting, time of day, level of hunger, artwork on the walls, etc). In addition, I give each peice a signature set of memory cues to help set the "mood." I pick a piece of music (usually something classical but not overstated) that I listen to on continuous loop while writing (and never play it when NOT writing). Maybe I'll pick a particular scented candle that I only burn during writing sessions for that specific opus, etc. I know it sounds strange, but these rituals really help me to "jump right back in where I left off" when working on a novel from one day to the next. I come to associate the music and the aromas with the story I'm trying to tell and just by hearing and smelling these cues, I'm ready crank out the next installment.

Ultimate Cheapskate
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RE: Creative Rites

Postby Ultimate Cheapskate » Wed Oct 10, 2007 6:05 am


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Arwen9
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RE: Creative Rites

Postby Arwen9 » Wed Oct 10, 2007 7:10 am

I have 2 different rites, depending on where I left off the day before.

If I was writing well, knew where I was going, and just ran out of time. Then I sit down and reread whatever I wrote the day before, half-skimming/editing but no major edits. That or I read a chapter or two in a book in the same genre as I was writing in. By the time I get to where I left off, I remember what I was doing and start writing.

If I wrote until I didn't know what came next. Now that's when I wait until I feel like writing, and don't. I won't let myself write until I need to so bad, it's almost a tingling in my fingers, it's where every show on TV, every book I read, most of my wandering thoughts are reminding of something in my story. Then, when it's nearly unbearable, then I write.

QUESTION: Has anyone every finished their writing "session" for the day bc they were stuck, went to take a shower, and had ideas pop in their head?

It happens all the time to me. (Don't ask why I carry a notebook into the bathroom. :))

Liz


KarenRankowitz
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RE: Creative Rites

Postby KarenRankowitz » Wed Oct 10, 2007 11:52 am

Cool thread Maria,

Often it takes only one little thing that I see or hear that sparks a thought for creative writing.

I'm like you, I clean, mull over, write thoughts on anything handy, I clean more, do dishes or take a shower - all while I'm mulling.

Then all of a sudden it all comes together and I start writing it down like a mad woman - and poof -there it is.


Dewe Special
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RE: Creative Rites

Postby Dewe Special » Thu Oct 11, 2007 7:36 am

I do a lot of pacing while talking to myself. I feel sometimes if I just sit behind my computer my creativity can't come out. Then I'll play my bass music helps me create scenes. I also listen to music and for ideas you can get a lot form lyrics. And when my house feels like a big box I go outside and lean up against my car with my palm treo and write down bullet points.

Tinydancer
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RE: Creative Rites

Postby Tinydancer » Thu Oct 11, 2007 6:11 pm

I drive - and drive and drive. I wait for sundown, take the top off the jeep, throw in a little music....and just go. Preferably I am "going" away from traffic and congested highways as that seems only to produce streams of the wrong sort of verbs.

Driving will trigger the thought process for me even when the conditions are less than optimal....so...ummm....if you live in Dallas...you might want to give me a 10 minute headstart.

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