Peace in the Ritual
Every morning I can be found in the same spot. It’s usually after my first taxi run where I’m taking the girls to work, but I’ll be there before 7:30 on most days. With my mug of coffee and a cigar, I can be found perched in my little nook on the back porch working on some current storyline or catching up on yesterday’s news. It’s my little ritual and without it, my day somehow feels slightly off.
It’s those little idiosyncrasies that make us unique, those little habits or needs that we all have that help us function and remain balanced. Everyone has them, especially writers. Those who don’t understand may see these superstitious rituals as meaningless, not finding a logical point to them. Yet, we know their importance, the depth of peace that they fill us with that allows us to put pen to paper and create from within.
Writers have all kinds of rituals and behaviors to help release the muse. Most deal with time, place or behavior in order to promote a sense of control that reduces writer’s block while unlocking the freedom of imagination. Sometimes it’s all about what happens in the beginning as we sit down to write. We surround ourselves with prompts to help get us out of the gate and into the story.
For some it’s about environment. They have to be in a perfectly clean place, free of clutter and distraction. Others prefer the clutter as it helps their mind roam. While necessity forces us sometimes to write in different places, we each have that spot that is soaked with our creative energy, which fits us. My office, when I had one, was clean, but not orderly. Knick knacks and photos from childhood to the present cluttered the bookshelves and display cases as miniature provokers of thought. Yet, the back porch is perfectly clean and tropically decorated with an open view to the playground of squirrels and butterflies. Both places are my escape nooks to my fantasy worlds.
Time sometimes plays a part in the ritual, determining when a writer is at their creative peak. Some prefer the wee hours of the morning when the house is still asleep and others prefer later in the day when the activity of family provides a soothing white noise to the murder that’s being plotted out on the keyboard. Everyone has a time of day when our minds are at their best and we tend to schedule our work around those hours. Between two and four in the afternoon is my worst time to do anything and all I want to do is nap. I could force myself to write between those hours, but I know it would all be wasted ink. Therefore, I choose that period to have lunch, watch an old television episode, and rest. Afterward, I pick my pen back up and continue writing with a freshness I would not have had otherwise.
Objects sometimes play a part in a writer’s ritual. Perhaps the object is a piece of clothing, a certain pen, or wearing their lucky underwear, hopefully clean. Some may wear a hat or have to drink out of a certain mug. I prefer drinking coffee when I write and have a certain brand of gel ink pens that I just have to use. For Least Heat Moon it was cedar pencils made by Native Americans. There’s no rhyme or reason to any of these and to an outsider it may seem ludicrous. A pen, after all, is a pen. Right?
Rituals are important to the person performing them, whether they are a writer or not. Because it means something to us it has meaning, and that meaning is to bring us peace that we may travel the path of imagination that can sometimes be a dark and scary place.
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