Monday, October 18, 2010

Writing Rituals

A lot of the articles I read on “finding your Muse” and “overcoming writer’s block” tout the benefits of having a writing ritual. I started to think about mine, and realized I do have a couple.

For one, I love the corner of the guest lounge where my computer is set up. It’s on a small mezzanine and there’s something infinitely cozy about it that inspires me to want to be there.
My writing niche in the B&B guest lounge (complete with guests).  That's the computer where it all happens.  Imagine me there right now typing this.  When we've got guests in I've got a micro computer I take down to the dining table or out on the back deck. 

Then there’s the cup of cappuccino I make before I start: fresh ground, locally roasted organic beans, topped by a mile of foam and my own home-ground cinnamon. If you’ve never ground your own cinnamon from sticks, you have a treat in store. Home-ground cinnamon is fragrant and sweet, totally unlike that dried-out stuff you find in stores.

I also used to play a game of solitaire before starting, but that became addictive. Today it’s a no-no.

Music? Well, I’ve tried it in the background, but honestly it doesn’t do anything for me. Once I’m into my world, I’m so totally there a steam train could chug through my living room and I wouldn’t notice. This annoys my cats infinitely, as they often think that my lap would be a nice place to curl up in and get a good rubbing. After all, I’m just sitting there staring at that white screen. Surely I could move my fingers from those black buttons and into their fur. They can’t understand why I don’t notice them, either.

Saturday mornings. I go to the local outdoor market – Thames has a great one – and after I’ve picked up my flowers, preserves and veggies for the B&B and caught up with my friends – Saturday market is where everyone meets – I’m off to Coco’s for (what else?) another cappuccino. And a half hour to an hour of writing in the corner of Sheree’s cute little café nested along one half of a 19th century villa. Dear Sheree. She probably imagines she’s fostering the next JK Rowling. I’d love to think so…

What are your writing rituals?


  1. Vicky, every time I look at your "about me" I'm impressed. What an amazing life you lead!

    I have to force the muse most of the time 'on demand' because my writing time is so limited. She seems to have a thing for my bed.

    For brand new pages, I like to start long hand with a spiral bound. I don't always do that (who likes typing in words as copy? not me). Edits I do best on paper also and I often grab them first thing in the morning or last part of the day--as I said, the muse likes to hang out in the bedroom.

    I have a great station on Pandora Internet radio that is mostly instrumentals such as soundtracks, plus a lot of Enya, Clannad, Secret Garden, etc. If they're singing in Gaelic it doesn't interfere with my brain but I avoid most songs with lyrics. The music really pulls me in, away from my real world and helps me jump back in time and place.

    I look forward to other comments and enjoyed the photo of your writing space-so cozy!

  2. Your writing spot looks cosy, Vicky. I've recently bought a new desk and DH repainted our spare bedroom to make it more inspiring. I'm going to put up a couple more pictures and then plan a similar post.

    As for cats, oh don't they just hate it when you ignore them? Mind you, it doesn't stop mine from jumping on my lap making their disapproval clearly known, or snoozing on the window sill next to the desk.

    I'm with you about the music. I sometimes have medieval music on when I work on a medieval wip but I find it distracting. If I know the lyrics I end up humming along.

    Happy writing! :-)


  3. Vicky,
    What lovely spots you have to inspire you. And I can almost smell the fresh ground cinnamon sprinked atop your
    My space is a spare room overflowing with "stuff" that eventually will be organized.
    My true Muse, other than coffee light and sweet, is my office window. No matter the view of quiet Monday morning to the bustling of children hard at play after school, the quirky Autumn weather or the birds and chipmunks scurring about, the window is where it's at for me.
    Music occassionally brightens my mood with a flute CD or a didgeridoo CD.
    Your descriptions make me want to hop on a plane and land in NZ for a Muse-fest.
    I've been looking at Maori inspired jewelry online lately, maybe inspiration shall blooom from their symbolic talismans.
    No matter, keep cozying up and writing, your blogs about Camelot are a gift as are the writing tips.

  4. Thanks everyone for your comments! I was relieved to see I'm not the only one who finds music distracting. Even classical. (I tried writing The Black Crown to Sibelius's 2nd and his Finlandia, both of which seemed to fit the feel of my story, but I ended up humming along.)

    Like you, Vikki, the window has been a major muse in my past. Even as a child, I always set my desk under a window, which overlooked our giant willow tree. In university, my desk looked out on Sugarloaf Mountain and I could spend hours watching the clouds cross its slopes. In Arizona, the view from my office scooped the White Tank Mountains, but I quickly learned I had to turn my desk sideways and move it away from the window. The afternoon sun was just too hot! Here in NZ, I could position myself to look out over the sea, but that would involve moving every time guests came. So here I am in my cozy niche, instead.

    Yup, I'm also a victem of bullying cats. Cosette, my tabby moggie, won't leave me alone if she's in "I need to be petted" mode. If I get assertive back, she walks off in a huff that makes me drip with guilt. Quill, our Abby, who runs the place, simply curls up in my lap. She doesn't move, but because of the level of my keyboard, I sort of have to type around her. Spook, the feral cat, who just walked by, having noticed the guest room door is opened, is not a lap cat, but can carry on quite a conversation if it's food dish time.

    I forgot to mention, I can't work if there's clutter. I have a desk in the other room piled with stuff (including the notebooks I use to keep track of story ideas), but Phil keeps piling stuff from the B&B on my desk that he can't be bothered to file. So I finally gave up and moved out.