Routines. Rituals. Practice.
They are familiar, comforting, and soothing. What most of us don’t know or understand is that these simple repetitive acts have an effect on the cortex. The comfort of a writing routine can control the mindset and settle it into the pattern of writing. As you repeat rituals you are teaching your brain to do these actions automatically. Ms. Bane compares this to the scientific study of Pavlov’s dog. We can train ourselves to do nearly everything if we repeat the process regularly. Athletes, military, pilots, doctors…they practice. They practice what to do “just in case.”
My candles are lit. The lighting is perfect. I have my cuppa filled to the brim, nibbles, my copy of Around the Writer’s Block by Rosanne Bane and my pups at my feet. My routine, ritual, and repeated practices are in place. What do you do to settle in each day? Like, when you get to work what is the first thing you do? Get a fresh cuppa? Check your email? Facebook? READ MY BLOG? We all have something we do each day that is considered standard. It can be as simple as turning on the morning news as we pour our first cuppa coffee. That is called a routine. The very first thing I do- even before coffee- is take Bindi, the awesome sauce doggo, and Frankie the chiweenie out to pee. THEY GO FIRST. Cuz I do not want to spend my morning cleaning up after them. Think about it. What do you do every day? I know one! THIS! So, grab your copy of the book and join me on page 142!
So, what are your routines? You have some. You just need to think about it. What do you do first thing in the morning? What do you do when you step into your office each day? Do you hop on your email? Find me on this blog? ß THAT IS A GREAT HABIT. We all have them we just aren’t aware of them. Take some time to figure out yours. If these daily habits are working for you, then keep going. If you feel they are hindering you then it is time to try to shift them, even remove them.
Kind of like smoking. Smoking is a habit that is hard to break but should be removed from our daily lives. Cuz I love you and want you to be around to read my blog and books for years, and years, and…well, years.
One of Hemingway’s writing habits was to stop work in the middle of a sentence. Like, he cut a thought off at the pass. That way when he picked up his pen, he could find his way back into the same mindset and finish what he started. That worked for him. Stopping short of completion can cause your subconscious to continue to work on it while you move on and do other things. Isn’t it awesome to think that we are always writing? I don’t mean pen in hand scribbling away forever and ever.
What the book is talking about is our brain is writing. When we stare off into space for no reason or come to a complete stop to stare at a spot on the wall- we are writing in our heads. That is all well and great, but we need to find ways to shut down.
We have been talking about the routines needed to write, but we also need one to STOP. Bane suggests we add a closing routine to our writing day. This can create a neutral place that will allow you to shift from writing and move you into the next part of your day. A closing ritual or routine complements and completes the opening ritual. (pg 145) This is the idea of bookending your day. A clean start followed by a clean finish.
Challenge: Ritual Reverse
If you use routines to start your writing process but do not have a closing- think about a way to create one. Find a way to “turn off” the writing side of your life so you can do other things.
** Mine: I do my routine in reverse. I blow out the candles and turn off the lights. I take the dogos out and wash my cuppa and set it aside for tomorrow.