Monday, March 19, 2018

How the Magic Happens

I'm in the mood for some fun and Sarah McCoy's post - Magic Cloaks, Lucky Charms, and Other Writerly Superstitious Habits - over at Writer Unboxed provides that and then some. The following just totally cracked me up: 

"....it got me thinking about the superstitious patterns of our writer tribe. Some we admit. Many we keep secret. But Writer Unboxed is a safe space of honesty and acceptance, so I’ll crack open my nut first... I wear a cape when I write. Technically, it’s a red tartan robe that my mother gave me. My husband refers to it as the “get-off-my-lawn” old man robe." 

Ms. McCoy continues talking about other superstitions of our tribe. Here are some examples from her post - 

"Isabelle Allende begins all her novels on the same day: January 8th...While A.J. Jacobs walks on a treadmill and Dan Brown hangs upside down to cure his writer’s block. Poet Edith Sitwell gets inside a coffin to focus her mind...." 

She also asked about superstitions in a forum of contemporary writers -

"M.J. RoseI have to play Gregorian chants when I write each draft of the book. I have to buy one [lucky charm] for each book. 18 books – 18 lucky charms.  I have to sleep with the ARC under my pillow one night.
Elizabeth BellI like to burn a scented candle appropriate to the scene I’m writing. On a beach? Ocean-scented candle. In a rose garden? Rose-scented candle, etc.  I also like to wear something my characters are wearing, such as a Victorian-style chemise or a saint’s medal."
It got me thinking about my own writing rituals. At first I didn't think I had any, but then I realized they're so ingrained I don't notice them anymore. Like, I always write in my office. I'll daydream, brainstorm, jot notes, etc. other places but actual writing? My office, my desk, my laptop. I also have a certain mug and spoon - both gifts from my husband - that I use for my morning coffee. Etched into the spoon are the words "What will you create today?" Answering that question usually keeps me focused and on a good track for the day. And isn't that what good rituals and superstitions do?

*****

How about you all? Any writing superstitions you want to share? Do you wear bunny slippers? Dance around to a special song? Eat a certain number of Cheerios or peanut M&Ms? Pet a tortoise or two? Do you plan on starting your own writing ritual?

32 comments:

Maria Zannini said...

I don't know if it's a superstition or just put me in the right frame of mind, but before I'd write a love scene or battle scene, I'd play stirring music. It gave me the right push every time.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I like the idea of that - I just struggle with finding music that I like or that fits what I'm writing. I am VERY out of the loop with how to find music, etc.

Christine Rains said...

I love reading about writing rituals! I don't have many. I have my big cup of water, and I'll play a game of Settlers of Catan on the computer to get my mind in gear. I usually prefer the house to be empty of other humans, but if I'm really in the mood, I can write anywhere!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Definitely go check out the whole post over at WU, Christine. :)

I can write with my husband in the house, but he knows enough to be quiet. Can't same the same for the tortoises!

Tonja Drecker said...

I usually have a cup of tea (hot or cold depending on season) next to me, but otherwise...hmmm...nope. Can't think of anything.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

For me, it's coffee. Usually hot, but occasionally I get an iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I don't think I have any though I do print off each chapter of my first draft as I write it so I don't go back and mettle with it until it's all done.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Good idea, Susan! I usually allow myself to go back a certain amount of pages, reading it over, making tweaks, before moving on to that day's writing session.

Anonymous said...

The only thing I can think of is I used to check twitter before and make sure I was caught up before I started writing, but decided that was a bad habit and waste of time, so I stopped.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I've read so many things that say checking social media first thing is not a good idea. But then again, everyone is different. :)

emaginette said...

I'm all about sounds. In the name of atmosphere, I've listened to caves, ocean waves, space and more on YouTube.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Love that idea!

Chrys Fey said...

"Dan Brown hangs upside down to cure his writer’s block." I'm not sure that's scientifically proven, but if it works for him... Haha!

Hmm...my writing superstitions...if I write a start writing a story at my desk, I have to finish it at my desk. If I start a story on my laptop at my dining room table, I have to finish it there. It seems that certain stories flow better in different settings and if I try to write that book in a different place, it doesn't work.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

That's so interesting, Chrys!

Lee Lowery said...

When I am at home, I play a continuous loop of thunderstorms - it's relaxing and inspiring. And I have two "writer's" cups, both gifts. One is exclusively for coffee; the other exclusively for tea. They are not interchangeable. :-)

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Of course the mugs are not interchangeable! I even have a mug for tea with milk and sugar and a mug for herbal tea. Yeah, so I get it. :)

Tyrean Martinson said...

Okay, it's weird, but for years I tried to not have writing rituals - in the hopes that I could write anywhere, anytime (like some kind of super-power), but ... the reality is I write best in these five places: a particular coffee shop that closed down recently (but they are reopening in a new location and I'm hoping it is a good one), the library, my house either at the dining room table, in the living room brown chair of awesomeness (best for the days that I'm trying to cram in tons of writing because I hyperfocus there and forget to get up), and at a folding table in my college daughter's room when she's away (it's a new spot that works and I don't get distracted by her stuff as much as I do mine). I always have a mug nearby - full or empty, either works, and my journal handy - even if I don't look at my notes.
Not long ago, my favorite place to write was a dance studio lobby - but since my daughters don't dance there anymore, I'm not sure I could just waltz in and sit down to write.
It might be funny thought, especially if I wore a red cape. :)

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

This cracks me up - "...in the living room brown chair of awesomeness." I have a chair like that but it's more for daydreaming, jotting down ideas, journaling and reading. And my chair is blue. :)

J.H. Moncrieff said...

I'm pretty boring--I'm also of the scented-candle tribe, but I don't match the candle to the novel. That's an interesting idea to try.

I also need silence to write. That's about it.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I'm not really into candles, but I do like diffusers. Maybe I'll give that a try for Camp NaNo....

I need quiet, too. "White noise" is okay but not lots of activity, conversation, etc.

The Cynical Sailor said...

I don't have any writing superstitions or rituals so I'm going to need to get some. I'm thinking they should involve chocolate and naps.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I like the idea of a piece of chocolate or a nap for every however-many words or however-long of actual writing. Now that would keep me at my desk! :)

Loni Townsend said...

I don't have any rituals, mostly because I'm not allotted much time to write so I must snag bits wherever I can. But I'd love to get to the point where I can have a ritual!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Maybe your ritual is that you don't have one? Maybe if you had time for one, that would actually mess you up? :)

Tara Tyler said...

I’m not superstitious, but I do worry often about someone else coming out with my idea - there are no new ideas, but I try hard to come up with new spins so when I see a similar story come out before mine, it’s frustrating. ah well.
fun post!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Definitely frustrating! But we can only do what we can do, we can do our best, and the rest we have to let go.

Annalisa Crawford said...

I really don't have any writing-related superstitions. I have a whole heap of everyday ones though, really bizarre ones at that!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Ha! Maybe those everyday ones affect your writing, and you don't even realize it. :)

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

The closest thing to a writing ritual I have is to write first thing in the morning... BEFORE reading the newspaper. If I give my writing top priority, I accomplish more. Even though I'm a newspaper addict, I learned that reading it first was a form of procrastination. I'm an early riser and my hubby usually isn't, so I cherish the quiet time. (And secretly curse under my breath when he decides to get up early, too!)

I DO have a favorite mug (Pink Freud) to drink my hot tea or coffee, and a favorite bowl and spoon for my cereal, though. The bowl's a cheap little thing with little blue flowers around the rim, and the spoon is one of those round-bowled things like they use in Chinese restaurants. In fact, it came from a Chinese restaurant. We went there on my birthday one year, and my hubby told the owner how much I loved the spoon, and he gave me one. :)

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I've read a number of things that said writing first thing is key - before newspapers, social media etc.

I love that the owner of the restaurant gave you one of the spoons! And what a good husband to mention it in the first place. :)

Cynthia said...

I don't have any writing superstitions that I'm aware of. My main thing is I try to stay on task once I start something.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I try to do that, too, but it would be nice if there was a magic wand or cape or chocolate that would help with that. :)