Archive for July 7th, 2012

Saturday, July 7th, 2012 by Ken Scholes
Writing Rituals

Howdy folks and happy Saturday.

I wanted to write a bit about writing rituals today.  I suspect most of us have them in one form or another.  Things we do to invoke our words, the rites we make whether known or unknown.

I like ritual.  I like habit and routine, too.  As a matter of fact, this very weekend I’m off celebrating my eighth wedding anniversary with the Fierce and Formidable Jen West.  And we have a ritual for that.  We honeymooned in Napa because Jen’s something of a wine geek and I’m her stalwart driver.  And while we were there we made a decision:  Each year for our wedding anniversary we would go wine tasting somewhere and buy a fancy bottle of wine (that we both liked) that we would set aside to grow dusty until the following anniversary when we would pack it with a picnic lunch and go off in search of our next year’s bottle.  We bought the first bottle on our honeymoon and we’ve kept the ritual since.  So this year, we’re going wine-tasting in the Columbia Gorge and will be drinking the bottle we bought last year from AniChe Cellars.  We’ll drink that bottle for our picnic and pick up next year’s bottle.  I like this ritual.

And I was thinking about how it applies to writing.  From a young age, I wrote to music with headphones on.  I was pounding out short stories on a manual typewriter with Simon and Garfunkel records stacked on my LP player when I was 15.  To this day, music is a part of my writing ritual.  I have a massive playlist.  And I create specific playlists sometimes based on what I’m writing.  And Simon and Garfunkel are still my “go-to” when I get stuck.

And I have other rituals.  For instance, my Perfect Morning Ritual….

1)  Up at 3am (while the world is asleep) and doing the coffee brewing ritual (grind the beans, fill the pot, find the mug, etc.)

2) Bike 5-8 miles while the coffee brews.  (Chatting, checking FB and email while I do using my laptop on a tilting hospital table over the stationary bike.)

3) Drink first cup of coffee while finishing up email etc.

4) Put on the music

5) Write 1k words

6) Eat breakfast

7) Write 1k words

8) Reward myself with an episode of something

That would be my ideal morning ritual.  And then I have con rituals — breakfast with J.A. Pitts for as many mornings as possible, just the two of us.  Breakfast with John is actually just a ritual in general.  We always end up out to breakfast when we’re together — usually at Beth’s Diner in Seattle when I’m up north.  Or the Village Inn here in Saint Helens.

But also at cons:  Bar-con is a ritual of sorts just like making the party loop at least one of the nights.  And I usually find a guitar or bring one and put on at least one room concert for a small group of invited friends.  Things I do that mark moments and make memories that add to the fuel of my writing time when I’m back in the Den of Ken.  People wear me down because of my introverted nature but my deep affection for so many of the members of my SF/F tribe is a source of strength for me.  I think it’s because I see them as my family.

And last year around this time, I started a new ritual following on the heels of my pal Jay Lake:  Group dinners.  I started realizing that there were far more people in the places I visited that I wanted to see than I actually had time to see.  So on my book-signing road trip with my little sister last year, we arranged group dinners in the three major cities and met with folks there.  It wasn’t a ton of time but it was nice to see everyone.  I even got to hang out with a buddy from high school that I hadn’t seen since graduation.

I like rituals.

So what about you?  Do you have any rituals you associate with your writing?