When I first started writing, I had this image of me like F. Scott Fitzgerald, bottle of bourbon in the bottom desk drawer, pounding away on an old Underwood typewriter at 3:00 a.m. in the morning. Come to find out that I write much better sober on a computer after a full night’s rest. Oh, and a cuppa ready for the sipping.
Rituals. We all have them. Things we do to make whatever else we’re doing go that much better, to take the edge off any anxiety or nervousness we might feel. And I think artists—and writers in particular—have rituals up the wazoo. Some are as simple as having a cup of coffee (or tea) or as elaborate as wearing the write (ha!) clothes, listening to a particular kind of music, having the desk just so. I’ve a friend who has to play a game of Free Cell before he’ll start his writing day. Me? Well, let’s just say I’m familiar with all the games that come with Windows. And some that don’t.
But mostly mine are about four of my five senses. Yeah, I do have writing clothes—comfortable ones that’ll allow me to sit at my computer for long stretches. I have my desk facing the window so I can look out and see a bit of sky, trees, greenery. There’s the ubiquitous tea (either herbal or decaf—no caffeine buzz for me, darn it), and, also yeah, I have to have music. Usually it’s classical, but sometimes it’s jazz or world music. Something I can tune out or tune into as the writing ebbs and flows. Not really background music; more like musical support.
Taste, sight, touch, hearing. No smelling, though. I find smells, even the good kind, too evocative and distracting.
All this to put pen to paper, so to speak. Well, whatever makes the creative process work. And to perdition all that doesn’t.