Wednesday, May 06, 2020

May IWSG: Writing Ritual or Routine?

Living in this time of pandemic is hard. I keep thinking of all the people I know who have been affected. We know this litany: lost jobs/income. Serious health issues and sometimes the loss of loved ones. Hellacious conditions for those on the line, health workers and first responders. And some affected more than others.

I don't know about you, but the constant and impassioned nattering of news announcers gets to me. In fact, I mostly read my news now, because I can't handle that emotional overload when I'm already worried about the ones I love and our wider community as we struggle along. Plus, for people in a vulnerable group (that's me, older than dirt), we have to stay home. Yep. Day 56 for me. I've almost mastered ordering groceries online -- and having to wait 8 days before picking them up!

So IWSG's challenge question this month seemed to fit right in. The Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) asks: Do you have any rituals that you use when you need help getting into the ZONE? Care to share?

At first, this self-enforced staying at home (which began for me on February 6), was unsettling. Two somewhat connected strategies help me now write nearly every day.

1. Writing Challenges and resources. Who doesn't love a challenge? April brought National Poetry Month, and Robert Lee Brewer's daily poetry prompts. Just that process of falling into a poem centered me. Add Pixabay's library of visual images, and I was transported far beyond my view of the garages just outside my office window. 

After a morning of writing, I try to hit the e-mails, deleting as fast as I can. But, there are always gems -- those newsletters from writers teaching other writers; their generosity and helpfulness inspire me -- most recently Kate Weiland's discussion of theme and how it shapes all else. Current favorites include: Kate Weiland's Helping Writers Become Authors, Joel Friedlander's The Book Designer, and Anne R. Allen's blog with Ruth Harris. So this kind of reading feeds back into my writing and gets me ready for the next day.

2. Commitment to a writing routine. Just now, NaNoWriMo sends out an occasional e-mail, maybe once a week with a cute graphic offering tips to help writers on their social, physical, and mental well-being -- and writing. Early on in this pandemic, their advice was simply to create a routine. And this led me to make a commitment to what I really want to do -- and to make that goal visible and achievable by breaking it into smaller steps.  

As Kristin Lamb says, 
“Wash, rinse, repeat for writing success. 
Just write those 500 words every day!”

Part of my ritual in getting ready to write is to open up my file called May Daily Work which sets goals for the month (easily modified). Here, I track and update my musings about and progress each day in about three categories (writing projects, marketing, and other). Each category lists between 3-7 specific tasks. I may not finish them all each day, but they're present and ready for tomorrow. And so am I.

Maybe IWSG was looking for something a bit more quirky? Like that 18th Century poet who was inspired by the smell of rotting apples kept in his writing desk?  Let's be inspired, by routine and/or ritual!

Image by John Hain, Pixabay

Why not visit IWSG's HOME PAGE at www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com to see what others have written — and to thank this month’s hosts: Feather Stone, Beverly Stowe McClure, Mary Aalgaard, Kim Lajevardi, and Chemist Ken!  And make it a good week ahead. Stay home. Stay safe. Cherish yourself and those you care about.

12 comments:

  1. LOL - I'm not going to try out the rotting apples!!
    Routines do help settle me into tasks as well.!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Let's celebrate the rituals and routines that help us be creative. Alice Blanchard tells the story behind German poet Schiller's obsession with apples in an interesting way (he also wrote Ode to Joy -- the poem that inspired Beethoven). Here's the link: https://aliceblanchard.com/blog/2018/5/28/q4jjz92dcwz41ika2l30ztuqwjk6bz

      Delete
  2. Rotting apples? - No! No way.
    But writing challenges do help. In the past few years, the only writing I've done (almost) was the stories I wrote for the WEP writing challenges - 6 flash fiction stories per year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Olga, I've written 2 for that WEP writing challenge and thoroughly enjoyed the process. I agree with you about those apples! Writer Alice Blanchard (see above note) actually did the experiment and kept apples in her desk . . .

      Delete
  3. Anne's blog is a great resource, you'll find lots of common sense there. I find routines to be necessary to get anything done, but they can be so easy to break (or is that just me?) ;-) Goodness knows how rotting apples inspired that poet!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I also try to follow routines . . . alas, when the sun shines, or one commitment seems easier than another, then the writing doesn't always come first. But, we persevere, right?

      Delete
  4. I can't stand to listen to the news either. Like you, I choose to read it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good to know I'm not alone when it comes to avoiding the news. Thank you for stopping by. Let's hope for better news -- and some kind of control over the coronavirus which is bringing so much pain to so many.

      Delete
  5. Good functional routines. I was intrigued that you waited on email until afternoon. Me, I get through them (hoping the cover for my new book has arrived--yay! It did!) early!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Congrats on the new cover. I'm waiting for a first-time-ever book trailer with the same excitement (two more days). Did you post about your cover on FB or your blog? I'm checking it out!

      Delete
  6. I think the trick (or one of them) to become a successful and accomplished writer is routine. How else does stuff ever get done? But, if there’s one thing I don’t have - in any facet of my lifestyle - it’s routine. I’m just not a fan of it, preferring the unknown to the familiar. That’s what happens with adventurous souls... Yet another conflict in the life of a not-yet-successful writer/traveler. Such a tough combination! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Liesbet, I believe that your writing is already successful. Maybe you haven't found all those readers you hope to find. But that adventurous soul you have will keep you writing -- even if the routine you follow is different. Consider what you write as part of your inner life, that seeking out of the true and unusual. We don't travel as we once did, but Allen and I both love that life 'on the road'. Cherish each day!

      Delete