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Monday, 12 December 2011
WRITER'S DREAM: Rituals
Writer are creatures of habit. We have certain rituals which we perform each time the Muse takes us. Special paper and pens; certain fonts or background music; preferred sweets that help the mind to concentrate; all these things are employed as tricks of the trade. Some writers like to write direct onto a screen; others prefer to write longhand and then type up the manuscript. I personally like to work on screen for features and columns but for longer projects such as books, I write the first draft by hand, editing and making changes as I type up the manuscript and save to my computer. My choice of paper for the longhand draft is always A4, narrow lined and ruled and I use a blue or black Paper mate Replay pen. When I'm working on poems or songs and putting together lyrics, I always use yellow legal pads as this helps me to spot my musical projects at a glance. I keep a small bowl (which is a white feather nest with an angel sitting on the side - a gift from my grandmother who passed away) on my desk filled with boiled sweets such as cough candy, sherbet lemons, or herbal voice tablets if I'm song-writing and recording as I write. I find it helps to focus the mind when sucking on sweets! Some writers prefer chewing gum.
Of course this kind of ritual activity is designed to persuade the creative juices to flow. If you can make the practise of writing into a habit, chances are you will do it more often and get more done. As I am a Wiccan author I also have magical ritual items and tricks I use. They may work for you, but the key is to find your personal creative trigger - if you hate the scent of cinnamon, substitute something else you do like. Here's what I use;
Crystals; I keep the following crystals on my desk; citrine for communication; clear quartz for clarity of thought; aventurine for abundance. I also keep a round black obsidian scrying mirror, for insight, propped up on the book stand at my elbow - gazing into this has helped me over many a writer's block!
Scents; This is very personal and will depend on your tastes. I like to have oils and incense sticks burning as I work. Scented candles also work well, with the added benefit that you can scry in the flame for insight when you stall! At the moment I am burning Yankee Candle's Warm Spice. My all time favourite fragrances are rose, cinnamon and frankincense. I use rose more in the warmer months or when writing something with a girly, romantic slant. Otherwise its something more spicy, with cinnamon incense sticks being my regular staple for a working fragrance - I keep a stash of these in my Arwen Lord of the RingsChalice on my desk. Some essential oils can aid clarity of thought and concentration, particularly the citrus scents like grapefruit or lemongrass. Using the same fragrance each time you write will help to create a sense memory; you will automatically want to write each time you smell it. This helps writers get into the zone.
Music; I personally prefer complete peace and quite when I write, which is why I am most productive through the night. Some people like to have a little background music playing as they work. Occasionally I will have a New Age CD playing very quietly, but this needs to be instrumental or I find myself singing along to the lyrics instead of writing. I have lots of Nature Sounds CDs which I play as I work; these are what work best for me as they are non-intrusive and calm the mind for concentration. Some people prefer classical music and I do have CD's of piano nocturnes, but I tend to use these when sorting out my desk and study rather than when I am writing. Once the writing work is done I sing and dance to a pop music DVD like Kylie, Britney or Girls Aloud to shake off the stress and get my body moving after a long stint at my desk!
Nature; Nature is always a fantastic source of inspiration for me so I like to get out and about; in woods, parks, the garden etc. I take trips to the Scottish Highlands as often as I can, and as I love the ocean I try to get to the coast whenever possible. I keep a glass dish of beautiful seashells on my desk, along with a Caithness mountain rock, hand painted with a thistle, which I use as a paperweight. I like to keep fresh flowers on my desk and a little rosemary plant as rosemary is the herb of Clan Bruce. You could use whichever house plants to have, or buy a special plant to keep in your creative space.
Sentiment; For sentimental inspiration I drink tea from a Clan Bruce mug with a matching coaster and I have a small Saltire, and a small Royal Standard, the two flags of Scotland flying from my pen pot! I use an a-ha tour mug, which I bought at their farewell tour last year, as my pen pot. And my memo block is printed with a thistle!
I hope these tips and tricks prove helpful for you. Happy writing!