Saturday, October 09, 2010

More Rituals

Donis here. Are writers like athletes, who must have their rituals in order to perform? Hannah's entry on Wednesday, and all the comments it elicited, certainly confirm the suspicion.

I was amused to see how many of the rituals that were mentioned are very similar to my own. Like Peter, I, too, have a Buddha on my desk next to the computer, though I don't rub his belly. I do however invoke the Muses before I start to type. When I have other things in my life that are pressing, I make myself get up early and sit down to write before I do anything else, because I know myself too well. Once I open my email, that's literally all she wrote. This is why I sometimes don't check my email until late in the afternoon, or even after supper.

When the rest of life is humming along, I write in the afternoons, especially during the summer. I long ago developed the habit of doing my chores and errands in the morning, before the Arizona heat is at its worst, then spending the hottest part of the day at my computer in air-conditioned comfort. I routinely take a break at about 3:00 for 15 or 20 minutes, to eat an apple, stretch, and maybe read something that has nothing to do with anything. However, if I’m on a roll, all bets are off.

Like John, I routinely get lost around page 100, and take some time to review and rethink the story. l usually do this at the dining room table in longhand on a pad of paper. Sometimes it takes a couple of days, and when I finish, the story has picked up some elements I hadn't thought of when I started out.

When I'm in my lost stage, I do like to talk the story over with my husband. He listens with interest but seldom makes suggestions. Even so, I'm usually clearer about things after I've said them aloud.

However, unlike some other authors who are perfectly welcome to do as they like, I do change out of my pajamas before I go to work.


Hannah Dennison said...

Donis, I actually got out of my pajamas at noon today - but that's because I have to take friends to the airport. I completely agree about email though - I'm reading Julia Mortgenstern's "Don't Check Your Email in the morning" as an aid to trying to control my life. It's SO true. If I so much as peek at it, then I'm doomed. I'm so glad I'm not alone.

Anonymous said...

What a great support it is to know I'm not alone in my total inability to focus on writing if I give in to the lure of my inbox. Thank you for your testimony. I too have to change out of my pj's before I go to work. I also know I'm better off sitting down to my word doc first thing before I do anything else (and that includes blogging & email). But what I find really difficult is when I reach a natural pause in my writing (say 500, 750, 1000 words along) and begin to think about taking a break. I'll just read a couple blogs, I say. I'll just go make myself a cup of tea. 15 minutes, then I'll go back to writing. Which, of course, never happens. How do you keep writing through those natural pauses?