MONDAY FORTUNE COOKIE, 2/17/13
Posted by Denise Golinowski
LITTLE RITUALS WILL HELP YOU ACHIEVE SUCCESS
SNARKY RESPONSE: But human sacrifice is frowned upon. Yes, I know some people are just asking to be sacrificed, but you must rise above it. Deep breath. Let it go. Just let it go.
Little rituals will help you achieve success
Everyone has little rituals to ensure good luck. Spill some salt, throw a pinch over your shoulder. Beware of that much maligned black cat who might saunter across your path. Find a penny, pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck. The list goes on and on.
Athletes are notoriously superstitious. Pre-game rituals abound from lucky pieces of clothing to fortuitous meals to specific actions.
And writers can be just as superstitious. That new journal every New Year’s Day. The special pen. The same space at the coffee shop. But I’m not here to discuss our personal good luck routines. I’m digging into the harder stuff. The actual work rituals that will get a writer ahead in this world.
First and foremost – write every day. Drilled into every writer’s head by every teacher, workshop leader, critique group, writing manual. Set aside a time every day to write. The ritual of writing is required if you plan to achieve any level of success. You can’t publish that fabulous idea sizzling on your brainpan unless you put it down on paper/screen.
Set ground rules about your writing time. Make sure that everyone in the household understands that you are unavailable when you are writing. I’ve heard quite a few full-time writers laughingly admit to telling their families that unless there is blood involved, they are not to be interrupted while they are writing. And you must refrain from jumping up to check on this, intervene in that–you’re writing.
Stop before you reach the end of a scene/chapter. By leaving you and your characters hanging you can make the next day’s jump start that much easier. It will also get you back in that chair because your brain is just dying to finish that piece.
Timed writing. It’s so easy to fritter away that precious writing time, doodling, researching, clearing your desk, busy work. However, creating a little ritual of timed writing will help you focus on quality writing time. When you’ve got a deadline, a designated period, it’s less likely that you’ll dither off. Borrow that kitchen timer or use my favorite website – eg.gtimer.com – and commit to a short period of time – 30 or 45 minutes work best. Fifteen minutes is hardly enough time to work up a slight roil in the creative juices. You want a full head of steam and 30 or 45 minutes work best. BUT if all you have is fifteen minutes, then do it! Set the timer and start banging out the words until it buzzes, beeps, or shrieks.
Listening to music is a kind of ritual for some writers. The perfect playlist can help to pump up the creative muscles. Just be careful that you don’t pick anything too distracting. Getting up to bust a few moves can break the creative flow unless you are one of those folks who moves to muse. In that case, shake it but don’t break it.
Join a critique partner/group & participate. Writing is a solitary endeavor, but to hone your writing, nothing is more helpful than a good critique partner or group. Not only do you learn from them, but participation forces you to be accountable. The critique group ritual will dictate that you produce pages to submit, and those pages need to be quality pages.
Attend workshops/conferences/classes. Build on the foundation laid with your critique partner/group by attending writing workshops/conferences/classes. Not only for the craft of writing but also for the business of writing. The landscape of publishing is shifting like the coastline in a hurricane and you need to keep a weather eye on the horizon.
So, those are a few suggestions from me. Now, let me open it up to the floor. What are some of your writing rituals? What do you do to help you focus on the work? How do you lure your muse out of hiding?