Wednesday, September 9, 2015

5 Steps to Creating Your Writing Ritual


As I peel the veil separating the writing process from the finished book, people often ask what my writing ritual is. I have to laugh, because I think it often looks like this photo depicts. "Five more minutes. Mommy needs five more minutes."

Any work at home mommies relate?

I'd like to say that my desk always look like it does at the bottom of the collage. Unfortunately, when I'm in the middle of writing, it looks like the top version. So do I have a writing ritual? Not really.

Here's what I do have:

    5 more minutes 2

  • Find a place to write. Most of my writing occurs at my desk in my bedroom. I have a hutch on the desk (and the floor around my desk) to hold my research materials. If I'm writing a historical, I'll often have 5 or 6 go-to books that provide the rich details I like to incorporate in my books. Contemporaries don't always require that level of information, but if the suspense thread is strong, I'll still have source materials.
  • Be flexible about that location. When I really need to grind out words, I have a favorite Panera that I escape to. The staff are wonderful, the tea flows freely, and I can focus without the every five minute distractions. I have also been known to hide at the law office -- scaring the cleaning service more than once with my late night entries.
  • Identify signals that tell you it's time to write. If I'm writing a historical and contemporary at the same time, I will use music to signal to my brain which era I'm in at the moment. Swing tells my mind we're in the WWII era. Country identifies more contemporary times.
  • Identify how to beat writer's block. If I get stuck, I'll change the location I'm writing at. I may also pick up a good novel, watch a movie I adore, or get out a legal pad. It rarely takes many paragraphs before I'm back into the story and ready to write.
  • Have fuel readily available. My go-to snack food is almonds and in the right season peppermint Hershey's kisses. I don't know why, but I love those two things. When I'm at Panera, it's an asiago cheese bagel and ice tea. Little things that help me stay in the chair and focus.
deskIf you're a writer, do you have writing rituals? What are they?
Shadowed by Grace is on ebook sale right now for $2.99. This is a great time to give it a read. And don't forget you can read the first chapter of Shadowed by Grace and watch the videos on why I wrote about the Monuments Men here.



kaybee said...

Hot black tea, preferably Earl Grey in a china cup. Printing things out (oh, the horror), taking the red pen to them, and typing the corrections back in. Acting on my crit partner's suggestions or a contest judge's advice the next day, if not the same day. Hitting it up early when I can.
Kathy Bailey

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

I'm an almonds girl too! Almonds and coffee! Love this!

Cara Putman said...

Kathy, sounds like you've found some that work for you!

Amy, I knew there were many reasons I liked you ;-) The almonds is one more to add to the list.

Angie Dicken said...

Great post for us mamas, Cara! I have spoiled myself and gotten in my biggest groove at expensive and luxury-non-kiddo zone. But music helps immensely wherever I am!

Michelle said...

Can't wait to read your new book, Cara! As for writing rituals, my biggest one is Mt. Dew and soft piano or cello music. Although, when the scene calls for something different in the way of mood, I change things up.

Cara Putman said...

Angie, I tend toward Panera. More tables, but the same basic atmosphere. And Michelle, I can see you as a Mt. Dew girl. I love me a Dr. Pepper when I'm writing if tea or coffee isn't available.