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My beautiful notebooks
Sep 10, 2019

Writing Rituals, Tools, and Tips

When I am ready to sit down and write, I do have a ritual, but I do not worry about it when it is not possible.

I have written a lot on planes and in cafés or on patios outside where there is a lot happening around me, and I have done so without any problem.

But there are a few tools I love to use, when possible:

--Bose wireless headset. This is a godsend. It is not about music, it is about cutting out the noise that might be in your environment, that is, the normal distracting noises of an office or your home.
--A pen. I prefer my Montblanc but if it is not with me I have gone without it. I have even written with the Apple pencil on my iPad in a specific app. It works.
--I prefer paper. I always have a notebook with me wherever I go. Now, what is very funny with me personally is that it cannot be an ugly notebook. I need a notebook that inspires me to write something inside it. The paper inside the notebook is as important as the cover of the book. (For instance, see the cover-image of this post. It is lovely, right?)

When I am in an environment where I know I won’t be disturbed, I have a bit more of a ritual. One thing that I have noticed over the years is that I get cold feet while writing. I will often have big socks with me and wear loose sweats so that I can tuck my legs under me.

I also make the area clean and neat. This is the typical Virgo in me. I will clean my writing surface and give everything that goes on the table a place. Here is the typical setting…

--Bose headset, to block noise, so that when I lift my head to think of the emotion that belongs with the memory it will flow easily from my pen.
--The notebook is very important. I have a tiny ruler to underline the date. I also have colored pens to emphasize words so that I can see it easily at a later moment.
When the pen hits the paper, there is something incredibly melodic in the sound and feel… The paper is crisp, never used or touched before. The pen glides over it leaving shapes that turn into letters… I often write in cursive.
--Of course, it goes without saying that my phone is turned off as otherwise I would not be able to restart the flow of writing after being disturbed. I assume being interrupted is really hard on most writers.
--I often light a plain white candle. I like looking at the flame. I have no idea why.  As a child I loved candles and as an adult I still do. There is something special about looking at a flame that just moves naturally due to the air in the room.
--I absolutely love aroma oils, but that cannot be done easily on the road, of course. But if I am in a room where I can put a diffuser on, I do.
--Remember, comfortable clothing and a bottle of water is vital, and in my case often a big mug with hot water and lemon, one of my favorite drinks.
--Always go with your flow. You cannot write against your will or force the writing. If you have emotions during the writing, let it happen. Sometimes I cry and I cannot read very well the ink afterwards. But it does not matter. I will not stop as it interrupts the emotions.

Here are some tips for new authors:

--Just try it. If it does not flow, then try something else.
--Some people need the routine and discipline of writing every day at the same time due to their jobs and busy family lifestyle.
--Avoid going back to and rereading everything too-soon after because you will be too critical and destroy your work. To continue the next day, my advice to new authors is always read just the last page to refresh your memory and then continue.
--Don’t worry about whether it sounds good till your story is finished.
--I always suggest starting with an outline/structure in your mind of where you want to go before starting to write your book. That is actually important. Otherwise we are just writing stories randomly and forget that there is a reader that needs to follow your thought process throughout the book for them to like and understand it!
--Concentrate on the rhythm of the story, not spelling mistakes, punctuation, nor anything else. I even told another author to turn off the automatic spell checker on his laptop. This way the red squiggly lines cannot get to you!

No matter what, have fun… Don’t take yourself too seriously and remind yourself to walk around or jump in your car and take a walk in nature to re-invigorate your body so you can sit down once again for hours behind your desk!