Wednesday Writers Wisdom: The Ritual by E.C. Jarvis
Today’s writing wisdom is from Steampunk and erotica author, E.C. Jarvis.
“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Let’s be clear on one thing. My process is just that, mine. My process may be similar to your process, but even if we do exactly the same things in exactly the same way, it is still not the same.
Every writer has some form of ritualistic behaviour in their writing, a set of things they do before, during, and after writing. Even if you think you’re above all that, let me tell you, there are things you do without even realising that fall into this category. The way you make your coffee, the fact that you have to have the handle of the cup pointed in a certain direction, the password you apply to your documents, the frequency with which you update your word count progress document, the music you have in your headphones, the spot on the wall that you stare at while regressing inwardly into the world you’re creating. It is the way you plot, the method in which you design your characters. It’s all there, and it all matters.
We’re creatures of habit by nature. We do things repetitively because it makes us feel safe, it gives us comfort. Especially with writing, that comfort can be essential to put us into the zone. How many times have you been happily writing away only to have someone or something interrupt your groove and spoil the whole thing? Whatever it takes to get you into that zone matters not. I don’t care if you have to turn the lights on and off three times while quoting some ancient incantation—if that’s what is needed then go right ahead. What matters is that you get there. You the author need to feel at ease in your environment before you can write. Even if that environment means a loud coffee shop with people bustling to and fro about their business, or on a train, the monotonous clickety-clack of the wheels riding the tracks lulling you into your imagination. The where and the how is irrelevant.
Now here’s where I blow all that out the water. The moment you hit a writer’s block, you know my first suggestion? Snap that routine. Stop the process, get rid of the ritual. Step away from the computer (paper if you still write the old fashioned way!) and get out of your habit. That is the fastest way to cure the headache that we all suffer from time to time. After a brief respite you may slip straight back into your normal ritual, follow your usual process, and carry straight on.
The process is but a step leading to a door and what lies beyond the door is your story, so lead on, and take us all with you through that journey.