How to Create a Pre-Writing Ritual That Can Seduce Creativity to Your side
3 ways you can start practicing creativity rituals.
All writers need certain things: inspiration, creativity, dedication, some measure of talent. But there’s one thing that’s perhaps more important than all these elements combined — one thing that can help you become a productive writer. And that thing is a writing ritual.
Every writer who wants to achieve their goals must have one.
A pre-writing ritual has many benefits, but perhaps my favorite is this: it can make you feel good. And when you feel good, you can create more and create a smile on your face.
Looking back through 2020, the most common thing about my creativity is my daily creativity ritual. Practicing a pre-writing ritual every day has become a good habit. Before I sit down to write, I get out of my pajamas and take a shower. I put on decent clothes as if I’m going to work to teach my students. I brush my teeth. I wash my face. I put on lipstick. I clear my desk of its clutter. I open the window. I water my plants. I might even put on perfume.
I don’t even wear perfume when I go to work. But I put on perfume in an attempt to seduce creativity back to my side.
This pre-writing ritual helps me “tune in” to me and enhancing my creativity. It helps me to become more decisive about creating.
If you’re struggling to maintain a regular writing practice, creating a pre-writing ritual might help. Creativity rituals are especially relevant for all of us struggling to maintain our daily creative practice.
Here’s what a famous eighteenth-century novelist said about seducing his creativity through a writing ritual…
If a man dresses like a gentleman, every one of his ideas stands presented to his imagination.
The British essayist, Laurence Sterne, has written a marvelous cure for writer’s block in his novel, Tristram Shandy.
The cure is something you never expect.
In Sterne’s novel, he writes about how the main character, Tristram, cures a writer’s block by seducing creativity to his side. Whenever Tristram felt like he could not write a single sentence on the page, he would dress up in his finest regalia and act all princely, thus attracting ideas and inspiration to his side on account of his fabulous ensemble.
Specifically, here’s what Tristram claims he would do when he was feeling “stupid” and blocked, and when his thoughts would “rise through (his) pen.”
Instead of sitting there in a funk, staring hopelessly at the empty page, he would leap from the chair, get a fresh razor, and give himself a nice clean shave. After that, he would engage in this elaborate transformation. He would change his shirt, put on a better coat, and his topaz ring upon his finger.
In one sentence, he dresses from one end to the other.
In his own words,
“A man cannot dress, but his ideas hide at the same time; and if he dresses like a gentleman, every one of his ideas stands presented to his imagination.”
That was a pre-writing ritual by Tristram that helped him create consistently.
What is yours? What creative rituals do you have around creativity?
I have a writer friend who dances to a piece of African music before she sits down to write. “I’m seducing my creativity,” she tells me when I ask her why she dances before she creates.
My writer friend is dancing like Tristram leaped from his chair to seduce creativity.
What do you do to seduce creativity to your side? Why not practice creating a pre-writing ritual?
A go-to pre-writing ritual directs us. It contextualizes our creative experience. A Harvard business review shows what you feel and creativity are closely related. How do we want to feel when we create?
I don’t know about you, but I want to feel good when I write.
Creativity is never an accident. You can win the lottery and become rich overnight, but no one has ever mastered their craft by chance. So if you want to be a professional writer, creativity rituals are important.
I have been a professional writer for 2 and a half years. During that time, the one common thing that helps me produce content with consistency is my pre-writing ritual.
So how can you set the stage for the art of creating? How can you establish a pre-writing ritual that’s right for you? One that will help you dedicate yourself to your writing and be as productive as possible?
Let’s look at 3 ways you can create creative rituals…
1. Like someone seducing a lover, seduce creativity to your side.
Tell me if this sounds familiar. You get up from bed intending to write. You sit in front of your computer in your pajamas. And then nothing. The words do not come. You stare at a blank page for hours.
When you want to write and the words are not flowing, it’s a horrible feeling.
A pre-writing ritual might help.
Sometimes when I’m feeling sluggish and useless. I look in the mirror, “Look at yourself, Banchi. You look like hell. Why would creativity be interested in you?” I imagine creativity talking back to my lethargic appearance, “You’re repelling creativity. So do something about it.” Then I put myself together from head to toe. And then I get back to my computer.
My creativity cannot help but feel seduced by my attempt to present myself well.
Imagine you’re going to your lover’s place. You dress well and present yourself. Don’t you? Why would you deprive the creativity of your best self? A pre-writing ritual can be as simple as putting on your lucky dress before you sit at your desk and turn on the laptop.
Try this trick.
Present yourself to your creativity — as if you are somebody worth spending time with.
2. Take some time to create a short pre-writing ritual to follow before you sit down to write.
What calls to you? Would changing the looks of where you create help? Would putting out your clothes make you feel good? Would a special scent help your creative readiness? How about a special sound? Would you dance to a song that makes you feel playful? What about making your to-do-lists the night ahead? Would something as simple as opening up a window for fresh air or holding Mountain Pose for five minutes help?
Write what calls out to you and start practicing them before you sit down to write.
3. Find a dedicated writing community.
A pre-writing ritual can be an honest, respectful, and dedicated writing community. Writers are our tribe. When you find a good community, it’s like holding each other’s hand when we get rejected and inspiring each other to create with consistency.
Having someone to show your work to can be a ritual that helps you to be a productive writer.
I’m part of a writing community in my city. Every week, on Saturdays, my writer friends and I gather online and show our work to each other. We’re doing this for a good, practical reason. We’re inspiring and pushing each other forward. Our group gives us energy. I know some aspiring writers who started sending their drafts to publishers consistently after they joined our group. It’s easier to commit to your creativity when you have somebody to answer to.
Taking part in a writing community can be a wonderful ritual that helps you to be accountable. So if you’re struggling to create and you want some accountability, find some people to create with.
Once you’ve successfully established a pre-writing ritual that works for you, there’s only one thing left to do: stick to it.
That’s not to say you can’t change your pre-writing rituals as your goals, personal circumstances, or writing habits change. Yes, you can change your writing rituals. But your commitment to the ritual itself can’t be.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the only way to achieve your writing goals is to treat writing seriously. This means sticking to your writing rituals.
Without a routine, it’s hard to make writing a regular habit. And making it a habit is something you must-do if you ever want to finish an article, a blog post, or a book. To be a successful creator, you have to actually sit down and write — and you have to do that repeatedly over an extended period.
Pre-writing rituals can make sure you do the work by seducing creativity to your side. When you stick to this practice, your creativity will always come back to you — the same way a raven is captivated by a shiny, spinning thing.
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