Writing Rituals: Train Your Muse to Be a Creature of Habit

Are you a writer held hostage by your muse? You wake up determined today will be THE day that project gets completed, that dream gets dreamed, that story gets started… you know what I mean. Then, you sit at your desk wondering what adventure your muse has wandered off on, because she didn’t show up for work today.

I’ve written about the dual nature of my muse before. One half of it is productive, the other half… er… not so much. I suspect most writers, except those like James Reasoner (who, according to the May 2011 issue of The Writer,  writes more than a million words per year!), wrestle with the same problem occasionally.

Solving the problem may hinge on your writing routine. Do you have one? You should, and here’s why. Muses, like humans, are creatures of habit. They take their cues from daily rituals.

Many famed writers had unusual writing rituals. Victor Hugo wrote naked. He didn’t allow himself to get dressed until he finished writing for the day. Vladimir Nabokov wrote longhand, while standing up. Alexandre Dumas began his writing day at 7 a.m. by eating an apple under the Arc de Triomphe. (Personally, none of those would have worked for me. To each his own.)

When you create a ritual connected to your writing and repeat it regularly, you train your brain to associate the two. For example, when I write fiction I build a playlist of songs that fit characters or story elements and I listen to it every time I sit down to write. I think of it as mood music. Lo and behold, after a couple of days, all I have to do is play the music and I automatically find myself thinking of those characters or situations.

Maybe you need to complete three pages of free-writing to make the words flow. Or perhaps something as simple as rereading what you wrote yesterday is enough to get the gears turning. Your muse may prefer taking a long hot shower or a morning jog while thinking writerly thoughts. The activity itself is less important than the repetition. Whatever you pick, make it part of your writing habit and stick with it.

Do you have writing rituals to share? Tell me about them in the comments.

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3 comments on “Writing Rituals: Train Your Muse to Be a Creature of Habit

  1. […] Writing Rituals: Train Your Muse to Be a Creature of Habit […]

  2. […] to churn out words. Granted, some of those routines are a bit odd as I discussed in my post on writing rituals, but they get the job […]

  3. […] serious thought to the steps you’ll need to follow to get to it. Maybe you need to create a writing ritual, or find a way to increase the amount of writing you churn […]

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