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Ritual and Routine

writing ritual
When my son was an infant I had an older friend whose four kids were mostly grown. She used to come to the dairy farm where we lived and make sure that my baby and I got out for a drive through the country every now and then. Once the little one was secured into his car seat and I’d done a final double-check on diaper bag ingredients, we’d make a brief pit-stop for a can of Tab for each of us (yes, those days preceded Eating Clean!). And then it was out onto the back roads of southern New Hampshire for the afternoon. The only time I drank Tab was during those expeditions and the repetition soon became a pleasant ritual. That was a long time ago, but even now, when heading out for a long-distance drive somewhere, it is a special beverage for the ride that completes my travel preparations.
The regular writing of my current novel-in-progress demanded its own sort of ritual. Thinking of the five senses, it was sight, sound, smell, touch and taste, that begged for familiar routine when sitting down to delve into my story. For a while I chose the surroundings of a local coffee shop, until they raised the volume on their soundtrack and I could no longer concentrate freely. Certainly the aroma and sound of coffee beans grinding made for a pleasant backdrop, too. And chairs in which I did nothing other than sit and write became familiar friends.
But then they cranked their music up and even played opera one day, and it was time to recreate my writing ritual. For now, I’ve opted to write at home, in the chair you see in the photo above. It’s comfortable. I’m not likely to sit there at any other time and for some reason this makes it “my writing chair”, as if that were important. And for some reason, it is. The stereo stays off and may the laundry, dirty dishes, meals-that-need-preparing, and all other domestic distractions await their turn. I miss the aroma of freshly ground coffee beans but for now, writing from this corner of my home is the new ritual.
Care to share yours?

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  • Melanie February 2, 2008, 9:51 pm

    I find it difficult to write at home and also used to go to a coffee shop to write, but had similar problems with noise.

    For me, the place I write best is on a moving train. I’m not sure why that is. Sometimes if my husband and I are going away, we choose to take the local trains rather than the express just so that I can write. There is also a subway line that goes around in a circle so I can just buy one ticket and ride it all day long if I like.

    My best ever writing week was when I rented a house by the sea (literally, it was on a cliff with the waves crashing below). I had no phone, no internet but instead lots of great food, wine and walks along the shore. The perfect writers retreat.

    Strangely enough though, I don’t write my best directly onto the compter, but rather pen to paper. Even my editing, I print out and edit with my trusty red pen.

    Mind you, I came back to Japan to finish my book and find too many distractions. I really haven’t done enough real writing, but blogging, especially on my other blog (My Life as a Gaijin) has helped me journal thoughts to be written at a later date.

  • Denise Fontaine February 2, 2008, 5:22 pm

    Hi thanks for commenting on shop it is in Chatham Cape Cod..here is website http://www.urbangardenstextiles.com/

  • Robin February 2, 2008, 11:15 am

    Your chair is charming. The area where you write is lovey. I agree, the painting looks perfection and I would love to see more. My special chair sits in front of a large easel in the studio. It is made of hard wood painted black. One Christmas (in 1970) Mother had it sitting next to the tree for my father and on the back, was the ensignia of the school he attended in PA. (Perkiomen School, Pennsburg, PA) After Mother died, and My father met and married another woman, the heavy chair of thoughtfulness, lived in the garage of their house. Upon Fathers death…my sisters swarmed to gather things. When I arrived, the “chair” (was in bad shape after 5 years in a dirty garage) Was the one memory that was mine. I have not refinished it, opting to leave the scars of hard years on its layers. It supports me while I paint, reminding exactly, who I am, and why. Life is amazily, oui?

  • teeni February 2, 2008, 2:07 am

    Wow – your little writing area looks cozy. I don’t think I would last long in a rocker like yours though. I need to be able to sit all the way back and reach the floor if I’m to sit anywhere comfortably for any length of time and rocking would keep me from reaching the keyboard. LOL. But I do love your area – the table and the lamp are pretty. I wish I could see more of your painting – that looks great!

  • Ann February 1, 2008, 8:08 pm

    Great idea for a post. My writing routing is a round-robin tour of the household. I have a chair for taking notes and outlining, another for background reading, one in the sunshine for writing on a pad of paper, and finally a computer chair for final drafts. Oddly, I can edit computer drafts anywhere. All stages are fueled by copious amounts of diet soda. Looking forward to reading a snippet or two of your words.

  • Loretta February 1, 2008, 7:15 pm

    My writing ritual is much more sybaritic. I must have my laptop and my bed. I write best and most on top of the covers, sitting against about ten pillows, with the TV off, my nighttable light dimmed, and no one else in the room, but the sounds of the family nearby.

    I was thinking of signing up for a self-directed retreat at an inn that offers such art retreats. They have a cottage in the back with a fireplace. I really want to go and just write and make a little art. Don’t you think that’s a great idea??

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