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Your Writing Props

Two posts, one in which Christi Corbett asks What Inspires You While You Write? and one in which Christine Lee Zilka asks What is your writing uniform? got me thinking about what rituals people perform before they settle down to write. One writing colleague of mine wears tape on his eyebrows when he’s writing. I’m not sure why. I should ask him. I’ve heard of others who play music, do a little meditation, write some morning pages, etc. I do none of those things (maybe that’s my problem). I don’t wear special clothes (period clothes in Christi’s case; pajamas in Christine’s), perform any rituals, or have a bulletin board covered with photos of my character (since my character is me, that would be a little weird). I do have a visualization board next to my desk, but I rarely look at it. And, when I work from home, I often don’t bother to change out of my pajamas until I have to be at a doctor’s appointment or run an errand. But most of the time I’m just there in my jeans and my sweater, typing away—no music, no votive candles, no talismans—just me, a cup of rooibos tea, a pile of dark chocolate, and the blank page.

What about you? Do you have any writing rituals, favorite outfits, or props?

16 comments to Your Writing Props

  • m++

    Seeing how nowadays I mostly write political action letters to a small wireless device urging it to do my bidding and report its various sensor readings to home base as it explores the world, I generally start by performing an intricate wire dance where I string random lines together in just the right combination to get things up and running. I too enjoy coding in my pajamas, and like to delay starting until I've had a bowl of cereal, scone with coffee, or some kind of brunch time snack. Oh, and it is hard to drop into the zone until I've achieved email silence first and done the bidding of anyone who has sent a random request to my inbox.

  • Props Props Let me give it some thought

    A computer and Microsoft Office full of ink

    A muse that is bugging me

    and some story that needs to be told

    No kids under foot (will grandkids)

    The others were long ago gone

    The wife at the store

    The phone on the blink

    The neighbor not mowing

    The dog fast a sleep

    The cat out prowling

    and shocks on my feet

    What Props do I need

    nothing other than, people like you,

    who plant a thought seed

  • m++ – I think my efforts to "achieve e-mail silence" are what keep me from getting work done all day. As soon as I finish responding to all my e-mails, several more come in. It's not until I turn off e-mail and turn on MacFreedom that I get any work done. Thanks for stopping by!

    Ellis – I love the comment poetry! Looking forward to more!

  • I almsot always have to check e-mail, Twitter, and Facebook before I get started, or I itch to check them while I'm writing. And I generally always have a drink. Sometimes, I listen to some music while I'm doing the e-mail/Twitter/FB thing, but aside from that, no major prep. No real Must-do's in my case.

  • Carolina – I think checking Twitter, FB and e-mail before writing is why I get so little done. I need to break that habit fast!

  • I really have no writing rituals or clothing or anything like that; I'm much more… unromantic about it. FOR ME, I don't believe in a muse or a special feeling. I just believe in "butt in chair, focus on work." (The last part of that is the hardest. :P) But I know it works differently for other people, and I'm always fascinated to read about the things they do.

  • Kristan – I'm like you, but I'm always fascinated to hear about people's weird props and rituals, like reading poetry before writing or wearing a favorite shirt.

  • I have a somewhat of an irregular ritual – before starting on something new, a "major" piece of work/revision, or getting back to work after a relatively long break, I like to shower, change and clean up my work space – i.e. sweep the floor, stack lose papers, tidy everything else. It just gives me a sense of calm, and "new beginning" I suppose.

  • ps: I do have a board with sketches of the character/scene i am working on – since my work is visual

  • Aditi – I like things to be clean/neat before I work, too. Every day I am trying to clean this place so I can focus on my book. It's a good delay tactic, too!

  • I also play albums on repeat. Usually the music is representative of the mood of the scene/chapter I'm trying to write, or the overall mood of my album. Right now, I'm playing Jonsí on repeat for hours, while I write. And yes, I'm wearing pajama bottoms. 🙂

  • Also: PLEASE let us know the reason behind the tape-on-eyebrows! I'm dying to know. DYING. DYIN'.

  • Christine, I've never heard of Jonsí but all I listen to these days is Music Together and lullaby music. I wish I could write while listening to music, but I just can't concentrate. I am a big fan of writing in my pajamas, though! And I will ask about the tape and let you know. I am curious, too!

  • I also play albums on repeat. Usually the music is representative of the mood of the scene/chapter I’m trying to write, or the overall mood of my album. Right now, I’m playing Jonsí on repeat for hours, while I write. And yes, I’m wearing pajama bottoms. 🙂

  • Christine, this writer told me he wore the tape to keep from ripping his eyebrows off and that he listens to one song on loop for an entire year while writing a book!

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