Yes or no? For every writer there are intangible elements — personal habits — that allow the mind to roam and find its comfort zone when the words aren’t flowing. To take a look at what some of these practices include, The Divining Wand asked its authors:
Do you have any unusual writing rituals, secrets or superstitions that always work when all else fails?
This week provides the final responses, including one from new TDW author Catherine McKenzie:
“Never underestimate the power of a nap, particularly with the television on. The weird midday dreams that sneak in can be very inspiring. And if nothing comes, at least you are well rested.”
It’s “show and tell” on video.
“Chianti. Sangiovese. Sometimes Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay.”
“I go for a walk in the woods.”
“I have all three. First, because I am inspired by my grandfather, Joseph McGrath, especially since on his deathbed I promised if he’d help me from the “’other side,’” I would dedicate everything I write to him. He was a writer and a coach. At the start of each day, I touch his old IBM Selectric for good writing when I begin. When I begin, I always close my eyes, imagine him there, and then start. For when I am really stuck, I keep his old sweater in my office. I will wrap it around my neck on those occasions where slogging through mud in cement shoes is easier than writing.”
“Nope. I use many things depending on the day. A certain song. A certain place. And to crib from James Frey: When all else fails, I turn to Dylan. And when Dylan fails, I call it a day.”
“At one time I would have found this infuriating advice but the one thing that always, no matter what, always works, is writing. Sometimes I take a break from the project I’m working on to do something different, such as write a letter to a favorite teacher or an ode to caramel. I remind myself that playing with words is fun, that writing is fun. Writing something – anything! – helps jolt anything loose that has me hung up: doubts, that evil internal editor, or just a thorny plot snafu.”
“I stare at my bookshelves.”
“I’m not the least bit superstitious about my writing, but I have been known to switch from the keyboard to writing longhand on paper when I’m really stuck. Not so much a secret or a ritual, but it’s a little trick that jumpstarts a sluggish brain somehow.”
“I have no secrets or superstitions, but I do drink green tea whenever I write, and I generally write with my feet propped up on my desk.”
“I prefer to write on an old laptop while propped up on pillows on my bed.”
“I change my surroundings–go from my office to a coffee shop, say–and switch from the computer to pen and paper.”
“Yes, to never, ever talk about my secret rituals. Just kidding. I don’t really have any—unless lucky pencils count. For The Last Will of Moira Leahy, I used a whole box of natural pencils by Focus (#2s, of course). For my current project, I’ve been using angular soft-to-the-touch pencils by Dixon . When I feel stuck in my manuscript, I almost always transition to pencil and paper to work through the problem.”
Announcement: The winners of Lauren Baratz-Logsted’s The Twin’s Daughter are EJ Knapp and Heather. And the winner of the Sisters 8 Series, including Petal’s Problems is Megan. Congratulations!
Please email diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address and your book(s) will be sent out promptly.