When you’re writing well, it feels like you’re in an enchanted space. Ideas rise and connect themselves to each other. The words flow. Sometimes, we even call that “being in the flow.”
Writing mental space is like the enchanted wood in fairytales and myths. Most of the time, if you want to get to the enchanted space, you must perform a pre-start ritual. Your pre-start ritual is the transition from normal mental space to enchanted writing space. It’s the key to great writing.
Before Your Writing Session
Before you begin the ritual and get to the writing, you should do the same thing every time. Some of the writers I’ve worked with exercise right before their writing sessions. Others have breakfast and then go to the place where they intend to write. Many check supplies to make sure everything is in order. This is a good time to go to the bathroom.
Tie up any loose ends before you start writing. I do it by scheduling a time to work on the project, order that thing I must have, or send a thank-you note.
Whatever you do, don’t check email or messages. You might head off down a rabbit hole and not get to your writing at all. When you’re ready, begin the ritual that takes you to enchanted writing space.
Use Your Ritual to Enter Enchanted Writing Space
The bridge into the ritual is removing distractions. Turn off your cellphone. Put it in another room if possible. If you’re working at home, let people know that you’re about to start writing and don’t want to be disturbed unless a call to 911 is involved.
My family knows that when I close the door to my office, it’s a signal that I’m writing. I may find sticky notes on my door or text messages on my phone when I finish a writing session. I’m considering getting a door hanger with the message: “Do Not Disturb. Deathless Prose in Progress.”
Removing distractions is essential. There are lots of other things that writers do, but not every writer does them all. Figure out the ones that work for you.
Some writers do a short mindfulness meditation. I do that. My meditation is about two minutes.
Some writers select a special playlist of music. My playlist is mostly baroque instrumental pieces. Anything with words will distract me. The best pieces are those with a regular rhythm.
Some writers have a writing talisman that they want near them while they’re writing. Some writers I’ve worked with have special coffee cups that they only use when writing. Some keep a memento from a loved one nearby. One fellow had an artist design a cover for the book he was writing. He framed it and wanted it nearby when he wrote.
Some writers, like Hemingway, read the last few pages that they wrote the session before.
When you finish your pre-start ritual, it’s time to write.
Start writing as soon as you finish your ritual. You should know what you’re going to say because you decided it at the end of your last session.
Writing space is enchanted mental space.
You must transition from the normal world to the writing world.
Pay attention to what you do before a session.
Enter the enchanted space with a pre-start ritual.
Different things work for different people. You must figure out what works for you.
When the ritual is done, get right to writing.