It depends. This is essential for some writers and a non-issue for others. There does not seem to be a universal rule about the usefulness writing rituals, but plenty of writers use them. Many people have a routine that involves preparing their writing space or desk in a particular way. Often a cup of coffee is involved. Sharpening pencils may be mostly a bygone ritual, but even just firing up the laptop and opening files for the writing session are mini-rituals of a sort. Some people like to browse email for a while, as if getting into the cool water of writing gradually, before moving into to their project. There are short warm-up writing exercises like “free writing” that some people find useful. Books by Peter Elbow, Natalie Goldberg and Julia Cameron explore this approach in various ways. It is a low stress way to get your fingers moving, and free writing helps with idea generation as well. If you are usually set and ready to write without any sort of preliminary ritual,
it’s probably a mistake to manufacture one. On the other hand, if it helps you focus and collect your energy to have a routine way of preparing yourself for the writing session, it’s probably a mistake to give it up. If you are having a difficult time initiating or sustaining a consistent practice of writing, developing simple pre-writing rituals involving time, place, session focus, or a warm up exercise is undoubtedly a good way to increase the odds that you will do it. A pre-writing ritual signals your psyche that it is time to write, and if repeated over the weeks and months, strengthens the habit of writing regularly. If your pre-writing ritual is watching four hours of television, you may want to consider some other options.
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