Writing Rituals (or Restraints)

After I get home from work and before doing anything else, I go to the same chair at the dining table. I place my bag in the same spot next to the chair; laptop in the same spot on the table; then notebook on the righthand side; pen next to the notebook, and headphones to the left of the laptop.

After the setup, I then take care of whatever household things I have to do before writing; Whether it be cleaning or errands or whatever the case may be. I have to setup everything the same way, everyday to be in the zone. To make matters even worse, once I do sit down to write, I do so with my phone added to the left side — and on the right, a pile of Planter’s peanuts on a half-folded paper towel and a beverage. It’s a system — a ritual — that must be in place in order to accomplish that night’s task.

It’s also a load of crap.

How have I brainwashed myself into thinking that I need everything to be the same before I can accomplish anything? How have peanuts — PEANUTSbecome a necessity in a writing routine? (Now just because there isn’t any legitimacy to the issue, doesn’t mean I’m giving the peanuts up… I like them… especially when I’m writing.) The issue isn’t the peanuts though; the issue is the fact that if I run out of peanuts before writing, I will halt my work to go to the store and buy more. That’s ridiculous!

After reading an interview of South African writer, Vuyelwa Maluleke, I promised myself that I would break from the rituals. The interview was conducted by a Geosi Gyasi. This is was the altering part of the interview for me:

“Geosi Gyasi: When do you often write?

Vuyelwa Maluleke: At night, on my floor. But I’m trying to not fix conditions to my writing just so I don’t feel like that is the only time I can write. So the other day, I sat in a coffee shop, and wrote there, early in the morning and something came of it which was surprising and fruitful.”

No one wants to be mundane. However, working on a mundane routine could easily cause mundane results. It is so easy to sit in a familiar place where the distractions are low. You tell yourself that you will get so much more done that way. That may be true, but at what cost? Sometimes a different scenery is good for the imagination and creativity boost. If I sit in the same place surrounded by the same things every time, I could equate that with sitting in an all white room with no windows. Since everything is familiar, it all becomes invisible in a way. I don’t trust my imagination to produce its best thoughts in a room where everything looks the same, smells the same, and feels the same day in and day out; you have to change things up a bit.

Sneezing, laughing, yawning, things dropping, dessert and coffee smells, and uncomfortable temperatures — GEEZ! Take me back to my own dining room table with my peanuts!

I have to get past that though. I could take advantage of so much more time, because I’m not always in that spot. I’m not alone though. I’m not the only crazy writer, and I know I’m not the worst case either. At least I’ll admit it; the first step to recovery. I have to learn to tame my thoughts and focus on the task at hand. Now if I try writing outside of my, maybe three, familiar elements, I will end up with a bunch of notes, scribbles and random paragraphs — at best. I have to, can do and will do better in removing those imaginary restrictions. The liberation is a necessity, because no one wants to be mundane.

Before coming across the article in the Flipboard app, I had never heard of Gyasi or Maluleke. Since then I have followed Geosi Gyasi, who provides excellent interviews from writers around the world. They provide great and realistic insight to amateurs, that I feel would be extremely useful if taken to heart. Vuyelwa Maluleke writes very passionate and heartfelt stories and poetry that has a unique style that I have found very enjoyable. If you get the time, look into both of them; really good stuff.

And if you were wondering… I’m at the dining room table now… The next post will be written elsewhere though.