“There is a ruthlessness to the creative act. It often involves a betrayal of the status quo.” ―Alan Watt
I have a few habits that prepare my thoughts for my writing time. I’m lucky to have two weekday mornings every week that I can write until 10 am. I wake up early and get started before the movement of the house begins. I take advantage of being an early riser on the weekends as well and I use that quiet time the same way: meditation and writing, for a total of four days/week. Sometimes I’m pleased with the work, other times it’s words and words of unused drafts. All part of the learning curve of finding and expressing my voice.
Over the summer I noticed I was becoming a little particular with my ritual. What started out as a cup of coffee and a quick meditation became an indecisive time-consuming mess robbing me of words on the page.
It always starts with coffee, well because, you know—life lines.
Next was the little game of blinds open or closed. The dilemma (I told myself) was natural light versus candlelight. Then the choosing of a few candles and arranging them in a way that appeared enlightening (really, an enlightening candle arrangement?). The decision on when to eat—do I want to digest as I’m writing or after I’ve written? And the second I finally kick my own ass to sit down to get busy I’m pretty sure I have to pee.
After all this bullshit that we know is resistance my mind is congested. I realize I’m spinning quite a bit and perhaps the meditation will open up my third eye chakra. I’m sure that will bring me focus AND MY MUSE. Where is that little shit, anyway?
I’ve had a mediation practice for over 2 decades. In meditation I also rely on a few simple rituals which include posture, breath, and usually music. I both write and meditate from the kitchen table in our rancher which works for me. I have a great view of my backyard, a landscape which lends itself to creativity energy.
The latest adventure during my meditations is that words, essays, and blog posts started to pop into my head. In these quiet moments my mind suddenly shifts to the conscious realm to say “hey that’s a good idea, but damn I can’t write it because I’m meditating.” Apparently I have rules for meditation. And disrupting the reverent vibe to open one eye and jot stuff down on a post-it was unorthodox.
That is, I had rules until I realized in order to write, in order to create, in order to put words on a page it was vital I break some habits. I needed to disrupt myself (quite a bit, actually), and reinvent my hard rules for the good of my writing practice.
There’s importance in the ritual, but it’s focus should be opening the channel for my words to flow, not allowing myself the opportunity to avoid it. So I simply set a new plan with properly placed discipline that makes writing the primary reason for the rituals. It looks like this:
- Coffee because first thing in the morning it’s better than air.
- Computer — no news, or social media. Five minute scan of emails is allowed to look for time sensitive items. Those are ‘saved as new’ so I know to address them first, after writing.
- Pee, because the brain of my bladder plays a game with me.
- Meditation music, tablet, and pen.
- Launch directly into meditation with complete freedom to open eyes and write if something does reveal itself. If need be, reposition, move unruly bangs, and if moved to, chant.
My new 1-4 takes about 10 minutes.This assures me the time I have will be spent creatively. It’s not a punishment but a tap on the shoulder of commitment.
If I “break formation” to open my eyes and jot down thoughts that come to me I’m okay with that. Being okay with yourself—what could be more spiritual than that? If I’m deep in meditation without thoughts then that’s lovely. If the muse shows up here, well—that’s lovely too. I let the meditation tell me what it needs and if it happens to be words then I let that be.
For the remainder of my time I keep my head down and write. I do this because I know this perseverance builds the flow. The very recent awareness that meditation and writing could become a symbiotic existence was new and also paramount for me. This writing practice has kept evolving over the past few years. I might like essays and memoir for a bit then change to blogging, but if I don’t make a strong commitment to the words then the rituals will have no purpose.
It’s been well over two years and I’m still refining my process. Sometimes when I’m staring at my page I wonder what other writer’s rituals are, and then I refocus and get back to my words.