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Procreator? Prognosticator? Procrastinator….?

March 10th, 2010

Writing is hard work. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. You’ve got to come up with all those words, stick them in the right order, make sure they’re all spelled right, and so on… When you think of it, what’s supposed to be such an easy task – storytelling – isn’t as much fun as it sounds…

That’s where the pre-writing ritual comes in. Every writer I know has one. Or two. Or a whole raft of them, because these are the rituals that keep us from having to do the really difficult task at hand… actually writing. Personally, before sitting down to write, I find the need to clean my desktop, as though putting away all those unfiled bank statements, computer printouts, DVD boxes and other detritus will actually make me a better writer. A better citizen, maybe, but a better writer? Yet I find I can’t really be ‘productive’ as a writer unless I go through this ritual. And my ritual is pretty commonplace… it could be lots worse!

I know of writers who have to listen to the ‘right’ music to get them psyched up to write, or those who must sharpen EVERY pencil they own before they can start to compose their thoughts… on a keyboard! One friend with a book deal had to wait until he’d spent his advance and the deadline for a finished first draft was fast approaching before he’d commit to writing. “I work best with about 120 p.s.i. bearing down on each ventricle,” he said by way of explanation. He finished his book, to his credit, on time.

Hemingway never wrote after he'd started drinking for the day

It doesn’t matter if you must indulge some crazed OCD ritual before you can write. What’s IMPORTANT is that you write. And then write more. Only by building a dependable and regular work habit will you find that writing gets easier (and, invariably, better). So simply writing is really the ‘key’ to writing… How Zen!

And besides… that desktop’s not going to clean itself, now is it? (Damn. Where did I leave the pencil sharpener?)

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