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Consider a Writing Ritual (Especially Great for Artists)
By Thea Fiore-Bloom, Ph.D.
“Every writer I know has trouble writing.” — Joseph Heller
Are you having trouble getting your sweet self to write a little every day?
Girl – have I been there.
But, I stumbled onto a major cure.
No, it doesn’t involve amphetamines, Tony Robbins, or even “my fab, new two-thousand dollar workshop.”
Here it is.
It’s a free, tiny but mighty ritual you can do for yourself before and after you write.
This ritual is grounded in my belief that writing is not only an intellectual and artistic discipline but also a spiritual path (and a way to serve others.)
Of course, the same can be said of painting.
So consider using this ritual to help you paint or write for even fifteen minutes a day. Miracles may unfold.
“Some very good things have been created in fifteen minutes a day.”
I got the idea of doing a daily ritual like this from a prolific writer/professor, Richard Tarnas, who mentioned it during a 2007 writing workshop at Pacifica Graduate Institute (my Alma mater.)
Let me share the version of it I practice with you.
A Writing Ritual: In Two Acts
Act One: Before Writing Part
“The scariest moment is just before you start.” — Stephen KingFirst thing in the morning I trundle down in the dark to my studio with a hot cup of something.
I begin by taking a breath and striking my cute little Woodstock chime.
As I ring the chime (or light a candle) I ask the Universe to please allow me to get the heck out of my own way today.
My pre-writing ritual, allows me to switch out of my insane “I’m so scared of disapproval”- mode and into “Who can this be of service to?” – mode, and begin to write.
Doing a pre-writing or pre-painting ritual only takes a minute but it will support your confidence and creativity throughout your session.
After the virtual gong on my app sounds my session to a close, I blow out the candle, try not to knock one of my two cats off the desk, and head across the room to my little writing altar for part two.
Act Two: After Writing Mini- Ritual
I assembled the altar last year on top of a low bookshelf.
Here, I take another big breath and say thanks out loud to the muses that ran alongside me today and kindly tried to help me tell a story.
Requiring myself to perform this post-writing ritual forces me to bask, even for thirty seconds, in the wonderful feeling of being done with the writing.
I usually thank Spirit. Currently, Spirit is represented on my altar in an image of the Hindu elephant God, Ganesha. (I speak more on the importance of naming a writing guide for your work in my post: How to Outline Your Book, Without Stress, in Just 7 Days, With 7 Cups of Tea.)
To finish, I ring a Tibetan bell over photos and special objects on my altar.
These are objects and photos of my heroes and mentors and other supportive folks (who were kind enough to believe in my work) have given me over the years.
Extremely Non-Sacred Sticker Step
Oh, Oh, the very last thing I do is walk over to my wall calendar and give myself a sticker for the day.
(Unlike those of you who are adults, I will still do almost anything for a good sticker.)
I was relieved to recently find out that I’m not nuts and that my kooky sticker ritual is an example of “habit tracking.”
James Clear (author of Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results) says studies show habit tracking is an effective, addictive behavior that can get you to the top of your Everest.
I highly recommend the audio version of this book for any artist or writer who has a dream they want to come true.
Add Your Own Custom Touches
The stickers personalize the ritual and make it work for me.
What will make your writing or painting ritual work for you?
Into crystals? You may want to have a beautiful blue throat-chakra supporting crystal like an aqua aura on your writing altar to help you express yourself clearly.
Love aromatherapy? Maybe your writing session begins by pushing the button on your essential oil diffuser so that the tiniest essence of good quality but affordable Spruce or Rosemary wafts through the air to fire up your focus. (Visit my Five Essential Oils Artist and Writers Shouldn’t Be Without post for more info.)
In closing, don’t underestimate the heavy benefits of light ritual. Here are four reasons why:
1. Writing Rituals Help You Battle Down the Beasties of Self-Doubt
A self-created writing ritual serves as a powerful antidote to the self-doubt that plagues us modest, non-narcissistic, heart-centered types.
Because by taking a minute to do a small closing ritual (before madly running off to fold laundry) we honor the fact that we’ve put our head into the lion’s mouth again and emerged to tell the tale.
We come up out of our creative homework chiming, ringing, sparkling, and shining.
This good noise naturally scatters our fears to the four winds a little more each day.
“Fear is our natural reaction to moving closer toward the truth.” — Pema Chodron
2. A Small Writing Ritual Lets You Legally Love On Yourself
You are a glorious limited edition.
If you are one of the scattering of creative people who subscribe to this blog- trust me- they broke the mold when they made you.
Your chiming, lighting, and spoken intentions may be a great way to give yourself a reinforcing, cosmic hug.
Each mental hug you grant yourself (or bestow on your muse) will incrementally strengthen the mental association between writing and a feeling of pride and accomplishment in your big, beautiful brain.
3. Your Writing Ritual Builds a Fairy Beacon
Many folks (way smarter than me) have written volumes on why ritual persists throughout history.
Yet I feel compelled to sully the canon by adding something trite but true:
Ritual persists because … it’s fun.
And your internal creative fairies are drawn to fun like butterflies to Milkweed.
Your ritual will make your desk psychically sticky, transforming it into a fairy beacon that gathers your creative angels to your side.
“Only when we are at our most playful can divinity finally get serious with us.”
— Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic.
4. Writing Ritual Gives You a Swanky Helipad for Gratitude to Land On
By performing this ritual we can start giving thanks for our creativity and its connection to Spirit— each and every day.
And we can stop taking each small but essential step towards our big sacred dream, for granted.
A dream, by the way, which when unleashed into the world will inspire at least one other person to pursue their dream.
Not bad, right?
“The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise.”
— Maya Angelou
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Over to you. What do you think?
Do you have a mini-altar anywhere in your home?
What’s on it? Flowers? An object?
I would love to know in the Comments below.
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