Prep it Like Maya
If you are still with me and have continued to stay the course in this journey, give yourself a pat on the back. No, really, literally pat yourself on the back because at this point in the game you realize that writing requires real work, and we're one month in and you’re still going strong!
Dr. Maya Angelou, one of my personal sheroes, was a prolific writer. Because of that, many people assumed that writing came easy to her. She was quick to dispel that myth by stating outright that writing was hard work. She developed discipline and her own writing rituals to ensure that her writing got the attention it deserved. For Dr. Angelou, that typically involved a rented hotel room and a class of sherry. Following Dr. Angelou’s lead, let’s create our own rituals to help us make the mental transition from all of the many roles we assume in the course of a day, to that of writer.
In previous posts we have already touched on finding time, making space, and the tools of writing. But today, let’s dig a little deeper and get into the nuances of what you want your writing ritual to embody. This is, after all, a time that you have allotted specifically for this purpose. And while most of us cannot afford to rent a space solely for the purpose of writing, at this juncture anyways, there is no reason that we cannot create a ritual that signifies to others, but mainly ourselves, that it’s time for us to sit down and get to work. You do not want to view this special work as yet another chore, so let’s be intentional and create rituals that will acknowledge this particular time and space as precious and sacred.
Maybe your ritual will consist of putting on a special sweater or hat you like to wear, or maybe you will signify the start of your writing sessions with a special tea that you prepare for yourself and drink from those beautiful cups that you only use on special occasions. Personally, I have a diffuser along with a small army of essential oils that I use for aromatherapy. I also make certain that I have a tall bottle of water and some healthy snacks that I can nibble on: grapes, cucumber slices, popcorn or nuts. My cell phone is left in another room so as not to provide distractions. Ditto for my cat, unless he can come in and is content to take a seat someplace other than my lap. Though I need to be alone during this time, I am surrounded by photos of my loved ones. Above my desk are pictures of the women whose shoulders I stand upon, my mother and grandmother, and photos of my special guys - my husband and our two sons. There is also a bulletin board with various quotes about life and writing. On my desk are two plants, one is a Christmas Cactus which I refer to as my “dad plant” – those who know me intimately know the story behind this plant; the other is a small ivy.
Lastly, I keep a timer nearby to ensure that I dedicate, at bare minimum, the prescribed amount of time I have set aside to write. Oftentimes, once the alarm sounds, I will keep writing until I feel that I have exhausted all that I have to say in that sitting. Other times, there is no need for the timer, as I am brimming with ideas and eager to get them out of my head and into print.
Take the time to provide yourself with those small joys and habits that you feel will make this process more enjoyable to help ensure your success. It doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but yourself. And while you’re at it, go ahead and give yourself another pat on the back; we’re one month in and you’re still hanging strong!