In the hilarious movie WONDER BOYS, Michael Douglas plays a professor/writer who can only write if he’s wearing a chenille robe and a winter hat. As I sat in the movie theater with my box of buttered popcorn and laughed at his character struggling with writer’s block and weird rituals, I knew it wasn’t far from the truth.
Through the years I’ve created so many rituals for myself, I could be a character on the silver screen. First of all, I can’t write if I’m facing a wall. Box me in without windows and natural light, and I won’t produce a good paragraph, let alone a novel. In all the houses I’ve lived in and all the offices I’ve used, I always, always turn my desk so I can look out the window while I type. I don’t know why. Maybe I’m inspired by blue skies and open green spaces. Maybe my mind feels as boxed in as I do without windows. Whatever the reason, I always seek the light when I write.
After I open my office curtains, I select a CD from my vast collection of music. When I’m writing I prefer music without words because I’ll sometimes get so enamored of the lyrics I want to sing along. Usually I choose Native American flutes, which provide a soothing background accompaniment to the flow of words.
Next I spritz on perfume, one of my favorite floral scents, and then I go into the kitchen to make my drink of choice, hot green tea chai. There’s something soothing about a hot drink, winter or summer. After I make the chai, I select a mug that suits my mood. Dear Dorothy, Hate Oz, Took the shoes, Find your own way home. Toto…perfect if I’m feeling whimsical. More amazing than the wonders of nature are the powers of the spirit…great if I’m feeling philosophical.
When I go into my office and set my mug of hot green tea chai on my desk on a trivet that proclaims Give your soul a bubble bath, I am ready to write. Thank goodness, my ritual works! You’ll see the results this summer with The Oleander Sisters, available for preorder now.
Do you have reading rituals? Cozy chair? Hot tea? Box of chocolates? I’d love to chat with you about them.