My Writing Rituals
I’m writing this on a moving bus – my absolute favorite writing spot –traveling through Nagoya, Japan.
Maybe I’m inspired by the engine’s rumble, or perhaps it’s the passing lights outside the window, or the low chatter of conversation floating through the cabin. Whatever it is, I’m at my best as a creative wordsmith riding a bus.
Of course, there are many different kinds of busses. Some travel from Northampton to Springfield, others from Greenfield to California.
Either route inspires me. But on longer trips I have more time to sit with my thoughts. So my writing is better, more experimental and creative, on longer trips.
I distinguish creative wordsmith because during my day job reporting (on mostly boring events) my best writing is completed seated at a desk with progressive rock music drowning out newsroom chatter, and scratchy dispatcher reports from the police scanner.
Of course, sometimes words just don’t come to me (I say this with a note: I don’t believe in so-called ‘writer’s block,’ there’s always a way to become inspired). In those times I put down my pen, close my computer, and get a steaming cup of coffee.
I imagine that my coffee addiction is similar to compulsive smoking (but much better for one’s health).
For example, when Joan Didion couldn’t put words onto paper I like to think that she set down her pen, sat back in her chair, lit a cigarette and took a long smoke break.
When I can’t think about what to say I push back my chair and head for the nearest coffee shop, preferably within walking distance, but if it’s not I’ll drive. I find the cold air and change of scenery helps to jog my creative juices. It’s like engine oil for my brain.
Another writing ritual that I can’t escape is listening to music. Silence scares me, especially while recording thoughts into a Word document.
Of course, I don’t listen to music while recording the world around me – sounds, sights, smells, the sensory environment. But even during those times I still wear headphones so others around me don’t realize I’m listening in.
It lends a certain amount of incognito to my observations.