I love to write. In fact, I love it so much that sometimes it feels impossible.
When I recently started writing blog posts, I was excited to find myself enjoying it. But soon I began to struggle to actually get into it. I tried discipline, rewards, accountability…nothing worked. I had a constant, nagging sense of NOT writing a blog post.
Eventually I realised what the problem was. Writing is a creative activity for me, and the particular species of avoidance was one I recognised from my creative practice: Resistance.
This revelation helped me. Living all my life with a compulsion to create and the almost-equal urge to resist, I’m cunning. In my poetry, I use a simple ritual to get started, and it works like magic.
For my blog writing, I needed a similar way to shift from the thinking patterns of my normal self to those of my writing self - consistently, easily and without stress. I needed a starting ritual.
What does my ritual look like?
As the time to write my blog post approaches, I feel the tension rising - will I be able to do it today? I dash to the kitchen and put the kettle on. While it’s boiling, I get out my computer. So far, so easy.
I saunter innocently back to the kitchen and make a cuppa. Now I head back to my workroom and set my alarm for half an hour.
As soon the alarm is set, I commit to sitting at my computer with my blog post. Whatever happens, even if I write nothing, this is where I’m at.
My ritual’s final step is to visualise the big picture, and connect it to today’s tiny action.
Then suddenly, to my surprise, I’m writing. And part of my joy is sheer relief at having made it to the creative state again.
How does it work?
Creative practice involves a shift of brain states. Those of us who are compulsively creative do it on purpose: We need it, in some way. Ritual is a trigger for this shift.
You may already use ritual without noticing it. Going to a cafe to write, listening to certain music, or putting on your studio clothes all signal to your subconscious mind that it’s time to change gear. You can take the little rituals you know work for you and purposely ampllify them, as I did.
You can also have a different ritual to help you transtion back to your ‘normal’ life - to trigger the return to the brain states you associate with life outside of creative practice.
How do you create a ritual?
Repetition and consistency are key. Here are some elements that you may want to have the same each time:
Time of day/night
What you see, hear, smell, taste and feel
Steps done in a certain way and order
Words you say or visualisations
Keep it simple and experiment till you find what resonates.
Ritual is a way to sneak up on creativity, to trigger the state that we love but will often do anything to distract ourselves from. It’s an easy way to invite yourself into your creative work.
I hope you feel inspired to try it!