Getting. Words. Written.
And what I love even more than that is not feeling stressed out when I’m writing those words. After a decade of intense, staggering anxiety, I’ve had quite enough, thank you, and I avoid it as much as possible. I feel so very much compassion and empathy for other writers experiencing the anxiety, frustration, overwhelm, and stress I suffered through and I want to make sure you DON’T feel it.
One of my best tricks for getting words written without the anxiety?
Yep, these are my secret weapon, and I wanna share them with you today so you can write better, finish your book, and not feel super stressed out doing it. Read on, and then, at the end, let me know what YOU will be making into a Ritual!
What are Writing Rituals?
A religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order — Oxford Dictionaries
An act or series of acts done in a particular situation and in the same way each time — Merriam Webster
I use Rituals to create habits. Habits are hard. Even ones you truly want to form, and getting them to stick can be frustrating and overwhelming. Even things we want to do—like writing a story that our heart wants to tell—is hard to form into a habit. The world is a busy place and it makes it hard for us to concentrate. We just have to accept that and work within the boundaries we have. Rituals help!
By using Rituals, I take away the frustration and the overwhelm, add in a good time, and still end up with a habit that helps me progress towards finishing my books.
Rituals leave you energized and enthusiastic to keep going.
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How are Writing Rituals different from Systems and Habits?
My first attempt at creating an evening Ritual was a good start, but lacked a few of the things I needed to make it “stick”. It combined several different factors (health, beauty, success) but they weren’t the right factors. It took me a while longer before I realized I had to define Areas of Life instead.
Rituals, systems, and habits are all different things, but they can all work together nicely. Rituals take a little bit from both systems and habits and add a bit of “soul” to both to make something that works like a system and forms a habit over time, but doesn’t make you feel like you feel the day after you tell yourself you’re going to start going to the gym.
Or is that just me?
Because whenever I decide “I’m gonna start working out!!!” I always get this “Ughhh” feeling deep down in my gut. It grabs on tight and makes me dread not only the working out, but the process I know I’ll have to go through in order to form the working out habit…
…Or… at least it used to! But now, by using Rituals, I’ve learned to not hate the process of forming a new habit.
Rituals make the process of creating a new habit less stressful. They make it not feel like a chore. That, in turns, means that you can train yourself to develop the new habit you want to create without getting that dread feeling in your gut.
When you’re stressing an absent muse, enter rituals and still get words written. Awesome!
Rituals are also related to systems. Where systems give you a process, or a step-by-step method for getting something done, Rituals also do that, but they take it a step further. Rituals provide a WHY.
As any child will tell you, if you don’t know WHY you’re doing something, there’s no point in doing it.
“Clean your room.”
“Because it’s dirty.”
“Why does that matter?”
“Because… Hmm. Just clean it!”
Thirty minutes later, you might have convinced your kid to clean her room, but it’s not going to suddenly inspire her to always keep it clean. And that’s how Rituals differ from systems.
Systems will clean the room once. Rituals will inspire you to keep it clean from now on.
How can you create your own Writing Ritual?
Writing rituals are routines you create that incorporate 3+ of the 6 Areas of Life as part of the habit you want to form. This makes the habit ‘part of your life’ instead of just something you’re trying to start doing. It takes the stress out (and often incorporates anti-stress activities as part of the Ritual) while getting your brain used to doing this new thing you want to make a habit of.
The 6 Areas of Life are:
So, one of my Rituals this year is designed to help me finish my second novel by this summer. Fiction writing is one of my Passions, so that includes Area #6, but to really make getting into a daily writing habit a Ritual, I need to include other areas, too.
Check this one out: 7 Rituals to Make You a Better Writer
I’ve chosen to add in elements of Mind (putting on the same calming sounds whenever I write) and Body (stretching before and after each daily writing session).
Like all habits, Rituals also need the 3 R’s:
- Reminder – something to trigger you to remember to do the habit
- Routine – doing it at the same time or in the same order every time
- Reward – something that motivates you to actually do it
So my Reminder is to do it first thing in the morning, before I check email or any other items; my Routine is 5,000 words every Saturday and Sunday; and my Reward is the relaxation I’ll get from my stretching sessions.
Your Reminders, Routines, and Rewards can all be different—and when you’re just starting out with Rituals (or any habits), you should do it every day instead of just weekends. But I’m old hat at this and can do weekends by now. 😉 You may also find that you need different rewards than I do, which is fine. But try not to make it food rewards. You’ll end up regretting that.
- What is writing alchemy and how can it help you write better?
- How to find and destroy the causes of your writer’s block
I wanna know: What’s the first thing you’re going to do with a brand new Writing Ritual? Let me know below!