Writing takes more than just butt-in-chair. It needs a little bit of soul—It’s not a process that can be systematically conquered, and that’s where rituals come in. They can make you a happier writer, and a happier person all around. Win-win!
You’ve probably heard of having a “system” or a “process” for getting things done, but rituals are the better way to go. Why? We choose Rituals over Systems because without a bond, a connection, to our actions, we’re less likely to form the habit.
Which is a total bummer and a waste of time. Ain’t none of us got time for that.
Rituals can help that. They can take you from being unproductive and stressed out to mega productive, without any of the stress or overwhelm.
How can rituals make you a happier writer?
When I think about creating a new ritual, I look at it in terms of what my end game goal is. You create rituals to support things you care about, like your Magnum Opus.
I also like to think about it in terms of the type of person I want to be. For example, I don’t want to just “wake up early” — I want to be the type of person who wakes up early naturally. See the diff?
“I’m the type of person who…”
- Writes 500 words a day
- Never forgets to send out a newsletter to my list
- Paints every evening
- Always cleans the cat litter box
This sort of thinking helps you cement an identity for yourself that makes sticking with something, well, stick.
So keep that in mind, and without further ado, here are the top 7 Rituals every woman needs to be at her most passionate and productive!
1 | Morning Ritual
Morning rituals get your day started in a defined manner, which allows you to wake up and adjust to a new day in a stress-free way. They let your brain settle into waking up in an unhurried way, even if you are on a tight schedule. Because your body learns the motions and gets rewarded for doing them, it happily goes along with your defined Morning Ritual and gets you out the door in time.
What makes you a happy writer? #JanWritersChallenge asks us to consider our character’s goals. In my current WIP, my MC’s goes is to CARE again. He’s worn down, bitter, numb, and exhausted. There’s got to be something for him to care about again, right? (hint: YES)⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I want him to choose happiness, and I think he will. ;)⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ And speaking of happiness—how happy is your writing life these days? When I started trying out rituals, my writing life became so much happier and now I like to use rituals in my daily life. I’ve found 7 areas that benefit from adding rituals, and I’m sharing them with you in the blog. (LINK in BIO!)⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ __________⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ❤️: Finding a bottle of wine in the kitchen⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ?: Shoutout to @am_felton who is killing it on her writing goal this month! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ __________ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #ilovewriting #writerlife #igwriters #writers_den_ #writerscommunityofinstagram #authorlife #authorlove #writerscommunityoninstagram #indieauthors #authorschallenge2019 #writersofinstagram #igwriter #writerssociety #writersociety #amwriting #writerslife #happywriter #writerssupportingwriters #authorssupportingauthors #amediting #lifeofawriter #writersonig #writerscircle #writewritewrite #wordsmith #authorquotes #instawriter #writerscorner
Some things you could include in a morning ritual are…
- 9 minutes of meditation during an alarm snooze
- Mentally going over your daily to-do’s for 3 minutes before getting out of bed
- A few minutes of bed yoga
- Not touching your tech until you arrive at “the office” (whatever that is to you)
- Reading the morning news
- Reading something light instead of the news, like your favorite literary magazine
- Taking the time to slowly, deliberately, make a brilliant pour-over coffee or frothy cappuccino
- A breakfast routine
- A shower with energizing aromatherapy piping through your diffuser
- Calling your mom on speakerphone while you do your hair
- Making your bed while you mentally plan what you’ll write today
- Write down 3 things you’re grateful for. (Check out: Why writing a morning gratitude list is the best thing you can do all day)
2 | Evening Ritual
When either end of something looks good and the middle parts are kind of a mess, that’s called bookending. In this case, we’re bookending your days with morning and evening rituals. Like having good hair and wearing good shoes, bookending your day is the key to staying on top of your shiz.
It gets you off to a good start and sets up your tomorrow for a good start, too. At first, your middle days might still be a mess, but they will gradually start to get into shape when you stick to solid, foundational morning and evening rituals.
Your evening ritual should get you ready to fall into a deep, steady, rejuvenating sleep…so you can write even better tomorrow!
Here are some ideas for an evening ritual:
- Evening stretching, yoga, or pilates
- A walk around the neighborhood with your S.O. while you talk about whatever plot point you got stuck on today
- 10 pages in a novel or entertaining non-fiction (not a book for learning!)
- Sex 😉
- 5-10 minutes of reflection on your writing/day, prayer, or meditation
- Preparing your to-do list for tomorrow
- Putting your phone away at a certain time
- Warming up a hot-water bottle
- Drinking a glass of water
3 | Writing Ritual
Your writing ritual is the one you will use to make incremental progress on your novel! You could also call it your Power Hour, where you turn off and tune out everything but writing.
Your writing ritual should include a component of undisturbed work, 3-5 days per week, on your book. Unlike morning and evening rituals, you should take a couple days’ rest each week from your novel. This is to keep it fresh and exciting to you, and to allow your brain to recharge.
You don’t want to get frustrated or bored with your novel, so let yourself have a few days rest from it each week.
On the 3-5 days each week you work on your novel, your writing ritual should include:
- 30 minutes to 3 hours of undisturbed work on your novel
- Time to reflect, research, or brainstorm as needed
- A comfortable setting that instantly springs your mind into writing mode
- A good frame of mind, so prefacing your writing ritual with meditation, yoga, or another calming activity is a good idea
- A hard stop so you don’t feel obligated to keep working on it at the end
4 | Mind Ritual
A mind ritual is important to do at least twice a month. You could do it every day if you like, but AT LEAST twice a month! This is time that you take to rejuvenate your mind and help it grow. If you don’t use it, you lose it.
So you need to keep your mind fresh and supple. This will, of course, also help you refresh after some solid writing, and keep your brain active and capable of good brainstorming and creativity.
Choose some activities that you can use to learn more from and grow with, and don’t forget the Reminder, Routine, and Reward!
Some things you could add to a Mind Ritual:
- Spending a day learning each month
- Learn a new skill
- Doing the crossword
- Writing with your non-dominant hand
- Practicing your handwriting
- Challenging your brain every day
- Playing a math game
- Spa day
- Consciously being grateful
- Daily naps
- Reading a non-fiction book
5 | Body Ritual
Daily movement is vital to living chaos-free. It lets your mind unwind and it strengthens both your body and your brain. Without it, you won’t be able to create as well as you otherwise could. Even if you hate exercise, there are things you can do for your body that will exercise it without necessarily feeling like exercise.
- Take a fun class (Zumba, yoga, hip hop dancing)
- Define and stick to a diet that supports your body
- Laugh – even when you don’t want to
- Chocolate (+ good food)
- Sex (you knew it was coming)
- Daily push-ups, planks, or other simple exercises
- Take a walk
- Play with your kids, or pets
- Join a low-key team, like kickball
- Clean your house, garden, or work on your car
- Dance in front of your mirror and practice moves you learned on YouTube
- Dance while you cook
- Let yourself be silly and jump around
Stop fumbling the dreaded
“So…what’s your book about?”
& make outlining SUPER EASY in just 1 hour!
6 | Natural World Ritual
People aren’t made to live their whole lives inside. Our bodies NEED the sun for hormones, mental state, and Vitamin D synthesis. You should have a ritual for getting out into the natural world for at least 15 minutes each day. I like to take a walk at lunch, or even eat lunch outside.
Here are some ways to include the Natural World in a Ritual:
- Take a walk after eating lunch
- Walk to the store instead of driving
- Take your coffee outside on your front porch each morning
- Put your phone down and do some thinking outside
- Go to the park and swing!
- Explore your city by foot
- Walk your dog
- Walk your neighbor’s dog
- Do some gardening, or even just pull a few weeds
- Do a craft that requires outdoors, like spray paint
- Pick up trash in your area
- Set up a bird feeder and bird watch every morning
- Decorate your home seasonally
- Cook outdoors
- Eat outdoors
- Read outdoors
7 | Giving Ritual
Giving back helps everyone, including you. This is a ritual that will keep your heart full and happy and teach you, also, to be more grateful for what you have. It’s good to be reminded that not everyone is as fortunate, and no matter how bad things seem sometimes, there is always someone who’s had worse luck. You can give them a hand with a giving ritual each month.
Here’s some things you could do:
- Volunteering at the animal shelter, soup kitchen, or other
- Buying lunch for someone hungry
- Coaching veterans returning to the civilian workforce with interviews and resumes (I used to do this!)
- Teaching someone a skill, like sewing or knitting
- Helping a neighbor with their yard work
- Offering to babysit for a worn-out friend
- Picking up all the trash along your entire street
- Picking up all the trash in a playground
- Volunteering at a hospital, library, polling place, Red Cross, United Way, and so on
- Helping a small business make a website
Which ritual sounded most exciting to you?
Which one are you going to start with and what will you add to it? Share in the comments!