Writing rituals are fascinating. All writers have them. Here are some of Stephen King's from Lisa Rogak's Haunted Heart: The Life and Times of Stephen King:
“There are certain things I do if I sit down to write,” he said. “I have a glass of water or a cup of tea. There’s a certain time I sit down, from 8:00 to 8:30, somewhere within that half hour every morning,” he explained. “I have my vitamin pill and my music, sit in the same seat, and the papers are all arranged in the same places. The cumulative purpose of doing these things the same way every day seems to be a way of saying to the mind, you’re going to be dreaming soon."
“It’s not any different than a bedtime routine,” he continued. “Do you go to bed a different way every night? Is there a certain side you sleep on? I mean I brush my teeth, I wash my hands. Why would anybody wash their hands before they go to bed? I don’t know. And the pillows are supposed to be pointed a certain way. The open side of the pillowcase is supposed to be pointed in toward the other side of the bed. I don’t know why.”
I'll blog about it next month, but Stephen King's book, "On Writing," has to be on my top ten list on books about writing. Actually, I'd put it up there in the top five. In it he talks about the evolution of his writing space:
"For years I dreamed of having the sort of massive oak slab that would dominate a room -- no more child's desk in a trailer laundry-closet, no more cramped kneehole in a rented house. In 1981 I got the one I wanted and placed it in the middle of a spacious, skylighted study.... For six years I sat behind that desk either drunk or wrecked out of my mind, like a ship's captain in charge of a voyage to nowhere"....
"A year or two after I sobered up, I got rid of that monstrosity.... I got another desk -- it's handmade and beautiful and half the size of the T. rex desk. I put it at the far west end of the office, in a corner under the eave....remind yourself why it isn't in the middle of the room. Life isn't a support-system for art. It's the other way around."
And where a writer should write:
"You can read anywhere, almost, but when it comes to writing, library carrels, park benches, and rented flats should be courts of last resort....Your writing room doesn't have to sport a Playboy Philosophy decor, and you don't need an Early American rolltop desk in which to house your writing instruments....The space can be humble (probably should be, as I think I have already suggested), and it really needs only one thing: a door which you are willing to shut."
He says he listens to AC/DC and Metallica while banging away on the typewriter. Something I can't do. I need silence or some soft ambient noise or music in the background, maybe some jazz or classical, never blues or rock. And with our writing rituals we also have writing spaces. I don't have a writing space yet. I'm writing on the couch with a computer and a dog, both on my lap, which is challenging -- trust me. A simple wish, but a wish nonetheless, is the day I have my own small, yet modest writing room. My books, a simple wooden table, and a comfortable chair. Oh, and a door, of course. Until then I pine over pictures of beautiful private home libraries and in my mind I design the perfect writing room.
What do you put in your writing space? What pictures sorround your desk and motivate you? What writers look back at you in the pictures and challenge you to write well? Ah, more ideas, more posts to come. Until then, try to find a quiet place, or maybe it's loud, but make it a place you can write, and write well.