I was all about process oriented work in my gateway project (see “Project Process” in my ePortfolio). The mindful territory you enter when focusing less on the destination and more on the journey is incomparable and personally productive in perhaps the lease “actually” productive ways. Twyla Tharp has, of course, schooled me because I failed to consider the impact that ritual can have on process.
Rituals are something that I have absent-mindedly practiced in my acting and singing: working out before singing, steaming, nebulizing, doing certain physical and vocal warm-ups to free the body for work, taking the time to do hair and makeup (or if you’re lucky, just pop on a wig) before a show. Each of these rituals open the gates between reality and the adopted reality of a show or audition. My rituals are ever evolving from situation to situation, and I hope they continue to do so as I learn and grow as an actor and human.
I was also raised to practice ritual before bed: bath, or shower, brush teeth, pajama set, tuck in, read a book, turn off the lights, set up all of my blankets and stuffed animals just right. Only then could I drift off into optimal sleep. Sleepovers took some getting used to for me, and even now I stumble home from a party at 3:00am and put myself in the shower before even considering hopping into bed (no more stuffed animals though, I’m afraid).
But what about writing? I could sing, act, sleep without rituals; it just wouldn’t be as fruitful. I feel that ritual is perhaps where my writing process lacks, and what could really set my creativity and productivity free.
I have come up with a small grab bag of ideas that could perhaps be a part of my ritual as I try and unlock the gates between my everyday life and my writing:
- establishing my writing spot somewhere in public (I can get a bit unmotivated in my own space and have been known to use spare mornings, afternoons and even evenings for cat naps) and including the walk to the destination as a part of said ritual
- establishing a specific desk set up (I’m very big on paper products, pencils, pens, you name it)
- or listening to the same song or playlist on my walk
If I am being quite honest, this is the first time I am making it a goal to make writing something ritual worthy. That sounds quite negative… and I don’t mean it in a harsh way, as I do really enjoy writing. But I realize that I often depend on writing deadlines for motivation. I wish I didn’t. I wish that I would write on my own accord as things come to me, wish that I would listen to the little ideas that pop in my head for an essay or the lines of a poem or song or collection and roll with it for no other reason than the fact that “I am a writer; I write!”.
Hopefully ritual will help me kill the little vampires in my head that tend to suck the life out of these little muses that I hear inside me (Count Self-Doubt). As the forming of any habit, it will take practice and failure and a little more practice and perhaps a little more failure.
Let’s do it.