Challenge Journal 1: Do I have a ritual?

I have always been a creature of habit and routine, preferring explicit structure to freedom. Yet I do not consider myself ritualistic, a term deemed more spiritual than utilitarian. To be honest, having a ritual hasn’t been something I’ve desired or even thought about in the past. I do the things I do in the manner in which I do them because it’s what works, not for any deeper or more meaningful purpose. I often consider my actions as a concrete means to an end. I very much value the process; I just don’t put significant thought into why I personally perform each step.

When looking at writing, I never really considered having a ritual. Sure, I have tendencies like handwriting the first draft or writing a page in cursive if I find myself getting bored, but those are habits. I lack a deliberate reason as to why I do these things, while also not consistently following a set of steps to begin my writing process.

During class, Emily mentioned that she needed to change locations to be able to write. I immediately agreed, having not done any homework in my dorm, house, or apartment since starting at Michigan. I am always studying in the basement of the Ugli, or really anywhere other than my home… that is unless I have a paper to write.

It was at this point that it dawned on me that I might in fact actually perform a ritual. I love writing in silence or with white noise. I will venture to North campus and spend hours writing in GG Brown or the basement of the Dude in attempt to avoid noise pollution of people’s voices, while still being surrounded by human presence. I find I am able to best construct my thoughts in this muted environment and struggle to compose sentences with chatter around me.

For example, throughout the process of writing my term paper for my class on art and philosophy in renaissance Italy, I would unproductively stare at a blank page or screen when in the Ugli. Refusing to completely waste the evening, regardless of the time, I would drive to North campus and dedicate too many hours to figuring out what I wanted to say. Did the amount of time I spent up there always lead to great quantities of writing? I wish, but no. With that being said, I found myself able to put pen to paper more effectively, having a clearer mind in the silence and having less doubt when figuring out wording.

On the other hand, I sit writing the blog in the Winter Garden in Ross. I figured that this is a short post and it would be unnecessary to make the journey. I find myself constantly writing and erasing and rewriting, while wondering if I were in the Dude, would I already be done. Through this class, I hope to gain a greater appreciation for the word, “ritual.” I want to embrace my trek to North campus as a ritual, as well as hold myself more accountable to a timeline for writing. Each time I set out to write, I want to have a clear idea of what I want to get out of the session. Will I always achieve the goal? Not necessarily. But being more conscious of my time and actions will (hopefully) make the time I spend writing more productive and foster improvement in my writing style.

One thought to “Challenge Journal 1: Do I have a ritual?”

  1. I thought that this was a really well written and relatable piece, Mollie. I agree with the initial struggle to identify anything we do as a ritual as that word seems to have such a strong connotation. I’m also intrigued by your “ritual” being location driven. I think that’s interesting as many people like to work where they’re most comfortable, yet you seem to be driven by going somewhere less comfortable. Do you think that’s accurate? Or have you reached the point where going to North (especially when it comes to doing something writing-related) IS your place of comfort? Regardless, I think that it’s something that’s important to consider.

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