I don’t think that I’m a very ritual-based person. I don’t have a lot of routines or a place I have to go to study. I’m pretty organized (at least kind of organized) and I rely heavily on my Google Calendar, but this doesn’t carry over into my writing process. For as much time as I’ve spent writing as an English major and a Writing minor, I do not have a system to my writing.
Even though I don’t have a system now, it used to be much worse. Until about my junior year here, I would just jump into writing. No outlining, no brainstorming, nothing—this was an obviously based system and it made everything much harder then it needed to be. I then realized the merits of outlining, and I guess that sort of serves as a ritual now. Before I start an academic paper, I create two docs. I have a final paper doc, for actually writing the document, and an outline doc, for creating a long, detailed, bullet-pointed outline. This has worked pretty well for me.
This outlining system, so far, hasn’t really carried over into my creative writing. I took a creative nonfiction class and I don’t think I wrote a single outline. I barely utilized outlining for my Gateway course, either. I don’t know why this is the case, exactly. I know that outlining helps me in my academic writing. When I get done with my outline, everything is so detailed that it’s just a matter of filling in some transitions on the final doc. But for whatever reason, despite the success I’ve had with it, despite the peace of mind it brings me, I feel something barring me from using it for creative writing. I’m not sure what it is or how to remedy it, but maybe being cognizant of it is enough. I have a kind of ritual, and using it might be the answer to becoming a better writer.