My life is replete with rituals. Before I sing, I do lip trills. Before I dance, I stretch. Before I act, I warm up both my body and my voice. I wake up each morning and spend a few minutes focusing on my breathing; I do the same before I sleep.
As a musical theatre major, I am acutely aware of how my body and voice feels every day and what warm-ups I have to do in order to activate my muscles and release the physical tension I’m carrying. Even on days when I drag myself out of bed and perform these warm-ups on autopilot, every stretch, every note, and every scale has a purpose. These warm-ups are rituals, and they are almost more important than the work that follows them. These warm-ups make me feel as though I have mastery over my mind and body. These warm-ups take me to the emotional and physical place I need to be in to begin my work. The chair of my department always says, “All good actors have a process,” and I have spent the past year attempting to cultivate a process that works for me.
Contrastingly, I don’t think I’ve ever had a ritual when it comes to writing. To me, writing has always felt as though I were venturing into the unknown: I never know what’s going to come out of me, and I’m always a little apprehensive of what I’m creating. I suppose my writing “problem,” then, is that I don’t have a process. At the moment, writing feels like guesswork. I don’t devote nearly enough time to it, and the act of writing (or preparing to write) never feels sacred in the same way that my work in my major does.
I guess one of my goals for this final semester of school is to figure out a “ritual” that works for me when I write. My favorite place to work is this cute little cafe on East Liberty Street (they have the best matcha lattes); perhaps, then, one of my rituals for writing is going to be to get out of my cramped apartment and into an environment where I can be alone without feeling lonely. I think I also want to use whatever rituals I incorporate as a means of freeing myself up so that I filter my writing less. I feel as though I’m always writing with a final product in mind, and I want to start approaching my writing homework less as a means to an end and more just as a thing in and of itself. Of course, eventually, I’ll have to pare down my work so that it has a thesis, but I want to be able to start each assignment freely without fear of judgement or imperfections. I think I’m going to start using mind maps more as a way to do this!
I’m looking forward to turning writing into more of a process this semester. I’m hoping that I get to a similar place in my writing as I feel in my work as an artist. And I hope that implementing these rituals will help me to continue to cultivate my voice as a writer 🙂