Challenge Journal: Writing and Rituals

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 🙂

One thought to “Challenge Journal: Writing and Rituals”

  1. I think you have a great start to creating a ritual for your writing process. You touched on a lot of points that I find in my own writing as well. For instance, I don’t really have any rituals when I write either. I also appreciated your reflection on the enjoyment of being alone without feeling lonely. I think this is something so many people crave and need when working creatively, in order for them to do their best work, myself included. The fact that you have found a place where you can do this is awesome! One question I have is, do you believe that your future writing ritual will become like second nature, like with your passion for musical theater? Or, do you think you will be very conscious of the ritual and have to do it with deliberate purpose each time?

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