An established or prescribed procedure for a religious or other rite
a system or collection of religious or other rites.
any practice or pattern of behavior regularly performed in a set manner.
a specific act, as hand-washing, performed repetitively to a pathological degree, occurring as a common symptom of obsessive-compulsive neurosis
Writing for me is many things, but above all, it is both a psychological necessity and a spiritual practice. So of course I have created rituals to mark the writing process, necessary in my mind in a religious sense and in a mildly OCD neurotic sense.
Every writer's reason for creating is different, and every writer's process of writing is different. Some writers can sit down at their desk/at the coffee shop/on their couch/on a bus, with no preamble, and dive headfirst into their world. That writer is not me.
It's not that I can't just start writing, or that I can't write outside my office. But creating a space, both physically and through ritual, where I can be creative and I can offer thanks spiritually is something that's hard to do sitting on a bus. Plus, my office is a lot quieter than a bus. And it doesn't smell bad. And, usually, there's no crazy people rambling in the corner.
At first, the rituals were a way to quiet my mind, to shift from my workday into my writing, or, more often, shift from sleep into early-morning writing. It was sometimes a lovely way to procrastinate, when I was blocked, or when I was anxious. Sometimes it still is.
But the rituals have morphed, in meaning if not in substance. I still start my music (has to be the same playlist, tailored to the story), and have a sip of coffee (with hazelnut creamer). I still light a candle (green Coventry Creations Brigid, or orange Zena Moon Candle for Writing), say a prayer of thanks, take a deep breath. But I think now, because it's so ingrained, the ritual is an offering to the creative process.
Once a book is done, I have a whole different set of rituals. I create a playlist for the book – almost never the same as the playlist for writing. The former is supposed to be evocative of the story and the characters; the latter is the music I listen to in order to help me write. I've taken lately to creating a cover for the book. I play the "who would you cast"* game. And, of course, there's the ritual sacrifice to the query gods.
Do you have rituals you go through before, and after, you create?
* For the record: Paul Bettany for Jonas and Rachael Weisz for Meredith in The Pilgrim Glass and Justin Long for Sam in The Hummingbird.
ETA: Don't forget to check out Heather's writing rituals post!