Little Rituals

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Admittedly, I used the title phrase recently in a poem about a couple who wanted to build a new house. This set me thinking, however, about some of those small things I do to “signal” to myself that I am officially writing. I use a hot beverage, a particular location, and a few technological idiosyncrasies to get my brain in “writing mode.” This post explains those weird little habits that tell my brain it’s time to go poet.

If I’m writing during daylight hours, I usually have a cup of coffee in the mug pictured above. It’s thick ceramic, and there’s no telling how many years I’ve had it, but it serves as one of my neurological cues for writing. If it’s night, then maybe I’ll opt for decaf or some kind of tea, but I must have access to some hot drink in the mug you see here.

Secondly, I write in my “quiet room.” I think I have enough posts on that little subject, however. I have one desk for drafts, which I write by hand, and another desk for computer writing; that is, final drafts that make their way into my little PC. My computer, though, has given me a number of quirks that I never would have considered without technology: I begin by setting my margin at the 2 inch mark, for example. If the poem later deserves different formatting, then that can happen. But for the initial go-round, 2 inches is the magic setting for effective starts. I also insist on 12 point Times New Roman font. Yes, it’s old school, but it’s also clean and widely demanded by editors at respected journals.

All these little rituals verify to my mind that my unique brand of creating is happening. I enjoy the regularity and routine of these seemingly insignificant customs; if I changed them, I’d probably miss them, honestly. We never know how much our writing depends upon a couple of inches and a warm mug. And as the old country expression goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Until next time, loyal readers, enjoy your odd and inexplicable habits. They might be more important than you know.

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