Do You Write Standing Up?
Writers love rituals.
Almost every writer I know or have heard about has little rites or exercises he or she uses as prompts. These little tics and eccentricities help open writers' inner doors to nudge them out of the world of obviousness and into that amorphous place ideas come from.
They can be silly or sacred, but they are very personal — and they are the lubricant that greases the gears and gets them turning.
For example, when I start a new fundraising package I try to pull up an old, similar project. I don’t get ideas from it, but it helps get past that blank paper paralysis that every writer knows and dreads.
The rituals of great writers are often talked about and, I bet, even more often imitated.
Author John Cheever, I read once, got up every morning and put on a coat and tie before walking downstairs to his writing room. For him, it was very much a job that he needed to approach in a professional way.
Using these little rituals to lead you into your creative zone is certainly not restricted to literary greats.
Copywriting legend David Ogilvy claimed he would drink “half a bottle of rum and play a Handel oratorio on the gramophone.”
Our company’s co-founding genius Jerry Huntsinger reportedly walked around his office dictating into a recording machine. Erle Stanley Gardner did the same thing, except he had a long-suffering secretary who followed him as he strolled around his estate, dutifully taking down his every word.
What are your writing customs?
As much as we writers love and depend on our own rituals, we love reading about those of other writers even more.
If you read this far, you know it’s true.
So, for the possible enlightenment of your colleagues, please share some of the ceremonies and conventions you use to get your motor started.
Can’t wait to hear from you!
Willis Turner believes great writing has the power to change minds, save lives, and make people want to dance and sing. Willis is the creative director at Huntsinger & Jeffer. He worked as a lead writer and creative director in the traditional advertising world for more than 15 years before making the switch to fundraising 20 years ago. In his work with nonprofit organizations and associations, he has written thousands of appeals, renewals and acquisition communications for every medium. He creates direct-response campaigns, and collateral communications materials that get attention, tell powerful stories and persuade people to take action or make a donation.