Writing Rituals

My journaling ritual isn’t very spiritual. It’s rather practical, just like me. I get my coffee maker ready at night before I go to bed. In the morning, I try to get up as soon as I first wake up. I push the button on the coffee pot, pee, let the dog out, and sit at the kitchen table. Here is my journal, open to a fresh page, the pen in the crack of the book. I sit and write while the coffee brews, and finish up while I sip it.

Morning is my favorite time to write. My mind is fresh, I think well, my dreams are still alive. I write until I feel I’m done. Sometimes I go on for an hour, sometimes the garden or a fresh snowfall calls me outside.

I’ve tried writing at night, especially before I had a computer, which seems to eat up my evenings now. I’d get into bed and write about the day. It’s a good time for a wealth of information and emotions to spew forth, but more often than not, I’m just too tired.

For those of you who already write, you probably have a ritual. If you’re just starting out, experiment. Write in the morning, write in the evening, write in the middle of the day, indoors, outdoors, quiet places, noisy places. Get the picture?

Light some incense or a candle. The soft light and gentle fragrance of a candle can inspire your spirit. Or turn on ‘mood music’. My daughter does her homework in front of the the t.v. Maybe you need that kind of distraction to create well. Get in a hot bath. I do this often. Again, find what works for you, because journaling is very subjective. It’s for you, so make it for you.

This is a good place to talk about how to write. The only rule here is to write. But through the experience of writers like Natalie Goldberg and Ann LaMott, various workshop facilitators, fellow journalers and myself, there seem to be a few basic guidelines.


~for at least 10 minutes. If you don’t want to look at a clock, write for 3 pages, or 6 pages… whatever feels comfortable. Set a goal and reach it. Same for electronic journalers. Set a goal for yourself each time.

~without stopping. Don’t edit, don’t cross out (no spell checkers), don’t stop the pen (they keys). If you’re stuck, write ‘I am stuck. I am stuck.’ until your brain moves forward.

~without fear. Go to places you’re simply going. Don’t control the destiny of the piece. Let it go. It’s fun to get to finish up with an ‘Ah-ha!’

~for fun. Don’t make it drudgery. Once you get started, though, you’ll be addicted. You’ll look forward to journaling.

This is freewriting. Squelch your editor, and get on paper whatever comes to mind. If you start writing about lizards, and end up with a description of a hot-air balloon, that’s what it’s all about!

So… write for 10 minutes, or whatever your personal goal is, about what fascinates you.

by Nan Fischer