All writers have triggers to help them work; they need them because writers are private, purposeful and professional procrastinators.
Try saying that with your mouth full of salt n’ vinegar crisps.
I know many writers who have to go through a routine – or more like a ritual – before they can begin writing any words. Roald Dahl had a very strict writing regimen: he would walk around his garden, only write in his specially-built writing hut for two hours then stop. And he didn’t write on anything else other than yellow American legal paper.
Stephen King is the same, at least he was before he was run over by a truck: he used to take an early morning walk in the woods before writing anything.
Yet other writers, such as the fantastic young adult novelist Alex Scarrow, admits he can – and does – literally write anywhere. He has no need for cosy comforts like a favourite chair, a crackling fire or a walk with the dog in the morning. He craves difference in his environment, going where people are bustling around – such as on trains or in crowded cafes – to kickstart his writing.
The latter seems alien to me. Although I don’t necessarily have to have my little Writing Ritual, it does seem to help my mind “settle” into a creative place – the place where my author voice hangs out.
My ritual consists of: some breakfast, usually of two weetabix and a massive dollop of honey, followed by 25 very sweaty minutes on the eliptical cross-trainer, then a lovely strong cup of tea and copious…copious amounts of biscuits.
And it is the biscuits that are the key for me. They appear, sadly and brilliantly, to be my writing trigger. In fact, if I were ever to have my Body Mass Index (BMI) measured, then it would actually come out – on the doctor’s scales – as a Biscuit Mass Index.
You see, I eat way too many custard creams, malted milk, digestives, all butter crunches, chocolate hob-nobs, nice, almond slices and country farm cookies. I dunk them in my lovely cup of tea (the custard creams and hob nobs are the best dunkers) and then…away I go! I’m writing.
Except the problem is, when I leave the desk to go out, I come back to write again so, of course, have to start the ritual over. But this time, I miss out the weetabix and cross-trainer and fast-track myself to tea and dunking the biscuits.
So, if you’re a writer, an artist or creative person, what’s your ritual? What’re your triggers? And, most importantly, what’s your Biscuit Mass Index?