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Ritual procrastination

I was reading here about writing rituals, earlier.

All that talk of lucky clipboards, punching special pillows, listening to eighteenth-century music, building nests, roaming for miles (William Wordsworth) and supping ginormous glasses of coke made me think.

It made me think...isn't Ritual just another word for my Very Special Talent. PROCRASTINATION. Yes! All this time, I've been using the P word to describe the time I spend fannying about when, in fact, reading blogs all day long, dusting skirting boards and teaching Molly-dog to dance are just me and my Writing Rituals. Oh yeah, baby.

There was I, assuming that baking brick-like buns, buffing up my rubber plant with the inside of a banana skin (I read about it in Woman's Own, okay? It doesn't work) and researching ways to stop mould destroying the sealant round the sink, were merely avoidance tactics, when I was actually Preparing Myself To Write. That's what it's all about you see. To quote...

"Effects of ProcrastinationWriting Rituals"

What needs do they serve? Rituals reduce writing anxiety and increase power and control over the process, and enhance fluency.

The effort to write is inherently anxiety making. In some writers, it can cause a creative block. (tell me about it...) The problem is not surprising since writers must move from heaps of unorganized, perhaps even contradictory, perceptions, memories, and propositions to a clearly focused statement of what they think about a topic.

Writing rituals help meet the need for control.

So now I know. When I'm trying on my daughter's shoes to see if I can still walk in high heels (I can't) or scoffing a cheese bap in front of Loose Women, I'm NOT procrastinating at all. I'm simply enhancing my creativity. Got that?


Casdok said…
I believe you!
Yvonne said…
Brilliant! Now when I spend half the morning sleeping in 'because writing takes up so much energy' and take huge breaks 'to recharge my mind', I can say they are writing rituals! Thanks!
Maddie Moon said…
Oh yes, I'm with you on that one, Karen. It's the whole warming up procedure, the mental preparation, the meditation, all absolutely vital. Excuse me while I nip off for a Hob-Nob.
Debs said…
Phew, so that's what I've been doing when I've been watching tv, munching on Maltesers and wallowing in the bath reading my latest book. I knew it was useful somehow.
Lane said…
Nice to know our stalling tactics are just a way of building up our mighty creative energy:-)

I can get up at the crack of dawn and write/read blog posts with no rituals whatsover. When it comes to opening Word though, there must tea, requisite number of notepads and pens, supply of nibbles etc ... all of which takes ages to get ready:-)

I think a Cheese Bap with lunchtime telly is a very creative ritual btw:-)
SpiralSkies said…
Not only do you have to warm up, you also have to be careful not to overdo it. Between the two, it's a miracle we get any writing done at all.
KAREN said…
caskok - It's true, it's true!

yvonne - It's good isn't it? It actually sounds professional :o)

maddie - Ah, the mighty Hob-Nob. Trouble is, I can't stop at one (packet).

debs - Apparently, wallowing in the bath is particularly good for enhancing creativity :o) Don't quote me on that though...

lane - Yes, there are lots of things I can manage without, er, Rituals. Unfortunately, writing isn't one of them :o)

spiralskies - I know, it's a very fine line we tread - quite exhausting actually. Often it's time for bed by the time I've finished my Rituals.
HelenMH said…
This post is so liberating - I'm just off to enhance my creativity a bit more ...
Tom Foolery said…
Very interesting. Now you can tell me to bog off, but do you procrastinate over everything in life ot just writing? A straight forward Bog off/YES/No answer will do. I don't want to eat into your writing time now Clarkey! ;-) TommoX
Kerry said…

I LOVE this post! One of the Glimmer Train books has a whole section interviewing authors about this. When I was first getting back into the swing of things I had to have:

A special pillow to sit on (really!)
Really scalding coffee (thus many trips to the kettle)
Classical music (this is all true) BUT only piano solo's.

Obviously this was kind of restrictive(!) so now I do without everything but ritual snacks - well a gals got to eat non? I feel a cheese bap craving coming on!
Leigh said…
I had no idea OCD was so prevalent!
Maybe that's what makes a writer!


(The verification word for this comment is 'kisse' - so here is one: mwah!)
Sarah Dunnakey said…
This is so true! My rituals tend to involve food, cups of tea and wondering aorund the garden - but they get me there in the end.

By the way if you ever decide to publish your research on how to stop mould destroying sealant I would love to have a copy :@]
Minx said…
Give yourself a good talking to and, umm, get on with it?
KAREN said…
helenmh - Never be reduced to ironing though. That would just be sad...

tommo - It's just writing, which is odd because that's the thing I want to do most. I think it might be called Fear of Failure... When I get an idea for a short story though, I do Get On With It straight away. Maybe I should think of each chapter of my novel as a short-story in itself...less overwhelming maybe?
That's a bloomin' good idea, Clarkey!!

kerry - Only piano solos...I love that!! Do you know - and I'm ashamed to admit this - but a year or so ago I actually convinced myself that the only way I would EVER write my novel was if I rented a room somewhere away from home!!!!!!!! Crazy, when there are days I'm on my home at home. That would have been taking proc..oops, sorry...Rituals to a whole new level :o)

leigh - air kisses to you too :o)
It probably does help to be a bit mad, to be honest. That's what I tell myself anyway!

sarah - Wandering round our garden, the state it's in at the moment, would just wind me up frankly.

Flippin' sealant mould. I think I'll Cillit Bang it again tomorrow, and see what happens!

minx - Consider it done. Until the next time anyway...
Fiona said…
Why can't it be a ritual to hit the keyboard and carry on with the novel every time I sit down?
Instead I reward myself for getting home from work,filling the dishwasher, emptying dishwasher and sorting out socks with a trawl of blogs and emails?
Poetess said…
Loud and Clear!!
KAREN said…
fiona - That's a good point. Writing should become my new Ritual :o)

poetess - A case of me protesting too much perhaps...
wordtryst said…
Geez, why didn't someone tell me this before? All the times I've beaten up myself for that sort of thing...

Is it still a ritual if it goes on for months?
KAREN said…
wordtryst - Sadly, if it goes on for months it becomes a Habit and people start Losing Patience. Shame really :o)
kallioppe said…
Love this post. So true!

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