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Think of your writing ritual as a training technique to help you reach peak performance, much in the way running daily laps would benefit a pro athlete. Or faceplanting a pile of hotdogs would help prep a competitive eater.

Writing is only stressful when you adopt the belief that the words have to find you. If you cultivate the habit of writing on command, you’re the one in control, not that mysterious muse of yours.

What should your writing ritual look like?

Well, there’s no template for that. It should be designed to suit your strengths, your weaknesses, and your daily life. As my buddy Jo Gifford says, “one man’s flow is another man’s migraine”.

  • James Joyce would write on cardboard with a large blue crayon, whilst lying down on his stomach.
  • Jo Eberhardt clocks an hour each evening (no more, no less), while her husband sits across the room with his sketchbook.
  • Julia Cameron advocates writing three pages in longhand, first thing in the morning.
  • Victor Hugo would lock his clothes away for months, so he’d never be tempted to leave the house and abandon his latest work.

You really don’t have to go that extreme (nudity isn’t always practical), but a writing ritual is a flexible concept.

Are you ready to design your own? Well grab yourself a mug of something steamy, and a notebook and we’ll get going.

I’m going to ask you a series of questions that will help narrow down the when, the how, the why and the what that will influence your writing ritual. Really rack your brain and write down as much as can – it will all be helpful in the end.

What do your days look like?

Do you have a job that takes up a certain portion of your day? Do you have the school run to contend with? A farm full of animals to feed at the crack of dawn?

When are you naturally most productive?

Are you ready to go first thing in the morning? Does it take an espresso or two to get you in the zone? Do you work best when the rest of the house is tucked up in bed?

We want to pick a designated writing slot that fits easily into your routine AND makes it easy for you to feel inspired.

When did you last write in full flow?

Cast your mind back to the last time you churned out page after page of content, without it feeling like a chore. What did that look like? Were you wrapped in a duvet, or sat up at your desk? Were you using a fountain pen or a keyboard? Were you alone? Were you listening to music? Were you drinking something delicious?

Brain-dump everything you can and see how many of these elements you can replicate.

What are your procrastination pitfalls?

When you sit down to write, do you find yourself wanting to file your emails? Or faff around on Facebook? Or do the laundry? Or walk the dog?

All of these distractions you create for yourself will provide an indication of what needs adding to your writing ritual. Maybe you need to shut yourself in a clutter free room, or unplug from the internet, or build a pillow fort. Don’t set yourself up for failure – know your habits.

How do you want to measure the results?

Do you want to clock a certain amount of time each day? Are you aiming for a particular word count? Would you like to complete a specific project?

Defining the length and scope of your desired writing session will help you craft something easy to replicate.

What else does your writing ritual need to be a success?

  • Accountability: having a little bit of (positive) pressure really helps some to thrive. Charm a friend into checking up on you, or play around with (a fun app that rewards you for writing 750 words on consecutive days).
  • Flexibility: experiment with the ideas you’ve come up with, for at least a couple of weeks, then sit down to review. What worked? What didn’t? Refine your approach if necessary.

Leave a comment below and let me know what your new writing ritual looks like!