Guerrillas in the Mood: rituals for those who must be opportunistic

Egyptian War Chariot

I’m not big on “rituals” I must perform before writing. Every day can be different. One day I might head to a cafe with my notebook, the next I might jam out a page or two in the hour I have between school and work. I’m a part timer at a glamorous establishment known around these parts as, Burger Hut, and most semesters I’m a full time student on top of that, so if I were to convince myself that I needed a very specific set of things to occur in order to create the right environment in which to write, I might never get down to business.

I’ve heard of folks that will only write at a specific time of day, I know others still set word goals for each and every day, but I myself am like a small guerilla force. If I play by the nice rules others set I’ll never win the day. I have to be craftier, and take every advantage I can get. I obsess over the chapters I’m working on, and drive myself crazy trying to get that perfect tone in every paragraph.

If I’m not in the mood to write one day, I don’t force it. There are plenty of other things I can do that’ll help me hone my craft. I’ll read books with narratives that kick my ass from start to finish, and somewhere in the back of my mind I’ll be thinking, relent, and give me the secret of your magic! And if I’m in a more academic mood I might look at a few articles on craft, or even crack open a textbook if the mood so strikes me.

Beyond that there is always research. Historically research has been a weakness of mine, but I’m getting into it more and more. It’s another point to obsess over, and it’ll have you wrenching your hair out in fistfuls shooting for factual accuracy, but it can be fun too. My novel is heading into the arena of war very shortly and as such I’ve picked up a few books to help bolster the level of my thought.

One is a visual encyclopedia of warfare. I’ve gone back as far as it’ll let me, and have already learned a great deal. Did you know the chariot is what made the ancient Egyptians so formidable in war? The pictures that come along with every article are invaluable, but the writing itself is only as dry as your imagination. My hopes is that with this crash course in warfare, by the time I’m planning the battles, the research will show.

Every day I try to do something that will improve my ability, so that when I do find the time and the mood to sit down and whip out ten pages I’m not only at the top of my game, but am ready to try and implement new techniques as well.

One ritual I am becoming fond of is writing a good 500 words for wordpress, and commenting on one of your articles before sitting down to write. That’s been surprisingly good for me because by the time I’m working on my chapter I’m more surefooted and am not having to start fresh as often as I’m accustomed to.

What are some of your writing rituals?

Love to know,



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