I don’t know about you guys, but for me it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the pings and dings of everyday life as we hurtle towards a future dominated by being connected, available and seemingly on call 24/7.
As a child I could easily escape into my imagination, stories would almost erupt from me onto paper or into drawings without effort, and I didn’t need noise or attention to function. It’s as if time didn’t exist.
But as an adult I find it much harder to fall back into my writing.
Without realizing it, I’ve become completely accustomed to background noise and being in constant contact with people, whether that is music playing in the background or having a podcast on, or checking my phone to see how many likes my latest Instagram post received; it’s hard to be completely “off” and totally alone with your thoughts, something that’s essential to me as a writer.
You only need a little bit of distance to look at that contradiction, and think, wow that’s not healthy.
I’ve always seen myself as a Type B person, fairly messy and chaotic, but somehow in all the disorder I’ve managed to find a love for routine to help me gather my thoughts into words.
Writing is still my passion, and I love getting swept up in a story, running with my creativity and seeing what happens, letting my words and ideas spill out of me onto paper. But my childlike ease of letting my imagination run away with me is gone.
How do I get back to that place?
For me, while I’m on the road I write a lot by hand, take notes and jot down ideas, but it’s only when I return home that I begin to craft a real story. I need space and time to reflect on my feelings and emotions that I experience when I travel before sitting down and the real writing begins.
My life is made up of unforgettable travel moments and memories that deserve to be captured into words.
As an adult I find that I rely now on ritual more and more to be able to disconnect and slip into that writing mindset. Perhaps I am not alone in this.
While I’m changing all the time, and my creativity ebbs and flows, I’ve slowly been finding my voice and love for the written word again, especially after the past few months of a breakdown.
In the hopes that it might inspire you to find your voice and channel your inner writer or creator, I thought I would share some of my rituals that I use to calm my mind and prepare to write, even if it is just to share a story with a friend. Enjoy.
1. No phone, no notifications
My number one rule for writing and being productive is to disconnect and not be disturbed. Blinding flash of the obvious, I know. But it bears repeating.
For me that often means physically moving my phone across the room so I don’t involuntarily pick it up and scroll and scroll and scroll, which I will do. I also turn my wifi off on my laptop and make sure I don’t get any reminders, pop ups, emails or notifications that I can use as an excuse to distract myself.
I do love writing sometimes in a cafe or in a space with soft ambient noise, but I try to go somewhere where I can hide in a corner or where I don’t know a lot of people. And the same rules apply – phone stays in my bag, and computer stays offline.
2. Get outside
Without fail, my best thoughts, my best ideas and my best stories come to me when I’m outside in nature.
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” John Muir
Whether I’m going for a run or paddling out on the lake on my SUP board or walking through the beech forest or climbing a mountain, as a point I make sure to truly be present whenever I’m out in the nature here.
There’s something so wonderful that nature can bring out in us, and even if I only go outside for 10 minutes, I find it really does help me gather my thoughts in preparation to write.
3. Nice tools – nice pens and paper
I would hanker a guess that anyone who loves to write, also has a deep and profound love for pen and paper too.
Storytellers generally love putting words to paper, many of them the old-fashioned way. For me, traveling is a deep and profound experience that is easy to capture into pictures but it’s much harder to do so in words. The challenge for me is both capturing the experience, feelings, thoughts and emotions in the moment when I’m traveling and then transforming them into a powerful story once I’m home that will hopefully resonate with you all.
How do I do it?
Well, when I’m on the road, I’m armed with a beautiful travel notebook and the Parker Pens Sonnet Special Edition collection, my new favorite travel pens.
Carefully crafted featuring unique and elaborate cap designs, the Sonnet Special Edition pens are elegant writing instruments that makes putting experiences into words easier for me.
I thoroughly enjoy pulling a pen from my bag when I’m at a cafe in France to make a note to myself of that particular moment, the smell of the croissants (drools!), the argument between an elderly couple next to me in French (what are they fighting about?! I must know! Perhaps they aren’t even fighting – they’re just French – c’est la vie!) and even my own curiosity of why they drink coffee in shot size mugs?
If I don’t make note now, I will forget later on when I go to write longer blogs and articles, or even that book I’ve been trying to write for 3 years.
A solid and elegant pen, each designed with a unique finish evoking a specific emotion, the Parker Sonnet SE collection was made for curious people like me, who love ink and paper and writing things by hand, and who want capture the world into words.
Once you take the time to connect with that particular moment by writing it down by hand, committing it to both memory and paper, I find you truly emotionally bond with the memory. The practice of writing by hand, helps me capture feelings I would struggle with to describe otherwise. It’s liberating!
4. Surround yourself with plants and flowers
So guys, I, like, really REALLY want a dog.
But I am away from home too often and I’m told that I’m not allowed one while I still travel a lot, and I’ve yet to find a doggo co-parent in Wanaka. So I compromised and bought myself a lot of plants to make up for it. Literally every writing nook in my house has a plant or two.
And I’ve managed to keep all but one alive (damn you, coriander!) and they are my pride and joy.
I also make a point to surround myself with as many flowers a I can – within reason, of course. I have no idea why, but when I sit down to write and I can stare off and think and look at a plant or flower, it calms me. It’s part of my story. I’ll even put a flower by my laptop when I’m on the road if I can.
There’s a simple joy to be found in plants and flowers. And never doubt the power of a big sunflower in letting inspiration flow!
5. Read, read and read some more
No matter where I am in the world, I always have a book or three with me.
The more I read, the more inspired I feel to write.
6. Get off the grid
Another one of my writing rituals is that a few times a year I try to truly go off the grid for a few days. Usually I escape to a little cabin on the coast that has an outdoor loo and no wifi or signal, sometimes no electricity!
If I’m without power, then I make sure to bring a blank notebook to scribble away in.
Being alone with my own thoughts off the grid in a peaceful place sparks creativity like no other!
7. Meditate for 10 minutes
Honestly, I don’t even recognize myself writing this but it is so helpful!
One of my business partners, Lauren Bath, kindly gifted me a one month subscription to a meditation app a few months ago when I was in the middle of my breakdown, and honestly it was so life-changing.
As someone with some seriously deep-seated anxiety, taking 10 minutes to just sit back, breathe and relax does wonders for my mental health. If I’m really wound up, having trouble focusing or feeling stressed, I’ll step away from all the work and meditate for a little while.
Sometimes I don’t even meditate, I just lay on the floor and practice deep breathing or roll out my back with a foam roller or with my pilates balls.
8. Light some candles
I don’t know why but I always light a candle when I’m writing. To be honest I have candles lit most of the time, but especially when I’m crafting.
I DETEST white light with a fiery passion – it destroys all the hygge vibes and makes everything seem harsh and uncomfortable, so I try to have as much soft and defused yellow light around me when I write as possible.
I don’t know where my candle obsession came from but man, it’s truly right up there with my mug obsession, which leads me to my next point…
9. Make a nice hot beverage
I don’t know about you guys but I can’t write (or function) without a nice cup of coffee or tea next to me. My desk feels naked without it!
10. Be comfortable, but not too comfortable
Don’t write in bed – it never works out. Trust me.
Do you have any helpful writing rituals to share? Any tips? Spill!