Writing Ritual in the Writing Hut by Deb Gail

Deb Gail

I have shared my writing ritual on the deb site before but I thought I’d share it again, with a few updates, because many of my writer friends have asked me to send it to them and told me that they now use their own version of it to get focused and also because my husband just took several pictures of it this past week. So now there are visuals to enhance the original. Also, I don’t think you have to be a writer to utilize a ritual to help you focus your energy for whatever you want or need to accomplish. So here it is… my writing ritual.

Even though I always say I’m not going to start my day on the computer since it zaps my energy and is often hard to break away from, still, I always sip coffee and squirrel around on the computer when I wake up. I check The Deb site, I check e-mail, check a few other sites, check my website stats, check e-mail again, check my Amazon ranking (even though my book isn’t out yet), check my facebook, and about three e-mail checks after that point, after I’ve completely disgusted myself with this ridiculous waste of time and energy and vow I’ll stop all this computer surfing tomorrow… I go for a run to clear my head and then I come back, drink some water, make myself a double espresso and head out to my isolation hut (no computer access or phone line) in the back yard to write.

I turn the knob with my elbow and kick the door open juggling my laptop, my cell phone (just in case there’s an emergency with one of my kids), my coffee, my notebook I carry everywhere and keep on my bedside table at night and sometimes a book or a couple of grocery receipts I’ve scribbled notes on and I almost always drop something and vow I’ll stop juggling so much and make two trips or just bring less stuff with me. Side note about the hut: It has nothing in it except my writing stuff and things I love, my Audrey Hepburn Breakfast at Tiffany’s and We Can Do It posters. My bulletin board full of postcards, including Andy Warhol’s “The world fascinates me,” and Michaelangelo’s David (love that butt), my Marilyn Monroes, my assorted Leonardo Da Vinci sketches, quotes I love like: “Well-behaved women rarely make history” and Emily Dickenson’s” Dwell in possibility,” some old floral hatboxes I bought at an estate sale, an enormous dictionary and thesaurus, my ribbons and bibs from my races and a desk and a bookshelf and a soft chair and a little wooden table with a decoupaged box of Michaelangelo’s hands from the Sistene Chapel and a little brass Indian lady (given to me by our Indian neighbors in New Hampshire many years ago) that represents success. Anyway, I set or drop everything on the desk and then I turn on the light and open my laptop and open whatever document I’m working on (this is key).

I walk over to the little stool and kneel down and light the candle with my Anyone Want a Doobie matches with the picture of a nerdy 1950’s looking guy smoking a purple bong that I bought for my husband as a joke because he’s such a straight arrow (we both are) but he’s more outwardly so and he was so worried someone would find them in the house he threw them away and I recycled them for my office. So I light the candle with those matches and then I bow down and plant my hands firmly on the earth and thank God (although it doesn’t have to be GodI’m really not a very religious person and actually now that I think about it could be the universe or whatever) but I thank something or someone for my health and the health of my children (I name them one by one) and my husband, and then I offer my day to others who are suffering more than I am. Sometimes it’s specific people and sometimes it’s just others in the universe. And then I ask who or whatever to fill me full of love, compassion, patience, hope, trust, balance, honor, endurance, humility etc, (this list changes daily depending how life is going for me and the qualities I feel I’m lacking) and then I ask for the wisdom and courage and passion to be the most amazing me and then say, I believe in your infinite wisdom and am open to whatever you may have to teach me and then, Bring me the mojo!

Then I sit up Japanese style and I squeeze everything in my body tight and release and tighten and release, then I inhale for a count of seven and hold my breath for seven and exhale for seven. I do that two more times and then I repeat Saht Nam (Saht on the inhale and Nam on the exhale) over and over again until I feel my mind emptying and focusing on Saht Nam. This lasts anywhere from two minutes to ten (depending on how restless I’m feeling). After that I bring my hands up to prayer position at my heart and do three Oms out loud and I bow forward one more time and say I am strong, I am healthy, I am healed and I do a spinal twist on both sides and a head stand for a count of thirty and a downward facing dog and a backbend and then I hang forward and slowly roll up and reach my arms overhead and ask for the mojo again (can never have enough mojo). After that (which really only takes about 10-15 minutes), I walk over to the desk and because the document is already open, leaving me no excuse to squirrel around on my laptop, I sit down and write.

Note about the photos: Yes, I know two of these pictures are sideways. I might have tried to figure out how to rotate them but…. I am stuck in the airport (after spending several days at the Backspace Conference and meeting Jenny and Danielle! because a storm is rolling in) and my internet access is very spotty and I just heard from a woman sitting next to me they may cancel the later flight. So I guess I’m thinking the sideways photos are just right! Update: finally arrived home at 2 a.m….

11 Replies to “Writing Ritual in the Writing Hut by Deb Gail”

  1. The best idea is no distractions. My days are overflowing with distractions – some of which are self-imposed. Oh, I’ll just watch the news (ok, or The View) for 15 minutes. I can write better while I’m surfing the net. But when I shut out the world I can concentrate, go into my zone and really get words out.

    Thank you for the reminder.

  2. Oh, I love your little hut! I’m curious about the hut’s origin. Was it always on your property? Have you always used it for writing? What was it in its former life?

  3. Yes Amy, I thinking shutting out the world (even for a short period of time) is the key.

    Thanks Kristina! My husband had it built for me for my 45th birthday because I told him that working in the house was becoming increasingly distracting for me and I’d always wanted a room of my own. But it took so long to construct that the builders were actually building it as I was recovering from surgery the following winter and during that time when I looked at it I worried it could be too late to ever use it… and I didn’t use it for months when I was unable to think and write and spent most of my time Googling health websites. But I did force myself to set it up (like you see in the photos) after we took my oldest to college and we set up her dorm room. And I wrote my whole book out there and I LOVE going in there. It has a wonderful vibe.

  4. Gail, you inspired me to re-vamp my office. I don’t have a hut, but I am lucky enough to have this little space and there’s no reason I can’t make it my own little sanctuary instead of a place to dump crap.

  5. I love your hut! and I’m happy to see your hydrangeas, the cousins of the one blooming in my yard, now!
    I’m getting closer with my office, but it’s still a bit of a dumping ground. Maybe today I’ll hang some pictures!

  6. thanks Amy!! Yes, I guess I’ll keep the husband, too!

    Yes, Kristina… first rule is DO NOT dump crap on your writing desk. Leave it sacred.

    Thanks Caroline! I love it that we have matching hydrangeas (cousins!) and just to let you know, I have a lot of pictures and other things I still haven’t hung up yet!

  7. Gail? That second paragraph? I know all about that…oh too well. 🙂

    And I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: I love, love, LOVE your writing sanctuary!!!!!!

    (PS: Glad you’re home safe and sound!)

  8. it is a sanctuary, Larramie, and I’m very grateful for it!!

    thanks Jess. I’m glad to be back in Wisconsin!! You’ve seen it in person although maybe not in bloom!

  9. Add me to the list of people who adore your writing space. It motivates me to clean my space out. I have a great office- but too often it becomes the repository of clutter. Cluttered office- cluttered mind.

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