NaNoWriMo is going pretty well so far. As of right now, I’m about 3500 words behind on my goal word count for today, but that can be easily made up. Also, I’m going to use this blog post as part of my word count. That may not be strictly legal, but I’m writing and being creative, and goddammit, I need a bit of a mind cleanse.
So far, I’ve written about a faerie infestation, the breakdown of a polyfidelitous relationship (something I know well), and a foray into the Akashic Records, which is something I’ve always been fascinated with.
I’ve also been watching endless YouTube videos about NaNo and writing in general. One of my favorite channels is this one: KatyTastic.
She’s very young, but also fabulously geeky and enthusiastic, and she gives some great advice. I’ve really been enjoying watching her videos, even though her style is kind of opposite of mine. She’s a planner, while I sit down and have absolutely no idea what I’m going to write. Any time I try to make an outline, I end up blowing it off 1/4 of the way through in favor of the newer, neater idea I just had. It’s just how my brain works.
One concept I’ve been fascinated with is the idea of writing rituals. I’m a very superstitious, ritualistic person, and I love the idea of surrounding myself with things that help me get my brain into the right space for creativity.
The idea is that when you create a ritual, the more specific the better, the order that your neurons fire becomes connected. So, for example, if you always light a candle, wear a specific piece of clothing when you write, drink a particular drink, etc., eventually your brain will make the connection that once you’ve done that thing, it’s time to write. The reason is in the way that neural pathways are created. Once a series of actions or sensations become connected through repetition, the brain actually coats that neural pathway with thin layers of the material that our brain is made of. That makes that pathway stronger and more efficient, and creates a bit of a shortcut for us.
This is something that’s true of spiritual ritual, and it seems obvious that it would apply to a writing ritual as well.
A few years ago, I put together a creativity altar on my nightstand. There was a motivation candle, elemental incenses based on the section of the story I was writing (I’ve divided my books into 5 sections, one for each cardinal element), and several tumbled stones that help to enhance creativity and imagination. It’s covered with a nice layer of dust these days. (I’m not the best housekeeper in the world.)
However, I’ve dusted off the motivation candle and found a nice glass candleholder to carry it around in. That way, I can move it between the living room and the bedroom depending on where I want to write. I think I’ll finish burning that, and then make my own candles with a blend of essential oils that aids in memory, concentration, and motivation. It’s time to dust the plate that the altar rests on and rededicate it as sacred space.
Here’s what I intend to do:
The motivation candle is nice, but I’d really like to personalize my own. I’ve always loved making Dixie Cup candles, and I have plenty of wax, oils, wicks, etc. The oil blend I’ll use is rosemary (mental acuity), cedarwood (grounding and centering, ‘getting down to business’), and cinnamon (passion, action, motivation). I’m going to just leave them white, or maybe mix in a touch of pale lavenderish blue. I may even add some dried rosemary. Haven’t decided yet.
I also intend to make a beaded necklace with blue topaz and sodalite. I’ve created necklaces to honor my patron deities, and they’re fabulous meditation tools, similar to the Catholic rosary or Buddhist prayer beads. These two minerals are especially good for communication and thought, and also finding your life path and clearing obstacles (both things I usually need a lot of help with).
I’ve also created a new wallpaper for my desktop with a flame and Dante’s invocation of the muse. I may or may not recite it before I write. There may or may not be special music or a special song as well.
At any rate, hopefully the combination of all these things will help me to create that sacred space that clears my mind for writing. It won’t be as practical to burn a candle at, say, Starbucks, but I can certainly keep a vial of the oil in my pocket so I have the sensory memory, wear the necklace, listen to the music through earphones, etc. There are ways these things can be adapted.
I’ll post a picture of the altar when I’ve had a chance to reset/rededicate it, probably on the days leading up to the next full moon on the 18th.
One thing I’ve been taking very seriously that has been helping is my coffee. I really only drink coffee when it’s cold out, otherwise I’m a Coke Zero kinda gal. But when it gets chilly and I have writing to do, I get really serious about my coffee.
Previously I had some crummy store brand coffee, and it just wasn’t doing it for me. So our store had Starbucks on sale, and I got some lovely Sumatra. However, when I got it home, it was whole bean. Since my coffee grinder is filled with sticky frankincense, and other spices and resins that render it uncleanable, I had to go grab another grinder.
It was SO worth it. The difference is incredible. The dark roast beans mixed with the freshness of the whole beans just DOES IT for me. You may have noticed that I’ve had a few cups today, in fact. 😉