Ritual is necessary for us to know anything.

– Ken Kesey

There are two things I believe about ritual and art. One, I believe ritual is important for art. I’ve never met or read about an artist of any kind who didn’t have a ritual of some sort. Some rituals are elaborate, and some simple to the point of seeming mundane. It doesn’t matter. Ritual is a part of the craft from what I can tell, and I suspect that at least 99% of all artists use rituals to set the stage for their work.

Two, I believe that each individual’s rituals are their own. What has meaning for you might seem silly and trite to someone else. Conversely, the non-negotiable rituals of the greatest writers of the last century might be entirely meaningless if you tried to incorporate them into your routine. It doesn’t really matter what gets anyone else into their writing head-space. What matters is what gets you into yours.

I tend to listen to music a lot. Either classical or The Crystal Method, most days. Often I light a candle. Vye likes the soft glow of the flames and I like the way they smell. I am almost always drinking coffee, though once in a great long while I’ll substitute it with tea or whiskey. That’s me. That’s what I do.

You should do whatever works for you, and you should know what works for you. Make your writing rituals a part of the joy of writing. Include things that make you feel like a writer, things that get you pumped up or focused or both. Things that put your head in the words. Things that set you free.

Good writing is like a door that opens up to a world of infinite possibilities, and often, ritual is the key that unlocks the door.


  1. Jenni

    I think even non-writers have rituals in their work that seem odd to other folks. I’ve been explaining specific tasks in my job to co-workers the past few weeks and as I say things out loud about the way I go about performing those tasks, it feels silly at times. But it works for me and might not for them….


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