Wednesday, July 7, 2010

In the Mood

by Elizabeth

I love to read books by Indian authors. Just finished one by a new guy, Farahad Zama (The Marriage Bureau for Rich People, a fun read!), and have gulped down Divakaruni, Pradhan, many others. One thing I've learned reading them is that in India, in the middle of a heat wave, people enjoy a cooling drink: a steaming cup of tea. The idea is that by heating the insides, it helps cool you off. I'll buy it.

So now, in the middle of the hot Texas summer, I've got a cup of English Breakfast doctored up with milk and fake sugar, just the way I like it. A hot drink, and it's like it loosens its way down my throat, into my core, and then on to the extremities, and my fingers can fly.

I've mentioned before that I like to write in coffee houses, restaurants, even in grocery stores that feature tables for weary or hungry shoppers. (My favorite, Central Market, even has a fireplace roaring away on cold winter days!) It's free office space, but there is also something about a hot drink at my elbow that gets my creative juices flowing, gets my pen moving, gets my words on the page. I guess you could say that a hot drink (or a cold Diet Coke with fresh lime if it's lunch time and my venue of choice is Taco Cabana) puts me in the mood.

I'd stop short of calling it a ritual, though it might be to my advantage if I went the extra step and made it so. Rituals are such for a reason; they help people create a muscle memory, and they contribute to the feeling of community. Both are necessary for writer. We need to flex that writing muscle, over and over. That's even more so once we leave the what-if-land of the still-to-be-published and enter the world of a contract and the second book has a deadline. As for community--isn't that why I'm here right now? And you?

If my task is writing--and it is--then ritualizing and recognizing the power of a hot drink to my production is a valuable consideration.

My cup is drained, the world is still hot, but I wrote. I wrote this. I did my work, and all that's left is to wonder about you: what is your ritual, or what ritual do you think will help you?


  1. What is my writing ritual? I make a schedule and stick to it! I schedule in breaks for exercise, meals, family time, and even a few video games to keep my juices flowing. This has helped me complete even the most mundane tasks in writing, like editing and formatting!

  2. To keep myself "on track," with my current WIP, I launched a blog, "A Novel Idea: 365 Days of Writing." The idea behind the blog was to make myself accountable to the daily writing process -- so I suppose my "ritual," is updating the blog. Every morning I make myself coffee at 6 a.m., and write a blog post about the previous day's writing accomplishments -- or lack thereof.

    When I'm writing, I have to have music. Michael Buble is a favorite and tends to bring out the best in my muse.

    If you want to follow my journey to a finished manuscript in 365 days you can visit me (and drop me a line? I love to hear from other writers!) at

  3. Maybe not a ritual, but this spring I decided I needed a more inspiring view out my office window. So, I transformed a strip of land (only five feet between the window and the fence) into a garden with flowers, vines, stepping stones (for my daughter and her buds) plus a bird feeder. This morning I watched while three house finches munched away while I worked.

  4. Not being interrupted for more than an hour would be absolutely divine.

    Also, I have playlists for works in progress and for characters as well. It helps when I'm trying to drown out the noise...


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