My Navy son's very poignant retirement ceremony at Pearl Harbor got me thinking about the power of rituals and symbolism in our lives yet again. I didn't lose the toddler's tendency to ask 'Why?' about things as I aged--in part because my Dad encouraged me to question everything and everyone. Would not ever want to be a person who blindly follows any path, custom, ritual just because it is traditional...yet feel strongly that ritual is important in human life: From baby showers to funerals to how we celebrate holidays and even which holidays are significant to us as individuals and as families. But I think they need re-examining from time to time—we need to make sure that they are serving us psychologically, emotionally and that we are not just going thru the motions because it is traditional.
That was the beginning of a post i made on another site. Then it occurred to me that writer's and other artists tend to have 'rituals' too. We may call them habits or methods or processes but often they get codified into rituals that we come feel we 'require' as conditions to allow our creativity to flow. It has been written that both Picasso and Winston Churchill preferred to paint in the nude (much to the chagrin of visitors.) Stephen King illustrates it in his book 'Misery', the main character having difficulty writing when he can't do it his usual way. Specific tools or even incidentals can become superstitiously invested with power to aid our natural talents. An athlete may have lucky socks or underwear while a writer may favor certain instruments of creation but also need sun or moonlight coming thru a window or a cat curled at their feet.
Despite learning to type in tenth grade, i continued to write both prose and poetry out in longhand (the paper did not matter---whatever i could get my hands on) in pencil to facilitate editing until word processors that didn't need correction fluid or tape came along and for a while after. By 2002, after many years of using 'Word' programs for finished products...i made the choice to switch to using the program for drafts as well. With poems especially it was so much easier to open 2 'word' files---one for the original draft and one in which i'd experiment with words, phrases and line breaks (which i often use in lieu of punctuation in my poems) without losing the original, so if the rewrite fell short i could go back to it and try again.
Now, while i often make notes for concepts on any available paper---from napkins to backs of forms to the tiny pages of notepads i carry in my purse all the time---i most often make my first actual draft sitting at my computer keyboard. i most often write early in the day as i'm an early riser...but if really working on something can do so any time of day or night when not otherwise occupied. Perhaps the only 'ritual' object might be that in summer i will have a cold beverage nearby and in winter a hot one.
The change in my methods was deliberate, but i have to admit in part inspired by comfort...arthritis has hit my fingers the hardest and keyboarding actually eases it by keeping the joints from seizing up as much.
i say all this to ask--have you any rituals or 'talisman' items 'necessary' to your process?