My writing rituals by Kelsey Ketch
Having moved from place to place, my writing schedule and habits have adapted over time. Particularly whenever my life was in transition from one chapter to the next, or when I transition from one book to another. But there are certain routines or rituals that stay the same, whether it be for Death’s Island, the Descendant of Isis series, or Dark Reflections. These are little things that keep my sanity and keep myself on track.
Isolating myself into a semi-quiet environment.
Though my environment keeps changing, my best writing always comes when I’m sitting a semi-quiet area. Generally a room with few people or in an isolated corner all to myself. In high school, this was usually the empty classroom of my English teacher, who let me have lunch with her, or the hallway near the principal’s office. In college, it was a table at the student union during the more quiet hours or at a table at the Barnes and Noble Café. Now, it’s usually a bench outside my office building.
Writing around noon.
Though I’m not truly a morning person, my mind thinks best during the early hours of the day. Over time, though, as most of my schooling—and now work—consumes that portion of the day, my brain has learned to be creatively productive around my lunch hour. Especially now. The best time ever was when I was in grad school, and I had practically all my afternoons off. I would drive to Barnes and Noble, have lunch, relax, write for several hours, and even people watch. Oh, how I miss that time!
Carrying a journal or my Surface Pro.
When I first start writing a novel, it’s always in a journal which contains notes, scenes, and even a couple of complete chapters. While the novel is in this stage, I carry the journal with me. This way, if inspiration sparks at any time, I can get the thoughts down before I lose them completely. Once the novel reaches the stage where all journal entries are entered into a Word document, I move from the journal to carrying my Surface Pro everywhere I go in order to continually work on my manuscript when I have a spare moment.
Listening to music.
Never in my life could I just listen to music. I have to experience it! Often, I find myself whisked away into stories or music videos that best fit the lyrics and tone. I use this ability to my advantage for my writing, creating specific playlists that help me immerse myself into the novel’s pages. These playlists mostly contain music from movie sound track or even time period music, since I can find music with actual lyric distracting while writing. The only exception so far is Dark Reflections, but I think this is because of the hard times my characters face. I use music to remind myself that even in the darkest of time there is still hope.
I also throw in some more uplifting tracks that still are relevant, just so I don’t completely get down in the mouth.
Watching related documentaries and movies.
A lot of times I will watch—or more like listen to—related documentaries and movies while I’m writing or researching. I know some would probably consider this a distraction, and yes, I would say it probably slows my progress some. However, the benefits outweigh the costs. It helps build my world by providing knowledge that I can integrate into something I have already written or spark a whole new idea that I wouldn’t have thought of.
Walking through natural areas.
Let’s face it. As much as you want to lock yourself up and get your manuscript done, it’s just not possible. The imagination needs air. Fresh air with trees and nature. As I walk, I go through different scenes and dialogue. I unravel my novel, ask questions I think my audience will, find the logic in my story telling and characters’ actions. It’s even better if I can drag along a friend who I can use as a sounding board. Bounce ideas. See things through a different person’s eyes. Plus, I would look quite silly talking to squirrels or trees.
Burning colored candles, incenses, and essential oils.
There’s nothing like having the lights low and candles burning to get you into a romantic mood. Therefore, when I reach a romantic scene or some sexual tension, I like to burn a couple red and pink candles. Red to represent passion and pink to represent love. I’ll also fill the room with the scent of either Aphrodisia Cones or the mixture of Sweet Orange and Rosewood oils. They’re pleasant and almost hypnotic.
Burning a gold candle.
This is probably more a superstition that a writing ritual, but for the past three novels—the Descendants of Isis series—I’ve been burning a gold candle with their name carved into the wax. Gold is the color of success, and burning a candle is just my way of wishing each novel the best.
These rituals have kept my sanity and helped inspire my novels for twelve years. A lot of things have changed throughout that time. There are even more changes ahead as I step deeper into the real world with my career. But I can always take comfort that, as long as I’m a writer at heart, these habits will never diminish. And my writing will continue to evolve and adapt.