Crafting Your Starting Ritual

It’s hard to get started writing, doing art, music or dance. There is laundry to do, trash to take out, or a hundred other distractions to keep us from getting the work done. In a newsletter article, Alyson Stanfield quoted an article from the Creativity Portal. The article is by Eric Maisel, and it’s worth running here. Eric suggests different ways to create a start-up ritual for getting to work and letting the laundry pile up.

Crafting a Starting Ritual By Eric Maisel

“When your ritual becomes habitual you will find yourself moving effortlessly from not creating to creating.”

One of the best ways to help yourself create every day is to craft a starting ritual that you begin to use regularly and routinely. When your ritual becomes habitual you will find yourself moving effortlessly from not creating to creating.

How about a ritual tea ceremony? Make a cup of your favorite tea. In the minute or two it takes for the water to boil, take a few deep breaths, clear your mind, and ready yourself to work. Take your cup to your work space and as the tea steeps prepare your materials. When your tea is as dark as you like it, put the tea bag on a small saucer and turn to your work. Work until your tea is cool enough to drink. What may happen is that you lose yourself in the trance of working and discover that your tea is cold by the time you turn to it. Excellent! Part of your work ritual can be re-heating your tea in the microwave as your first small break between creative stints.

Here are seven other starting rituals:

  1. Do something physical like yoga, tai chi, or stretching. After five minutes of exercise move directly to your creative work.
  2. Meditate for five minutes. Once you’ve calmed your mind, mentally bring forth your creative project and hold it gently until you feel ready to proceed with it.
  3. Start each work session with a war cry. Stand up, beat your chest, and shout “Ready! Set! Go!” Stride fiercely to your work space.
  4. On a sheet of paper, write down one goal for your upcoming work period. The goal might be “finish my current painting,” “go deep,” or “have some real fun exploring.”
  5. Give your creative project a name. Ceremonially repeat that name like a mantra or incantation for a few minutes as you ready yourself to create.
  6. Choose a small object like a pebble or coin to serve as your talisman and lovingly squeeze it several times before beginning to work.
  7. Set a clock radio to go off as your signal to start. Pick a station whose music energizes you or soothes you. When the music comes on, enjoy it for a few minutes and then move decisively to your work area.

Craft your own starting ritual or try out one of these suggestions. If the ritual you choose doesn’t take hold, craft or choose another one until you find the perfect starting ritual for you. • © Eric Maisel, 2007

–Quinn McDonald is a certified creativity coach, writer and teacher of journaling courses. Her next course, “Journal Writing for Perfectionists” is in Alexandria, VA on July 8. Contact Quinn through her website, QuinnCreative.com

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