Writing Rituals

So, I have been sitting in front of my laptop for the last few days, working on my thesis proposal, typing a word here, a phrase there (I am about 1/4 of a way through being finished …). I have been trying to think of ways to get myself into that super-fiend-work-mode that I find myself in when confronted with a hard deadline and being three steps behind. I am trying to avoid that ulcer inducing work mode (that got me this far, but still, I don’t think I can sustain it for my PhD), so i got to thinkin’ – what work rituals do I usually perform to get it going? I know that good conversations with colleagues always gets me motivated to work (however, the bus ride home usually takes a bit of wind out of my sails); sometimes going over my reading notes that I took to prepare for the particular project helps and I usually have to clean my office so all is neat and tidy (since my ideas are messy and all over the place). But what I would like to know is, what other rituals do people have to get themselves deep into work mode? I cannot imagine (or at least hope) that not everyone is naturally motivated and inspired 24/7 as needed – so please – share any tips or tricks you might have.

3 thoughts on “Writing Rituals

  1. I think that to get into flow mode depends on the project type and other personal/situational factors, but my small daily steps are:

    If it is a writing project, I need a very specific type of music, otherwise I can’t organize my ideas or paragraphs. Music (slow paced repetitive rhythms and melodies without lyrics) as mental stimulation helps me to build my argument flow as well as grammar structure. Since I discovered this, my writing quality improved A LOT.

    If I’m just thinking through the material to get an argument or a paper sketch, it is better when I combine it with any ordinary physical activity (walking, doing groceries, washing dishes, cleaning, etc.). Pop music also helps in this case.

    If I’m struggling with uncertainty/insecurity in my ideas – that type that blocks productivity – I gather more bibliography, for me is the best way to fight my fears and build confidence.

    Although task listing (breaking in small tasks) does wonders, sometimes I struggle to do the initial task list, and I usually interpret it as mental stress. I used to feel guilty about “not doing”, but nowadays I let it be, and enjoy my time having fun somehow and de-stressing.

  2. thnx Yara, I think the music bit is important – I never really thought about it until I read your reply, and I realized that I listen to music all the time when I work – BUT – when I am trying to work through an idea or something, I tend to get distracted by the lyrics of the songs I am listening to. I will have to try some melodic sans lyric tunes next time.

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