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Writing Rituals

Article by Caren Kennedy © 16 November 2011.
Posted in Guest Blogs ().

Of all the bizarre methods for stimulating the writing muse I’ve heard tell about, French novelist Colette’s is by far the strangest. She picked fleas from her cat, then wrote.

Coming in a close second is the poet Friedrich von Schiller. He used to keep rotten apples under the lid of his desk, open it, inhale and then compose. Conversely, T.S. Eliot believed he did his best work when he had a head cold.

It’s also said that Edgar Allen Poe wrote with a cat on his shoulder; Voltaire used his lover’s naked back as a writing desk; Samuel Taylor Coleridge indulged his imagination with opium; and Rudyard Kipling insisted on having the blackest ink available and fantasised about keeping “an ink-boy to grind me Indian ink” but more about that I don’t want to know.

Self-induced boredom was the preferred method of other writers. Stendhal began the day by reading three or four pages of the French Civil Code when writing The Charterhouse of Panama and Willa Catha read the Bible.

All of which makes reports of Dr Johnson frequently consuming twenty-five cups of tea at a single sitting and Honoré de Balzac mainlining on fifty cups of coffee per day, well, banal frankly.

As is mine. I flaff around tidying my desk, catching up on emails, lighting fags, yapping on Twitter, sipping coffee and thinking about maybe doing it.  I also think about the rituals of other writers. They mediate. Take walks. Do yoga. Tap fingers. Chant affirmations. I resolve to try these some day. Next, I go online to check my bank balance, phone a friend or two, water the plants, hunt down a favourite pen and make more coffee.

Finally, finally, finally I start to write and sometimes it flows, sometimes it doesn’t.  And so it goes.

For more about Caren, please visit: www.carenkennedywrites.com

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CAREN KENNEDY runs writing.ie's Word Play blog and is the creator of a television series currently in pre-production with Warner Bros TV and co-author of Fake Alibis (BenBella Books, 2009). As well as being a regular contributor to Journal.ie, publishing credits include local, national and international publications. In conjunction with The Inkwell Group, Caren also gives one-to-one mentoring on how to begin writing for television in her online course: http://www.inkwellwriters.ie/workshops/writing-tv-treatments. She is represented in the US by Vamnation Entertainment and TriadaUS Literary Agency.