Do you have a writing ritual? What does your writing process look like?
Let me know in the comments, because - honestly - I sometimes like to check in on how odd I really am... even for a writer.
I do my best writing on a sleeping bag by the river. This may seem weird and old-school, just me, a good pen, the white noise of running water, and a stack of looseleaf. This is definitely how I get the most work done - and as I am working on my 6th book (technically 5th plus an anthology) it seems to be working.
My writing ritual looks like this:
On a day off - I get up early, hit the gym, or take care of any ‘must do chores’. I get dressed in my bathing suit and a coverup - usually a dress of some description- and either some ratty old, water-tested sandals or my Vibram toe shoes (those things are THE BEST!). I pack a lunch, snacks, water, and bevies - either Partake near beers, or AHA flavored waters, or Buble. I quit drinking about a year ago, though there are times I miss it. A few IPA and my inner critic would shut up long enough to let me bang out a few chapters without nagging or worrying me.
Then I hop in my car and head for the river.
I'm blessed to live a ten-minute drive from the Cowichan River on beautiful (if terribly expensive) Vancouver Island. I take backroads when I get to choose, and more backroads as the roads that lead to the river are almost all backroads.
After a while, the pavement stops and it is time to traverse the potholed dirt road for the last kilometer or so.
I drive past the parking lot where most people stop to start their day of hiking or fishing or mountain biking or 4x4ing. I find that spot on the road that looks like a sandy hill, navigate the shallowest incline, and wiggle into an awkward - if always available parking spot.
I triple-check that the parking brake is on tight. As I mentioned, parking here, I am parking on a sandy hill. I have seen more than one vehicle roll down this hill, across the dirt road, and into the nightmare ditch on the river side of the road. I have never stuck around long enough to see how they get out of that mess, but I cannot imagine it is easy.
For those of you who have never been to Vancouver Island, blackberries are everywhere and blackberry bushes are notoriously thorny and tangled. A car that rolls across the road here, not only falls into a deep ditch peppered with little boulders, but inevitably lands in a massive blackberry thatch. Imagine trying to get your purse out of your wayward car in the middle of a bramble thicket.
So I throw my trusty sleeping bag over my shoulder, grab my cooler and writing bag, and wander down the dirt path, and rocky river bank till I can dip my toes in the water.
Something I should point out. Depending on your experience of rivers, this may not translate, so allow me to describe
the Cowichan river at this point to you. I love this spot between two waterfalls. To my right are the mighty Skutz Falls and about 500 m to my left are the rapids at Marie Canyon.
Between the two is a stretch of river that is swift-moving, and about 3 meters across. It has cut its way over time through rock, and the river is banked on both sides with a collection of sharp rocks and round boulders.
Except for one little patch of sand on the far side of the river. That's right - the FAR side of the river. So this is where the fun begins. I set down my stuff, ditch the rando dress I have thrown on, and brace myself for the chilly water.
Then I jump.
That's right, a 40-year-old woman jumping off rocks into the river is a very important part of this process. I come up gasping for air as the cold water seems to steal mine every time, then I plan my route to complete the next steps. The Cowichan River is fast flowing all year round, but during the winter with the heavy rain, or during the spring thaw, it is a vicious roaring beast cutting through the landscape. In the summer, it has a current swift enough to make swimming across a diagonal affair, so I have to swim along the near bank a bit before I make the crossing.
I bundle up my sleeping bag, hold it high over my head and start swimming "straight" across the river. The current grabs me, and despite my ability to do a strong, one-handed side stroke, I am swept 10 to 15 meters downstream.
Once I am close enough, I haul myself up on the far bank and toss the sleeping bag on the rocks. Then I pull myself out of the river and walk across the rocks upriver to my little sandy spot. Once the sleeping bag is laid out, I hop back in the water and swim back across the river to the rest of my stuff.
Then I repeat the process, with my writing stuff tied tight in an inflated garbage bag - as good as a dry bag, and it generally floats, making the next crossing a little easier. And again with my lunch, bevies, and snacks. My cooler is a waterproof fabric thing that generally floats as well, low in the water. This works great unless the water hits the zipper... then the damn thing seems to DRINK river water and suddenly becomes a stone that wants to join its buddies on the river bottom. So far, it is not succeeded.
Then, once "camp" is set up, I lie down on my belly, stretch out on the wide-open sleeping bag, cushioned my own tiny little beach, and put pen to paper. I can write here for hours - and generally do. I take breaks when the sun gets too hot to go for another against-the-current swim, then get back to work.
At the end of the day, usually after the sun has tucked itself behind the trees and the river is coated in thick shadows, I head home. Of course, to get back to my car I have to reverse the crossing of the river process, one load at a time, haul it all back to the car and brave the potholes and ruts in the dirt road before the pavement returns. The back roads wind into better-paved roads, then roads with lines drawn on them, and before I know it, I am back in the real world, leaving my little riverside paradise behind.
I wrote my last 4 books this way - all out longhand, then I dictate to Google Docs using my cellphone, then I edit the mess that the dictation program made of my reading. Once the pages make sense, the real editing begins.
So there you have it. my writing ritual. I would love to hear about yours.
Regina Grimm is the author of erotic fairytales, written for the uninhibited readers 18+. Check out her books - Snow White and the Wicked Curse: Chapter 1, Snow White and the Vicious Curse: Chapter 2, Snow White and the Seven Thieves: Chapter 3, and the final chapter, Snow White and the Poisoned Apple. Prefer to read the whole story at once? Grab your copy of Snow: The Complete Erotic Series now !