So I got to thinking about my writing process the other day. You know, the whole pantser vs. plotter thing.
With my last two books I started writing as soon as I had two things: a general idea of where I was heading and a strong opening image. That's it. Well, I'm just now starting my 3rd book and for various reasons that wasn't going to fly this time around. This time I needed to do a good bit of planning on the story, including writing a full synopsis, before I wrote the first actual word of the manuscript. Needless to say this caused me a bit of anxiety. It doesn't take too much to get those writerly hobgoblins going. You know the ones, the conniving voices in the back of your head that are always trying to convince you you can't really write.
"This isn't the way you do things," they say. "You need the process of discovery. If you abandon the process that got you here you're screwed."
But the more I thought about it the more it seemed like sometimes the things we tell ourselves about what we need to do in order to write a book--I must write 1st drafts longhand while drinking this brand of coffee out of this mug. I can only write in the mornings. I need to plan every detail. If I plan anything I'm sunk!--aren't all that different from going out of your way to avoid walking under ladders and staying out of the black cat's path. Common superstitions.
Now, I'll cop to being a pretty superstitious guy so I know that the thing about superstitions is that they can be incredibly comforting. They help us convince ourselves that there's order to the universe, that we maybe even have some kind of control over uncontrollable things. If I do this, the universe reacts this way.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with being comforted and maybe in some way believing in the reality of these things can be helpful. If you really believe you need that coffee mug then maybe having it calms something in you that helps you write. That's all well and good, but the thing is one day the cat is going to knock that mug off the table and it's going to break and you're still going to need to get up and write the next day. Just like one day an avowed pantser is going to be in a situation when they just have to plan it out first. The show must go on!
I guess I'm trying to remind myself that my habits and rituals and usual ways of working can be good and helpful but I have to beware of becoming dependent on them, of defining my process into a corner I can't get out of
How about you all? Any good writing superstitions to share?