One day last week as I was getting ready to write, I realized without any intentional thought on my part I had somehow in the last month or so developed a routine when I wrote. Prior to the last 6 weeks or so, I would come home from the day job, talk with my mom for a bit, and then sit down at the dining room table with my laptop. I'd write a paragraph or two (or less), get distracted by something or someone who happened to stop by (most of my siblings stop by a couple of days a week to visit with my mom) and before I knew it, my designated writing time was up and it was time to make dinner. If I managed to get 5 pages a week written, I considered it a good week.
Determined to finish the first draft of my current WIP (work in progress) by the middle of October, I knew I had to stop the distractions. I started retreating to my bedroom instead of sitting at the dining room table. I still talk with my mom when I first get home but try to limit it to 30 minutes. She was fine with the new limit but I felt guilty at first. She pointed out we talk at dinner and during clean up and while watching the news so I felt better and that I wasn't neglecting her by spending such a short amount of time with her when I first arrive home. Now when one of the siblings stops by, they yell hello up the stairs. I yell hello back and continue writing. I also started writing longhand in a spiral notebook while listening to classical music. The words seem to flow better and, on some days, faster than when I typed directly on the laptop.
Now when I arrive home, I visit with my mom and head upstairs, my cat leading the way. I lay horizontally across the bed with my notebook and Ipod. (I only use one ear bud and leave the door open in case my mom needs me.) The cat jumps in the window and suns herself while I'm writing. Some days the words flow like water, other days like molasses but each day I write at least 5 new pages. 5 pages a day instead of 5 pages a week.
When I mentioned to a fellow writer the difference the change in my routine has caused. She said she found she had better results when she lit a candle before she sat down to write. She felt like the lighting of the candle was a signal to her brain that it was time to write. She has noticed a difference in her output on the days she starts her writing sessions by lighting a candle versus the days she doesn't.
So now I'm curious -- Do you, my fellow writers, have routines or rituals you follow when writing? Do you notice a difference in what you're able to accomplish when you follow them versus when you don't?