In my point of view, writing has always been a relationship rather than an action verb and every relationship has routine characteristics to employ success. In this case, members of the relationship are myself, the topic I am writing about and the circumstances I write under. Over time, this love triangle has made me realize that there are rituals that I participate in during every writing session. Yet, it is worth noting that when having a general outlook at my writing habits, I find them repetitive but when I zoom in, it seems that the minor details of each habit change along with the topic I am writing about. I have concluded below seven general habits that I rehearse every time I write:
First of all, I must have a hot drink and especially coffee before and during the writing process. I do not really have a rational explanation or a reason why I do so but scientifically speaking, I have read that coffee causes a glucose rush to the brain almost immediately. This probably helps me focus more on what I am writing about without being easily distracted by my environment. I also love the feeling of hot coffee drizzle down my esophagus. I feel that every sip that goes down my throat and into my stomach, washes away the confusion in my head and clarifies what I want to write about. Of course, the drink has to stay hot which means that if the coffee warms down a little I would have to get up and heat it again!
Second, I must be sitting under natural sunlight. Unfortunately, the weather in the United Arab Emirates does not help at all because despite having this generous amount of sunlight, we also have a generous amount of heat which prevents me from sitting outside. To solve the latter problem, I sit indoors beside a window where the sunlight would fall directly on my face and desk. I do not usually feel comfortable writing at night or in the dark yet going back to the minor details that I mentioned in the first paragraph, sometimes when I put my head on the pillow, ideas start rushing through in my head. To prevent these ideas from evaporating, I start writing them either in my journal or on my phone and I go over them the next day when I wake up.
Third, being in the 21st century I feel ashamed to say that I do not feel comfortable using technology to do most of my work. When it comes to writing this means that I have to organize my thoughts on paper because I feel that writing them down reinforces them in my head versus typing them in a word document. I feel more liberated writing on a paper because it is easier to cross out words or create branches and add ideas. This also applies to drafting- I enjoy editing drafts on paper far more than on my laptop. That way, I pinpoint more mistakes that I sometimes never see on a word document.
Fourth, I believe that everything we write comes directly from within us. In other words, we reflect ourselves in what we write about. Based on this perception I use my experiences and everything around me to guide my writing. For example, I might be writing about ‘dementia in the elderly’ and I look around me and find many technological devices. At that point I immediately jot down an idea of how ‘technology influences dementia.” Even during the writing process, brain storming never stops. In fact, I find the best ideas coming through only when I start working on the first draft of my article.
Fifth, writing a quality piece requires a ton of research and thought process which can be quiet tiring. Sometimes, taking short breaks can ease the writer’s block that I get when focusing on the same piece for a long time. Closing my eyes for a couple of minutes makes me more productive when I get back to writing. However, in some instances, I get so enthusiastic to finish the article that I am simply unable to get off my seat, in fear that my thoughts would shatter and get lost. Therefore, I do not take a break until I am 100% done with my piece and that usually happens when I am committed to a deadline!
Sixth, I try to become as interactive as possible in the relationship. This means that I review my articles from a reader’s perspective. I read the piece as if I am being exposed to it for the first time and accordingly question the validity of what I wrote. I literally do implement the quote that says “you are your worst enemy” in terms of attacking my ideas. Sometimes, when I print my draft I write questions on the side of the paper whenever there are flaws in the main points or in the supporting evidence. That way I ensure to have answers to the potentially obvious questions in the readers’ minds.
Last but not least, I like to listen to music while writing. However, I find certain genres to be interesting and motivating while others are distracting- that all depends on the topic I am writing about. I feel that sometimes the lyrics of songs put me in the mood to write and be creative. I also like listening to classical tunes (no lyrics) and with time I feel the music, the topic and my thoughts all integrate into a beautifully drafted piece. In other words, the smooth flow of music is reflected in my writing by making the flow of ideas coherent.
To sum up, in my humbled opinion, writing is a beautiful relationship that only writers can comprehend. Overtime, I have developed habits that make this writer’s love triangle come to life.
Let me know in the comments below your habits as a writer!