For the first time since I started posting The Write Life, I’m struggling with what to say. July has been a particularly difficult month. I’ve been grappling with feelings of isolation and loneliness, a decrease in creativity, and generally the suffocation of being hemmed in (which would have nothing to do with quarantine, am I right?). My focus has been drifting and I’ve had to consciously capture and cultivate it to get anything done.
I’ve read much advice over the years about writing rituals and how to use those rituals to trigger a mental shift to a writing mindset. While my rituals have remained fairly sparse, in this troubling time, I have absolutely embraced the ritual of making tea.
Before I sit down to write, I make a cup of tea. Preparing it occupies my hands, and then I have a few minutes to think while it steeps. I’ve been using that time to start planning what I’m going to write. I daydream what comes next, play with dialogue exchanges, or noddle over where to fit in some description. (Sometimes I have to grab my phone to capture something, which means, hey, I already started writing!) As preparation goes, it’s been a huge help in focusing my thoughts so I’m ready to write by the time I sit down in front of the computer.*
To deepen this idea of ritual—of linking making tea to preparing to write—I’ve also started reserving teas to drink only (or at least primarily) when I’m writing certain things.
- When writing steampunk? Of course, that means it’s time to drink Harney & Sons Victorian London Fog.
- To balance out dark, angsty writing, I go for the soft citrusy taste found in the Luther Hargreeves fandom blend from Adagio.
- When I’m writing something light and carefree, or more comedic, I snuggle up with the Bucky Barnes fandom blend from Adagio. (Which I keep saying tastes like pre-war coziness, pal-ing around New York City with Steve Rogers.)
- I’ve even got a go-to tea for editorial work, specifically Adagio’s Chocolate Chip. Oh yeah, this tea making thing has extended beyond writing rituals and has become essential for any kind of focused work.
Am I still struggling with isolation, loneliness, and all those other things? Heck yeah. But at least I have tea and I can cling to this small joy while still forcing myself to get some work done.
*Most days. Some days there’s still a struggle and I have to utilize one of my other focusing activities.
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