What’s your cup of tea?

Susan DeFCreative Writing, fiction, Writing resourcesLeave a Comment

If you’ve been writing for a while, you’ve probably gotten to the point where you treat your writing like work, whether or not anyone is actually paying you for it–and that in many ways is the mark of a professional.

But creative writing really is NOT like other forms of work, and at this time of year–which in so many ways is about slowing down, going to ground, and taking stock–I think it’s important to remember that.

I believe that curiosity and pleasure are the foundation of creative work. So I thought I’d share a few of the pleasures of the season for me as a writer–pleasures that serve to bring that truth home for me, and ground me in my creative practice.

1. New pen + notebook

Those who’ve been subscribed to this newsletter a while know that I’m a big fan of writing by hand. This time of year, I always purchase a nice refillable fountain pen for my coaching clients, as a reminder to them that their words have weight and hold value.

This year, for the first time, I actually bought one for myself as well. What a pleasure, to see the way my f’s swoop their tails across the page, and my g’s curl up like cats!

I got myself a nice new notebook as well. (It matches the pen, of course.) And seeing them sitting there together is just so aesthetically pleasing, I find, that I can’t help but want to crack that cover and return to this little fictive dream I’ve got going right now…

Maybe you don’t actually NEED a nice new pen and notebook. But this isn’t about needs, is it? This is about pleasures.

2. Sensory cues

This time of year is rich with sensory cues: The smell of baked goods and pine trees and things made to smell like pine trees that aren’t actually pine trees–hot chocolate and mulled cider. I could go on.

But those are sensory cues that remind of times spent with others. Sensory triggers that remind us of our communal, seasonal life.

When I’m working with my coaching clients on establishing a regular writing practice, I often advise them to establish a sensory cue that’s just for them: a single square of dark chocolate when they sit down to write, or a cup of chai.

Or maybe a scented candle that evokes some feeling for them, some connection to their character or the world of their story.

Sensory cues remind us that what we’re sitting down to do is a pleasure, not an obligation–and that what we’re after is more of a mood than a finished product.

My latest sensory cue? Earl Grey tea–I love to stop and get a good whiff of that orange-scented steam in the morning as I sit down to write.

3. Write in a coffee shop

Remember, pre-pando, when we used to write in coffee shops? (Some of us, at least.)

Here in Santa Fe, we have a coffee shop in the middle of a bookstore, with fireplace that’s always crackling come winter. Last week, in the midst of Xmas shopping for my niblets*, I sat down, had myself an oat milk latte, and worked on my current WIP.

Did I need to work in a coffee shop? No, I did not need to work in a coffee shop–I have a lovely office at home.

Did I want to work in a coffee shop? Yes, I did. For the pleasure of sitting there with headphones on, surrounded by books and bookish people, beside a crackling fireplace.

Chances are, you have some particular pleasures and rituals you associate with writing too. Pleasures and rituals you may have lost track of over the last season or two.

Pleasures and rituals you can return to now, in the dark heart of the year, to ground yourself in your creative practice.

Here’s to better stories for a better world–

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