Scriptarum Ritualis: The Writing Rituals of A.P. Miller

Full disclosure: I’m pretty sure the Latin in the blog title is incorrect. In fact, I’m certain of it. It might not even be Latin, but creative license says that I might get a pass on it. To make things even more succinct, if suspending linguistic disbelief is not an option, I’ll even go so far to say that I wrote this blog using an ancient dialect from an alternate timeline. There!

For this week’s blog, I wanted to share my writing rituals. A ritual, with a traditionally negative or occultist connotation, is nothing more than a series of habits observed for the sake of achieving a desired outcome. Some religious folks are hoping to procure divine favor, others enlightenment, I am hoping to produce high quality creative works.

[Full Disclosure]: This process works for me and it might not work for you. I would be interested in finding out what your different rituals for creative thought; leave them in the comments below.

For the first time in written form, from beginning to end: the creative rituals of yours truly.

  1. Before entering my writing room, I get into the best mindset possible – I have this superstition that the room I write in holds positive creative energy; I try to hold on to that as much as possible and in order to not contaminate that positive creative energy, I make sure I’m in the best mood possible. If I’m angry or upset, I won’t go in — motivation for cheering up in a quick hurry, that’s for sure. Once I know that I’m in a good mood and feeling good, then I may enter.
  2. Light incense & candles (or a salt lamp) – This has little to do with energy and spirituality; I like the smell of incense (I burn the Nag Champa sticks – the fragrance reminds me of a very happy time and I feel like I get more done when I’m happy) and specific lighting helps me focus. The lighting has to be soft, so that it doesn’t distract from the rather brilliant luminescence of the monitor light. So now the room smells good and is easy to focus in, I’m ready for the next step.
  3. Put on highly energetic music – Working with music in the background is a proven productivity booster. The type of music you choose also has a bearing on your output. Typically, I will choose music based on the mood of the scene that I’m working on. For “Broken Promise Records,” I had a playlist of mid-2000’s nu-metal. For “Days of the Phoenix,” it was a lot of indie rock and techno. For “A Law of Constants,” I used sci-fi TV show theme songs. If I’m not working on anything that is specific to a genre, I like to go with something that doesn’t have lyrics or heavy music — something that isn’t distracting or gets the blood pumping.
  4. Write 2,000 words before getting up – It took a lot of endurance writing, and I do mean a lot, but my typical daily pace is 2,000 words a day. It doesn’t always come easy and I don’t always make my goal, but that pace is what I’m comfortable with. I’d love to be able to do more and I wouldn’t consider myself a failure if I did less.

    I know that I made a big deal about writing 50,000 words in November; that is a big challenge for anyone — my secret to getting across the finish line was being comfortable in my pace. I was dedicated to writing 2,000 words a night in October, and that momentum carried me through November.
  5. Before leaving the room, saying five things I’m grateful for, outloud – Gratitude is huge, no matter what industry you work in. I have found that if you go out looking for reasons to say “thank you,” more opportunities to say thank you appear. Living in gratitude keeps you humble, keeps you in appreciation of the great things that are already in your life, and invites more to come to you. This is a big part of keeping the creative energy in my writing room as clean, pure, and abundant as it is. When it comes to writing, working to being embraced by the book reading public at large, that kind of energy is essential.

Rinse and repeat.

The next time you read one of my novels, or short stories, you know exactly how I produced them. I’ll keep doing it that way until it no longer works for me — I’ll make small changes, or big changes, depending on what produces results.

Thank you for reading and I’ll see you on your next trip across the Millerverse!

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