The Writing Ritual

Let me tell you why I didn’t write for my blog last week – the printer ran out of toner.

Yup, that’s it, no toner, no printing, no writing.

I am sure you’re aware that all writers have little habits and rituals they do when they write. Sometimes these rituals are so powerful that a writer just can’t write unless the writing rules are followed.  Now you’re wondering, what are Andrew’s blog writing habits and rituals?

My blog is written on Sunday afternoons just after tea time.

After tea I sit in front of my computer and start the creative procrastination.  You know, read my email, check in on Facebook, adjust my chair, open the window, pet the cat, reread my last blog post and read the news headlines just in case there is something important that I might write about.  I never write about anyone of those things, but best to check just in case.

Then I stress over what I am going to write about.  Normally I take 10-15 minutes doing this.  At this point I am ready to start writing and plow ahead with a paragraph or two.  Once I am in about 100 words, I delete everything because I don’t like it.  Normally I do this two more times before I realize time is getting away from me and soon it will be dinner time and I don’t like to do blog writing after dinner.

Once the pressure of dinner is on, I focus my mind and my fingers start banging away at about 20 words per minute while I alternately look between the clock in the right hand corner of the screen, the word count in the lower left hand corner and the text that is forming in the middle of the page.

Sometimes my brain engages and I delete a few words, but mostly I just let whatever has built up in my brain come out and take form.  I’d like to say that I spend a lot of time carefully crafting these posts, but if you recall from my writing rules a few weeks ago, honesty is one of my rules.

At times during the writing, I’ll pause to look up a word in the dictionary, or something on google just make sure I’ve got the spelling right, or the correct word.  Sometimes I do that for no real reason other than I like to look stuff up.  For example, above I used the word, ‘incase.’  Spell check didn’t flag it, but it didn’t look right so I looked it up.  Turns out ‘incase’ is an alternate spelling of ‘encase,’ while I really meant to say, “in case.”  Fascinating.  Sorry, don’t have time to figure out who spells it, ‘incase’ rather than ‘encase,’ as it’s getting close to dinner time and the word count is nearing 600.

Which is the next mile stone in the blog writing ritual.  I try to write less than 750 words so at 600 I know I need to start building towards the conclusion.  Since my brain has not had much of a role in the writing so far, and I want a good conclusion, I stop writing about here and go back and reread everything I’ve written.

Back in a minute …

Okay, here I am back at writing new text.  I’ve made a few edits, mentioned to Heather I’ll be preheating the oven, and have decided that there is some hope for the post and moving forward is an acceptable risk.

Then after returning from the oven, I dive for the conclusion as I only have about 10 minutes before I have to jump up and put the pizza in and set the 15 minute timer.

This is where the printer toner comes back into the story (note the clever bookend of the toner which signals this post is about to end).  You see, I am a horrible copy editor and an even worse speller.  Often the well crafted sentence in my brain turns into gibberish when it hits the page.  To overcome this handicap, Heather graciously comes to my aid every week.  I’ll print out a copy of my post, clip a red pen to it and while we’re eating the pizza, she’ll read, edit and comment on the post.  Then after dinner, I do a final edit and publish the post.

But last week there was no toner. No way to generate a piece of paper to clip a red pen to while the pizza was cooking.

I just couldn’t do it.  I just couldn’t imagine a way to do all that writing and not go through the ritual of Heather reading my post over pizza.  A pizza stained paper with red ink all over is just the magic that perfects my writing.

Without toner, it wasn’t going to be the same.

So last week you got a picture, while I was munching on a nice slice of pizza wondering if FedEx was going to deliver the new toner cartridge on Monday or Tuesday.

Till next week,
Andrew

About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I work in the high tech world doing software release engineering Then I got prostate cancer Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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37 Responses to The Writing Ritual

  1. Hi Andrew. I often just sit in front of the laptop and write instant poems. I have been writing which keeps me sane for fifty years. Thank you for liking my poem That Moment Of Birth! Peace and Best Wishes. The Foureyed Poet.

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  2. You’re so funny. That blasted toner! My mom’s process is to play one solitaire, one hearts, and one free cell game before she starts writing. Everyone has to have something, right? Or, write? 😉

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  3. Glynis Jolly says:

    Funny, Andrew. 😀 It’s nice that you have someone you trust to read your posts before you publish them. I was expecting to be told that you read the printed version though. My writing always needs a lot of work after the draft too, although I do it myself. I’d like to print mine out but, like you, my printer needs toner, plus it needs the big container of black ink. I could get away without the ink just by changing the font color on the screen though.

    My best time to write is mid-day. Unfortunately, the house is usually too noisy then so I wait until about six in the evening to start. By that time, I’ve been through my email and have graced the social media sites with my presence.

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    • I am the world’s worst copy editor, so I rely on Heather. I use to write early mornings, but lately my brain isn’t functioning until well after midday.

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  4. blondieaka says:

    Loved your post but the mention of Toner/Printer was enough to give me the horrors I could start a shop of second hand printers..they hate me but not as much as I hate them. As the saying goes ” can’t live with them and can’t live without them” originally wasn’t refering to a printer but sums up my relationship with printers perfectly. I am now ever so silently screaming!

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  5. Hell, I wish I could do it like that. Sometimes the writing comes at three o’clock in the morning, sometimes it spews out of me like a bad curry, sometimes every word tortures me. Printers? Don’t talk to me about printers! Oh, well, alright. Let’s talk about printers. My printer has more diseases than sheep. No, factual, it finds more reasons to die than even a sheep could think of. I hate printers! Hewlett Packard, I hate you! Kodak, I want to see you roast in…no, I guess that is going too far. But you get the idea. For my printer toner is a reward, and I don’t let it have any if I can avoid it. Treat ’em mean!

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  6. Thanks for the smile, Andrew, and for sharing your ritual. The toner part hit home because I have about 50 more printable pages before I’m out. So I better get some soon, too. Anyway, now I’m craving pizza. 🙂

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  7. LuAnn says:

    This made me chuckle Andrew. I thought I was the only one with some quirky habits. 🙂

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  8. What a story, Andrew. You are so much more thorough than I, I am in awe. You made me want some pizza. We eat that maybe once a month and I always love it.

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    • Pizza is a great writing aid. Don’t to want to disillusion, but it is a ‘healthy’ organic kind – spinach, lite cheese, whole wheat crust… Although sometimes I go crazy and put some sliced olives on the top!

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      • Yum. I could share that with you. But, I’m messy with pizza. You aren’t? It’s difficult to even read a book while I’m eating pizza. Maybe it’s just me…

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        • Yes, it’s messy. That’s why I eat between completing the first draft and waiting for my, ‘editor’ to finish reading. The pizza doesn’t go near the computer – no matter good of a friend pizza is…

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  9. Thanks Andrew for putting a smile on my face while reading about a fellow writer’s writing rituals, it is so true how important little things are to the creative process. 😀

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  10. jfwknifton says:

    I never cease to wonder at the mis-spellings that computers seem perfectly happy with! “Incase” is really quite a mild one, compared to the vowel free creations they sometimes approve of. Add to that the difference between English and American, No “plows” over here, and no “tires” on the car!

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    • 🙂 My wife is an English girl. She’s been in the states long enough to mostly adapt to the American language, but from time to time I get interesting spelling edits.

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  11. Susanne says:

    Your ritual sounds the same as mine right down to the editor except reverse the gender.

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  12. Chris White says:

    Hi Andrew. You will not be surprised to hear that this post easily merits a reblog on my routine matters. I thought the toner of the piece was just perfect. 😁 Sorry, couldn’t resist.
    All the best. Kris.
    http://www.the1951club.org
    http://www.awritersden.wordpress.com

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  13. Gargi Mehra says:

    Nice to read your ritual! I don’t have such an elaborate one myself, and it’s been eons since I checked up on my toner!

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  14. nimi naren says:

    Could totally picture the scene. Beautifully written. Glad to see your post☺

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  15. davidprosser says:

    Well, at least we know FedEx obliged in time for this week.
    Hugs

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