I am, as I’ve often said, going to do something directly related to writing (almost) every day. I’ll do it (almost) regardless of mood. Something, right? Gotta be something. In stating that, am I suggesting mood doesn’t matter, that it has no impact? Definitely not! Because mood is so impactful with me, I believe I’d be foolish to ignore the conditions, actions, and routines that can affect my mood prior to writing. Writing, for me, is not reflexive or organic. It is, in its own way, toil, requiring honest labor. So anything I can do to enhance mood? I’m for it. That said, I’d like to offer some of my mood-enhancing habits for consideration. So, to set the mood:
1) Thinking – Each session, I prefer to think briefly about where I am in a developing story and where I might like to go.
2) (Almost) always following my (thinking) warm-up, I’ll make a page or two of notes. My intention is to get a reflection of my thoughts on a page and not just depend on memory.
3) I do not read prior to writing. I love to read, but it seduces me to defer (procrastinate?) the onset of writing. You know the drill: “Just one more chapter.”
4) Often prior to writing (or during a session, depending upon dog or cat), I’ll spend time with one of our pets. Giving our eighteen year-old, junkyard dog, Mufasa, his daily walk (as I did today), puts me in a more mellow frame of mind, our connection eliciting gratitude for his presence in my life. Result: good mood. Our sixteen year-old cat, Purr, will come up in my chair and settle against my leg almost any time I sit to write. Her presence is an antidote to internal tension on my part. Not infrequently, I’ll briefly pet her and she responds by leaning into my hand. Result: good mood.
5) Morning sessions (almost) always follow a shower and a shave, gracing my mood with a fresh alertness.
6) Afternoon sessions (almost) always follow a pleasureful activity, e.g. lunch, dog walk. I rarely pursue dual sessions the same day. For me, I risk allowing the writing to become forced.
7) At the end of a writing session, I’ll often review and edit what I’ve written. It tends to produce an enhanced sense of direction for where I go next, leaving me mindful of tomorrow and already in a positive mood.
8) How about chatting prior to (or during) a session? Can’t do it. It takes me out of a writing rhythm, away from my collected thoughts. And yet my understanding with my wife is that if she needs or wants to talk to me, she can. In return, she understands how the process works for me and tries not to interrupt. But she has to have the option. After sixty years together, it’s not just about me.