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Habits and Rituals

Something which has always been of interest to me are the habits and rituals of creative professionals. I like to think most writers, artists, musicians, and the like have habits and/or rituals they use to either help them get into that (sometimes) elusive mindset. They might also do the same or have an entirely different habit or ritual to keep them in that creative headspace once they are in it. I’ve seen a video of writer Joe R. Lansdale talking about his life as a writer. During the talk, he spoke about his own writing ritual which wasn’t anything elaborate or thought-provoking. It was simply getting up relatively early, having breakfast and puttering around till he was more awake, and then sitting down at the computer till he knocked out three to five pages- and that was his output for the day. One of my favorite comic illustrators is Sean Murphy Gordon. His ritual (if you want to call it that) is to knock out a page of pencils and inks a day, Monday through Friday. The time it takes to do this can vary but he has said it can take six to eight hours to complete one page. Another writer, Stephen King, wrote about his own writing habit in his excellent book, On Writing. In it, he says he writes pretty much every single day, mostly in the AM. In the afternoon, he might work on edits, letters, and other things but he bangs out the writing in the morning. This has always been his habit even when he was dealing with and later kicking alcoholism and drug-addiction. As for myself, it takes a while for my creative gears to begin turning in my head. Usually by mid-morning, the fog has lifted enough from my creative head space where I can start to put ideas, words, and sentences together without them looking like gibberish. Afternoons are reserved for the artistic stuff. By then, I’m (usually) running on all cylinders, ready to tackle that dreaded blank piece of paper or half-finished drawing on my drafting table. I tend to listen to podcasts or videos on comics, publishing, or writing during this time. It helps keep me in that creative mindset while keeping me up to speed on what’s going on in the world of comics. In the end, regardless of the ritual one uses to do the work, sitting down to actually put down on paper what is in your head has to be a habit.

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