30 Apr

Revision Ritual

Posted in Process, Writing

I’ve heard that some writers have weird rituals that get them into writing.  They light a candle, turn on  music, wear a certain article of clothing.  I myself don’t have writing ritual but I do have one for revising: I wear a CTU baseball cap.  What is CTU and why would I wear this cap, you ask?

In order to answer that question, I should give you a little background on the world of 24.  This show–which is supposed to take place in “real time” over the course of twenty-four hours–follows main character Jack Bauer, an agent at the Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU), as he runs around shooting things and saving the country from impending disaster.  I’m not saying this is a Great-show-with-a-capital-G, but it’s a guilty pleasure of mine and it’s fun to watch.

The reason for the CTU cap is urgency.  One of the things that makes 24 so gripping is that in the world of the show, all life as we know it could end at any moment.  The same is true in revision.  I feel like when I’m revising it’s really easy for me to let urgency flag and get caught up in endless tinkering.  Wearing my CTU cap reminds me that revising is just as urgent and full of energy as writing a first draft.

It also reminds me of phrase “kill your darlings.”  I envision myself as a CTU agent who’s shooting down all the tired phrases and cliches in my text.  Just as Jack Bauer has to make tough choices and sacrifice people he cares about for the greater good, so it is with writing.  Sometimes you have to remove your favorite character or kill your favorite scene to make a better piece as a whole.

Now I pose this question to you: do you have any writing rituals?  If so, what are they?


Comments on this post

  1. Caroline Starr Rose says:

    Once a week when my boys were smaller, I'd get a sitter and write in a local coffee shop. I had a specific place I liked to do my work.

    I've since moved away, but over Thanksgiving was back in town. As soon as I walked in the shop, a man jumped out of "my" spot and offered it to me! Funny to think that three years later, my routine was remembered.

    1. Tahereh says:

      hehe what a great post. i don't have any real writing rituals.. unless drinking lots and lots of coffee counts??

      love your header by the way! those iggy graphics are awesome!!

      1. gabi says:

        Caroline: That's such a great story! I need to find myself a good writing spot like that. The closest I've gotten was last week when the barista at the spot where I meet my writer's group recognized me.

        Tahereh: Sure, coffee counts. These days, people's coffee preferences are almost like a signature. What's your preference? I'm a non-fat cappuccino with cinnamon on top kinda gal. Or if it's regular coffee, it's got to be French press.

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