Monday, January 4, 2016

Go ahead, grab a talisman!

It’s the first Monday of 2016, and it’s time to officially start working toward a new set of yearly goals. In the last couple weeks, we heard about resolutions from Jonathan, the pressures to produce from Brenda, and establishing new reading goals from Brianna. These posts were all timely in preparing us for today—the day we get to start working on making it all happen (or for you overachievers, it’s the 4th day to keep it moving in the right direction). So how can we keep sight of our goal throughout the year, especially when there are so many distractions to hold us back?

I don’t think it will come as a surprise to anyone that many writers cant write a single word unless they follow a superstition or cling to some sort of talisman. Superstitions can include a specific writing process, having a certain number of pencils/pens on hand, wearing only a specific outfit or piece of clothing while writing, being surrounded by a certain smell, drinking out of only one mug, listening to a certain type of music, writing only at certain times of the day, or ending every novel on an odd page. Talismans can take the form of any object that has special meaning to an author, and has to be nearby during the writing process.

While it might seem hokey, there is some validity in having a something to help you achieve your goal. Here are three reasons why it’s good for writers to embrace a superstition or talisman:

1. Tangible reminders are effective.
Many self-published authors don’t have deadlines hanging over their heads, pushing them to get that manuscript done. They have to rely on self-imposed deadlines—which are easily pushed aside when life gets busy or complicated. In the case of a talisman, the writer has a physical object to attach to their goal. Looking at it is a reminder that there is work to be done. It can’t easily be ignored, especially if the object holds sentimental meaning for the writer.

2. Friction can stifle creativity.
Obviously, writers need to rely on their creativity to a great extent. When a writer experiences any form of stress, friction is introduced into the process and stifles creativity. Some call it writer’s block. Some call it distractions. Whatever you call it, it’s friction and it’s killing your creativity. Having a specific routine or talisman can reduce that friction. When a certain superstition is observed or talisman is held, calmness can be restored and creativity is able to flow unrestricted once again.

3. It doesn’t hurt anyone.
Assuming your superstition isn’t one that requires you to wear the same pair of underwear every day until your novel is published, a simple routine or sentimental object isn’t going to hurt you or any of your surrounding loved ones.

When I started writing, I never intended to have a talisman. I’m not superstitious by nature, but I do like to have visual reminders of goals and my progress. A good friend gave me a Daruma doll while writing my first book, and I loved the idea of it so much that I’ve decided to have a new doll for each of my novels. If you’re not familiar with a Daruma doll, it’s a traditional handmade Japanese wishing doll. The doll comes with both eyes blank, and you color in one eye to signify your commitment to achieving your goal. Once you reach your goal, you color in the other eye.

The Daruma doll for my current WIP always sits right next to my computer. Aside from the visual reminder, it motivates me to finish because the symmetrical loving person inside of me can’t stand having only one eye filled in! Once I publish my novel, in addition to coloring in the second eye, I write the name of my novel and the dates for when I started writing it and when I finished on the back. They make a great memento for each of my novels.


So go ahead and embrace your quirky writing superstition or talisman! If you already have one, let us know about it in the comments. If not, now’s the perfect time to establish one for the year. Please, just stay away from any that result in poor hygiene!

~ Carrie


Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

I think my writing talisman is a quiet space with minimal disruptions -- ha! I love this idea though. I like ritual.

Brenda St John Brown said...

I always buy something as a reward when I finish a book, although my purchases have been pretty modest so far -- a pair of lobster-print pajama shorts and a faux fur jacket from H&M (on sale!). As I have more books out, my purchases might get more extravagant, but we'll see!

Jill said...

I love your ideas here. I've recently been exploring some stuff about religious rituals, and one of the concepts I keep seeing is the importance of multi-sensory stimulation (candles, wine, etc). Which is exactly what you're getting at here ("wearing only a specific outfit or piece of clothing while writing, being surrounded by a certain smell, drinking out of only one mug, listening to a certain type of music," etc).

Specifically, I recently made/consecrated/started using a particularly soft, fuzzy prayer shawl. People who use these regularly say that they can't get in the right state of mind for religious stuff without them. I was skeptical at first - it's just an object, how could it be that powerful? - but now that I have one myself, I totally see what they mean. The touch/texture sensation matters - as does the nature of having a regular routine itself!

I also love the idea of an object that'll only be completed when the task it's linked to is completed.

Great post!

Carrie Beckort said...

Oh, I think that's the perfect writing talisman! I've got the quiet space, now I just need to work on the disruptions :-)

Carrie Beckort said...

I like the idea of a reward after publishing! And I'll admit - I'm a bit curious about the lobster-print pajama shorts...

Carrie Beckort said...

I love the idea of a prayer shawl. Thanks for sharing!

Jill said...

They're used on Penny Dreadful! ("a major television series show a Jewish prayer shawl being treated as a talismanic object"):


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