Thursday, October 12, 2006

Writing Superstitions

Before I get started I just want to say Thank You to Linnea for visiting with us yesterday! I know I really enjoyed her blog and the words of wisdom she shared and I'm sure you did too.

Tomorrow is Friday the 13th. Whenever this day rolls around there's always a flurry of discussion (usually on the morning news shows) about superstitions - black cats, ladders, broken mirrors, etc. And when a Friday the 13th falls in October... well, it gets even worse.

Now, as someone born on a Friday the 13th (well, okay, I don't think I was actually born on one but I definitely celebrate on one every 7 years or so) I say it's a bunch of hooey. In fact, I've taken the opposite tact of every hotel and high rise who refuse to have 13 numbered rooms or floors. 13 is my lucky number. Whenever I play the lottery it's always my powerball choice - just don't hold it against me that I've never won.

As the topic of superstitions rolled into the forefront of my mind I began to wonder. Athletes are notorious for having their own superstitions and quirks. How many times have we heard of a baseball or football player who refused to wash some article of clothing while on a winning streak?

So what about writing? Do we have our own set and I just don't know it?

I actually did a google search on the subject (no one faint) and believe it or not very little showed up. There were a few random hits about writing superstitions as they relate to grammar rules (never split and infinitive, never begin a sentence but but or and, that sort of thing) but nothing much about what we as writers do for rituals when it comes to our writing lives.

I know for me, writing in the bath tub is a part of my process. But I suppose it could also be considered a superstition. I CAN write in other places but in the bathtub I'm pretty assured of uninterrupted silence. There are a few things I can't do though - like write a love scene while I'm at work. There's just something wrong with the thought of turning myself on when my father and brother are working down the hall or Baby Girl is in front of me watching a video.

It's common knowledge that all the playfriends check their horoscopes every month. I enjoy having my Tarot cards read. I've even been to visit a psychic. But I don't think any of these things are specifically related to my writing life, or necessarily qualify as superstitions. I will admit, however, to checking my daily horoscope on a more frequent basis when I have a submission out. Not that I set my life by the words of wisdom found on MSN. I simply think in that instance it's another way for me to mark the time.

So, what are your writing superstitions? Do you have to light a certain candle? Write with a special pen? Will the words not flow if you're using a different computer? How about if your chair's messed up?

Instigator - who washes her underwear on a regular basis no matter how many submissions she's got out!


Anonymous said...

I think i have a few, I write with gel pens, if the writing's going well I'll stick to one color or at least the plain ink or the metallic. If I start getting a block with the gel ink, I'll go with black ink or blue to change the mood. I'll switch my writing to a different style of lined paper. Anything to change the vibe

Playground Monitor said...

I tend to write with certain pens. And I always use legal pads. And I seem to do best at my kitchen table. Sometimes I'll light a candle, but never music because it's distracting to me. So are the cats fighting under the kitchen table. *g*

You mentioned athletes -- #2 ran high school and college track and he had this pair of really ratty Umbro shorts and a ragged t-shirt that he always wore before each race. Must've worked cause he won his share of races and conference championships.


Smarty Pants said...

I don't think I have any supersititions, per se. Probably because I don't have much of a writing process either. My underwear is clean, I don't write with pens or special paper, just my keyboard. No candles, no music. There's usually a cat in my lap or on my monitor, but that's just life, not a superstition. I'd love to find one where I couldn't shave my legs until I finished a book or something. DB would be so pleased...I guess I should leave hygiene out of it.

Wow, I'm boring. Nothing fun to share.

Kathy said...

I'm boring, too. And quite glad that Instigator and SP wash their underwear. LOL.

No, I don't have any superstitions when it comes to writing. Although, I still say 'Bread and Butter' when I'm walking with someone and something splits our path. I still look at the cracks in pavement and think, 'Step on the cracks, break your Mama's back'. I still wonder if it's okay to walk under ladders. And does anyone believe the old wives tale about broken mirrors, 7 years back luck?

We've all learned to be somewhat superstitious in our youth. Legends and lore of the past were produced/created to keep us safe, to make us think of the impossible, fear the unknown, so we wouldn't get into trouble. While in the woods, stay on the path, or else you end up like Little Red Riding Hood, eaten by a wolf.

Good advice for anyone, right?


Problem Child said...

I think the writing superstitions you've listed could be listed under "process." But that's just my opinion.

I'm often in the "can't hurt" category. I may toss salt over my shoulder and knock on wood, but I'm not going to worry if I don't do it, either.

As for walking under ladders, well that's just not safe.


Kathy said...

Tossing salt over my shoulder and knocking on wood. I forgot about those. I do that, too. Giggle.


Lori Borrill said...

OMG, I'm wildly superstitious when it comes to writing. In fact, this afternoon I just came up with a great opening scene for my new Blaze, but I won't write it because my editor has the synopsis but hasn't approved it yet. I just KNOW if I start in on that first chapter, she'll come back and reject the idea, and I'm constantly doing things like that to avoid jinxing a deal.

When Blaze requested the partial on my first sale, the book wasn't finished. While I waited for what I hoped to be a full request, I wrote everything but the last chapter, feeling if I finished it, they'd reject it.

I'm dying to list my new sale on my eHarlequin tag line, but won't until I see the contract--even though the editor has promised there will be one.

I'm bad. Very very bad. And I can't believe I'm the only one!

Are you really all saying you don't have superstitions when it comes to contest or editor/agent submissions??

Kathy said...

Just life in particular, I guess. No superstitions with writing. You know the old saying, 'we make our own luck'. I'm hoping this holds true for me.