Tin House has an excellent post up with many fantastic writers confessing their pre-writing rituals. From Jim Sherpard’s even numbered emails to Janice Erlbaum’s horse porn, I can’t help but grin at the perfect bedlam of obsessive compulsions and pure superstition in the attempt to drill productivity and inspiration into one’s head. Of course, such habits and rituals can’t help but extend into the day beyond when the writing’s done, so I thought it might be useful to compile a small exposition on how writers behave beyond the desk.
How writers navigate the grocery store. The writer doesn’t know which piece of paper has the grocery list on it. Or there’s more than one list on several different pieces of paper and the stress of finding these pieces of paper is just too much, so the writer proceeds to the store without such a list. The writer chants what he/she believes to be the list in his/her head while wandering the aisles. In the produce section, the writer becomes distracted. Slightly euphoric but nervous. There are items here the writer lusts after that are not on the list. But they are shiny. It is here the writer thinks, "Fuck. Look at this piece of fruit. Nothing I will ever create compares to the perfect beauty of this pomegranate. I can’t even afford pomegranates. Fuck." The list is forgotten and the writer leaves with one can of tuna and tomato paste, loose almonds rattling in the writer’s pocket that he/she has no intention of paying for.
How writers decide which clothes to wear. If the writer is only sitting at a desk and writing, then the writer wears whatever the writer went to bed wearing the night before. If the writer has to go out—to the grocery store, for example—the writer will simply put a coat on over these work-slash-bedclothes. If it is too warm to wear a coat, the writer might go so far as to put on a bra. If the writer has a special occasion, like a night on the town, the writer will apply deodorant and sniff around for a clean shirt with a minimal amount of holes and stains. If the writer has to attend a job interview or a wedding, clothes will be borrowed from a friend.
How writers behave at restaurants. The writer will order a beverage in a prompt manner, knowing beforehand what he/she likes to drink. The writer does not deviate in the selection of beverages, though will order different beverages depending on the time of day. The writer is probably alcoholic. Ordering food is a far more complicated and drawn-out affair. The writer will smile and fall slightly in love with his/her server, as the server quickly becomes the writer’s navigational savior in all matters. It is only when the writer has had too many beverages to see clearly and yet senses the server’s impatience that the writer will beg the server to decide what the writer should eat. The writer will tip extravagantly. If the writer happens to sit at the bar, the writer will not accomplish the task of eating but will stay until the bar closes and then go home with the bartender, whom the writer is now deeply in love with.