Writing At Home & Ritual

For years I wrote in coffee shops, often twice a day, with a gym and lunch break in between. Then I started commuting to work in Manhattan and the idea of writing in a crowded coffee shop instead of spending some time at home, became less appealing. Also around the same time, my husband Jacob found himself fatigued of coffee shop working. We lived in a small one bedroom apartment, but we found ourselves rearranging so that somehow we managed to fit a rough approximation of a desk.

The important thing I have learned about working at home is a that a sense of ritual is vital. In the coffee shop there is a certain built in ritual. You have to walk there. Then you pay for the coffee, sit down, open your laptop and discover that often enough you are ready to work. At home this just does not work. One of the things Jacob found himself doing instead as part of his work ritual was making bread. He found a recipe for bread that was very simple, involved virtually no kneading, but it required up to 24 hours to create, with a couple steps within that time. It would break up his time nicely, but it would also create a delicious finished product. Jacob would also make pour over coffee as part as his ritual. I would often read first, or start working with a cup of coffee after coming back from the gym.

Since we had a month off to travel and move, we are now reordering our rituals. Living in a smaller town and a bigger apartment has helped inform the changes. We now have an office with two windows as the office, but our living room and deck also create additional work space. We often go for a long walk in the afternoon and Jacob has started bread baking again. Instead of drinking coffee we have taken to tea in the morning. Often the first cup of tea makes it clear when the serious work is starting. We have also discovered, that due to the mass amount of time zone changing we have done and the morning express train that runs by our apartment, we now wake up much earlier, which has very much changed the shape of our day. It also surprisingly means that unlike before, I am actually more capable of writing in the morning.

Rituals always shift and need reshaping, but it is really nice to discover one that encourages encourages work and writing to happen naturally. I started really thinking about ritual and writing when the wonderful Rebecca Loudon started interviewing me for Menacing Hedge (you can read the finished product here).


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