Posted On April 24, 2017 by Print This Post

Writing Rituals, Superstitions and Lucky Charms, Part Two, by Becke Martin Davis

A little over a week ago, I (that is, Becke Martin Davis) posted part one of a blog about rituals, superstitions and lucky charms as they related to writers and their writing. Today, we come back to this topic, getting up close and personal. I laughed a little, thinking I was much too practical to rely on lucky charms or rituals to improve or even to spur on my writing. I’m not the type to carry a rabbit’s foot, and I certainly don’t run out and howl at the moon when I hit a bump in my writing.

On the other hand, I might be just a tad superstitious with one aspect of my writing. I have a thing about names. From the time I learned to write, I’ve kept lists of names I liked. I don’t think I saw these lists as potential baby names, although I did enjoy browsing in baby name books. Even all those years ago, I think I was hoarding names for future characters.

I’m particularly drawn to French, English, Irish and Scottish names, and I scour websites for male and female names that bring a certain image to mind. But that’s just the beginning. Once I get a short list of names, I have to go back and research the meanings of each name. Sometimes I do this with surnames, too. I’m not much good at using “Guy” and “Girl” and filling in the blanks later. Problem is, I usually have to go through the name selection ritual several times in the course of a rough draft. The names I choose are so closely linked to the characters that if any aspect of the character changes, I feel the need to come up with a new name to suit the revised character. It drives me nuts, but I know the story will be dead in the water until I find a new perfect name.

It’s kind of a lame ritual, but it’s mine-all-mine. Out of curiosity, I asked my writer friends (published and not-yet-published) and other friends on Facebook, to share some of their little quirks. (I also asked their permission to share their stories.)

Wendy Roberts Doell Lucky pencil. My Blackwing 602. One of the original ones like John Steinbeck used. I don’t write with it but if I feel stuck, I tuck it behind my ear.

Santa O’Byrne Though I haven’t written in an age, my armadillo (a bid to Lisa Kleypas keynote address at RWA), my Squawk Radio chicken & sandlewood oil are always on my desk.

Monica Burns I don’t have anything like that. Guess that’s why I’ve not gotten as far as I want to.😒😒

Amy Stuart I’m not a writer but when I used to do horse shows I would always try to get the numbers 369 in any order. But always really tried to get a three in the number since it’s my favorite and I figured it was good luck.

Holly Smith I have a favorite pen. It was the last gift my best friend ever gave me. I also have two small stars that Kate Angell sent me.

Carla Lynn Shurr Hostetter Nope, it’s all putting in the work as far as I am concerned. But I did buy myself a flying pig figurine after I sold my first book.

Cinthia Hamer Back when I still had a desktop PC, I had a little plastic 5 lined skink that sat on top of my monitor. He was my “monitor lizard” 🦎

Victoria Wright Lucky pen. I use one pen till it runs out of ink and then I have an intense and complicated ritual for transferring the luck to a new pen.

Mary E. Ulrich I have this wonderful white rabbit puppet who helps me go behind the looking glass into wonderland. 🙂

Marion Laird Interesting question. I don’t think I do… On the other hand, I don’t like discussing works in progress (except the fantasy novel that I started at one of our local writers group meetings, which gets worked on every so often AT one of the meetings).

Becke again Now that I think of it, I have a couple more rituals. I have a pretty rock with “Persevere” carved into it and some touchy-feely smooth rocks given to me by my writer friend Ann Warner. I like to keep those close at hand when I’m writing. And I have a rabbit puppet/muse named Hugo Montmorency. He accompanies me to conferences – he brings me luck AND he’s a good conversation-starter.

I also like to have totems of a kind – tchotchkes that relate to whatever story I’m working on. I have wolves and all kinds of Wizard of Oz memorabilia, ruby slippers and more. I’ve been looking for a Humpty Dumpty to inspire me to get cracking on a half-finished old story. Since I haven’t found Humpty or any cute eggs, I’m taking it as a sign that the story isn’t ready to hatch yet. Hmmm – maybe I’m more superstitious than I thought? Oh well, it’s all good!

 

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Do you rely on any rituals to inspire your writing? Do you have lucky charms to help you along?

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Bio:

Becke joined the RU team in January 2011. She moderated the Garden Book Club and the Mystery Forum at BN.com until the forums were discontinued. Prior to that, she was a writer and instructor at B&N’s Online University and for two years she wrote a garden blog for B&N. During Becke’s twenty-plus years as a freelance garden writer, she wrote six garden books and one book about ‘N Sync, co-authored with her daughter. She still writes occasionally for landscape trade publications. Becke also used to review books at Michelle Buonfiglio’s Romance Buy the Book blog. Writing as Becke Martin, she has three short stories in the HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS anthology published by the Ohio Valley Romance Writers Chapter. Becke has two adult children, two awesome granddaughters and two cats. She has been married almost 46 years and lives in Chicago’s Hyde Park.

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9 Responses to “Writing Rituals, Superstitions and Lucky Charms, Part Two, by Becke Martin Davis”

  1. Great Post @Becke Martin

    Can’t say I have superstitions about writing. I used to use a particular type of pen in a specific brand of notebook, but then I had to start paying for things myself and realized it didn’t matter.

    I have to chew gum while I write. The more intense the scene, the harder I chew. More gentle scenes, I blow bubbles.

    Regards
    Coursecrown

    Posted by Mia @hiaim reviews | April 24, 2017, 1:13 am
    • Mia – I love your gum-chewing ritual! I often drink tea while I’m writing, but since I’m a bit of a klutz, that sometimes works against me. I have to drink it away from the computer, otherwise I might spill it and fry the keyboard. And once I’m up and about, there’s always the chance I’ll be distracted. Maybe I should try the gum-chewing, too! 😉 Cinnamon gum for spicy scenes, Juicy Fruit for romance, maybe vintage clove gum for those tricky scenes. And double bubble when I want to inject some humor in a scene!

      Posted by Becke Martin Davis | April 24, 2017, 10:44 am
  2. Morning Becke!

    Oh I haven’t heard about Hugo Montmorency for a long time! =) Glad he’s still doing well..

    I’m a night writer, so I tell myself I can’t write until after 1130pm. No idea why, but if I try to write during the day it’s..horrible. I was working really hard on a contest once, and took the day off from work, and got absolutely nothing done. Until after 1130pm and then I wrote like the wind. Weird.

    I also have a bit of the character naming bizarreness…I know, when I first start writing the character what letter their first name should start with. “This character’s name definitely starts with a D” and then I have to go through D names until it hits some kind of spark in my brain. Dunno, that’s just one of my many rituals.

    Thanks for a great post Becke!

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Peters | April 24, 2017, 8:26 am
    • The D-name idea is interesting. I also have a weird thing with letters – I don’t like to use multiple characters whose names start with the same letter. I seem to have a sort of speed reading glitch, and when I’m reading a book with, say, Steve and Susan and Sam and Sigourney, I’ll stumble a bit when I come to those names. I have to stop and find some kind of mental identification shortcut to keep them straight. I’m my own worst enemy! 🙂

      Posted by Becke Martin Davis | April 24, 2017, 10:48 am
  3. Hugo is doing fine, but he’s a little sad he’s been homebound lately. I’ve been avoiding conferences because of budget limitations and Hugo misses his outings. His favorite is Lori Foster’s Reader Author Get Together. When I took him to RAGT, he joined a party at the bar and was transformed into Pirate Hugo. He even had an eyepatch! At home, he’s joined by Martha, my English sheepdog puppet, and Adaline’s bear puppet and Diana’s giraffe puppet. It’s a zoo around here!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | April 24, 2017, 10:51 am
  4. Hi Becke,

    I don’t have any good luck charms, but I like to have the television on mute and old standards playing on my iPod. There’s something about listening to the lyrics, no matter how corny, that inspires me. A huge cup of coffee helps, too. I’m going to look into getting a puppet.

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | April 24, 2017, 6:29 pm
    • Folkmanis puppets are the best! I’ve given them to almost everyone in my family, including my 90-something aunt. There is just something lovable about them! http://folkmanis.com/cat-66-1-4-0/stage-puppets.htm

      It’s interesting about your old standards playing on the iPod. I know a lot of people who can’t write unless they have music playing. Some of them keep track of the songs that inspired them while they were writing a particular book, and they include a play list at the back of each book. I think that is a cool idea!

      For myself, I’m easily distracted. If I start listening to old favorites, in five minutes I’ll be on YouTube looking for more oldies-but-goodies, and then before I know it four hours will have passed.

      Posted by Becke Martin Davis | April 24, 2017, 6:49 pm
  5. I LOVE this post, Becke!

    I have so many odd superstitions collected during my various stints in different types of writing… about when, where, how, why I write best. That doesn’t even cover the things I do when I’m doing a public event or prepping a project. LOL

    I always assumed it was because I came from Showbiz (e.g. notoriously superstitious) and I’m psyched to know it isn’t just me. I feel like writing is essentially a magical act so anything that gets results gets my attention. 😛

    Posted by Damon Suede | April 25, 2017, 7:41 pm
    • Damon – I totally agree about writing being a magical act! I think one reason I put off attempting fiction for so long was the fear I’d destroy the magic I’ve always found in reading.

      Now that I’ve got rituals on the brain, I keep coming across them in articles on totally unrelated topics. I read an article in the Huffington Post on doctors who deal with gunshot victims on a daily basis. I was surprised to see this:

      “Goldberg is superstitious. On days when she’s on call, she shaves her legs. She can’t say why, she just started doing it years ago and now she will not deviate. She’s been wearing the same style of tan Timberlands for 15 years; her current pair, given to her by a colleague when she became chair of surgery, has the Temple logo inked on the heels. She parks her gray BMW in the same spot every time. “It’s so hard to take care of patients without making mistakes that you need every edge.”

      http://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/gun-violence/

      Posted by Becke Martin Davis | April 27, 2017, 11:14 pm

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