WYOMING TRUCKS, TRUE LOVE AND THE WEATHER CHANNEL, came out. I look so fresh-faced and excited. You can practically see the visions of sugarplums and lucrative multi-book contracts dancing in my head.
~pets past self~
That was before I'd even contemplated writing a novel, or really much fiction at all. And I had lousy writing habits. Actually, I take that back. I had no writing habits. Sure, I'd gone to getting up very early (4 or 5 am) and writing before the day job in the morning. But, in order to coax myself into writing at all, I'd allowed myself to write whatever I wanted to. I don't regret this choice - because it did get me writing - but that's why I ended up with lots and lots of essays. Hey, I ended up with an essay collection published by a university press, so it wasn't a bad thing at all.
But I needed to do better, particularly when I tried writing longer works.
So I developed rituals. I had a dedicated writing desk. (By then I worked the day job from home and, while I had a single room for my office, I had plenty of room for two desks.) I played certain music (the soundtracks of The Mission and Master and Commander were my go-to's.) I did all sorts of things - read the (small-town, very thin) newspaper. I wore certain clothes for writing and others for the day job. A few other things I can't even remember.
You know what? Those things totally worked. I highly recommend establishing rituals, because all of those things, done stepwise, put my mind into the state where the words could flow. They served as a cue to do *that* kind of work.
But I don't do any of them anymore. I prefer silence when I write. I have only one desk - because we live in a much smaller house and I only have room for one. (I write full-time now, but as recently as last fall I was still doing the day job from home and I simply set up two monitors on the one desk. I read most of my news online, but only later, when it won't distract me from writing.
You know why I gave up all those rituals?
I didn't need them anymore.
I didn't even deliberately give them up. They just kind of ... fell by the wayside. As my writing habit became a firmly entrenched part of my day, I started forgetting about the rituals. I just dove straight into writing.
I suspect that's one way of knowing when you've got it down.