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Out with the Old: New Book Rituals

Out with the old, in with the new. Wickeds, do you have any rituals you do before you start a new book?

Sherry: I don’t have any rituals per se but I do have some pondering to do. If I read something really dark do I want to read something lighter? Or is my mood still dark and I want to keep going down that path? Or maybe I want to switch genres for a bit. I end up staring at my ever growing TBR pile and sometimes it takes reading several first pages before I settle on a new book.

Jessie: I always start new novels by asking myself questions in a notebook. The practice has come to take on a sort of ritualized quality since I almost always use the same sort of notebook and I tend to use a stub-nib juicy pen. I block out chunks of time on my schedule and settle in at my desk and just start writing down questions about the novel which I answer in a variety of ways. I always know that a novel is going to come into being when I feel an overwhelming urge to get a notebook started. I keep a stash of the ones I like on hand since it has proven a successful ritual thus far!

Edith/Maddie: I’d like to say I start a new notebook like Jessie, or clean my desk as some do. Sadly * I do neither. I might give myself a week to focus entirely on a short story, and last December I took an unheard-of week’s vacation after I turned in a book. But when I’m finishing a manuscript, the new story is already knocking at my brain. I set up my Scrivener project, pace back and forth while I find a perfect first line, and off I go. *I’ve stopped saying things like “sadly” about my practices. They work for me, and I’m happy and productive – what more could I want?

Barb: For new books, I’ll start a Levenger Circa notebook for the book. Usually the synopsis has been turned in to my editor some time before, so I’ll put that in and any notes I have (or stickies if I’ve worked with Jessie on the plotting). I’ll start a new Scrivener doc and transfer the synopsis into scene titles in the document and add a new folder on my desktop for all the other stuff that is related. I don’t joyously start a new book because first drafts are my least-liked part of the process, so breaking the startup down into all these little component parts helps me find my momentum.

Liz: Jessie and Barb, I love the ideas of notebooks! I may have to try one when I start my next book. Usually I have an idea of what my overall plot is and then I have a plotting session with Jessie, which helps me get the actual synopsis done. From there I create a Scrivener doc and start putting in whatever scenes I have. Then I start writing and hope it turns into a book…

Julie: I have a notebook where I’ll start jotting ideas as they come to me. I don’t try to have them make sense, I just take notes. When I feel like I’ve got an idea forming, I start bullet pointing some scenes, naming characters, etc. Then I’m on to the plotting (on notecards) and Scrivener. Then I begin writing. I do love starting a new book.

Writer friends, any rituals for starting a new book? Reader friends, how do you cleanse your palette between books, or genres?

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