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Story Routines + Rituals: 7 Ideas to Get You Out of Your Writing Rut

As I was watching my son play baseball with his team today, I got inspired to create a bonus podcast episode on routines and rituals.

Getting ready to pitch the ball, my son took off his hat and wiped his forehead, and then brushed the hair out of his eyes. Then he put his hat back on, took a deep breath and tucked his baseball glove under arm and kind of wrung the ball as if he was squeezing all the juice out of it. Then he got into his stance and pitched the ball.

And as I was watching him today, I realized that part of what he does when he’s pitching is ritual and part is routine. He’s actually been taught by his coaches how to pitch well, and so he follows through on those motions almost without thinking.

But before he pitches, his actions are actually rituals. Those are the actions he takes to get him to slow his breathing and clear his mind from whatever happened in the last pitch and get him focused for what’s coming next. Every pitcher does this a bit differently. And that’s why it’s more ritual than routine.

So watching him pitch today got me thinking about the difference between story routines and story rituals, and I thought offer you some tips to help build your storytelling muscle and provide you with some ideas to help you get out of your writing rut.

But first, what's the difference then between a routine and a ritual?

Both are habits actually, but routines are those actions we carry out in our day without really giving them a second thought. Like when we wake up in the morning and we brush or teeth or comb our hair or put on deodorant. Those are really non-negotiables I think for most adults I know.

On the other hand, rituals are actions we take that have a deeper level of meaning. They may be actions we also take every day, but there’s a greater purpose behind them. For instance, maybe you do yoga every morning to help you focus and find your centre. If you’re a woman of faith, you may read a devotional. Others may use affirmation cards or listen to a particular piece of music to get themselves in the right frame of mind for the rest of the day.

So because they are intentional and are more purpose-driven, these actions I’ve just listed would be considered rituals.

So here is a list of 7 Story Rituals to consider adopting as a part of your day or week:

1. Start a story journal.

2. Play some word games.

3. Write someone a longhand note of thanks or congratulations (or just because).

4. Listen to a story-related podcast (like this one!).

5. Look up new words or acronyms that pop up during your day.

6. Watch an inspiring TED Talk.

7. Subscribe to our Power Your Platform weekly "Story Prompt". When you do, we'll send you an email each Monday with a story prompt to help you kick writer's block to the curb.

Whichever story rituals you make a part of your life, keep stretching your storytelling muscles - -and, hopefully like my son in his next baseball game (fingers crossed), you'll be hitting the ball out of the park when it comes to your next project.

If you'd like to receive our weekly Story Prompts through our regular e-newsletter, be sure to subscribe today!

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