Writing Myths & Mystique
There is a lot of mystique about the writing process and about writers in general. Early on in my writing career, I mentioned my desire to become a published writer to a New York City jewelry designer who designed the most magnificent plastic cuff bracelets.
She looked at me with great concern and said, “Be careful. Writers drink.”
I once telephoned a woman who had advertised an apartment for rent. I told her that I would be a great tenant because I spent most days quietly writing on my computer.
“Do you smoke?” she asked, “In most of the movies that I’ve seen, the writers are always smoking.”
When people ask what I do for a living and I reply that I am a writer, the second question is predictable and somewhat annoying. “Oh? Where has your work been published?"
Of course, they never really expect an answer because it is actually more of a “Gotcha!” question. They figure that I am a lazy poseur who sleeps in; smoking clove cigarettes and nursing a bottle of Mad Dog between gigs.
Because it is so challenging, many writers cling to rituals and superstition to stoke the fires of inspiration. It has been reported that Truman Capote and Mark Twain only wrote while reclining horizontally. Then there are those superstitious writers who will only write at certain hours or while they are wearing a particular piece of clothing or jewelry.
Many writers believe that they can only write when they are intoxicated or high enough to channel their Muse from an altered state of consciousness while still others turn to prayer. One of the most interesting superstitions I have stumbled across is a story about a Catholic saint with an uncanny ability to unblock writers.
The cult figure Saint Expedite is a mysterious saint who is reputed to expedite the flow of communication. Unblocked writers are expected to thank the saint by obtaining pound cake and feeding it to the birds when their prayers have been answered.
The only American Catholic Church with a statue of Saint Expedite on its premises is located In New Orleans—at Lady of Guadalupe Church. If this information intrigues you, you can discover more information about Saint Expedite, the patron saint of writers at www.catholic.org.
There appears to be proof that superstitions might give you an edge in reducing writer’s block. The Psychological Science journal article “Keep Your Fingers Crossed! How Superstition Improves Performance” reported that when research study participants activated a good-luck related superstition it boosted their confidence and improved their performance.