Every morning, I pour my coffee into a handmade mug, sit down in the corner of my couch, and write three pages of longhand. Every morning. It’s my morning ritual.
The coffee is strong. The notebook is college-ruled. The day is young.
Every morning at 5 o’clock, I catch a story.
I am a story catcher.
In these morning musings, I catch whatever story comes my way. In the afternoons, working on a novel, I catch the story of that brave soul of the character that’s on a quest. In my celebrant business, I catch love stories and turn them into custom, personalized wedding ceremonies for the most amazing couples.
Weddings? Now that’s quite the ritual. And my job as officiant? Awesome.
I get to preside over a ceremony that quite literally changes lives. I get to say those words that seal the intentions of the couple: I now pronounce you legally wed.
It’s amazing because I’m part of this incredible moment, this (usually public) crossing of a threshold, this acknowledgement that at one moment you are one thing, and at the next, a new family. The blissed-out rush, the excitement, the tenderness of the moment is incredible! Every time I officiate, I think - I wish I could do this every day!
But I only do this a dozen times a year. It’s a lot of work, creating custom ceremonies, and there are only so many wedding-worthy weekends a year, particularly here in New England. Besides, I’ve got five kids - I want to see them some weekends! So, until weekday ceremonies really take off, I won’t be pronouncing couples in front of their families and friends every day.
At the root of it all, I believe in ritual, and I believe in ceremony. I believe in the power of a threshold ceremony to move someone from one place in their lives to another. I believe in the ritual of the wedding itself - that part of the day when the focus is on the ceremony and the people who are joining together. I believe in these ceremonies (not the linen, the decorations, or the party favors).
I believe in threshold ceremonies even though I understand that they are actually quite rare; there are few true transformation rituals we go through in life. There are only a few we tend to acknowledge - weddings, graduations, births, deaths - though we probably could add more to honor the other transitions of life - to adolescence, to adulthood, to retirement.
And though they’re not threshold ceremonies, my mornings are rituals, too. My mornings are elevated by the special drink, the special clothes (love that bathrobe!), the special location on the couch. This ritual marks a sacred part of my day.
But it is a different kind of ritual. My morning routine is a sustenance ritual. My morning writing time is the kind of ritual that replenishes me rather than marks a moment of change. And that ritual makes all the difference in my day.
WRITING is a sustenance ritual.
So here’s what I’m suggesting to you. Find a sustenance ritual, and link it to your writing practice.
The coffee, the couch, the college-lines - that’s my ritual.
Wholehearted Writing Prompt
Set your seven minute timer, and try catching this story.
Every morning, the first thing she did when she woke up was...
As always, the character you write about can be invented or can be you.
As always, if you get stuck, rewrite the prompt and start over with a new variation.
As always, just keep writing until your time is up.