Are you a superstitious writer?

I’m a little worried to tell you that from Friday through Sunday, I added 5,000 words to my novel-in-progress. At the pace I’ve been working, that’s an amazing total. Yay me! But why do I hesitate to tell you that? Superstition.

What if saying the writing is going well jinxed the word flow? Should I have knocked wood when I typed that—or knocked paper, monitor, keyboard? How do you ward off bad luck for writing? Better yet, how do you bring good luck? Yeah, I know—sit your butt down and write.

As a child, I learned many superstitions. Don’t let a black cat cross your path. Don’t walk under a ladder. Don’t step on a crack or you’ll break your mother’s back. Even though I knew those didn’t make much sense—no sense in the last one—they gave me pause.

Some writers have superstitions, though some might say they’re only routines they observe. I’ll admit I’m superstitious about naming characters. I don’t use names of family and close friends, especially if that character might encounter a series of unfortunate events. Words have power. I don’t want to risk setting something in motion carelessly.

I slipped up once. When I named a character Jennie in The Brevity of Roses, it didn’t occur to me that was a form of my daughter-in-law’s name because I always call her Jennifer. Yeah, I know, how dense am I? At least nothing bad happened to the character.

I’m curious to know, do you admit to any superstitions concerning your writing? Or maybe you call it a routine—something like the need to eat five bites of chocolate before you type your first word of the day. Care to share?

21 thoughts on “Are you a superstitious writer?

  1. I am a little superstitious about sharing my intentions. I’m afraid that as soon as I tell people I’m doing something that I’ve been doing forever, something will derail it.

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    1. Ah yes, Robin. That reminds me that someone asked the title of my next novel, and though I’m pretty sure I’ve settled on one, I’m superstitious about revealing it. In fact, I haven’t revealed any details about my next novel for the same reason you gave. 😉

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  2. Not sure this classifies as superstition but when I was sending out short stories I liked it when the word count had repeated numbers, like 2525, or 4141. Don’t laugh. I secretly thought it meant it would stand a better chance at publication. 🙂

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  3. I don’t like to use names of people I know, not sure why….
    And I also try to make sure that none of the circumstasnces of my characters match myself or those I know.
    Example, one of my MC had a middle child die and I found that his children matched the ages of mine too well so I had to adjust it. I thought it was a way of making sure that I stay fully in his shoes, but a little part is also superstition.

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    1. I understand completely, Jennifer. I think part of the reason I’ve had trouble with getting into my WIP is because when I opened my notes, made a year before, I realized that part of the story was similar to a recent family situation. Due to my superstitious nature, I think I felt a little guilty that I’d somehow set that situation in motion. But more than that, I felt it would be unseemly to use that situation, now that it echoed reality in my own family.

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