As a creative person, you have to believe in magic, to a certain extent.
At the end of the documentary The Pieces I Am, Toni Morrison told a story about a time she was in Vienna for an arts festival. She was pulled aside and told to go into a dark room, walk across to the glass at the far end of the room, put her hand on the glass, and wait.
After a few minutes, alone in the almost completely dark room, she saw the silhouette of someone else slowly approach the glass, closer and closer, from the other side and put their hand where hers was.
“Just interest, curiosity, and human connection. That experience says more and much about what I think I’m doing when I write. I know I’m not you. I know I don’t know you. But I know this,” she reflected as she held up her hand.
Writing is magic, all creative acts are magic, because they bridge that gap between people, build connections across space and time, and create resonance that can move others.
To be a creative person takes a certain belief in magic. Not necessarily in horoscopes and witchcraft, but in a broader force in the world that allows for that creative magic and resonance to happen.
It’s the same force that is the fountain of ideas and creativity itself; it’s present both at the point of inception and at the point of reception.
David Lynch’s “theory of creativity” is that of a fisherman, casting their line into the ocean of mystery and pulling out fragments and ideas and inspiration from that magical force.
Whether someone explicitly acknowledges or is aware of that belief is irrelevant to its existence.
I think recently, as I’ve been leaning more into my writing and creative solitude and further exploring my autistic mind to allow it to pursue those creative projects ahead of me, I’ve come to be aware of and rely more and more on that magical force—as a muse, a companion, a therapist, a guide, a collaborator, a friend.
Every creative person has their own relationship with that creative force, and, when they talk about their work, they all rely heavily on certain rituals that help them foster and strengthen that connection. They may wake up at a certain time and work for a specifically designated amount of time. They might always take a walk at lunch to daydream. They might have a strict time where they read or watch movies or do something specific for inspiration or to refill their creative cup.
Those rituals look different for every creative, but every creative has them.
So, as I’m diving into this period of creative solitude, I’ve been reflecting on what my rituals are. At first, I couldn’t think of rituals, per say, but I could name a bunch of routines that I had in my life that I have developed to help my autistic brain.
I have a certain order and progression of things that I do in the morning to get ready for the day. I’ve been building in time to read while I have my coffee. I’ve learned at what points during the day I’m most energized and feel the most creative and have learned to ride the waves as they come, rather than forcing them into a strict schedule.
But I didn’t think these were rituals at first.
Then, I thought: what’s a ritual other than a routine with intention?
All of these rituals have a purpose behind them, more than just because my autistic brain needs them in order to function properly and evenly throughout the day.
I just hadn’t thought of them so intentionally vis-à-vis that universal source of creative magic and resonance. I did them, but I left some potential power and inspiration and creativity on the table because I didn’t bring a specific intention to them that forged that connection with the magic I need for my work.
So, I’ve started to. The most explicit change I’ve made to my routines is to slow down while I’m making my tea, which I drink when I work or I have a Zoom meeting or I’m feeling unsteady. I always make it in a blue thermos mug, which holds three mugs’ worth of tea.
I fill it from the faucet, pour it into the electric kettle, sit and watch it boil, put a tea bag (almost always Honey Vanilla Chamomile) in the thermos, transfer the boiling water, let it steep for a while, then pour it into a small ceramic mug I’ve had since college.
Now, though, I’m slowing the process down and intentionally imbuing intention and meaning into each step.
The faucet is the connection to that universal and mysterious source of creative magic and inspiration.
The kettle is the transformation process the magic needs to go through in order to be accessible to me.
The thermos is the ocean that I cast my line into.
And the mug is my catch of the day, my allotment for the moment.
While I’m going through the process, I’ll ask for what I need for the day: peace, strength, balance, endurance, inspiration, catharsis.
Just adding those few extra steps to my existing routines—born from autism or not—makes a world of difference.
Oh, ho, ho/
It’s magic, you know/
Never believe it’s not so/