I Love A Great Retreat 

Hello Friends,

Last weekend I attended the Ninja Writers Retreat. It’s been wonderful fun and my motivation has been renewed, my creativity sparked. I learned new things about myself and different ways to do some of the writerly things we writers do to get our stories on the page. I wish it had been a longer retreat, but isn’t that always the case?

The Retreat was held at the St. Mary’s Art and Retreat Center in Virginia City, Nevada, about thirty minutes from Reno. I’ve been to the 

 

building as a paranormal investigator many times (for investigations and conferences), during tours and at yoga retreats. But, I haven’t been here for about a year. It has changed! It’s very nice. There is new management with a greater focus on the art aspect of the center. Art is placed on each of the four floors, an art decorated room around every corner, giving the entire building an art gallery appearance and feel. Since I love art galleries, I think this is fabulous!

The thing I like the most about St. Mary’s is the quiet serenity I feel when I am here. It’s as if I’m in a different time zone of sorts. The time zone isn’t one of clocks and actual time, rather it is one I feel within my body. It is a zone of comfort and peace, with perfect, restful sleep. I can look out the window and feel as if I am looking at forever, even when looking at something near. The treed mountains, along with the red and tan earth, reach out until sight is lost, touching the expansive blue sky at the horizon. Since childhood, one of my favorite activities was lying on the ground or hood of the car seeing pictures and scenery in the clouds. One could do that with ease in the clouds of the Virginia City sky. I feel at home.


This building used to be a hospital during the old mining days. (There is still mining in the area.) The miners asked the Daughters of Charity, who were nuns, to come to Virginia City and build a hospital. There was a Storey County hospital, but the care was substandard and too many miners died. They needed the kind of help only the Daughters could provide. 


Many of the Daughters were nurses and had a reputation for providing excellent care. St. Mary’s hospital opened in 1876. The medical care at St. Mary’s was the best, most modern, care available, rivaling hospitals in San Francisco. Today here it sits, renovated and cared for thanks to many donations and guests, along with loving care, through the years. (Please forgive me for any inaccuracies in the history. I have been told conflicting stories.)


There are spirits at St. Mary’s, but they are mostly quiet and give the building a benevolent feel. I have stayed twice in a particular room, where I had a wonderful experience. At 2:00 in the afternoon, and waking me in the early morning, I felt a soft energy around my wrist. I realized it was a sister checking my vitals. I said, “Thank you.” In return, I felt a soft hand patting my shoulder and a feeling of intense, perfect love flooded my body. It was truly wondrous.


I hope your week has been fabulous, and that you are all well and whole. Please comment below. Where have you felt most loved, serene, or at peace? Where is your “happy place?”


Julie XOXO

Seasonal Excitement

I like the autumn, the crisp air, the changing of the leaves. And I don’t mind winter. I’ve come to enjoy the snow and the way it glistens in the sunlight. I think all dogs love snow. There will soon be a day when my Yorkie bounds out the door into a snowdrift on the deck. He will make a little squeak because he has buried himself in snow and doesn’t know how to get out of it. I enjoy living in a place that has four distinct seasons. Each one has a different feel, a different scent on the breeze. But I never feel ready for the first few times I have to drive in the snow every year. Today was one of those days.

Every Sunday afternoon I go to Reno, over the Mount Rose Highway, for writer’s group. To be honest, I would rather go over the mountain late at night when there is snow. There are two reasons for that. The first is because there is less traffic late at night. Secondly, the slush I love so much (yeah, right) has frozen into a convoluted and pointy surface with better traction. Today’s snowy drive found me slipping and sliding on slush, my small SUV nearly doing a full 360 into the oncoming lane. I was nearly hit by a big, maroon SUV. I was missed by mere inches. Luckily, as a long-time meditator, I was able to remain calm and get my car facing the right direction. Though, the experience certainly sped up my breath!

Lake Tahoe shoreline in winter.

I have been planning the next Astrid Peterson book, After the Thaw. I will be writing the first draft during NaNaWriMo, during the month of November. If you don’t know about NaNoWriMo, a short description is that it is a worldwide novel writing event where thousands of people write a 50,000 word first draft during the thirty days of November. If you would like to participate, it’s free at nanowrimo.orgI had hoped to complete the editing of the first book, The Haunting Past. Alas, that didn’t happen, but I don’t want to NaNo by myself in December. This will be my third year, so now it’s a tradition I don’t want to stop.

In After the Thaw, Astrid finds a body and the Sheriff’s office asks for her help. They are able to figure out whose body Astrid found, but who killed this person? And why?
Tomorrow is Halloween. We don’t have any special plans, so we may be giving candy to munchkins, witches, and superheroes. I always liked seeing kids in their costumes, so that’s just fine with me.

If you have Halloween plans, what are they? Will you and your kids be in costume? Who will you be? Do you have a question? Please comment below.

Happy Halloween!

Julie

Inspiration, Are You There?

InspirationAs a writer, I sometimes lose my inspiration. I sit down to write and there will be nothing there, or I will be distracted – by everything. In times like these, I need some new inspiration to get my writing juices flowing again. So what do I do? Here are a few things that work for me.

1. I always find inspiration outside on a walk or a hike, or by meditating on a rock in the forest. Being in nature, breathing fresh air, works wonders to bring me a fresh attitude.

2. Write something else. If I feel bored or generally not excited to work on a project, I might work on a different project or use writing prompts to get me going. I have several books of prompts, or I make my own with a random word generator. There are many online, just Google “random word generator.” Once you have a random word or two, set a timer for five minutes, and GO! Write as fast as you can, don’t stop, even if all you write is, “I don’t know what to write.” You may be surprised by the result. I have used inspiration provided by random words to write complete stories.

3. I love to read, and find inspiration discovering how other writers make things “work.” I have been writing short stories, the last several months, which I hadn’t done in a long while. Reading short stories has helped me pace my stories and learn how they work. Reading other mysteries has helped me write Astrid’s stories. Since mysteries are my favorite novels, it is pure pleasure to read them.

4. Casting my main character in a new short story can help me gain a new perspective on my character, as well as more material or an idea for a new story. Of course, I have to finish the first draft of my current story before I go too far with a brand new one.

5. Going to the movie theater to see a current blockbuster inspires me to write a future blockbuster. I lose myself in the story on the screen. Taking a break with a movie can be exactly what I need to move forward with my story in a fresh way.

How do you boost your own inspiration? Would you like to try any of my ideas? Which ones? Please make a comment below. I look forward to trying out some of your ideas.

Until next time, may you be well, happy and inspired!

Julie

Two Scarred

Dear Readers,

I hope all is well with you and that you are happy in your lives. It’s important. Kids here are starting back to school, as I am sure some of yours will be, as well.

Back view portrait of a female student walking

I had another story published today. I entered the story into a contest, which I didn’t win, but I am proud of my story anyway. The contest had a prompt, “scar.” I went ’round and ’round trying to figure out what to write about, but I settled on a young woman’s experience. The story is called Two Scarred and can be read here.

In my story, there are two people with scars. Scars are something we all have, even if not on our bodies. They are part of the human experience. There are scars put there intentionally, and unintentionally, by others and by ourselves. Some of the scars can be healed and some will always be there. That’s just how it is.

The first scar I remember getting was two scars, one on each knee. At 53 years old, I still have them, though they are faint with time. I was about five years old when I fell, running downhill on the street in front of my family’s home. I still remember that my mother had to get all the rocks out, which was unpleasant enough. But after my knees were all clean, Mom put mercurochrome on them, which stung like crazy! I hated that stuff. In my mind, I can still smell it’s medicinal scent and see the bright reddish-orange stain it left on my skin. (Moms used mercurochrome in the sixties and for decades earlier for any kind of owie their children got. It was eventually taken off the market because it contained mercury.) A couple bandaids later and I was back at it, running and playing like a crazed animal.

What about your scars? I would love to see you try your hand at a story about scars. Please comment below.

May you stay upright and not skin your knees. 🙂

Julie

Astrid’s First Words

Dear Readers,

I have been very busy of late. On the spur of the moment I wrote a short story for a contest and have felt a little brain dead since I submitted it nearly two weeks ago. The story was about a scar, a mugging victim, a disabled veteran, forgiveness and a shared history. Even if I don’t win the contest, the story may still be published in a short story journal. I am keeping  my fingers crossed! In any case, you will soon see the story.Ghost hands type on a vintage typewriter with candles, a book, and an old rotary phone

I thought I would give you a taste of the second draft of my upcoming Astrid Peterson novel. Of course, this isn’t the last draft, but I was wondering what you think about it. Is there anything you want to know that I am not saying? Please, leave comments below. I would love to hear what you think.

Thanks for visiting!

Julie

911 Dispatch, where is your emergency?”

Oh, my God. I think they are dead, both of them.”

Who both? And where? Are you on a cell phone? Can you talk louder?”

Oh, no. Oh, my God. No.”

Ma’am, let’s try to calm down and concentrate.”

The woman took a few slow, audible breaths before she continued. “It might be my mother, it’s her house, and maybe her husband, it’s a man, 1522 Abernathy Place. They’re at the kitchen table, and they’re dead. Please, please hurry. There’s so much blood! I don’t know what to do. Oh, my God. Why? Why would someone do this? God, please, no!”

Squad cars are on their way.” The dispatcher heard the woman sobbing. “Please listen. Is there anyone else with you?”

The woman sniffed, “No. I don’t know. A door slammed in the back of the house I think, just after I got here. I don’t know who it was, or where. I’ve never been here before. I just met my mother on the phone. Oh, my God.” The woman wept into the phone.

Listen to me. Get out of the house! Wait for the deputies somewhere safe nearby! We can stay on the phone until they get there, okay? I will tell you when to approach them. They need to make sure it is safe for you. Okay?”

Okay.”

The woman wasted no time leaving the house. She went across the street and crouched behind a large, lilac bush.

Are you safe?”

I think so.” She saw the lights from the squad cars as they turned onto Abernathy Place. “The squad cars are here.”

***

“Oh, for God’s sake! Would you please let me sleep?” I put a pillow over my face and moaned. I had been up half the night, talking to dead people, listening to police sirens and feeling the energy of crime being committed in my crummy, but close-knit, neighborhood. Last night was an active one, even for a Saturday night. But today would be a good day. The sun was shining, and it was unseasonably warm for December in Phoenix, Arizona. I looked at my “morning people” dogs, who had me pinned to the bed. They both gave me their best hungry look. “Alright, let’s get some breakfast and maybe we’ll go to that nice park in Tempe for a long walk.” I heaved the dogs off me and peeled myself out of bed. I was hungry, too. They panted and hung their pink tongues out their snouts in happiness or hope.

I got a real breakfast for my dogs and some fruit for me. My two dogs are Mojo, an English Bull Mastiff, and Spike, a Yorkshire Terrier. Mojo looks intimidating, but he is a big baby, a cuddly bucket of love and slobbery kisses. Spike has little man syndrome, but once you earn his respect, he wants nothing more than to lick you to death. We are family.

We went out onto the front porch to eat. As I ate a grapefruit section, I looked down at my body and could see that the fruit only for breakfast diet wasn’t working. It knew it was my fault. Breakfast was the only meal I stuck to. But, right after breakfast, I was already hungry for my morning snack and lunch.

I surveyed my block of 46th Street. The neighborhood kids were also taking advantage of the warm weather. The teenage girls walked up and down the block, chatting, laughing and flirting with the boys. The girls dressed in too short shorts and oversized sweatshirts, the sleeves pushed up above their elbows. I never understood the overexposure of one half of your body and the hiding of the other half, but I wasn’t a teenager anymore. The girls could have taught Cleopatra a thing or two about eyeliner and lipgloss, though. They were cute young girls, but I knew their innocence was on the line. While I didn’t understand the reason at the time, my parents would have never let me show that much leg, or wear that much makeup, when I was thirteen years old. The oversized sweatshirt would have been just fine.

Abandonment Issues

Hello Readers,

The name of this post is the name of one of my short stories. It was published today. You can read it here at 1:1000. While you are there, check out stories from some of the other fabulous writers 1:1000 has published.

I like the story. It takes me back to my roots, growing up in Arizona on Route 66. I was prompted to write the story by a photo, which was probably not taken on Route 66. I can easily imagine buildings on that highway in that state of abandonment. I have seen them alive with activity, and abandoned and forgotten.

Route 66, Kingman, Arizona, USA

Route 66 sign in Kingman, Arizona, where I grew up.

I have a fascination with abandoned buildings. I think about the people that passed through the hotel, the school, the home, and what the building meant to them. Were they with loved ones? How long were they there? Why did they leave?

I have spent hours on YouTube looking at abandoned building videos. I wonder what happened to make a family up and leave so suddenly they left dirty dishes in the sink and clothes in the dryer. Loving animals the way I do, I can’t imagine leaving any of my dogs behind. But people leave pets behind, too. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.

Some of the videos are historical in nature. There is a French apartment that was not opened for seventy years! The antiques and pieces of artwork left behind by a woman, a French actress who left before WWII and never returned, are nothing short of amazing. The odd thing is, she continued to pay the rent all those years. Why? She died at the age of 91 in the recent past. Her family didn’t know the apartment existed until they were liquidating her estate. Here is a link to a video in case you are interested. There are several other videos telling the same story. There are similar videos of homes and businesses that were left in their original condition. I think about the people that did these things and just know I will write a story about someone leaving a home behind.

Would a story about an abandoned home and its owner interest you? What does interest you? Let me know by leaving a comment. If you would like to write a short, short story about an abandoned home (500 words or less), feel free to leave your story as a comment.

Until we meet again…

Julie

How did you get interested in the paranormal?

Dear Readers,

There are many reasons I am interested in the paranormal. This post will give you a taste of those reasons.

When I was a little girl, just before my fourth birthday, my family moved from Phoenix, Arizona, to Kingman, Arizona. I actually liked our first home there because of the trees, and a couple nearby hills. It was an older house, and this was in 1967. It was on a decent-sized, fenced lot, with gray, slate tiles on the side, and a bay window that seemed to be made for our kitchen table.

But there was something about that house that I couldn’t see the first time our car pulled into the driveway. The house was haunted, crazy haunted. That house was one of the most haunted houses I have ever been in, and I have been in more haunted houses than I can count. But I wasn’t often afraid. I was a curious little girl, and at that age, and even now, to some degree, unless something gave me a reason to be frightened, I wasn’t afraid of it.

The first time I noticed the house was haunted was when I woke up in the middle of the night, a few nights after we moved in. I heard people talking in my bedroom. I believed I was the only one in my room, but when I opened my eyes I saw that I was wrong. There were people standing in the room, including an older gentleman I came to know as John. John was a kind, intelligent man and could control some of the other spirits in the house. There was also a family in the house and a few single spirits here and there. I concluded that they are people, like you and I, a belief I hold to this day.

Mysterious Woman in the Mist

Most spirits don’t look like this…

Like living people, there are spirits who are nice and those who are not nice. There was a woman I didn’t like. She leaned against the end of my parent’s dresser, standing between the dresser and the bedroom door. I will never forget her, though I never knew her name. She was about twenty-five years old, with the thin, emaciated look of a “flapper” from the 1920s. She wore a dark-colored, tank dress with long fringe around the bodice and the hem. Her straight, dark hair was cut in a short bob with severe, straight bangs. Accessorizing her outfit was a long cigarette holder without a cigarette. With her arms crossed, she sneered at me as I approached my parent’s room. Her eyes followed me as far as they could, then she turned her head toward me. As soon as I reached my destination in the room, her head snapped back to looking straight ahead. Her arms uncrossed and hung limply at her sides. One time, bold little me made a face at her. She acted like it didn’t bother her. I will never forget her and that sneer. Now, as an adult, I would like to try to communicate with her and ask her why she was so angry at me. Is it because she had so much more life to live? So many more parties to go to? At the age I am now, roughly twice her age, I would likely understand.

We lived in that house for six years. I had paranormal experiences almost every day, as did some of my friends and family members.

I have had experiences in other places, homes I have lived or stayed in, hotels, stores – spirits are everywhere. I think they just want to communicate. Imagine if you were around people all day, but everyone you saw ignored you as if you didn’t exist. You would try every way you could to get someone’s attention. That is one reason I became a paranormal investigator (also known as a ghost hunter) years ago. I want to give these individuals a voice. Like the rest of us, they have stories to tell.

Stories are another reason I am interested in the paranormal. I enjoy knowing about the human history of a place. Human history is nothing but stories! When I see an abandoned home, I wonder about the people who lived in that house. Who were they? Why aren’t they there anymore? Are they still there? So many questions run through my mind about the people who had been there.

As a writer, I want to tell stories about people. In my Astrid Peterson series, Astrid is able to tell the stories no one else can tell. Astrid gives the spirits a voice.

So, let me ask you the same question. Why are you interested in the paranormal? Let me know in the comment section. Do you have any questions for me? The comment section is a great place for your questions, as well.

Thanks for stopping by!

Julie

P.S. If you would like to read about something here on this blog, please let me know…in the comment section.

3 FAQs About Rojo Valley, A Fictional Town

Hello Readers,

Today I thought I would tell you a little bit about Rojo Valley, Arizona, the town I made up for the Astrid Peterson paranormal mystery series.

Question #1: Why and how did you create a town, rather than use an existing town?

Answer: I created Rojo Valley so I would have complete control over the buildings, people and personality of the town. I created a map, which I will post when I get it into a format without scribbles. Rojo Valley is a figment of my imagination, but I put many buildings I already know quite well into Rojo Valley.

A forest road through the ponderosa pines beckons travelers up toward the aspen covered slopes of the San Francisco Peaks in Arizona.

A forest road through the Ponderosa pines beckons travelers up toward the aspen covered slopes of the San Francisco Peaks in Arizona.

Rojo Valley is a town in a valley situated near Flagstaff, Arizona. Here is a photo of Humphrey’s Peak, one of the San Francisco Peaks, near Flagstaff, Arizona. Rojo Valley has the same general landscape.

I chose this area to create Rojo Valley because I lived in Arizona for the first 38 years of my life. I attended summer school at Northern Arizona University, located in Flagstaff, and have visited family who lived nearby. I have hiked, camped, and enjoyed the wilderness of the area many times.

Question #2: How many people live in Rojo Valley? What are the general demographics and personality of the town?

Answer: Rojo Valley was founded in 1863, and is a close-knit community of 5,000 people. Half the residents are white, one quarter are of Latino or Hispanic origin, and the rest are of different races. The townspeople are not racist but are instead accepting of other races. (I abhor that type of behavior in a way that I could not write about racists. Murderers are a whole different thing. They get punished for being assholes.) Most of the people are middle to lower class, with regard to income.  A few of the townspeople are “well-off.” The town is a cross between Mayberry and Peyton Place. In other words, Rojo Valley appears to be the perfect little town that would have no crime. People are friendly. The town looks and feels straight out of the 1930s to 1950s. The town holds barbeques, ice cream socials, parades, celebrations and barn dances for any occasion they can think of. But, many of the townspeople have secrets and complicated relationships that get them and others into big trouble. What do residents like to do about such people? They gossip.

Question #3: Where do people work in Rojo Valley?

Answer: The town is located in Coconino County, the county in which Flagstaff is situated. Dalton Hohlman, Astrid Peterson’s ex-boyfriend, is a detective for the Coconino County Sheriff. There is a Sheriff substation and many other County offices in Rojo Valley.

One of the larger industries in Rojo Valley is tourism. The town is near the Snowbowl ski area, which is wonderful for downhill and cross-country skiing and snowboarding in the winter, and perfect for hiking in the summer. The town is also near Grand Canyon National Park, a big tourist draw for the area. The tourist industry employs many of the area’s residents.

The other jobs are those which would be found in any town. Rojo Valley has all the normal businesses and needs. Residents may work in one of the medical facilities, including a small hospital, legal offices, all manner of stores, or gas stations.

There are plenty of places for townspeople to work, and unemployment is not a big problem.

I hope you have enjoyed this quick picture of Rojo Valley, Arizona. If you have any questions about the books, the characters, or would like to know more about Rojo Valley, please comment below. And let me know if you enjoyed this post.

Happy reading,

Julie

6 Ways to Get Rid of Writer’s Block

Writer’s block can cause anxiety and frustration for any writer. I’m sure it has happened to all of us, at one time or another. Though there are many ways to get rid of writer’s block, these six are my favorite ways to make sure writer’s block stays clear of me and my writing.

  1. Take a walk, dance around the house, hike or do something else to move your body. I was reading the other day that exercise is one way to spur creativity. Exercise, particularly if we swing our arms or legs across the midline of our bodies, uses both sides of the brain, and enhances the way the two sides of your brain work together. It also will use up some of that energy you would otherwise need to be anxious, while giving you more energy to be creative. It works even better if you make exercise a habit. So, do that physical thing you do, my friends!
  2. Be creative in a other ways. I like to express my creativity in many different ways, knitting, embroidery, drawing/doodling/coloring, many ways. After a half hour or so, I go back to writing. What other ways are you creative?
  3. Do a writing exercise or prompt. Be mindful to not write anything that fits with your current project, until you get unstuck. When you do this, you are still writing, but you aren’t working on the project on which you are experiencing the writer’s block. When you go back to your project, you may find you have switched off the block and gained a different perspective.
  4. Keep writing on your project even if you feel you are unable to write anything intelligible. Especially if you are writing a first draft. Write a bunch of stuff that will be edited out later. Take the pressure off yourself. Keep writing even if all you can write is, “I don’t have a clue what to write and I don’t know what I am writing or doing at this very moment and I feel anxious and ill-equipped as a writer.” Sooner or later, you will write something that works for your project-at-hand. The curse will be broken! Hurray!
  5. Write at a different place in your writing project. If I am working in the first act of my story, but find I don’t know what to say, I might work on a different scene later in my story. Sooner or later, I will get back to my first act.
  6. The best way to get rid of writer’s block is to prevent it from happening in the first place. There are two main reasons I get writer’s block, either I break my writing habit/ritual or I feel anxious for some reason. My writing ritual tells my brain and body that every day when I sit down in front of my computer my intention is to write. Every cell of my body accepts that fact, and I write. Sure, sometimes I have to stand up and take a break, look out the window or take a short walk. But, all of us should do that, even if just a little bit. It isn’t good for our eyes or the rest of our bodies to just sit and type for hours on end. After I have taken a little break, I can continue.
Businessman with writers block

Have you ever felt like this? I have.

If I am anxious, I have a different problem creating the writer’s block. I may have a problem with my inner critic. We will discuss the inner critic monster in more depth someday soon. For the time being, know that your inner critic is a piece-of-shit demon that sits on your shoulder and tells you that you aren’t good enough, that you should be doing something else, or it tricks you into procrastinating so you never reach your goals or fulfill your dreams.  This inner critic exists only in your mind. It isn’t real unless you give it a life. Please don’t do that. Every single writer you have ever idolized or whose books you have read has had discussions with his or her own inner critic. Every. Single. Writer. Inner critics aren’t a new invention made up just for you. Tell your inner critic to go bother someone else. You will write your story because only YOU can write YOUR story the way it was meant to be written!  You will do the dishes or watch your soap opera some other time. Right now, you are busy. So just write! This may not be easy, especially at first. But when you consistently tell your inner critic to piss-off, it will get the hint.

Do any of these ideas appeal to you? Do you have any ways you get rid of writer’s block? Please, talk about them in the comments.

Later Gators,

Julie

 

The Power of a Writing Ritual

“Be regular and orderly in your life like a Bourgeois so that you may be violent and original in your work.” – Gustave Flaubert

Hello friends,

I have a writing ritual. First I meditate, read and enjoy a cup of coffee, and begin my writing session with some practice or writing exercises, all of which takes about half an hour. Then I work on an actual writing project. My ritual is more effective when I write in a coffeehouse or bookstore. Hopefully, there is an outlet for my laptop’s power cord, so the writing can go on for hours. At home there are too many distractions, playing with the dogs, more reading, something completely stupid on TV or housecleaning (yuck!).

Japanese tea ceremony

Japanese tea ceremony, a type of ritual.

Until I read the book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, edited by Mason Currey, I didn’t know how interested I was in the rituals of others like me, the creatives of the world. Now I cannot get enough of reading books on the rituals of others or about creating rituals of my own. Right now I am reading a great book, The Miracle Morning for Writers: How to Build a Writing Ritual That Increases Your Impact and Your Income (Before 8AM). Perhaps there is a way to make my current ritual more effective, or not, even though I like my ritual as it is.

Daily Rituals speaks to the wide variety in the rituals of 161 artists of all types, writers, painters, architects, composers, and more. Some wrote wearing only one color (Dickinson only white, Poe only black), some wrote in bed (Simone de Beauvoir), some standing up, some naked, and some stone drunk or with blazing fingers, high on amphetamines. I see myself in some of these artists, and see utter insanity in others. I am envious of many for their ability to produce miraculous amounts of work, often completed very early in the day. I am a night person and, though I have a love affair with writing, I’ve never written well before noon, and I have never felt particularly prodigious. I would love to be both a morning person and prodigious. I have been fighting both of these most of my life. (When will I just give up?)

It leaves me wondering what it is about rituals that fascinates me so. I am a “fly by the seat of your pants” kind of woman, a free-spirited, do what you want when you want to do it girl. I am not the type who would see herself as a ritual-oriented writer, or person. But when I really think about it, I am wrong. I have rituals. A ritual is a routine, repeated over and over before a significant activity. I am also quite a planner, and I have goals, both of which may require routines.

Routines give your brain context. For example, you tell your brain it’s time for sleep when you lie down, turn out the light, and then you can go to sleep. When I do my writing ritual, I tell my mind, “Hey, you, we’re going to write now, so let’s get to it.” I am set up for success, not hours of writers block. Now, I am not completely immune to writers block, but it is not often and is easily resolved. Any time you do something at the same time, same way, same place, what have you, you train your brain what you want it to do. If you keep that up every day for a month, and continue thereafter, you should have little trouble coming up with something to write. That doesn’t mean you won’t like what you write, but you will write. Fix it later. You can’t fix it if you don’t first write it.

Do you have any rituals? Is there anything in this post that speaks to you? Please comment below.

Cheers,

Julie