Monday, March 3, 2014

Writing Rituals/Calling Up the Muse

I’m the second one to post on the topic of writing rituals. Like JoAnn, I really don’t have any. I do have a habit, which is to hit the treadmill first thing every day, then shower and eat breakfast before sitting down to write. But that's only because if I don't exercise first thing in the morning, I probably won't do it at all. The surest way to call up my muse remains putting my buns in the chair and beginning something. Anything.

Calling up the writing muse isn’t my problem. My problem is that I have trouble settling in to actually, you know, WRITE until I deal with all the writing-related stuff that comes with being an author – jotting thank you notes, replying to kids, adding an accounting entry, creating a blog post, responding to author visit requests, taking action on something that came in the mail, sending and answering important e-mails, keeping current on the few blogs I follow, etc. Once the decks are cleared, I tell myself, I’ll be free to create. But as I’ve learned over the years, those other things are never finished. Never. I'm not complaining; I enjoy the business (and busyness) of being an author.

Often, though, I get so caught up in putting out every. little. fire. that, before I realize it's happening, I've allowed them to hijack my entire day!

Confession:  I've been struggling with this lately. A lot.

Last weekend, though, I attended the SCBWI Midwinter Conference in New York, and hearing Jack Gantos talk about his strict writing routine gave me a needed jolt of fresh inspiration. (You can read about his talk here)

So now, taking a cue from my buddy (I wish) Jack, I’ve created a new schedule – and hung it near my computer – that compartmentalizes my day in a way I haven’t tried before. I’ll be putting out fires first thing in the morning and again late in the afternoon. But I have plenty of writing time in between. I need this to work, as I have three book deadlines marching ever nearer.

Discipline – my new middle name.

Wish me luck.

Jill Esbaum


  1. SO true, Jill. I generally have no trouble writing when I get the chance, because I only get about 5% of my time to actually write what I want. And some weeks, not even that. Soooo, no need for rituals, then, just a sigh of relief before I dive in:>) Hope your new plan goes well!

  2. This post is so true of most of us. But putting teaching in there, too, brings in another time obstacle to writing. Some days I have to count writing thank you notes as real writing. It's about practice, right? And then sometimes the muse is turned on in the car and I have to pull out the notebook or speak into the phone before she leaves me alone again.

  3. Good words to hear again & again.
    And BRAVA! about having three book deadlines!!!

  4. Thanks, Laura and bookseedstudio. Margaret, I can't even imagine trying to do it all! I have little notebooks everywhere, too. :)

  5. I hope the new schedule helps, Jill. I'm definitely wishing you luck!


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