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  • Heidi Fiedler 4:00 pm on 2019/05/28 Permalink
    Tags: daily rituals: wormen at work, mason currey, , where i write,   

    Let Legendary Writers Inspire Your Daily Routine 

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    Daily Rituals: Women at Work reveals the routines of writers, artists, scholars, and more. The sheer variety in the book makes it clear there’s more than one way to be successful. But if you’re like Edith Wharton, who once noted in a letter that “the slightest interruption in the household routine completely derails me,” you may find it helpful to tinker with your daily routine and add some structure. Because whether you’re writing or just looking to lead a more creative life, routine can help you minimize decision fatigue and make room for spontaneous moments and original thoughts. Below are a few ways you might get started.

    Experiment with Time Blocking

    Doing the same type of tasks each day can help your brain transition into work more easily. Virginia Woolf was both wildly creative and very regimented in her routine. Mornings were for writing. Afternoons were for revising. She had tea, then took time to write in her diary or keep up with correspondence. Evenings were for decidedly non-writing activities. Rinse and repeat.

    Read Every Day

    Nikki Giovanni’s routine includes puttering around the house until she’s ready to make her way to the computer. She writes only when she’s inspired. But she reads every day, even if it’s just the comics section of the newspaper, saying “I think it’s way more important to read something than it is to write.” We might be biased, but we agree completely.

    Enhance Your Experience

    Colette first wrote when her husband locked her in a room and demanded she complete a daily quota of pages. If you’re not keen on imprisonment, perhaps take a cue from Colette’s later years, when she wrote blanketed on a divan. There she took a more languid approach to the writing process. Much better, non?


    Zora Neale Hurston wrote Their Eyes Were Watching God while researching voodoo culture on a Guggenheim Fellowship. Experiencing Jamaican and Haitian life helped her understand American’s race, class, and gender issues in deeper ways. But you don’t need an official grant to see the world with fresh eyes. ­­Take a road trip, book a ticket to a foreign country, or just eat lunch at a place you’ve never been to before. Making travel a part of your routine can enhance every part of life—especially mealtimes!

    Scribble Hard

    If you haven’t found the right daily routine, perhaps it’s time to think on a larger scale. If you find yourself writing like crazy every few weeks, go with it. Louisa May Alcott burned bright and fast when she wrote, skipping meals and neglecting sleep. She also wore a “scribbling suit,” made of a black apron and hat. The look was designed to say “Do not disturb. Very serious writing business is happening here.” It may been a touch overly dramatic, but it did keep family away while she worked.

    Block the Internet

    Zadie Smith credits much of her success to resisting the modern requirement to own a smart phone, avoiding social media, and turning off the internet with the help of apps. She doesn’t force herself to write, but she doesn’t let herself get distracted either. Speaking of which…isn’t there somewhere else you should be? Maybe your local B&N, perchance?

    The post Let Legendary Writers Inspire Your Daily Routine appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Molly Schoemann-McCann 8:00 pm on 2014/08/14 Permalink
    Tags: designated daughters, margaret maron, , , where i write   

    Margaret Maron Writes in a Gazebo to Escape (and Find) Distractions 

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    Photo Credit: Bob Witchger

    Photo Credit: Bob Witchger

    Margaret Maron is the author of the acclaimed Deborah Knott mystery series, which is set in North Carolina. In the riveting nineteenth book in the series, Designated Daughters, Judge Deborah Knott investigates the murder of her beloved, ailing Aunt Rachel—who was smothered while she was already on her deathbed. The disturbing list of suspects includes everyone from a local minister to a member of Rachel’s own family. It is up to Deborah and her husband, Sheriff’s Deputy Dwight Bryant, to puzzle out why Rachel’s enigmatic final words have cost the woman her life. Designated Daughters is out this week. 

    Most of my writing is done in my comfortable, air-conditioned home office at a desk that is surrounded by reference books, maps, and note cards. There’s a skylight overhead for natural light, a telephone, intercom, internet…

    Ah, yes. The internet—that seductive, time-wasting siren. If it’s not a pop-up mail signal, it’s that one factoid that I need to look up, which leads to an interesting sidebar, which leads to—oh, look! Cute cat videos! Red carpet pictures! Pinterest!

    The only way to avoid temptation is to jump into our golf cart and head down to the gazebo. Fully screened against mosquitoes, horseflies and wasps, it has an electrical outlet where I can plug in my laptop and a ceiling fan to keep the hot summer air moving. It does not have wifi or a barista. If a fact needs checking, I simply type “Check on this” in red and keep going.


    This is not to say the gazebo has no distractions. We have posted signs to keep out hunters and the four-wheelers that tear up our walking paths, but that doesn’t deter the trespassers who can’t read and who ignore our signs.

    Yesterday, I watched a doe munch her way through the lower meadow, followed by a half-grown fawn. Twenty minutes later, two more whitetails bounded across the meadow like two women who’ve just heard there’s a sale on their favorite shoes.

    A magnificent red-tail hawk perched atop one of the bluebird boxes to watch for careless voles, much to the discomfort of the wary bluebird parents who have a third clutch of babies inside that box. As soon as the hawk flew off, I watched through binoculars as both adults swooped in with beaks full of bugs.

    Later in the morning, I saw a young buck emerge from the tree line. He was so newly antlered that they looked like two question marks between his ears and they were still covered with brown “velvet.” I watched him meander along a line of cedar trees until he disappeared into a thicket of wild plums.

    When I put down the binoculars and turned back to my keyboard, I realized that I’d wasted a good twenty minutes watching Bambi.

    I worked steadily for another hour till I leaned back in my chair to decide what should come next. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something moving along a nearby path and I sat motionless as a fox passed by only fifteen feet away. I hoped he wasn’t on the trail of a rabbit I saw there yesterday.

    Back to the keyboard for another half-hour until a trio of raucous crows suddenly erupted in the pine tops. They’d just spotted the hawk as he landed in a nearby pine and they had no intention of letting him linger. I watched until they’d driven him out of the area, then my binoculars caught the circling flight of a buzzard. So graceful. He could hang there forever, floating on thermals that eventually took him out of my view. Another twenty minutes gone.

    While working on Designated Daughters, the 19th in my Judge Deborah Knott series, I found myself fascinated by the activity around a suet feeder hanging from a nearby limb. I’ve been looking at our native birds for years, but never before had I noticed that catbirds have a patch of cinnamon brown feathers on their rumps just beneath their tail feathers. Somehow a bird book joined the binoculars on the table beside my writing chair and I finally learned to distinguish a downy woodpecker from a hairy.

    My husband raised an eyebrow when I told him about all the avian lore I was collecting. “And did you finish that chapter you were working on?” he asked.

    Determined not to be distracted today, I have left my bird book and my binoculars at the house. I’ll write a whole chapter before lunch and I’ll—ooh, look! There’s a blue-striped skink running across the gazebo floor! And a praying mantis on the screen door!

    Have you read the Deborah Knott mystery series?

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