September 30, 2022

Daily Rituals (Mason Currey), Book Talk by Brenda Leyland


TITLE: Daily Rituals, How Artists Work
PUBLISHER: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013
HARDCOVER: 278 pages, $34.60CAN on
KINDLE: $15.99CAN on
SUBJECT: rituals and routines, writing, art creativity, historical essays

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"A solid routine fosters a well-worn groove
for one's mental energy and helps
stave off the tyranny of moods."
Mason Currey

Today we wrap up September and our writing prompt on daily creative rituals. How fitting then to end the month with a closer look at Mason Currey's book Daily Rituals, How Artists Work. I got my own copy some years ago on my sister's recommendation, and it's one I like to keep handy for quick inspiration.

Currey has researched the routines and habits of 161 creative people from the past and present and from all walks of life: authors, musicians, filmmakers, painters, philosophers, scientists, cartoonists, and so on. It includes well-known individuals such as W.H. Auden . . . Mozart . . . Louis Armstrong . . . Søren Kierkegaard . . . Ben Franklin . . . Pablo Picasso . . . Joyce Carol Oates . . . Agatha Christie . . . Toni Morrison . . . Charles Schulz . . . to name a few.

Flip the book open, start at the beginning or anywhere, read a random few pages. You'll probably stop when you come across someone you recognize and admire, of which there will be more than a few. The entries are a mix of short anecdotes and direct quotes. They give an entertaining and illuminating insight into how these individuals used their sometimes brilliant, occasionally quirky, often mundane routines to push through their hurdles and stall-outs. To give you an idea of what to expect when you pick up this small book, here's a peek at two authors (since we're writers here) whose routines struck a chord with me:
1. TONI MORRISON. Having read her classic The Song of Solomon for the first time this past summer, I was most interested to know what this Nobel Prize Laureate in Literature had to say. Ms. Morrison worked fulltime as an editor at Random House, taught university literature courses, and raised two sons as a single parent. Yet, she made time to write bestselling books, Nobel Prize winning works. So, how did she achieve this level of success in these ultra-busy, less than ideal writing circumstances? Here's one thing she said:
"When I sit down to write I never brood. I have so many other things to do, with my children and teaching, that I can't afford it. I brood, thinking of ideas, in the automobile when I'm driving to work or in the subway or when I'm mowing the lawn. By the time I get to the paper something's there—I can produce." p. 61-62  What a great use of her time.
2. ANNE RICE. Now I won't seek out some novels she's written (gothic horror, for example, is not my cup of tea), but I did feel a kinship to what she said about her routines: "I certainly have a routine, but the most important thing, when I look back over my career, has been the ability to change routines." p. 216
According to Anne, the routines changed depending on what she was working on. For some novels, she wrote at night to escape distractions and interruptions. For others, it worked better for her to start late in the morning; first reading the newspaper, checking Facebook, and answering e-mails—there you go, readers—then writing into the afternoon with breaks to stretch legs, gaze out the window, and sip her Diet Coke. Ms. Rice said it was not about being strict; her routine would emerge naturally, without conscious planning, when she began a new book. According to online info, her books have sold over 100 million copies—obviously her varying routines worked for her.

Along with How Artists Work, Mason Currey has authored Daily Rituals: Women at Work. He is currently writing his next book scheduled to come out in 2023. Mr. Currey lives in Los Angeles.

A SIDE NOTE: In our September prompt, Sandi Somers mentioned Karen Stiller's blog post in which Karen had reviewed Mason Currey's book. I didn't know about this when I first asked Wendy for a spot to review a book that was a great fit with the theme. It turned out to be the same book but since I had my blog post started weeks ago, I decided to go ahead and share my own thoughts. So, fellow InScribe writers, if this 'coincidence' isn't a spur to find the book and read it, I don't know what is!

Inspired by the beauty of God's world around her, Brenda Leyland happily writes from her home in northerly Alberta, Canada. She blogs at It's A Beautiful Life and posts on her Facebook page.

September 28, 2022

A New Feature for Our Blog by Sandi Somers

After I posted my late August blog in which I thanked a number of other writers who inspired my thoughts, Wendy Macdonald asked if I would post at the end of the month. This idea had crossed my mind, and I sensed a confirmation from the Lord.  Doing so gives me an opportunity to synthesize and summarize our writers’ various angles of the theme.

When I read Lorrie Orr’s post last week, I thought it could have been a fitting conclusion, as she described the necessary rituals for her productive writing—themes other writers echoed (a place, a deadline, a walk, little delights, and grace to herself when she can’t write—a must reread). 

I will, however, complement her points by adding several other rituals and habits garnered from our writers.  

~ ~ ~

Needing a Special Atmosphere. For many, this is important for setting up a dedicated writing space, regardless of whether it's in our office or home, or whether we occasionally go out to a coffee shop and write.

Writing in our “genius time”, the most productive time of day to write, when our minds are fresher, our thoughts flow more easily like a river, and we can hear the Spirit's voice more clearly. Others write in a flexible time rhythm following the flow of the Spirit’s inspiration.

Writing in the cracks of time. Most of us aren’t full-time writers, but have primary jobs, family and household priorities, and/or retirement responsibilities. And as such we may need to write in the few minutes of time that come to us.

Taking Mini-breaks. Several mentioned the effectiveness of using the Pomodoro method—write for 30 minutes (or 45 or an hour), and then take a break. Walk around, do a little task…It refreshes and relaxes our minds and gives us a burst of energy. (Wendy Macdonald wrote that mini-breaks also refill our creative well)

Being near Nature is important to many of our writers, whether to look out the window as we write, walk out in nature to help stimulate the ideas as they pop into mind, or restore peace and calmness.

Finishing what we start. (We'll discuss finishing more thoroughly in October, where our theme is, "Stalled in the Middle".)

Depending on the Lord. “Pray, pray, pray. Immerse ourselves in Him and He will fill us with ideas and guidance,” wrote Sharon Heagy. Then “surrender to Him…Each project, each day, each hour…Jump in with both feet and allow the creative waves of the Holy Spirit to carry you. He always ALWAYS knows the best way to accomplish any task.”

I leave you with wisdom from Julia Cameron, who wrote, "Small rituals, self-devised, are good for the soul." They nourish us. 

And wisdom from the Word:

“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans” (Proverbs 16:3).

“And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17).

With this end-of-the-month addition, my prayer is that you will be encouraged, affirmed, and inspired.

God bless you as you continue your faith and writing journeys.

September 23, 2022

Writing Rites ~ Valerie Ronald

 There is nothing quite like the pomp and circumstance of England’s royal rituals. This past several days I spent more time than usual in front of the television watching the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, as well as related ceremonies and stories. The symmetry and precision of each element fascinated me. It was impressive to see regiments of identically uniformed guardsmen on matched horses parading solemnly down the Mall to Westminster Abbey as they escorted the Queen’s coffin. Performing these traditional rites must require much discipline and dedication.  

 Perhaps the rituals and ceremonies intrigue me because I am not nearly as disciplined or orderly in my writing endeavors. I cannot say I write daily, as there are other demands on my time, but I do try to write several times a week. I have been a writer for many years, yet can I say I have a “daily creative ritual?” To be honest, I’m not sure I want one. Perhaps the creative free spirit in me balks a bit at the constraints implied by a ritual. 

I think of myself as more of a cerebral writer because much of my writing preparation and even some of its process, occurs in my head before I type a word. This internal creative process does not require a set ritual or routine because it happens anywhere and at any time. Firstly, prayer prefaces all my writing. God is the giver of this gift, so His inspiration is essential for it to be of any value. Whether an assignment or an original project, He is the One who sparks the initial idea and fans it into flame. As I continue to pray, He brings illustrations and ideas to mind. While doing mundane activities like housework, waiting in a store lineup, or before falling asleep, I pull my latest project to the front of my mind and meditate on it. Sometimes I write down the results or jot down research requirements. A small notebook and pen nearby is essential. But mostly I carry around the gist of the thing in my head until I am ready to flesh it out in words.

I will concede there a few requirements when my project gets to this stage. The house must be in some semblance of order before I can sit at peace to write, so early afternoon is the best time of day, after chores are done. Other requirements are solitude, quiet, good lighting and access to writing tools like my computer, dictionaries and online helps. A cup of tea and sometimes an aromatic candle help set the right atmosphere. It usually takes me a while to get in the “zone”, so I make sure I have a good chunk of uninterrupted time to create. Regular breaks to move around, get some fresh air or a snack, help give fresh perspective when I return to work. When the words are no longer flowing well and my brain is getting a bit foggy, I know it is time to set the work aside until I am rested.

This sounds rather unremarkable but what can not be observed is the intense joy I feel when I am writing. There will never be anything ritual or routine about that. Even when I am stuck or the words aren’t flowing as I want them to, I feel more alive and fully who I am when in writing mode. As I imagine the guardsmen did who accompanied the Queen’s coffin to Westminster Abbey, I find deep satisfaction in fulfilling the purpose for which God intended me. This spurs me on to be the best writer I can be, for His glory.

 More of Valerie's work can be read on her blog:

September 22, 2022

Why Have Daily Rituals? by Lorrie Orr


For the past ten days, the world has been captivated by the news of the death of Queen Elizabeth II, and by the ceremonies attached to her death. The processions, the lying-in-state, and the funeral itself were replete with pomp and circumstance on a scale never before witnessed by so many. I know that I spent a good deal of time watching Youtube, enthralled by the magnificence, and curiously bereft at the loss of someone I had never met, but who had always been in the background of the fabric of my life.

Throughout these days I've been thinking about the role of ceremony and ritual in life, be it large or small. In my reading and thinking, I came across these words:

"rituals and ceremonies are extremely important as they invite us into the present and provide fertile ground to better deal with the challenges at hand." *

Bingo! This very blog post topic, and a related question popped into my mind. Which rituals invite me into the moment of sitting down to write, and enable me to deal with the task of writing?

The answer to this question is different for everyone, as we've read throughout the month's postings. I think of myself as a most undisciplined writer, but then I realized that when I establish routines and rituals, I am focused and productive. The problem is that life often intervenes and I am pulled from my routine - by vacations, family affairs, illness, and a number of other events. Getting going again is a challenge for me. Here are some things I'm learning about my rituals for productive writing.

A place. I've tried writing in various places, and what works best for me is beside a window where I can look out on the world, preferably my garden. Just now I stopped to think, resting my face in my hands, elbows propped on the desk, while my gaze registered the colourful dahlias waving in the breeze. A dedicated desk means, too, that I can leave a current project out, which is more tempting to return to. 

A deadline, self-imposed or other-imposed. My project just now is a memoir of our family's time in Ecuador. I started it last fall and made good progress, but when I was asked to teach again in January, the writing stopped. However, I am now setting myself a goal of finishing the rough draft by December 1. Having that deadline pushes me to write. For daily deadlines, I often set myself a word count.

A walk. When I have a thorny problem to work out, a walk outside most often helps me discover a solution. I once read that we return home smarter than when we left when we go for a walk. Moving my body helps my brain.

Little delights. A cup of tea. Pretty notebooks. An interesting container for my pens and pencils. A comfortable cushion behind my back. A piece of dark chocolate. A cozy shawl around my shoulders on a cold morning. These small ceremonies contribute to a sense of well-being.

Grace. When I recognize that there will be days when I don't feel like writing and skip it, or when life's demands intervene, I must extend grace to myself. God knows my heart, and he knows my limitations. He, the ultimate grace-giver, whispers words of encouragement. There will be another morning to write.

*quote from: Why ceremonies and rituals are still important today — The Conscious Club

Lorrie Orr writes from Vancouver Island where she enjoys boating and hiking with her husband. Gardening, sewing, reading, and spending time with her five grandchildren fill her days with happiness and contentment. She is newly retired from teaching high school Spanish. 

September 21, 2022

Rituals Interrupted - Tracy Krauss

 Rituals and routines help us stay organized and productive. I don't mind admitting that I am a creature of habit, and although I like to think I am also flexible and able to pivot when necessary, there is comfort, and satisfaction - yes, even JOY - in maintaining my daily routines. 

It's why this past summer, although wonderful and exciting in many ways, has also been quite stressful. Last month in my post called "Distracted", I mentioned some of the things that have sent my routines spiraling: a sudden move to a house that is yet unfinished; surprise twins born to one of my daughters; more than one set of company; traveling for work...

Where there's a will there's a way. I still need coffee!

I made it back from my teacher's convention on September 2 to a house in chaos. Literally. Since we had to be out of our home by the end of August and our "new-to-us" home isn't fully renovated yet, we had to put all our belongings in the basement. We're still living in a construction zone, shuffling stuff from one room to the next as the flooring gets laid, with limited electrical outlets, no kitchen, and plumbing installed in only one bathroom. (Thank the Lord for small mercies!)

Did I mention no internet? Talk about my routines being interrupted! As an online support teacher, September is my busiest month of the year as I conduct parent meetings, set students up in courses, find resources, and write Student Learning Plans...  all of which is impossible without the internet! So, I've been using my phone as a hotspot and trying to find quiet places to "crouch" to do my work. One day I sat in the car because it was so noisy in the house!

But things are looking up. As I write this (more than a week early, I admit) I am comfortably writing at my daughter's kitchen table and using her internet. Oh... the reason for this is because she just had a baby. (Not the one who had twins. We have been blessed with three new granddaughters in the past six weeks!) I'm looking after the two-year-old... You can imagine how much work - and writing - I am getting done. (Not!)

Listing my preferred routines almost seems ridiculous after the summer I've had. They seem so far, far away - from a distant past that might never happen again. Of course, I'm being overly dramatic. Prior to June (when I got very sick with Covid, followed by my husband changing jobs, followed by us putting our house up for sale and it selling within three days...) my daily work and writing habits were well established. 

Prayer, Bible reading and devotions, journalling, emails, writing/editing, marketing tasks... everything had its place. Using online tools like Asana, even long-term goals were part of the mix. These days I am lucky if I get a daily shower! 

However, I know that this is just a temporary phase. Soon enough I will be able to get back to my routines. In the meantime, I have a little boy who needs my attention!

When life isn't spinning out of control, Tracy writes from her home in northern BC. Visit her website for all her books and plays:

September 20, 2022

Seasons, Nature, and Writing Rituals by Alan Anderson


Daily Ritual to Begin My Day

Before breakfast or anything else my wife and I begin each day with morning prayers, Scripture reading, and brief meditation from our Orthodox Saints. In our faith walk this is a constant never missed unless because of illness or an emergency. If one of us is ill the other carries on with our morning ritual while the other listens and prays.


My Morning Writing Ritual

My writing, “ritual,” changes from time to time, even from day to day. Here is the reason. I mentioned in my blog post of February 20, 2021, my challenge with extreme obstructive sleep apnea. This challenge continues to this day although my memory and concentration improved somewhat since I began using a C-Pap machine.


A diagnosis of sleep apnea has given me a relief to know what has been going on with me. I am now aware of how I can maximize my writing energy to be productive and lucid. These days I may write anywhere from three to five hours in a day. The earlier in the morning I begin the more I can concentrate. Through self-experimentation I have found if I neglect to use my C-PAP machine my writing energy is lower. The lesson? Use my C-PAP machine every night.



Part of my ritual when I write is to do so for thirty minutes then take a five-minute break. This helps me minimize distractions like when my mind tries to lure me to another project. Okay, here is where it might strike you as odd. I do a lot of self-talk when I write. Yes, my secret is now out. I talk to myself when I want to make sure I use the correct words for a sentence or paragraph. For instance, as I was writing this paragraph, I had a little argument with myself to decide whether to let out my secret. Not a giant tiff, just a wee discussion before I continued.



For the most part I focus on poetry. As I wrote in my Feb. 20, 2021, blog post, “I find poetry is easier to focus on. While concentration continues to be a struggle, I can write at least one poem draft per week. I turned to poetry in hopes not only to sharpen my writing skills but also aid in my concentration.” This is still the case although my concentration is better than in early 2021.



Nature & Writing Ritual.

I am blessed to live in an area surrounded by mountains, farms, the Fraser River, and flocks of wild birds. I can access all this nature by walks on the dike five minutes away. This is natural relief for writer’s block or when my mind needs a break. Walks on the dike mean I can formulate or even rewrite poems in my head. My concentration is more like a friend when I walk the dike.



Spring/Autumn and My Writing Ritual

I love spring and with this season my writing ritual goes into high gear. I do not know what it is about spring, but with its appearance I feel energized even more to write. I also love autumn and its soft caresses as breezes become a pal to hang out with.



I thank God for the words I write. I thank Him for the ability to write. I thank Him for my rituals of writing. May my words be eager to care for and bless the world.



Alan lives in Deroche, B.C. with his wife, Terry, and their poodle, Charlie. He contributed stories to Good Grief People by Angel Hope Publishing, 2017; Story by Story: The Power of a Writer, Unstoppable Writers Publishing, 2018; Easter Stories & More by InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship, 2021. He is currently working on a book expressing the grief of grieving grandparents entitled, Hidden Poetic Voices: A Reflective Work of Grief, Faith, and Poetry. Alan periodically writes articles for FellowScript Magazine. He has written posts for our InScribe blog since 2015. Blog:

September 15, 2022

Creative Ritual by Carol Harrison

My first thought on reading this month's prompt was, "Daily creative ritual, you mean I should have one?"

I've read and heard about carving out a dedicated time to write many times. Mark it on your schedule. Treat your writing like a business. Make appointments for writing, editing, other creativity and treat them as important. Yet I never seem to actually try doing something like that. 

However, there are things that work better for me than others do. 

Writing in the morning feels like the most productive time of day for me to write. However, I realize I need to be ready to jot down ideas whenever they show up so I don't lose them. 

Other creative endeavors, such as scrapbooking, card making, or making junk journals I leave until later afternoon or more often in the early evening. Weekends provide more time to play with paper. These creative endeavors allow a space to journal family stories as well as allow the imagination to take flight. 

Reading for pleasure occupies moments of time or provides a longer escape when I'm tired or lack focus to continue on writing projects, editing, or even continuing with other creative play. 

Do these loosely held time frames constitute daily creative rituals? Not really but they seem to be the way that works best for me. There are a few things I continue to do but they don't fit into what I consider the creative ritual heading. Yet I find them necessary in my writing process. 

The wall in front of my desk space and my desk itself may seem cluttered to some, but to me it provides inspiration. The pictures are done by family and friends and are a reminder of the creativity of others I know. The bits and pieces adorning my work space include things that I like, are gifts, or reminders to believe and pray. 

I like notebooks and journals and the store aisles containing them are dangerous to wander along if I don't want to add to my stash. Yet I like jotting ideas into notebooks. It is a step up from when I would simply grab any piece of paper and write them down, often losing the paper in the clutter on the desk. Yet my notebooks, although they corral the ideas, don't have a system for easy retrieval. Sometimes what I write becomes a reference for a book or story. Other times I simply journal events, thoughts, and feelings as a way to process everyday life. But even journaling is not a daily event. 

Taking the time for other creative endeavors such as playing with paper and especially

making junk journals helps break mental writing blocks and overcome frustration. Of course reading also helps give me a break from obligations, deadlines, or those frustrating parts of life. I've never needed much of a reason to curl up with a good book and get lost in the story someone else has worked hard to bring to life. 

Continuing to learn is another key element of my writing process. I have so much still to learn and others who are further along in their journey share important facts and ideas through posts or books they've written on the craft of writing. Attending workshops, conference, being part of a writing group, and sharing ideas with others helps spur the creativity and improve my writing. 

I can't say I have a daily creative ritual but I have found ways that make the creativity and writing journey work better for me - at least most of the time. It may change over time as I learn and grow but I doubt it will be time I schedule on my calendar. I just know that I need to be obedient in stewarding well the gifts and abilities God has given me no matter how that looks on any given day. 


Carol Harrison lives and writes from her home in Saskatoon, SK. Writing and playing with paper go hand in hand as she allows creativity to bloom in her life.

September 14, 2022

Little Given, Much Gained by Sharon Heagy


The theme for this month’s blog has piqued my interest and I wait with hungry anticipation to devour all the tidbits and full course servings of helpful advice, even though I have little to offer in return.

            This area has always been a struggle for me. The disciplined routine I long for has not come to fruition. Hurried lines are written hither and thither amid daily chaos and chores. I find myself reading and studying about writing rather than doing the writing itself, while realizing that nothing is going to be produced until I sit down and do the work.

            There needs to be a paradigm shift in my priorities, and I hear the Spirit’s beckoning to get it done. Time to establish a more solid routine knowing that I will have to grapple with determination, for old habits die hard. I will need to be more surrendered and have less of a ‘but’ brain. “But Lord, I just need to _________, and I fill in the blank with important things to be done but if I am honest with myself, they are more than likely excuses.

I’m thankful for this blog as it gives me a deadline, a jumping off point and accountability with others. Perhaps there is someone else afloat in blogger bay, drifting around on an inner tube of good intentions feeling the same way. 

As one who used to be a ‘get it done’ kind of gal, I am not sure where my organizational and administrative skills went. I call inside myself and hear an echo where there was once a hive of bustling activity. But God knows where they are hiding and with His help, I am determined to get them back.

            Perhaps I can offer a few meager suggestions to myself and others after re-reading that first bit.

The first thing I know to do is pray. Pray, pray, pray. Immerse ourselves in Him and He will fill us with ideas and guidance. I know this to be true from life experience. All of it and not just writing.

Another key is surrender to Him. (Are you listening, Sharon?) Each project, each day, each hour and don’t balk when He offers a suggestion. Jump in with both feet and allow the creative waves of the Holy Spirit to carry you. He always ALWAYS knows the best way to accomplish any task. His will. His way.

Next, do the work. WRITE. Just write. Start with pen and paper or clicking and clacking on a keyboard. It may read like gibberish at first but keep writing and allow God to transform your words into a piece of art to be used for His purposes. 

Try all the suggestions in this month’s blog posts and see what works for you.

Don’t give up. 

There isn’t much offered in my post but maybe you have grabbed a little shred of something useful from a heart who is profoundly grateful to those who have been filling me up with their wise words this month. I have gleaned much.

Now it’s time to practice what I’m preaching. (Preach it, sista!) I think I just need the courage to put stuff out there. Just go for it. And I think it’s time. How about you?

September 13, 2022

Consistently Inconsistent by Steph Beth Nickel

This month's prompt asks us to share our daily creative rituals.

As was the case when my kids were growing up, the only real thing I was consistent with was my inconsistency.

The same is essentially true of consistency when it comes to daily rituals of any kind.

However, I am learning the importance of creating a flexible schedule that I stick to ... more or less.

I start most days with a brief exercise routine. If I don't do it in the morning, it's not going to happen. This gets the endorphins flowing, gives me a sense of accomplishment, and helps me shake the sleepiness from my mind and body.

I'd like to say I then eat a nutritious breakfast, but, hey, we're taught from a young age that it's wrong to lie.

My aim is to read the Bible and pray before I get down to work, but that doesn't always happen. Ideally, I would commit each task to the Lord before I began (whether it be writing; editing; or home-tending, as one of my FB friends calls it). That hasn't become a habit as of yet, but it's still my aim.

I put the pro in PROcrastination. So, I aim to cross at least one thing of my Procrastination List before noon each day. It gives me the same satisfaction as crossing multiple things from my Daily To-Do List. 

Although I suffer from Oo, Shiny! Syndrome and the call of "just one more" YouTube video, I find sitting down at my computer and focusing on a single project until it's done allows me to "go deep," especially if I don't allow myself to move onto something else when I hit a roadblock in what I'm doing.

For physical and mental health reasons, it's important to schedule several breaks. But there's a vast difference between scheduled breaks and flitting from project to project like a wayward dragonfly.

Like most people, I have several different projects on the go at any one time. While I love doing those I find easiest and can be accomplished in a short amount of time first thing after I sit down at my computer, it's better to save them for a time when I don't need as much discipline or creativity to get them down. That's why I've recently placed them on my afternoon schedule. 

While I am an early bird, if I return to my computer in the evening after the rest of my household has gone to bed, I can accomplish a fair amount then as well. However, I try not to leave things in the Yes! column until the evening. I never know if I'm going to have the ambition to get anything done.

What is this Yes! column of which I speak?

By dividing my tasks into three columns, it helps me prioritize my endeavours. The Yes! column is things that are, essentially, non-negotiable. The Maybe column is those things that rank second in terms of my priorities. And the third column, Would Be Nice, is where I tuck those things that have to get done someday.

Do I always complete the items in the Yes! column before moving on? Absolutely not! But it does give me a starting place.

I make To-Do Lists on my phone, but I transfer them to paper. Out of sight, out of mind, as the saying goes. Plus, I love crossing things off the list. It gives me such a sense of satisfaction even if those things are in the Would Be Nice column.

I admire people who have rituals that keep them grounded and help them alert their brain that it's time to get the creative juices flowing. Sitting down at the computer at the same time every day. Lighting a candle. Hanging a Do Not Disturb sign on their door and shutting it. Turning off their email and social media notifications. And getting down to work for a set amount of time.

However, that is not me.

When it comes to my rituals, it can be summed up by two statements:

1. Prioritize my To-Do List.

2. As much as possible, focus on a single project until it is accomplished.

How about you? Are you of the Strict Schedule Crowd or the Take Things as They Come Group?

September 12, 2022

The Beauty of Rituals and Routines - Guest Post by Brenda Leyland

"It's the habits you develop over your lifetime
—that will make you or break you—as a writer."

Years ago, I read Gordon MacDonald’s classic Ordering Your Private World. In it he deftly illustrated how the chaos in our lives often comes from the misuse of time or lack of discipline and routine. As a young woman I recognized my own struggles in that area. Which made me feel empathy, and sorrow, for Samuel Taylor Coleridge when I read how he squandered his gifts for lack of discipline and his inability to seize control of his time. MacDonald quoted William Barclay’s pointed commentary about the English poet:
"Coleridge is the supreme tragedy of indiscipline. Never did so great a mind produce so little. He left Cambridge University to join the army; he left the army because he could not rub down a horse; he returned to Oxford and left without a degree. He began a paper called The Watchman which lived for ten numbers and then died. It has been said of him: 'he lost himself in visions of work to be done, that always remained to be done. Coleridge had every poetic gift but one—the gift of sustained and concentrated effort.' In his head and in his mind he had all kinds of books, as he said, himself, 'completed save for transcription'. . . . But the books were never composed outside Coleridge's head, because he would not face the discipline of sitting down to write them out." from The Gospel of Matthew by William Barclay (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1975), p. 280
I felt such a pang in my heart when I first read this, especially the bolded line above. I understood my own inability to follow through on many projects. I imagined for a moment. . . what if Mozart never sat down to write out all that glorious music inside his head? Or Shakespeare left Hamlet, MacBeth, and King Lear unfinished? Or, even more tragic, what if Peter, James, and Paul never got around to writing those letters that millions still rely on for guidance? The very thought gave me a sick feeling inside. If I wanted to fulfill God's dream for my life and my own personal dreams, I needed to change. And, thankfully, with the help of this book and many others, the journey began.

As a young woman, I loved to flow in the creative moment. To be spontaneous, a free spirit. And I still love it, but I came to see that didn't always work out. I could not forget Barclay's pronouncement on that young English poet. I needed boundaries that weren’t restrictive but created room for both spontaneity (blowing as the wind listeth) and routine (parking myself in the chair and getting the work done).

All these years later, now as a senior in a new season of life, I still fall back on habits and routines long grooved into place. With fewer outside influences vying for my attention and energy, my life is simple and easy to maintain, giving me time and space to write.
Mornings work best for me. In my quiet solitude while hubby snoozes, I pull out my Morning Pages notebook, scribble the requisite three pages dumping out the niggles and frets of my mind. Because I give myself complete freedom to be honest with myself—the notebook gets shredded when full—I'm always surprised at what sneaks out of the dark into the light. The good, bad, and ugly. It’s like having a therapist, only cheaper. The best part? With my mind free, creativity now has a chance to flow unhindered. From there, I turn to my journal that's a bit of a diary what with noting weather and to-do lists. Mostly, it’s where I process my life; ask and listen for guidance; write down quotes and extracts from books I'm reading. A quick scroll through my Twitter feed connects me to creatives everywhere—poets, writers, artists, photographers, and lovers of nature and beauty. By this time, hubby is brewing the coffee. And my mind is a-whirl with possibilities... all in preparation for the new day.

After a simple breakfast, with small house chores already underway, I come into my favourite room in the house. My study. I sit at my desk and look out the window into the garden. I need that connection to nature, whether it’s going outside for a walk or catching it through my open window. I notice the light and shadows changing with the season, listen to flocks flying overhead, and smell the scent of autumn's drying leaves. My window perch creates that perfect zone in, zone out space where I wait, listen, write.

Top Photo - Lisa Fotios on Pexels

Inspired by the beauty of God's world around her, Brenda Leyland writes from her home in northerly Alberta, Canada. When she's not watching for glimpses of heaven in unexpected places, she's probably writing about them on her blog It's A Beautiful Life or Facebook page.

September 09, 2022

Ritual and Routine, Preparing Atmospheres ~ Joylene M Bailey

My husband and I are entering a new season. New home, new community, new calling. New season.

This demands some new rituals and routines. Since I don't really have any in place yet, I decided to do a study on ritual and routine, and the difference between them.

I paid special attention to my movements this week, from the time I woke up each day. Maybe I already had some rituals in place that I hadn't noticed before.

I wanted to pay attention to what I do naturally; what fuels me, what I lean towards doing, what brings me joy. These are the things that become rituals - things that prepare the atmosphere for my writing. They settle me into my work, my purpose, my calling.


Rituals help you make the most of time and help you feel you have more of it because you are enjoying yourself more deeply as you flow through the day, adding touches that stimulate enthusiasm and give energy.

[Alexandra Stoddard - Living a Beautiful Life]


It's natural for me to wake early. I love the early morning; I'm most creative in the morning. Once I've dressed in comfy clothes, slithered my feet into cozy socks, and put on my grey cardigan with the shawl collar, I head to my new library, painted in Woodlawn Blue. Such an airy, peaceful colour.

The large windows face Northeast. Morning light slowly and gradually bathes the room, illuminating the books on the shelves, which give me joy whenever I look at them. The sound of the outdoors is important to me so, except on the coldest of days, the first thing I do is open the windows. It's a bonus if the birds are singing, but more than that, I need to hear the trees speaking to me: the tentative whispers of the poplars, the confident wisdom of the grand evergreens.

Coffee in hand, I sit at my desk in the library to write Morning Pages. Morning Pages has been mentioned a few times on this blog, but if you're not familiar with them, suffice it to say, it's a brain dump, and it doesn't have to be pretty. Morning pages are meant to empty your brain of everything holding back your creativity, and they're not meant to be kept forever, like a journal. I couldn't bear to think of throwing out a pretty journal, so I got the old-style school notebooks - four for 79 cents.


Morning Pages are three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness... not meant to be art. Or even writing ... Pages are meant to be, simply, the act of moving the hand across the page and writing down whatever comes to mind. Nothing is too petty, too silly, too stupid, or too weird to be included... Nobody is allowed to read your morning pages except you.
[Julia Cameron - the Artist's Way]

My Morning Pages are scribbled as thoughts come fast and furious. Not my best handwriting. But I do love handwriting - the actual act of handwriting, the forming of the words as the ink from my smooth-flowing blue pen glides across the paper. So, I take a couple of minutes to handwrite some quotes into my quote book before I tuck in to my Bible reading for the day.


The grey cardigan with the shawl collar, the open windows, the sound of the trees, sitting at the desk, handwriting - these are rituals. They fuel me and give me energy.

Daily rituals are personal statements; they fuel our zest for living.
[Alexandra Stoddard - Living a Beautiful Life]

Coffee, Morning Pages, Bible Reading & Prayer, the walk I take before breakfast. These are routines, a usual order and way of doing something that brings structure to my morning, and thus my day.

And I haven't even got to my writing yet! The ideal for me would be to head back to my library after my walk and breakfast with The Cowboy, to write until 1 pm. Hopefully, with these new rituals and routines in place, that goal will be realized. I'll be fuelled and energized for the work ahead because I've already prepared the atmosphere. 


Sunrise image by ken lecoq from Pixabay

Writing image by Tanvi Malik from Pixabay

Joy is implementing some new rituals and routines in their new home in the country, where she lives with The Cowboy and a puppy named Chara. Find more of her joy-infused view of the world at Scraps of Joy. 

September 08, 2022

Waiting On Inspiration by Bob Jones



“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on."
Louis L’Amour


"You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page." Jodi Picoult


Years ago I was influenced by the observation that great writers don’t wait for inspiration to strike, they sit down and go to work every day whether they feel inspired or not.


My days begin with the Youversion Bible app, an open journal, and a fountain pen. Did you know that writing with a fountain pen is a sensual experience? I love the feel of black ink flowing onto a white page. My 11-year-old granddaughter discovered the joy of a fountain pen this summer. She watched me writing one morning at our lakeside cabin and asked if she could use my “special” pen. The light in her eyes as she saw the ink from the pen settle onto the page told me she was hooked for life. If you haven’t tried writing with a fountain pen, I encourage you to give it a go. My favourite is a red, Lamy pen with ink cartridges. You can order a Lamy on Amazon like I did for my granddaughter.


The bulk of my writing is dictated because I’m a two-fingered typist. My thoughts come faster than my ability to capture them using a keyboard. And this old dog can’t seem to master the trick of typing with ten fingers. So, I rely on getting my writing started in an efficient way by using my computer’s dictate function. When inspiration strikes and I’m away from my computer, I voice record an email and send it to myself.


Up until this month, dictating felt like cheating. Every writer I know writes or types. And then Sandi Somers made me feel better. In her September post Sandi revealed that she dictates into her cell phone as part of her writing ritual. Thank God for Sandi.


The way I write is like playing with a Rubic’s cube. I’ll compile a few paragraphs or sentences. Then I’m inspired by a thought and record a few more lines, followed by another two or three paragraphs based on additional ideas. I park what I’ve written and when I come back, sometimes days later, I usually have another three or four pieces to add. Then I arrange the paragraphs in various ways to see which order flows best. The process feels like twisting the rows of a Rubic’s cube to align all the colours. I twisted the order of the paragraphs in this post multiple times. For instance, the intro to this post was in the middle at one point in the process. Do the colours of this post line up for you?


Although I write a lot, I’m not a writer by occupation. I am employed in a fulltime role that often eats up 12-hour days. So, I squeeze in writing when I can and often when the time is best for others. Sometimes as writers we choose a time to write that is most convenient for everyone else in our lives. But that can be seen as a sacrifice of love. Are you married to a morning person so you write later at night so you can be with the one you love in the morning? Got kids? Do you write before they get up or after they go to bed? Are you required to do shift work, work weekends, or work more than one job, so you write in the cracks of work?


You may be tempted to feel your circumstances cast your writing in weakness, but weakness is God’s favourite place to show his strength. When you make sacrifices out of love, don’t be surprised how God makes your output flourish. 


Perspiration is underrated. Writing is its own inspiration. Doing the work of getting words down on a page is inspiring if for nothing else than you did it. I run four K every other day. Did I say that I don’t like running? I don’t look forward to running. I look forward to finishing. When I get home from a run my wife always asks me, “How was your run?” And I answer most every time, “I did it.” There is accomplishment and inspiration in just doing something you know you should do.

I’m happy I didn’t wait on inspiration for this post. How about you?


Bob writes to grow hope, inspire people to be real, forge an authentic faith in Jesus, and discover their life purpose.

You can follow his writing at

He would love to hear from you.