5 Simple Ways to Reset the Inner Writer

For my writers out there.

I saw this post about resetting your mind, body, and soul recently, and thought it might be more useful if there was a list more tailored to writers, who slog through a lot of mental BS to arrive at work, even if it’s only a one-room commute.

tea rule the world quote

1. Screw the lemon water. Start your day off with a big ol’ cuppa, whether tea or coffee. Add creamer, make it a builder’s, or go green, as long as you have a warm, steamy presence in your hand to slowly acclimate you to this cruel world we’re living in.

The big ol’ cuppa can work at other times of day as well, especially when combined with a cleansing change of pace, such as …

stephen hernandez newsies jump

2. Exercise. It can be a run around the neighborhood for free, a visit to the gym followed by that luxurious shower cabin and rented towel afterwards, or vinyasa yoga to your latest YouTube yogi guru.

Or, ya know, dancing to Newsies tunes.

The fact is that when you get your body moving, it jars your brain a little. Scientifical fact.* Exercise makes the brain focus on primary body processes such as breathing and heart pumping, rather than why the protagonist’s brother-in-law decided to run away, or why that love scene isn’t working. (Speaking of love scenes, that is also good exercise.)

3. Digital detox your a$$. That’s right, tear yourself away from that smartphone under the covers, and that tablet, and the iPod, and that remote, and… just take a minute to recall all the electronic devices that surround you in a day.


floor digital devices overwhelm

Keep going.

I’ll wait.

Screentime, like many other activities in our modern world, appears to be like empty calories: the more you intake, the more you want to intake. When you break free of the cycle, there is an initial skin-scratching, tic-inducing tension in the fingers and some crazy twitching of the back muscles. But when you get over that (easier than other forms of addiction), you remember what real life is like.

Oh yeahhhhh…..

4. Declutter the different areas of your life. If your writing desk needs it, do it. If your kitchen behind you teems with wildlife encouraged by your dishwashing habits, tend to it. If you can’t ever find any of your ideas on the computer because they get filed automatically under some crazy subfolder, never to be heard from again, take the time to organize. At least a chunk.

But beware, this task can often grow in proportion to your need to procrastinate, so give yourself a 2-hour segment to start and then step back, flick your hair, absorb the good chi you’ve earned, then get back to work. You might be surprised to feel like Raphael and Amandine Poulain, after a session.

mary poppins cleans a room gif

5. Take care of yourself, through a good meal, a long soak, or a quiet meditation. If you have time to cook, make it something fresh or raw or green–one of those three is good; all of the above is better. Your body will feel more alive–scientifical fact. *

If you take a long soak, tune out distractions and let your mind actually relax. No Twitter. No podcasts. Falling asleep is okay, as long as your mouth and nose are securely above the water line.

If you’re quietly meditating–why the hell do you need to be reading this?!?

Kidding. We could all use a reminder that meditating, or sitting quietly to calm down the voices in our heads, is a healthy habit. I picture a hand curling around my heart kind of like a calla lily does, to banish stress and feel the warmth of self-love.

calla lily

Yes, seriously.

Now go forth and find your remedy of choice, writers. Tell me what works for you!


*Scientifical is not at all scientific.

Images via SweetTeaMoxie, OfLifeandLemons, Stephen Hernandez, Wikimedia, Jane.com, and TypesofFlower.com

5 Things Readers Do While Traveling

Leakeys bookshop selfie 2011

I know you like to read, since you’re here, but do you also like to travel?

If you’re a reader who travels, we’ve got two things in common. And when we readers travel, we often do things others might consider strange…tell me if these sound familiar:

The local independent bookstore is on your sightseeing list.

Yes, churches, bridges, fancy restaurants, but what about the culture of the place?? You’ve got to visit the local bookseller, who can give you insider tips, and browse the local shelves, where you can find untold treasure (and souvenirs!). Shakespeare & Company in Paris was a recent revelation, but I also love Kepler’s in the Bay Area, Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar in Asheville, but my favorite has to be Leakey’s Bookshop in Inverness, with its bonus “inexplicable human bones beneath its floors” !!

You read books about the location or set in the location you are going to visit.

My big obsession is Scotland, so I’ve read many novels set in Scotland in different eras, but I’ve also been known to read about the south of France, Nova Scotia, London, and New York City in order to get a sense of the history there or the landmarks or people. In fact, there’s a whole website devoted to reading related to travel, run by very nice people: TripFiction!

waverley book signing 2015 selfie

Pack a book and a spare.

If you have waiting time in an airport, on a plane, at a train station, in a hotel room, ANYWHERE–you’ll be glad you have a book. You won’t need to worry about looking like a local or charging your iPod, you can just pull out your book and delve into the story without raising your stress level when travel snags inevitably occur. And the spare is in case you finish the first one before getting to that bookstore! (eReader users can pack many spares)

Record your experiences in a journal.

One of the activities that sometimes takes the place of reading when I have to wait is journaling. It serves the secondary purpose of giving me, as an introvert, time to process all that I’m seeing, which gives me energy to tackle the next round all the more happily. When I get home after the trip, I like to read over snatches of what I wrote, laughing at the characters I observed and appreciating the beauty of the natural world that I witnessed. There’s nothing like the feeling of reading your own words and being sunk right back into the moment you wrote them, watching that sunrise or sipping that marvelous cup of tea.

Visit local author landmarks.

In doing your research for the trip, you probably found out about famous writers from the place you’re visiting, and naturally, you want to visit the museum about them, or the cafe where they worked, or the monument to them!

What other advice do you have for us voracious traveling readers? Let us know!

This post was first posted to Jan’s Paperbacks. Images property of Margaret Pinard

Local Bookstore Partnership with Jan’s Paperbacks

Well, there went Spring, and here comes Summer!

I am back from my travels, and if you’re on the mailing list, you got a preview of some of the photos…and you got the best of the best if you follow me on Instagram! It was an amazing opportunity to see new places and connect with old friends, so I hope you enjoyed seeing where I went.

barcelona walk architecture art door decor toulouse lautrec

But now that I’m back, I am jumping (that’s right, like a Newsie), right into local events again. If you’re in Portland this weekend, make a trip out to Jan’s Paperbacks, a jewel of a used bookstore in Aloha, OR–about 20 minutes from the city center. They specialize in historicals and romance–which make for a great break from ‘serious’ reading.

I will be on hand with a fellow author, Lars Hedbor, to answer questions, make recommendations, and talk books! Can’t wait to meet some new booknerdigans!

When: Saturday, May 14, 11 AM – 2 PM

Where: Jan’s Paperbacks, 18095 SW Tualatin Valley Highway
Aloha, OR 97003

I also wrote a guest post for their blog–which I will post here this week–about how Passionate Readers Travel…no, we are not like normal travelers, didn’t you know? 😉

And if you are waiting for The Keening contest, never fear! It’s coming soon…IMG_1318