There is no prompt posted today with our July P.A.D. beginning on Tuesday. But if you wish, join our discussion on “What do you deem necessary for a successful writing session? Do you have a routine? A superstition? Do you need something nearby? A nice cup of something to stir your muse? Give us a glimpse at your quirks and what makes them work for you.


  1. For me, a successful writing session requires three quirks:

    — the television turned to a ballgame
    — the radio tuned to an oldies station
    — a bag of prunes at the ready

    If these three quirks, don’t work, I add another quirk and make it a gallon.

  2. For me, there must be terrific instrumental music running through the headphones. Okay, so I cheat sometimes and work with shamanic music so I can tap cadence as I write–whether with poetry or prose.

    Once in a while though, nothing will work but silence. Those are the days when poetry is moving in the pastoral or philosophical vein. I need to be able to dive into th mental image and write from there and music doesn’t always help that process.

    For a lot of prose, I do very well working in a coffee shop with all sorts of activity around me. I usually find inspiration in the energy of the place as much as anything.

    So, I guess you’d say it depends on the day, the time of day, what I’m working on, and how energetic I’m feeling at the time. 🙂

    • Oh my friend you are soooooooooooo poetic. Everything you write (including your response here) sings of poetry! I think it pulses through your veins. I really do.

      • Bless you, my sweet friend. I don’t ever feel particularly poetic, though a few lines here and there leap out at me to slap me in the face and declare themselves worthy of reading. 🙂

        You’ve always supported my humble efforts, for which you’ll always be appreciated more than you know.

        • “Those are the days when poetry is moving in the pastoral or philosophical vein” is as poetic as it gets, IMHO. And you weren’t even intending it to be so. This is how you write when you aren’t even writing. 😉

          Hugs, dear friend.

  3. Every morningI I pile the pillows up behind me, grab the laptop, and get started, frequently waking with a line of poetry i my head. I like it quiet, but can write through interruptions, telly programmes and thunderstorms (as now!)

  4. These days, my writing sessions change daily. Depending on what “life” has in store (changing weather, puppies, responsibilities, etc.), I am constantly evolving, 🙂 !!

  5. It depends on what type of writing I’m doing. Poetry, I can write or sort through poems just about any time with radio blaring, Vanessa calling, or Justin leaning on my head. Fiction, I usually wait until everyone’s out of the house and sit in my comfy chair and write to Christian or Classical music. For devotions and other nonfiction, I write at the table in the morning when everyone’s out or in the evenings I go back in the bed room with my laptop, close the door and let hubby hold the fort.

    • It’s always interesting to me how what type of writing we do demands something different; special music, a specific environment, little noise or lots of it, etc. It’s as if our minds require a specific context in which to formulate the mindset necessary for that type of work. And for each of us that mindset is different, individualized yet common.

      Your description, Connie, points it out as much as any I’ve ever seen.

  6. For me, it’s that simple formula: apply ass to chair. If I don’t make time to write (by making time for nothing but writing), it’s harder to get anything done, especially anything good.

  7. I usually eat breakfast with oatmeal and coffee, clean and sit my self down at my desk. I love music but I am often frequengted by the tension in the house, with the howls and hes of fasting, I am inspired by the energy of willingness. My muse is centered by my current book writing down the bones which i frequent for a kick in the butt lol

  8. I knew a a friend who loved to write, but followed a ritual before putting down his first word. He owned a gold pinky ring which he would wear and touch before writing. It worked for him until he lost it and could not write! He never found it and the few rings he bought to replace it never did the trick. I steer away from attaching my writing sessions to objects, incantations, or even meditation. I simply say, “Help me write today, Lord.” I don’t have a specific time or place either. I simply write every single day, when and where I feel like. I might jot an idea or opening line in my small pocket pad and come back to it when I can or am so moved to work from that line or word or sentence or dialogue. I find that writing daily is the best way to fight the deserts of our craft and keep us building on words, strengthening what we build by editing enough, and subsequently finding joy in the finished piece of writing. When it’s done, I thank God for the gift.

    • I can relate to your not having a ritualistic formula or object associated with the act of writing, Sal. I seldom really know what my exact environment will be. It could be in the car, sitting on the roadside, jotting down lines of poetry while my sister takes photos of the scenery. Or in the car, in the middle of the night on a starry night photo shoot, using a penlight held in mouth, writing like mad because something has fired a few lines through the little gray cells. 🙂

      Then again, your prayer does act like a starting pistol of sorts, a sanctioning of your intent. I think we all have something that acts in that capacity, even if its something as small as nodding the head to signal readiness to begin.

      Loved reading this, Sal.

  9. I’m somewhere between Connie and Damon on this one. I have a pre-writing routine that I have to restart if something interrupts. I check for new email, new comments on blogs I’m following, and often do part or all of a word search. I have found that poetry warms me up for writing fiction. (which is part of the reason my poems aren’t the many polished gems presented here) Novels, my bread and butter, take a good dose of BICGOK. I write in 200-word increments, about 15 minutes, and then 200 more. . . And somehow my tiny chunks has resulted in 30 books. I’m final edits for a book due on July 1st. Fright time.

    • Good luck on the edits, Darlene. I wonder if your need for this process is that you’re a rapid-fire sprinter, of sorts. Those short, quick 200 word chunks get out a specific idea/image that acts as a segment/increment of that scene or chapter. Perhaps your Muse organizes her material or storytelling that way so that she doesn’t lose anything vital along the way in a flurry of useless words that will just get wasted later in editing.

      Writing poetry directly before doing prose does shift the mindset of the writer. At least, that’s been my experience. It also shifts the language/word choice used. I’ve noticed that, too.

      I hadn’t realized that you’d written so many books. I’m glad to know that for sure and have to look for some of them soon.

      • Interesting thought on those rapid-fire chunks. I thought of poetry this morning as I attempted to write a short paragraph about a rain/sleet storm changing to a snowstorm in Oklahoma, on Christmas. Because the challenge to portray something well known in a new way is a challenge in both poetry and fiction.

        • I’ve lived through many of those type of storms in Oklahoma, Darlene, so I can believe that it shifted perspective on you. They can been pretty spectacular.

      • Thanks, Marie. Between my unpredictable health (I live in a nursing home and I’ve been hospitalized 5 times in the past 2 years) and a certain amount of burnout, I’m not “churning” out books as I used to. Writing poetry has been a joy and a relief. Having said that, I have two more books under contract after I finish this one. (October and April)

        • I’m so sorry to hear of your health issues, Darlene. How nice that you have your writing talent, and are able to find joy.

          Do you have a site that lists your publications?

          • you can see them on my author page at amazon.com. speaking of which, I should update it.

  10. I was a night person before I got hooked on Robert’s blasted PAD challenges. They got me waking up with half-written poems leaking out, and an addict’s need. So I write in the morning, and usually in bed. (Two notebooks and an iPad, so the lines have places to move around. That’s ideal. I have written on used Kleenex, though)

    I have to write before the TV gets turned on. Can’t do much of anything in a crowded place–too much to watch. And how in the world can anyone write with music? I have the attention span of a sparrow.

    • 😀 hahaha Barb, I have the same questions about anyone who can write with children in the vicinity. Those are voices I can never tune out. As for music and writing, I’m one of those who has to shift background noise to accommodate what I’m working on. Sometimes, like now, there is no music, and my sister and her house guest just came back in so that the door will have to close soon. It’s not crowds that get to me, but I don’t do well with people moving around and lots of conversation in my home environment while I’m trying to writing. (I guess I’m just too nosy for that. 🙂 ) I’ve been known to write a chapter of a novel while sitting at a table in a jazz club. That was interesting.

      Because my vision is so poor, TV’s don’t bother me visually, but the sound does. We haven’t had one of those in the house for years.

      You seem the purist when it comes to writing. I almost envy that. It used to be that I had to have absolute quiet. Life forced me from that mold in college. But I’ve plenty of writer friends who’re still purists like you. And that’s awesome.

      • What is strange to me, is that although I’m a musician, I love to sing or play but I don’t especially enjoy listening to it. Definitely wouldn’t help me write.

        • Odd. Is it that it takes your mind away from the words, either in poetry or fiction? I have a writer friend who was both a pro concert singer as a very young person, and then a pro artist before she took her PhD and taught for 20 years.

          Today she can’t work on a painting at the same time she’s writing. She says that the one excludes and severely detracts from the other and both suffer as a result, if done simultaneously. That could be the case with you.

  11. I’m a binge writer. Some days I may scribble an idea or a line or some smidgen of character, then pick up a good book and read. Other days, I take coffee with the birds and everywhere I look, a poem flutters by or a few pages of prose. I start longhand in a notebook and finish at computer, both bringing different paces and depths to me. When I have dry days, I think this must be a perfect day to edit and revise or read good stuff…or take a break from words and embrace silence.

  12. I have to scour the house, opening every draw and cupboard to see if I can discover where I stashed my will power and motivation. IF I locate them then it is still a super-human effort to sit down and get on with it. I look at the time and I have been mindlessly face-booking for an hour! Radio on or off, I don’t mind. It’s getting started that is the problem. If I don’t write to the prompt here on a Sunday then it will get away from me because I am just too busy.

    Once I start, it’s easy. I write till I’m done writing. I’ve been loading archive content to my site this weekend and have been totally absorbed. If I write a poem then it’s 5 minutes to think of a title and then I write till I feel/know it’s finished. I never know where it’s going when I start. It just happens and really quite fast.

    I do need my ashtray next to me – that will be hard next year as I intend to at least have a go at quitting. No other real issues other than distraction and commitment to getting on with it.

    By the way, i currently waiting for a page to rake on the site (it’s sooo slow!) and I’m experimenting with downloadable PDFs for my recipes 🙂


  13. The place is not important, although I’ve been finding the Public Library near home to be very advantageous for certain projects. The noise level is perfect with a little chatter, but not so much to be distracting. But the key for me… I need to be busy with non-literary pursuits. And the busier the better. My mind finds order in that kind of chaos and ideas and lines of poetry and bits of dialogue just pop in and I’m stuffing my pockets with post-it notes. In this I find my digital voice recorder to be an invaluable tool.

    Coffee is a must unless i’m a-mused late in the day, and music is also key. (Classic Rock for most, but definitely Beatles for my non-poetic work (screenplay or music composition.)

    When I am home, I have a corner of the living room with my computer desk and shelf of writing reference books and binders of Writer’s Digest and The Writer magazines, It’s a bit cluttered, but that plays into the rambunctious way my mind works. With that spelled out, it seems I’m ALWAYS writing something in some way, shape or form. It keeps me off of the streets!

    • … and heavenly only knows we surely must keep you off the streets! 😀

      I can’t write with music in the background, as it ends up being all I’m thinking about. It doesn’t have to be perfectly quiet or anything like that, but music is a definite no-no for me.


    When I’m writing I try to peruse
    the demands of a crotchety muse.
    Though she can be a pest,
    I can write at my best
    when my muse is as loose as a goose.

  15. I really don’t think I have a muse. Not like other people talk about having a muse. I don’t think much about writing until I’ve read a prompt. I honestly don’t think I’d write if I didn’t have prompts. The vast majority of my work has been for them.

    After I do read a prompt, I guess the ideas/thoughts simmer in the background whether I realize it or not, and when I’ve slowed down long enough to put fingers to keys (at work on a break, or when I’m home from the gym and sit down with my laptop), I write whatever comes out. Usually it takes about 5-10 minutes…unless I’m stuck on a title and then it takes longer. I never write my poems on paper. Only at the computer.

    Yep. Kinda boring/uninteresting. But, as a friend of mine often says: it is what it is. 🙂

  16. Actually, I’ve decided to name my muse Uncle Joe.

    You know … as in, “And that’s Uncle Joe, he’s a movin’ kinda slow at the junction.”


  17. My muse was a Rip Van Winkle that slept for years and finally decided to wake up one day with sun salutations, and surprised me and my meandering thoughts.
    Its a caterpillar that needs to be prodded to unfurl (so grateful for these prompts)
    Its a novice that gets attached to a word and gnaws away at it, It loves to rhyme for some odd reason, and sometimes a poem just gets strung along because of delicious rhyming words.
    Its most favorite place is the kitchen zone- where lines spring forth amidst the spices, between washing, chopping, stewing and staring outside window that validates the beauty in all kinds of life.

  18. One of my favorite quotes about writing says, “I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes at nine every morning.” I don’t know that I have a muse (except for God’s movement through me, but only in a general sense) Creating an idea comes easily to me. Writing it is the hard part. But I try to make it strike at least once a day. . .

  19. While caring more for my mother, I have sent my muse on vacation with only a few short visits.

    Normally I need quiet for concentration. Music would distract me. Often with a prompt I need to think about it before I sit at the computer. I do miss those early days when it was my own ideas which prompted me.

    When I am composing silly verse, it often comes to me whatever I am doing, I cannot get the idea or rhyme out of my head. Once I my brain gets going, that kind of poem comes quickly. Then I need to get it on paper or the computer before it flies out of my brain.

  20. Hmmmm, writing rituals… none really. For me, it is all about finding the 15 minute or so slice of time where all my other priorities are not screaming. When responding to prompted writing, I read the prompt and begin typing within about 2 minutes. I stop when the typing stops and read for the first time what I wrote.

    Of course, there are are other prompts, those which are form based, those are more conscious efforts. I divine the gist of the poem first and then I wrestle with form to make it fit.

    Non prompted writing – I just know when I wake up that something must be written. During the weekends, those are mid day writes. Otherwise, this type of writing surfaces after the children have gone to bed and before the start of my nighttime rituals.


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