Set yourself to Writer Mode

Yesterday I woke up with that hot, twisty knot in my gut. It’s the knot I get when I’m not writing, which happens easily enough when there’s money to be earned, houseguests to entertain and enjoy, issues with the car and it just becomes easier pour my creative energy into worry, work and fixing, rather than writing.

So, I went to my computer and asked the internet how to boost my creativity:

  • Build an altar
  • Force yourself to do nothing
  • Meditate
  • Do prompts
  • Reward yourself
  • Write by hand
  • Take a walk

Yeah, yeah. I know all that. I don’t feel like it. I don’t have time. Why can’t someone just make a damn pill for this? I mean, how do you make yourself do something to boost creativity when you don’t feel creative? When your creativity and inspiration are buried underneath a pile of bills and to-dos?

Glad to be asked, the knot in my stomach loosened a bit and the answer bubbled brainward. Bloop, bloop. Like a big, wobbly air bubble floating to the water’s surface, letting you know that there’s something big swimming around down there:

“You don’t feel like writing because you’re not living like a writer.”

Damn it! How do I keep forgetting this? It’s like there’s a tricky toggle switch in my brain that keeps getting accidentally flipped to “basic functioning mode” from “writer mode.”

You know what I mean. When I’m living like a writer, I’m:

Noticing the way the world comes through my senses. The air, the light, the sounds close and far. I’m tasting, rather than just eating. I’m giving brain-space to smells I’d usually tune out and wondering about them. I’m noticing the texture of my clothes on my skin, feeling the tingle of a good stretch all the way from guts to my fingertips, noticing my breath going in and out of my body.

Curious. I can get to a point of distraction and fretting where people aren’t people any more – they’re a means to an end. The one that’s taking forever to count my change, the one that brings my mail, the one that better not transfer me to another department after a half hour on hold. When I’m living like a writer, people are exquisitely complex. Even the ones I don’t like.

Patient. The great thing about being curious is that it makes it me want to sit still and investigate, rather that hurry up and get there. Well, I can tell you, it’s much easier to write when I’m sitting still.

Tolerant of the unknown.  When the toggle is flipped, I stop striving for a tolerable baseline of certainty. My jaw slackens a little, my eyes get slightly sparkly and I’m thinking, “I wonder what will happen next?”

When in writer mode, I feel like writing. I don’t have to invoke my muse or call on inspiration. I’m just looking for the next moment that I can process the amazing world through my pen.

I feel like one of the mud people at a debutante ball

As you can see, I’ve been posting only prompts here for about a year and a half. That is because I went full-introvert, which for me, is the same thing as going full-writer. I’ve been living at the far end of the woods, wearing the same clothes for weeks at time and communicating with my husband and dogs in hand gestures and grunts.

That all came to an end when I accomplished the end-goal of my retreat: I finished the book and found a publisher. In doing so, I effectively flushed myself out of the woods and back into the world.

The book is called Part Wild and it’s a book version of one of my workshops, the one that deals with self-doubt, inner critics and all the junk that prevents a writer from writing. I’m happy with it. Can’t wait to share it with you. It’s out next June via Simon & Schuster’s imprint, Enliven Books.

My publisher said to me, “Deb, this is not just a book. It’s a movement.”
And I thought, if that’s the case, I’d better comb my hair and move someplace with cell service.

It’s good to be back, actually. I missed you.

So, I’m working with my social media team to clear away the cobwebs and get this blog humming again. We have big plans for laying down some serious inspiration.


PROMPT: Write about your parent’s courtship. If you don’t know anything about your parents or their courtship, feel free to invent and guess. Keep your pen moving for 6 minutes.

Peek into the hidden corners of your characters by having them do this prompt.


PROMPT: Launch from the sentence-starter, “After resisting for years, I finally…” and keep your pen moving for 6 minutes.

Peek into the hidden corners of your characters by having them do this prompt.


PROMPT: Launch from the sentence-starter, “I wish you would talk to me about…” and keep your pen moving for 6 minutes.

Peek into the hidden corners of your characters by having them do this prompt.


PROMPT: Write about an abandoned building. Keep your pen moving for 6 minutes.


PROMPT: Write the easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions for How to Be Rad. 6 minutes

As always, you’re encouraged to post your unedited response(s) to the prompt in the comments section of this post. By doing so, you stand up for this important, but oft-neglected, wild and wooly part of the creative process.