What’s your writing routine?

Establishing a routine is extremely hard in our fast-paced society. This blog post gives great insight into famous writers’ routines. In order to become successful, a writer must continually practice and revise.


Do you have a routine for writing? A way of doing it which has become habit and which you know will get the best out of you? I was thinking about this having read a recent article on the subject.

Many famous writers seem to have these habits. I think the reason is that, to write a novel you need to get your backside on the chair and your fingers on the keyboard – regularly and for long periods of time, just to get the work done. I know only too well that novels don’t write themselves.

Murakami_Haruki_(2009)Here’s what the brilliant Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami had to say on the subject in an interview:

“When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at four a.m. and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for ten kilometers or swim for fifteen hundred meters (or do…

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Art = math? Mathematical implications for the skeptical artist

Elsa board drawing

If you’re an artist, there is a chance that you have a negative relationship with adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, statistics or any math concepts at all you may encounter.

You strive to avoid mathematical concepts at every turn, but what happens when you find out the thing you love, art in all its creative glory, is really math, your nemesis and symbol of everything confusing and cursed?

Never fear. Math is not so scary. Bear with me; my husband is a math teacher, and he is slowly making me a believer.

The more you learn about art, you find mathematical traces everywhere:

  • Typography and graphic design are heavily influenced by grids.
  • Composition and nature relies on the rule of thirds (the Fibonacci sequence is proudly sported by pineapples and pine cones).
  • You hear Disney proclaiming mathematical propaganda to our children through strong, female characters.
  • (Elsa sings in her empowering solo “Let It Go”: “My power flurries through the air into the ground. My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around”). Even the snowflakes that surround Elsa are themselves fractals.
  • Vi Hart, one of my favorite YouTubers (subscribe to her channel. She will make you love math through her clever doodling and commentary), shows her viewers how the concept of infinity can be demonstrated through elephants.
  • We also know that the proportions of the body and the face can be broken up mathematically.
  • You can even set Pi to music!

Math cannot be avoided but is actually pretty cool.

I find myself singing Disney tunes, drawing on my husband’s white board and looking up inspirational YouTube videos–when I really should be finishing up my grad. homework. I can’t help being obsessed with trying to see mathematical patterns in art and all around me.

I encourage you all to look for these patterns, and as far as your hatred for math, “Let it go.”

Chapter 1

Written and designed by Mary Van

“One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying.” – Joan of Arc


She had never seen electricity. The Elders told their stories, and phantom reminders towered in the city streets, but these metal ghosts were long dead–except one light pole that sliced the inky night with its terrible radiance. The steady glow was an impossibility, and under the illumination, swayed death’s silhouette. 

Clara wanted to scream. She opened her mouth, but there was only the sound of stretching rope that echoed as it swung, straining against its heavy load. Although she tried, Clara couldn’t tear her eyes away. She was frozen, listening to the rope’s maddening creaks. A body swung like a sluggish metronome when, suddenly, its lifeless eyes snapped wide–bloodshot and knowing.

Breaking from the dream was so jarring that Clara almost lost her perch in her favorite nook. Her pulse was frantic, and damp fabric made a slight seal on her forehead. Sighing and ungracefully thumping her head against the seat’s wooden frame, Clara slowed her breathing and peeled her fingers from their grip on the seat’s crown molding.

The dust particles were golden flakes drifting softly across the stained glass as the sun gasped for life as it was consumed by the urban architecture. There was so much filth. Dust fitted the streets. Dust drifted its way onto food. Dust even hid her beloved books. The residue crowded every corner of existence. She felt that she could not escape the dirt. Grimm said the ash set in after the Destruction. “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” Grimm would mutter to herself.

The Destruction brought so much death, and Grimm said they were all orphans and refugees. The library was a sanctuary that housed them from the prejudice of the streets and comforted them in blankets of yellowed paper and plastic library covers.

A dark shape bridged the broken window and cast shadow upon the ash particles. The multicolored beams shone with an ethereal light until the shade choked the light; the ash was lost into nothing. The stained glass had once been a proud saint’s visage but was now insufficiently covered by scrap material, a crude bandage to cover the once whole and beautiful.

The cloth covering Clara’s mouth and nose ballooned as she exhaled. Her veil was a patchwork of vibrant colors and various material haphazardly sewn together. It covered her extremities, leaving barely any skin exposed. Grimm told her the Destruction had marred her people with burns and excruciating boils that healed into hideous scars–leaving them untouchables. The fabric dressings masked the Destruction’s cruel kiss and the library helped hide them from the world.

Many thought that life would cease to exist, but here they were, warm and comfortable, and she sitting in a window seat in one of the most beautiful libraries in the lost city whose spirit was being continuously crushed by the Corporation. In many ways, they were blessed.

The girl was still left with so many questions. At breakfast, Clara, burning with curiosity, frequently glanced from the older woman, to the table, and then back again. Grimm’s mouth curled in humor under her veil at Clara’s uneven breathing and neglect of her meal. The girls was never adept at hiding emotions.

“What is it, Clara?”

The girl paused, knowing to tread carefully. “Please, tell me about the day you brought me here. It’s important. I need to think about tonight, think about the naming ceremony.” She started to chew on the edge of a hangnail and tap her bowl with her spoon.

Grimm’s disposition faltered, and the far off echoes of the library’s daily routine could be faintly distinguished. Silverware clinked musically, shoes shuffled, conversation ebbed and flowed, and children fussed. The woman pushed her chair from the table, encircled Clara in her arms with the girl’s head resting under her chin, and stared ahead.

“Clara, you know it isn’t much of a story. There’s not a lot to tell,” Grimm sighed. “I found you.”

Grimm hated to lie.


Today’s Author prompt:

Candles flickered in the silent room as he sat down to try to meditate for the first time.

My poem “Futility”:

Flexing fingers clench and release.

Knuckles crack and shatter the silence.

Lungs’ sharp intake escapes in suppressed streams.

He strains to hear ocean waves and the water’s heart

only to feel oppressed by the intensity to reflect.


The “Sting” of the past

I’m on a TED Talks kick, but I liked Sting’s talk “How I started writing songs again” because it deals with writing what you know effectively.

It’s hard to write about emotional connections without just straight up ranting. How can you get your audience involved in your emotional baggage instead of making them run? How can you tell your experience through various characters’ eyes?

Sting does a great job of connecting with his past by creating amazing ballads about his home town.

Watching this video I thought of Hansel from Zoolander saying, “Sting would be another person who’s a hero. The music he’s created over the years, I don’t really listen to it, but the fact that he’s making it, I respect that.”

I need to listen to more of his music…


Sting on Overcoming Writer’s Block

I’m on a TED Talks kick, but I liked this video because it deals with writing what you know. It’s hard to write about what you feel strongly about without just plain ranting. How can you get your audience to connect to what you are writing? Sting does a great job of connecting with his past by creating amazing ballads about his home town.

35 Weird Traits Your Characters May Have

Great details and personality quirks to give characters!


Read ‘weird’ as ‘unique’–the type of trait that grabs a readers’ attention. I’m

character traits

constantly looking for these so the characters in my novels are memorable, and the reader is excited to have them return to the plot line.

Everything on the list below I got from real people. You will be amazed!

  • eats M&Ms or Skittles by color
  • can’t use a pen without a top
  • can’t clean his/her house unless it’s dark out

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Publishers Seeking submissions

Gawler Public Library


Courtesy of SA Writers Centre
Listed below are some local and large national publishers who are currently open for submissions, however please do check their websites as these guidelines can change regularly and not all publishing houses accept unsolicited manuscripts.

The Canary Press is making an issue of genre stories.

Calling all poets. Fitting in to the “not your usual suspects’ theme of this year’s Adelaide Cabaret Festival, The Baker Suite invite you to collaborate with them ‘live’ at their show, ‘Second Nature: a collaboration of poetry and music’ on Sat 14 June in The Space Theatre.

The Four Quarters Magazine, a literary quarterly published from India is seeking submissions for their August issue.


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