by Trish Milburn
Today's guest, Annie Solomon, not only is a fantastic, RITA-winning romantic suspense novelist; she also knows how to shop for cute clothes, is rarely found without knitting needles in hand, and harbors a great love for the sci-fi TV series Farscape and its star, Ben Browder. Her book, Blackout, won the 2007 RITA for Best Romantic Suspense. Her newest release is Dead Shot, which you can conveniently purchase from Amazon by clicking on the book cover at left. She's here today to talk about how rituals help in the writing process.
Writing is a mystery. Characters “talk” to you. They do things you didn’t expect or plan. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The most mysterious thing to me are the rituals that go along with the process. Why do they work? Do you have a piece of music that you can’t write without? A special corner of the house? A chair? For me, I’ve found the weirdest thing is that I can no longer write alone.
Several years ago, I struggled with a terrible back problem that was exacerbated by the chair in my home office. I don’t quake when I go in there now, but I can’t write there. I thought I was blocked. I was tearing my hair out, deadlines looming closer and closer. I was looking for any available cliff to jump off.
Then I discovered Panera Bread Company. Free Wi-Fi. Great coffee. And they ain’t no slouch in the bread department neither. But the most important thing about Panera is the people. Not just behind the counter, but all over the place. Coming and going, eating in, taking out.
Now you’d think that would be a distraction. See, that’s where the Twilight Zone music comes in. I think the people are what allows me to write again. Maybe it’s the public humiliation of sitting there staring at the empty screen. (Gotta fill that up or people will see I’m doing nothing.). Or maybe it’s the fact that I can’t roll out of bed and pretend to work in my PJs while I’m really playing Freecell and Scrabble. I gotta get up, get showered, get dressed, and go somewhere. Since I’ve made all this effort, might as well use it. That's me at the right, writing away. Pictured below is Mimi, the friendliest Paneraperson ever.
Whatever the reason, Panera has become my new ritual. I pretend I’m going to work just like I did when I was running the copy department at Gish, Sherwood & Friends Advertising Agency. I look professional and put together. I even put on makeup. And I write. I actually accomplish something. Some days I have breakfast there, some days breakfast and lunch. Once or twice I even brought home dinner (though, okay, maybe that’s getting a little out of hand). Maybe it’s the food?
Whatever it is, it works. And that is one mystery I’m not too eager to solve.
So, I’m curious—what are your writing rituals? Or do you have rituals in other parts of your life that help you get things done?