I have a number of rituals when it comes to writing. Certain things make my brain work well.

Scour the desk. The first thing I do is hose off my workspace. This isn’t because I’m a neat freak and I must have everything spotless before I can think. It’s because the house is full of noisy stuff that nags me, pulls on my skirt, and begs me to put them away. When I’m trying to focus on writing, I just need one table that’s going to be quiet.


While I scour my desk, I try to put my attention only on the desk. If I were a super-clean mom, I wouldn’t have much time for creativity. Some people have neatness as part of their DNA. I don’t. But I’ll always remember the words of my theology professor, Cindy Rigby, who confided, “Women like us don’t have time to be neat. We’re too busy reading about the Anselmian view of atonement for that.” I’m not a theologian and I’m not always reading Anselm, but when I feel bad about the clutter taking over, I remind myself of those words.


• Brew fresh coffee. Coffee is my brain juice. I walk in a perpetual fog, because something in my head is not properly wired. Until I have coffee. Then all things become crisp and focused. I used to drink coffee all day long. I guzzled it by the gallons. But then I realized I do like sleeping at times. So I cut back to just drinking it in the mornings.


•Steal the time. I’m a working mom, with a pile of crumpled laundry and a sink full of dirty dishes. But when I decided to write, I learned how to steal the time from other parts of my days.


Are you a parent of little kids? If you can, let your childrenstay up later and sleep in later. I know this goes against every parenting instinct, but nothing (except for a few older school teachers in our church) says that your child has to go to bed at 7:00 pm and get up before your nerves are ready. You can steal some moments in the morning.


Do you watch television? Many Americans watch four to six hours every day. That’s a part-time job. I quit watching TV (except when it’s a part of family-time), and I had more time to write.


Turn off the Internet. We all know what a time suck FB is. We love social media, but I often have to turn the Internet off (sometimes I even unplug my modem) to steal the extra time.

Carol Howard Merritt is an author, pastor and podcast host. She is one of the most thoughtful voices on twitter and I’m happy to host her today.