When I’m in a regular writing habit I pretty much just sit down and do it — or so it seems. Even that act is deceptively simple — there’s a foundation of behaviors and actions that leads me there — every time.

I don’t wait for the new moon or cast a multi-step spell before I can do it. But even in my mundane path to the desk, there’s quite a ritual — purposeful steps I take, in a particular order, that prepare me for the work.

I write first thing in the morning. First, I wash my face. I…


Gaps in character building lists and where to focus instead.

If you’ve already defined the biographical basics of your main character, fear not, you can start there to extrapolate from that what you need to know. Based on what you already know about a given character, how do they move through a room? If your character is tall and large, does this match with how they feel about themselves? When they enter a room are they comfortable being seen and taking up a lot of space, or would they rather be invisible? How is this demonstrated in their mannerisms and how they speak?

If you’ve decided your main character has…


or, Rainbow gel pens changed my life & other reasons to write by hand.

How many times have you done a planning or visioning exercise and the instructions insisted that you write your responses by hand rather than type them? Or, if you’ve ever read Julia Cameron’s enduring text The Artist’s Way, you know the habit of morning pages to your core. Whether you practice the technique or not, you know morning pages is a journaling technique that requires you to write three long hand pages every morning, regardless of your artistic discipline. Pages that are for no one to revisit, not even you really, which allow you to process your thoughts and take…


is when you feel up to it.

One night last week I was about to get in the shower when I thought, “You know what would be so nice, if I washed the tub before I took a shower. It won’t take long, I can do it now.” I scrubbed the tub, and once I had done that, the rest of the bathroom seemed easy, and the other bathroom too. I cleaned both bathrooms and then finally, I took my shower.

I won’t tell you how long I had been thinking the bathrooms needed to be cleaned before I finally…


A couple of weeks ago I packed my bags for one of the biggest trips of my life — a week in Japan. This trek had been in the works for me and my mom since my brother moved to Tokyo nearly three years ago.

Despite a forecast of wet and chilly, almost-spring weather, I managed to pare down my sweaters and socks to what could fit in a carry-on suitcase. For the plane rides and anticipated downtime, I tucked away only three books. On the twelve hour flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo I didn’t open a single one.


Writers are often plagued with beliefs, myths, and fears that conspire against our pure creative impulses. These internal quandaries can lead us to endless over editing, myriad false starts, or stalling out completely.

While leading a workshop recently in Los Angeles, I asked participants to share some less-than-helpful stereotypes about what makes someone a “Writer.” Within minutes, we had covered a poster-sized sticky paper in purple marker describing various tropes that truly bummed me out. Our collectively received ideals painted a clear picture: an individual who is solitary, intensely disciplined, and dependent on drugs or alcohol to create. …

Molly Thornton

is an LA based multi-genre writer and writing coach. Her poetry, essays, and support for your unruly stories await at mollythorntonwrites.com

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