Creativity on tap My ‘peak performance’ ritual

Jennifer M. Eaton is still tied up!  If you want to help set her free, click here to find out how.(And maybe win a copy of the “Make Believe Anthology” while you’re at it)

In the meantime, I am holding Nicky Wells at lazerpoint, forcing her to talk about one of my favorite books (Yes!  I know how to read!)

Human Nicky Wells, you may speak now!

Ummm… Okay….

Just how do you manage to churn out these books, I’m often asked. The answer is predictable: I write when the kids are at school, in between the housework, the shopping and my authorly promotional work. On average, I probably have a measly fifteen hours per week available for writing. Yet I completed the first, 145,000-word draft of my second novel in fourteen weeks.

I have a secret. When I have finished planning a book and it is ready to be born, I write every day, regardless of mood, health, weather, or inspiration. I don’t have bad writing days. I have days that go better than others, but I write regardless; and occasionally, the best scenes emerge on a challenging day.

Come what may, I cannot afford to waste time because I don’t feel like writing on a given day. So how do I produce creativity on tap?

The answer may astound you. I draw on a technique that I acquired in a previous professional life, where I was also required to write ‘on demand.’ Here, every time I had to complete a major writing project, I found myself seriously sidetracked by menial tasks. Instead of getting on with the job at hand, I’d tidy my desk. I’d empty the bin. I’d defragment the hard-drive. I’d empty the email trash folder. I’d be overcome by the urge to purchase and consume a large cappuccino. Nearly an hour into the work day, and I would still be faffing around.

This strange compulsion frustrated me senseless, until a manager pointed out that I was merely executing my ‘peak performance’ ritual. The tasks I was performing prepared me mentally for writing. While tidying and going out to buy coffee, my mind, so I was told, would already process the task ahead so when I sat down to produce, I would hit the ground running. I relaxed into ‘my’ routine, and I’ve never looked back.

These days, my peak performance ritual involves the school run, checking email, hanging out the laundry, dusting at least one room in the house, sorting the mail and… making a cup of tea. I encourage you to think about your own ‘strange’ routines and embrace them for what they are: a tool to set you up for your writing day. I bet you’ll find you can write on demand!

About Nicky Wells: Romance that Rocks Your World!

Nicky Wells writes fun and glamorous contemporary romance featuring a rock star and the girl next door. Her debut novel, Sophie’s Turn, is now available from Sapphire Star Publishing. Nicky loves rock music, dancing, and eating lobsters. When she’s not writing, Nicky is a wife, mother, and teaching assistant.

Visit Nicky on her blog where you can find articles, interviews, radio interviews and, of course, an ongoing update on her work in progress, the second and third parts of the Rock Star Romance Trilogy. You can also follow Nicky on Twitter and find her on Facebook. Nicky is a featured author on the innovative reader/author project, loveahappyending.com and has joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

About Sophie’s Turn—

One fine day in Paris, Sophie Penhalligan suddenly finds herself engaged to her teenage crush and love-of-her-life-from-a-distance, rock singer and star extraordinaire Dan Hunter. But there is the small matter of her very recent, but very prior, engagement to Tim. Reliable, honest, trusting Tim, her boyfriend of two years stashed away safely in his mews house in South Kensington while Sophie is drinking rather too much champagne with Dan in Paris. This contemporary romantic fairy tale describes how Sophie gets into her impossible situation and how she turns it around.

Sophie’s Turnis available in Kindle edition from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk and many other Amazon sites. The paperback edition is also available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. In addition, you can obtain Sophie’s Turn from Barnes & Noble.
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27 responses to “Creativity on tap My ‘peak performance’ ritual

  1. This is just the inspiration I need. Especially with Nano starting next month….

  2. I’m not procrastinating. I’m mentally preparing. Love it! 🙂 xx

  3. I think that failing to have a ritual probably means working in chaos ha! ha! A ritual is a way of cleansing the mind and preparing it to focus. I call is housekeeping (doing all the maintenance things – Emails, Twitter, FB etc). My problem is that my focus is too insular and when I begin something I can work endless without stopping. Sleeping sometimes feels like such a waste! An interesting read Nicky and glad to see the blog tour is going so well! You deserve the success!!

    • Thanks so much for your lovely comment, Linn! I do wonder how you manage to do everything that you do. So your secret is eliminating sleep, huh? You’ll have to give me the magic recipe for that one day. So glad you could stop by and that you enjoyed the post!

  4. This is lovely. I thought I was procrastinating. I feel so much better now. Repeat again: constructive-productive. GOT IT! Thank YOU.

  5. Hi Nicky. You were describing what I do to a tee and I was really hoping for some miracle cure that would stop me from checking my email and facebook notifications and get me to dive right into writing and stop wasting time. Unfortunately, the idea that this is part of my daily ritual was a bit of a disappointment. I am avoiding working on my novel and have been doing it for some time now and I don’t even know why. I LIKE to write and usually once I start, I enjoy it. I’m not sure why I avoid something I enjoy.

    • Do you know, sometimes you have to simply listen to your mind and body. The way I see it, not that I’m an expert, but just going by my own experience, you have two options. You could sit down and try to figure out why you are avoiding writing, but you might not like the answer to that and get yourself all wound up about something that is essentially quite trivial. Or you could simply cut yourself some slack, leave the writing be for a week or two but set yourself a deadline to recommence.

      I hear what you’re saying about getting side-tracked by social networking sites. To stop that part of your day being a drain on your time and energy, you might want to time-bracket the time you spend; that way, you can work it into your ‘warming up’ routine without it becoming a disappointment. Hope this helps, and good luck getting back into the swing of it, as I know you will. XX

  6. Constructive-productive, huh, Nicky?! What a great reframe of procrastination, transforming it into something valuable, even necessary!

    If writing or working on the novel, which I do in the evenings, step 1 of my routine (and step 2 and step 3) has to be to get Bertie (that’s our cat, not my husband) off my lap, so that I can reach the keyboard. He usually comes for a spot of Reiki and it can be r-e-a-l-l-y hard to persuade him to leave!

    Jennifer, hope you’re rescued soon 😉

  7. Nice interview (even though a blue alien made you do it). Glad to hear that all my menial tasks have a purpose.

    • Well, you know, I’m totally impervious to the blue alien threat. Goes right over my head. Lazerpoint, never fear. I’ve got two young boys, it’s all part and parcel of my daily life. That, and Scooby Doo. And writing, LOL! Thanks for commenting, Char, it’s nice to meet you! 🙂 X

      • Two boys would definitely immunize you to alien threats. My boy has helped toughen me up over the years. I was glad to meet you too and find your blog.

  8. I love this – permission to reframe what I had previously considered time wasting into something productive. Thank you 🙂

    • Hi Vanessa! Aha, there’s no such thing as time-wasting anymore. It’s all constructive-productive. So glad I could be of help in this matter! Now, must dash, got a cup of tea to make and some sorting out to do… *midday peak* X

  9. That’s exactly what I do. It works. So apparently did Charles Dickens, though he made sure that he had all his faffing done by 10am.

  10. Hi Jennifer, thanks so much for hosting me here today… at lazerpoint?? I’d have talked anyway, with or without lazer. I’m an unstoppable force. I have been called garrolous before, although I prefer to think of myself as loquacious! It’s a pleasure being here and thanks for your lovely introduction. Here’s to peak performance for everyone! (That sounds dodgy… oh dear, didn’t mean it that way, LOL)

  11. That’s a very smart way to look at faffing around. 🙂 The next time I waste an hour doing this at my day job, I’ll have to tell my boss that I’m just gearing up for peak performance.

    • Absolutely 100 per cent right! I believe the analogy comes from the sporting world. There must be something in it because it’s a failsafe. And it also helps to combat any kind of inkling of writer’s block. If I threaten to get stuck, I just go off and execute key bits of my ‘peak performance ritual’. It works! Thanks for visiting, Dana, and good luck on your launch day! XX