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Before You Write. . .

Much is said about the necessity of developing a daily routine for writing. We signal our readiness to work by bringing a big cup of coffee to our computer, logging off the Internet, and placing our hands on the keyboard. Every day. Without fail.

But writing is not always a serious business. Our newest contributor to The Blood-Red Pencil is Elspeth Antonelli, who will show us the lighter side of this creative adventure. Here's how Elspeth views the pre-writing routine:


20. Mentally pat yourself on the back for blocking out time to write.

19. Wonder how difficult it would be to literally pat yourself on the back.

18. Try it.

17. Try it with the other arm.

16. Try it with both arms at the same time.

15. Catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and realize you look like a demented bat.

14. Write a sentence. Caveat: "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog" does not count.

13. Take a sip of coffee, remembering to keep the liquid well away from the keyboard. You learned your lesson after the Great Spill of '08.

12. Spend a moment deciding who will play the main characters in the movie.

11. Spend a few more moments deciding which role George Clooney will demand to play.

10. Imagine yourself in an achingly trendy LA bistro, meeting George Clooney.

9. Realize before this can happen, you will need to purchase an entire new wardrobe.

8. Tell yourself you are not wasting time, you are firing your imagination.

9. Write another sentence. (see caveat above)

8. Remember you're having spaghetti for dinner and there's no spaghetti in the house.

7. Or tomato sauce.

6. Or salad ingredients.

5. Spend time inventing new curse words or phrases. Write them down.

4. Despite not falling under the boundaries of the caveat above, realize you cannot count these new words as part of your word count.

3. Curse again.

2. Switch your gaze between the keyboard and the screen. If you stare long enough, the words will come.

1. Decide you will write about the adventures of a quick brown dog.


Elspeth Antonelli is an author, a playwright and a keeper of cats in a house which is never clean. Her twelve murder mystery games and two plays are available through She has also contributed articles to the European writers' magazine "Elias". Her blog, "It's A Mystery," explores the writing process with a touch of humor.

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  1. Thank you for a morning chuckle. Oh, and for reminding me to make the coffee.

  2. Thank you for making me chuckle. Although it did make me wonder if you have been spying on my when I settle down to write. Note to self: must pull curtains in study

  3. Another place to find Elspeth, how great is that? Pretty great!

  4. From my point of view, there's nothing better than an Elspeth post first thing in the morning. I'm so glad she has joined The Blood-Red Pencil.

  5. So happy that Elspeth has joined us here with her wit and wisdom. I always enjoy her blog and am so glad that she will be contributing here.

  6. I love it, Elspeth. We writers sometimes take ourselves much too seriously.

  7. Liza; You need a reminder to make coffee? Seriously?

    David; I'm pleased to be a chuckle-provider.

    Mary; Did you hear that sound? That was my head swelling.

    Patricia; Thank you. There's nothing like the smell of compliments in the morning!

    Maryann; I'm supposed to be delivering wit and wisdom? Oh dear. Could someone deliver some, please?

    Linda; Laughter is good for everyone - especially when it's us laughing at ourselves.

  8. Hilarious! Loved it! Thanks for brightening my day - and providing a perfect break from my editing!

  9. Elspeth - This is classic!!! Thank you!! But why can't that quick brown fox sentence count towards word count? What if the WIP is about a brown fox? What if it jumps?

  10. Jodie; I'm glad you enjoyed my post and I live to give other people breaks. It makes me feel less guilty about taking them myself.

    Margot; Thanks for dropping in! I'd love to read a book about a quick brown fox jumping. You've got to know it's out there somewhere. it? Hmmmm.

  11. I love this! So funny, and yet so true. Thanks for the laugh.

    Right now, I'm looking at my NaNoWriMo novel and I can't stop thinking about how hungry I am... snack time!

  12. Emma; Thanks for letting me know you liked my first post here at The Blood Red Pencil. Best of luck with your NaNo novel!

  13. Carol; If you say it it MUST be true! Thanks.

  14. She's a hit and a! LOL. Now go accept your blog invitation so Pat doesn't get mad at me!

  15. I'm with you on the cursing! Been one of those days... :)

    So glad to find you here, Elspeth!

  16. Elizabeth; I'd be interested in learning what your curses sound like; I'm sure they're far more genteel than mine. Thanks for your support as I join this merry band!

  17. Yes, for some reason, I can't just sit down first thing and have the words flow. It requires a running start.

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

  18. Hey, George Clooney is reserved for MY movie! Hands off George, and nobody gets hurt.

    What a fun blog post, thanks for the laughs.

  19. "9. Realize before this can happen, you will need to purchase an entire new wardrobe."

    9A — Realize before this can happen, you must lose _______ pounds (fill in the blank).

  20. Terry; I've always envied writers that seem to be able to just sit down and the words flow from the fingers onto the page (or screen).

    Julie; Humph. Negotiations may be called for. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment!

  21. Love it! A sip of coffee every paragraph is the deal I make with myself. Now, if I detect it's in need of more cream and warming up, that's another story.

  22. Susan; You're absolutely right.

    Aaron; I've trained myself to be able to drink it black and cold.

  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

  24. Thanks for the chuckle. Quite funny.


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