17 Swanky Things

17 Things: Lucky Writing Rituals

We’re a superstitious people. You touch the roof of your car when you go through a yellow light. You rub your nose three times before sending an email. You touch the front door knob three times to keep the murderers away.

Wait…you don’t do this? It’s just me? It can’t just be me.


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They have a ritual!

All that to say, this month in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day and just writing in general, we’re going over the Swanks lucky writing rituals.




1. I need everything in my writing space to be perfectly aligned — parallel to edges, or at perfect perpendiculars; cups exactly centered on each coaster; coffee mug handle facing the right direction. It’s basically a function of having OCD, but it’s extra important when I’m writing, because I need focus, and fixing that stuff is the kind of thing that can distract me for hours.

Jilly Gagnon, #FAMOUS, HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen ’17



2. I can’t write until I clear off my desk. (I’m a very messy person, except for my writing desk!) I also light a candle, because it seems like the writerly thing to do.

Melissa Roske, KAT GREENE COMES CLEAN, Charlesbridge ’17



3. I break out in hives using any other pen but Sharpie pens! They write with this perfectly smooth ink, with a felt tip, and they somehow make my messy cursive look elegant. Taking a break from the laptop and writing on paper with a beautiful pen makes me feel like Jane Austen. It’s a therapeutic wonder for my writing!

Rebecca Christensen, MAYBE IN PARIS, Sky Pony Press ’17



4. I like to have my favorite books around me when I write. If I get stuck, I’ll look to one of the books, pick it up, smell the pages, read a few lines, admire the cover, and finally set it back down. It’s like getting a pep talk from my favorite authors, and it keeps me trudging along!

Rebecca Ross, IMPASSIONED, HarperTeen 17



5. I’m most productive when I can write with a fan blowing for white noise. I need to write in Scrivener, where my outline and character sketches are accessible, and I have to have a pen and notebook handy for working out plot points that don’t come to mind readily.

Tricia Levenseller, DAUGHTER OF THE PIRATE KING, Macmillan/Feiwel and Friends ’17



6. When I write at home, I have to light candles. If I write at Panera, I have to have hazelnut coffee.

Christina June, IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE, Blink/HC ’17



7. Am I weird for not having any at all?

Gwen Cole, COLD SUMMER, Sky Pony Press ’17



8. Coffee or tea for me, but sometimes I forget I have it. And earbuds if I’m writing in public. I love the Coffivity app for white noise! And have been known to use it, wait for it, while sitting in an actual coffee shop if the table next to me is too loud/distracting.




9. I’ve listened to a single thunderstorm track on repeat while writing for about four years…now, whenever I hear it, it almost instantly puts me into a focused mindset.

Kayla Olson, THE SANDCASTLE EMPIRE, HarperTeen ’17



10. I don’t HAVE to write with it on but I have a sweatshirt that is my lucky writing sweatshirt (with a kitten reading a book on it) and copious amounts of tea!

Katherine Webber, WING JONES, Delecorte ’17



11. I like to illustrate all my main characters. Also, whenever I’m having trouble writing a scene, I always hand write it using my favorite pen.

Kati Bartkowski, LAILU LOGANBERRY’S MYSTIC COOKING, Simon & Schuster ’17



12. I like a movie or TV show or something like that to be on the in the background. Weirdly music doesn’t do it for me.




13. I can’t write at home b/c there are too many distractions, so I have to write in a coffee shop, at the corner table (b/c I stare into space when I’m thinking & end up creeping out strangers), with a chai latte. Otherwise, I’m all out of whack.

Sarah Henson, DEVILS WITHIN, Sky Pony Press ’17



14. I never stop writing at the end of a sentence. If I take a break or if I’m done for the day I stop in the middle of one so I know I can at least finish what I started the day before.

Whitney Gardner, YOU’RE WELCOME, UNIVERSE, Knopf ’17



15. First, I set my thermostat to 68.9, then I replace all of my human characters with sea mammals, beluga whales specifically. I run all of my plot points through W.W.J.D, then I play Bon Iver while chanting my favorite quote from St. Francis of Assisi, and put on my special writing coveralls. I do a set of knee pushups and then down some jello shots for good measure.

Dave Connis, THE TEMPTATION OF ADAM, Sky Pony Press ’17



16. I don’t have any. I can write anytime, anywhere. I tend to just open my computer and go.

Nic Stone, DEAR MARTIN, Crown ’17



17. Starbucks. My coffee as black as sin. Full screen scrivener only.


Matt Landis, THE JUDAS SOCIETY, Sky Pony Press ’17



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