The Muse is In: An Interview with Jill Badonsky

Jill Badonsky is one of the most creative people I know. Her imagination apparently has no bounds. She writes, she draws and paints and creates delightful and whimsical illustrations. She leads workshops, teaches, and trains creativity coaches. She’s a poet, a speaker, and a sister provocateur. Her newest book, The Muse is In: An Owner’s Manual to Your Creativity, has just been released by Running Press. It’s truly a work of art: every page is alive with Jill’s colorful illustrations. I think you’ll like what she has to say about creativity, too.

1cover real cover with muse

I had so many questions for Jill and her responses are so great, I don’t want you to miss one good thing Jill has to tell us, so the interview will be presented in two parts. Here’s the first part:

For a time, when we’re little kids, we just are creative, but we aren’t self-conscious of it. When did that light bulb or realization go on in your head that you were “creative”?

In high school I noticed that I valued creativity more than most people. I was drawn to the offbeat, the quirky, and the original; I was compelled to do the unexpected. I’m not sure I identified this as me actually BEING creative. I still don’t. I just think creativity is the fabric of my happiness so I HAVE to do it for my peace of mind. However being called creative is one of my very favorite compliments.

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Growing the Writer Within

In the Spring of 2011 Ruth Folit invited me to do something I had never done before: lead an online writing practice group. Ruth is the designer/producer of LifeJournal, journal software and the founder/director of the International Association for Journal Writing. Our writing practice sessions aren’t really “online,” they’re more “live chat” with participants from across the country and anywhere in the world connecting via phone or Skype. Following is a blog Ruth posted at IAJW‘s site, which she graciously allowed me to repost as a guest blog.

Online Writing Practice—Growing the Writer Within

A couple of days ago was the first of a handful of Wednesdays with Judy Reeves in what’s known as an Online Writing Practice.  It’s an hour of time spent, mid-day, with a writers of any shape, size, age, gender, or level of experience.

I can imagine that the process does sound odd—people on the phone writing separately, yet together, in response to a Continue reading

Midge Raymond on Everyday Writing

This is the first time The Lively Muse has hosted a guest blog I couldn’t be more pleased to have as our premiere guest, author, teacher, publisher, colleague and writing pal Midge Raymond. If you’re a short story aficionado, you probably already know about Midge’s award-winning collection, Forgetting English. And if you like books about writing from darned good writing teachers, then you’re going to love Everyday Writing. Here’s a sample:

Everyday Writing for Summer

By Midge Raymond

As writers, we’re told that in order to succeed, we must write every day—but of course this isn’t realistic or feasible for most of us; we have families, day jobs, and other responsibilities that can get in the way of a daily writing practice.

And in the summer? It’s even more difficult: The kids are home, the weather’s lovely, and everyone’s in vacation mode (writing, while a luxury, is still hard work, which makes sitting in the chair all the more daunting when the sun is calling).

I wrote Everyday Writing to help busy writers connect to their writer selves every day—even if they’re unable to sit down to write every day. What I’ve found is that it’s not necessary to write every single day, but what is necessary is to think like a writer every day. This means opening your eyes and ears just a little wider than the next person—to take in everything happening in the world around you, including in your own inner world, all of which provides the richest material you’ll ever need.

Here are a few prompts to get you started. I’ve designed these prompts especially for the beginning of summer, which is one of the more challenging seasons in which to stay focused (note: you can easily do these in a beach chair with a sand-covered notebook).

Enjoy—and happy writing!

Five-minute prompts

–       Write for one minute about each of the following: watermelon, sand, moon, chlorine, ice.

–       Write about the very first time you saw the ocean.

Fifteen-minute prompts

–       Write about the best summer you can remember. Be as detailed as possible, from who you spent your time with to what was going on in your life at the time. Was this summer a recent one, or was it in the distant past? (Note: Fiction writers can apply this exercise to one or more of their characters.)

–       Write about a favorite summer food or beverage. When was the last time you enjoyed it, and what was your first memory of it? Then, write a scene (either from your own life or that of a fictional character) in which this food or drink features prominently.

Weekend prompt

–       Write about the last time you did something, whether it was play the piano, ride a horse, or smoke a cigarette. Is this something you chose to give up, or something that simply faded away? Do you miss this activity? Why or why not? Be as detailed as possible, and write for as long as you can, letting this prompt lead you wherever it wants to take you.


 Midge Raymond is the author of Everyday Writing: Tips and Prompts to Fit Your Regularly Scheduled Life  and the story collection Forgetting English , which received the Spokane Prize for Short Fiction. Her work has appeared in TriQuarterly, American Literary Review, Indiana Review, North American Review, Bellevue Literary Review, the Los Angeles Times magazine, and many other publications and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Visit to subscribe to her free email newsletter for writers.