5 easy tricks from Ayse Birsel, author of Design the Life You Love

It took me three years to write my book. I realized afterwards that having some simple rituals is key to writing. Here are some of my rituals that I developed, little things that helped me a lot to write Design the Life You Love.

01. Make Tea:

I make tea as a way to send my brain a signal that I am going to do something creative. It’s my starting point. What is your signal to yourself? Maybe you already have one. Or you can make one up: make tea, coffee, hot chocolate, play music, sharpen your favorite pencil, or put on your most comfy t-shirt. Just a short ritual that will mark the beginning of your process. 

If you want to learn about The Creative Habits of other artists, turn to Mason Currey’s great book, Daily Rituals

02. Same Time, Same Place, Everyday:

I realized that sitting down to draw and write at the same place, same time simplified my process. For me this was really early in the morning at the kitchen table, for one hour, everyday, even over the weekends and vacations! This translated into about 10 drawings a day that I then wrote about. 

03. Play your game:

David Brooks, in his book The Social Animal, talks about a great tennis player who loses her match as soon as she starts thinking about winning. I found this happening to me when writing and I’d just freeze! Worst enemy of your best work is worrying about winning. Just play your game, without thinking about the end result.

04. Find your voice:

Finding my voice for me was realizing that I am an author who draws. Drawing is my voice. It’s how I express my ideas. The trick for me was drawing my ideas and then writing about them. That is why my book has drawings on every page. What is your voice? In other words, what do you like doing best?

05. Create your own entourage:

Writing is a solitary affair. But a book takes an entourage (like the TV series!). An entourage of friends, and friends of friends. Mine is—Leah as my coach, Bibi as the Illustrator guru, Rona, as the designer of my draft copy; Uwe sent me an app to create my fonts, Jocelyn connected me with Meg, my agent, who pitched the book to Ten Speed Press, my publisher. 

Who is your coach, your design help, your connectors, your support system? Make a list of the people you will want to thank at the end of the book and start involving them in your work!


Design the Life You Love: A Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Meaningful Future is Ayse Birsel’s new book, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House. More on Ayse Birsel at and on Twitter, aysebirselseck.