Writing Habits and Work-Life Balance

This week at the SFF Seven, we’re discussing work ethic and asking each other what we do to keep balanced and writing regularly?

Many of you already know I’m kind of a fiend for building a writing habit. That’s because, once I stopped resisting the idea and starting doing it – by writing every day at the same time every day – that habit carried me through all sorts of difficulties.

It still does.

For example, I’m on a plane as I type this, heading to WorldCon in Chicago. I was reading a novel (Lisa Klepas, Marrying Winterborne, highly recommend!) as the plane taxied and took off. Once we reached cruising altitude, I began to feel the prodding of habit. “Time to write!” it urges. So, I pulled out the laptop to write this blog post. Then I’ll turn to my draft of Shadow Wizard, which I need to get done.

Yes, I write every (weekday) morning. That’s how I can count on getting the book done.

Last week I visited family and there were many family goings on. There was some emotional stuff to deal with, aging parents and all that involves, and it threw me for the remainder of the week. I wasn’t productive. I was feeling stressed. I’d been knocked out of my routine by life, which is the way of life. It would be nice (in theory) if I lived in some hermitage or remote villa where all days flowed by as serene as my view of the Mediterranean Sea, but I don’t. I live in a beautiful place (no ocean) and my life is relatively even and peaceful, but I’m connected to people and life happens.

By the following Monday, I was able to slide back into my writing habit like a pair of comfortable yoga pants. Morning writing was waiting for me, restoring the necessary balance. It felt good. That’s the beauty of habit – it does all the hard work for you.

Keto Spiced Pumpkin Latte

001Longtime followers know of my mad love for Starbucks, and in particular for the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Hold on, all you pumpkin-spice haters – we know of your revulsion and we celebrate your difference. Go on with your bad selves. This is not the keto recipe you are looking for.

BUT, if you are like me – a person of exceptional taste and high standards – and lurv the Pumpkin Spice Latte AND if you also shudder at all that sugar, this is totally the recipe for you!

David and I have been doing the Ketogenic Diet since January 1. David wanted to do it for health reasons and I was willing to give it a try for weight loss. I’m happy to report that I’m at my lowest weight in five years. It’s also been great for my health overall – my energy levels are more even, I feel good. Even my teeth and gums are better.

Since I keep below 50 carbohydrates/day, and a grande Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte is 50g of carbs right there, having one simply isn’t an option. There are no “treat days” on the keto diet and, really, if you have too many carbs, it bumps you out of ketosis and then you get sugar cravings. Totally not worth it.

So, I set out to make my own! And I’m pretty pleased with the the results.


1 pie pumpkin
4 T butter
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
3 dry allspice berries
1 whole star anise pod
½ teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the pie pumpkin (smaller ones are sweeter and more tender) in half, scrape out the seeds and baste the insides with 1T butter. Fill glass baking dish with about 1/2″ water. Put the pumpkin in shell-side down and bake for ~15 min, to get it nicely browned. Then invert and bake another 30-45 minutes. Basically the pumpkin should be really tender when poked with a fork.

Scrape the cooked pumpkin into a food processor. Put the empty shells in the compost bin. 🙂 Melt 3 T butter. Process the pumpkin and the butter together. (You can use more or less butter, according to taste, but it adds to the richness of the flavor. And, if you’re doing keto, you want to bump up the good fat anyway.)  I had some nice buttery/roasted pumpkin leavings in the glass pan from the water baking down, so I scraped that up, diluted with a bit of water, and added that, too.

Spice to taste. I used this recipe and put in about half of what I made.

Blend all until smooth. You can sweeten the pumpkin batter with Stevia, but I prefer to sweeten the coffee. I kept the batter in the fridge for two weeks with no problem.

To make the latte, brew the coffee (or espresso, if you’re fancee). I have a frother that is the light of my morning. Because too much dairy gets to me, I use 1/2 cup soy milk in the frother, but you could use cream. Once it begins stirring, I drop in about three spoonfuls of my pumpkin batter. (I do both froth and heat.) Depends on how much pumpkin flavor you like! Then pour the finished blend into the coffee cup. Like I mentioned previously, I sweeten my coffee with Stevia first. I sprinkle a little of my pumpkin spice blend on top, for added aroma.

As one cup of pumpkin has 8 carbs and my pie pumpkin made about two cups, that makes the carb content negligible. Plus, it’s delicious and satisfies my pumpkin spice latte longing. Helluva lot cheaper, too!

And questions or modifications you’ve tried?