Take Note with Rachel Schwartzmann
To celebrate the launch of our new journal, For Now, we're spotlighting creatives who take note of—and celebrate—the ordinary things in life. In our second installment, we hear from Rachel Schwartzmann, a writer, podcaster, and author based in Brooklyn, New York.
Rachel Schwartzmann likes to move slowly, but that wasn’t always the case. After experiencing career burnout, Schwartzmann recalibrated her relationship with pace and launched Slow Stories—a podcast that explores slowing down in our digital world.
Today, Schwartzmann remains committed to living, working, and creating with intention and only takes on projects with these ideas in mind. She’s currently working on her first book, SLOW STORIES, and has also written several pieces for the Ordinary Habit blog. Most recently, Schwartzmann lent her storytelling prowess to our new journal. “Writing is often a solitary practice, and this project underscored the importance of collaboration,” she shared.
Whether she’s creating something online or offline, one thing is clear: Schwartzmann pays attention. Below, she reflects on working with our team and shares more about her writing life.
How would you describe your relationship with writing?
It’s been a lifelong relationship with many twists and turns. My first literary dream was to write books. I filled several diaries with short stories and essays as a young girl. Later, I fell in love with magazines and wanted to pursue a career in fashion or lifestyle editorial. I’ve been fortunate to do both, but the digital age also took my writing ambitions in unexpected directions.
To make a long story short: I started a style Tumblr in high school, which eventually morphed into a boutique content company I ran for almost a decade (I scaled back in 2020). I now focus on Slow Stories, contributing to publications, and working on projects with like-minded brands.
You worked closely with our team to bring the For Now journal to life. How did this project impact your writing practice?
It’s been a joy to collaborate with Ordinary Habit over the years—working on For Now reinforced how aligned we are regarding our values and vision. I loved crafting the journal prompts and other storytelling/messaging points (alongside Echo and Teresa Hopkins). I think the biggest highlight was naming the journal itself!
Writing is often a solitary practice, and this project underscored the importance of collaboration. It also reminded me of details to consider when writing for an audience. What appeals to me might not resonate with others. Finding a balance between my individual preferences and the best route for the journaler was a humbling and necessary exercise.
How does writing bring you calm or clarity? What do you hope to build upon in your journaling habit?
Lately, it’s brought me more clarity than calm! I’m working on my first book, and through this process, I’ve learned so much about the kind of writer I am: a true slow storyteller.
It’s hard for me to stick to a regimented word count per day, and journaling helps when I’m struggling to meet a deadline or flesh out specific ideas. I hope to bring more structure to my writing, but I try to steer clear of solely prioritizing output. I know from experience that good things take time, patience, and attention.
What journaling prompt would you give to the Ordinary Habit community?
I ask this in all of my podcast interviews, and it always sparks reflection: What is a question you hope people will ask you more often?
What books inspire you to write? So many. There are instructional books like The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp. I also plan to (finally) read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron to kick off my thirtieth birthday. (Body Work by Melissa Febos is another one waiting patiently on my TBR stack, and I’m sure that’ll ignite a spark!) I recently read Everything, Beautiful by Ella Frances Sanders, The Book of Delights by Ross Gay, and Deborah Levy’s memoirs, all of which are stunning.
Do you journal in the morning or at night? I’m most inspired when there’s a ton of light in my space. Golden hour is the best!
What’s your ideal journaling environment? When I’m at home, and it’s quiet. I always need to be near a window.
What’s your go-to journaling tip for those just starting? There is no right or wrong way to journal. Write when it feels urgent, and write when it feels hard—even if it’s just a sentence or two. Putting pen to paper can unlock more than you ever imagined.