author gabrielle korn wearing pink dress

The Ritual Diaries: Gabrielle Korn

02.08.2024 — The Frenshe Editors

Gabrielle Korn is a writer living in Los Angeles. Her new novel, Yours for the Taking, imagines a not-too-distant future in which climate change has rendered much of New York City uninhabitable. Only a select few are approved to live within The Inside Project, a billionaire-helmed weatherproof indoor city designed to be a utopia for women. (Spoiler alert: It isn’t.) The book is a can’t-put-it-down saga about survival, queer relationships, chosen family, and the corporate co-opting of feminist ideals—in other words, a must-read. Here, Gabrielle shares the rituals that help her feel grounded, from nature hikes to getting the lighting just right.

gabrielle korn in los angeles
gabrielle korn with california poppies
gabrielle korn writing on sofa

What is the first thing you do in the morning?

I try not to spend too much time in bed when I wake up looking at my phone, but… I’m only human. I do this until my eyes adjust to being alive and then I drink one to two cups of coffee in the kitchen and eat breakfast. I make a big batch of chia seed pudding and eat it with whatever berries are in season. Mornings are hard so it helps me to do the same thing every day. I am basically mute until the appropriate amount of coffee is consumed, but weirdly I do have a lot of creative energy before I’m fully awake, so I often get good writing or revisions done while I’m caffeinating. Something about the space between dreaming and waking, when I can’t be too overly critical of my work and just have unfiltered ideas, is very productive for me. I wrote a lot of my novel, Yours for the Taking, during this time of day.

How has your upbringing and environment shaped your understanding of wellness?

Both of my parents work in healthcare — my dad is a retired ER doctor and my mom is a social worker, so I feel like I was raised with a reasonable understanding of the importance of being physically and mentally healthy. I’ve found living in LA much more conducive to balance than NYC was; here, it feels like it’s part of the culture to take care of yourself in a way that’s really nice.

What makes you feel your best?

A good night’s sleep (I’m a nine-hours-or-nothing kind of girl) and exercise. That mind/body connection is real. I either stream a workout from The Salt Drop or I walk around the Silver Lake Reservoir, or, if I have nothing else to do, both. Also, ice cream. 

Not to sound cliché but I do think health really is about balance.

Gabrielle Korn

What has been the hardest part of your wellness journey—and how do you deal with it?

Speaking of sleep, though it’s the thing I value most, I’ve always struggled with insomnia. Not falling asleep, but staying asleep throughout the night. I have a therapist and a psychiatrist and am constantly working on it. It gets worse when I’m stressed, so it’s kind of a stress management issue, which sometimes you can control and sometimes you can’t. I’ve tried everything. I didn’t do a lot of sleeping during my recent book tour, and at a certain point I just had to accept that it wasn’t going to happen until I was home. 

What is something you would like to see more of in the wellness world?

I would love to see more ways to make fitness more approachable for people. I think getting into a regular workout routine can be really intimidating for people — especially if you’re not already a certain body type or don’t own expensive leggings. Seems like a wide-open space that someone should snag. Free idea! 

What is a must-have step or product in your routine?

I use my LED light mask every day. It’s one of the few skin care things where I totally believe in the science and the hype. It doesn’t prevent breakouts, but it absolutely makes them clear up quicker, and heals dark spots faster. And you only need to do it for three minutes, so I put it on after the shower and use that time to force myself to remember to moisturize my body.

How do you define ‘healthy’?

Not to sound cliché but I do think health really is about balance. Making sure your body is getting everything it needs — food, water, exercise, sunlight, fresh air — and also that your internal state is regulated as well. 

What is something you look forward to every day?

I really love the end of the day. For the first time in my life I live somewhere that I can see the sunset from my couch, and I try not to miss it. I usually read for about an hour after I finish up work and then Wallace (my wife) and I make dinner together and watch TV. It’s a really nice routine. Wallace is really committed to lighting candles and dimming the lights in the evening. She’s good at vibes. 

How do you reset yourself after a difficult moment?

I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t avoid those difficult feelings, so I try to face them head on, feel everything. I’m really good at also just like, staying in my pajamas and not leaving my house until I feel ready. When I got laid off a couple years ago, I lay in my backyard listening to smutty novels for a month. It helped! 

What is a ritual that brings you joy?

On weekends, we go on a hike and then go to Erewhon for ridiculous smoothies as a reward. It’s the best. 

What is the last thing you do at night?

 I tell my wife I love her, and turn on the sound machine.

Top photograph: Lindsey Byrnes

The Frenshe Editors