Friday, April 8, 2016

What Good Writers Do ~By Suzy Leopold

Showing up where you are with what you have is what good writers do.

Are you showing up where you are with what you have? 

In January, many writers set goals and resolutions when the 2016 calendar began. Perhaps it is time to revisit your set of writer’s goals.

Think about and check your list of short-term goals and your long-term SMART goals. Has your plan provided you with the results that you set out to achieve?

First Step: Set Goals
Second Step: Get to Work
Third Step: Stick to It
Fourth Step: Make a Plan
Fifth Step: Achieve
If your established plan is working, celebrate your accomplishments both big and small. Perhaps there are some areas where you can improve. Adjust as need be. For more information see a previous post Ready or Not. It's Time to Show Up.

As I look back on the first three months of 2016, I note there are some days when I stumble with the Third Step: Stick to It. Sometimes just sticking to my plan and sitting down to begin writing is all it takes. 

It’s easier to make unacceptable excuses for not writing today:

It must be writer’s block.
I’m waiting for inspiration to strike.
I don’t want to stare at this blank page.

No excuses allowed. Stop the stagnation. Dismiss negative thoughts that zap your productivity. Surround yourself with positive thoughts and find determination. Sure, there will be some days when you skip and stumble a step or two when  writing does not happen. It's okay. Take small steps and move forward without being critical of yourself. Think about what works best for you and your writing career.

There are many days when I feel I can justify my unacceptable excuses for not sticking to it. Yet, I know I need to believe in my voice and learn to ward off the urge to procrastinate. 

Making time to write is both a matter of desire as it is discipline. It takes determination. 

Writing can be compared to exercise. You feel better once you’ve done it.  
Created by my
Cousin Sheri McCulley Seibold
If inspiration is eluding you consider crafting a new story. Select an idea you wrote down during Tara Lazar's PiBoIdMo Writing Challenge. Feel accomplished after revising a manuscript. Refer to a stack of books as mentor texts from the research that you did during ReFoReMo, with Carrie Charley Brown. Participate in Angie Karcher's RhyPiBoMo that she hosts this month. Writers will grow and learn from the many resources, lessons and writing prompts. 

Write a blog post about a recently read book about the craft of writing that you found inspiring. Set a timer and chase after your daily word count. Consider establishing some agreed upon rules, expectations and most importantly accountability with a critique partner or group. By checking in with a writerly friend, I feel I can do a better job of holding myself accountable to my promises and aspirations than just checking in with myself. Perhaps heading to your local indie book store or the public library you will find some ideas and inspiration, along with time to read and write.
Time to revise & edit.
A stack of mentor texts.
One more thought. Take your writing serious. Make sure you go to work because this is your job. Your boss does not accept excuses for lack of inspiration, for feeling tired, for not showing up nor other lame excuses that you can think of. And don't forget the importance of having a set of business cards. This is your career.
Business cards
So grab your writer’s tools: a computer, a journal, a pen or a pencil, a highlighter, a dictionary, a thesaurus, a stack of mentor texts, a cup of hot tea and turn on some music to find your muse. You can do it! Yes, you can!
Would you like some sugar or
a slice of lemon with your tea?
One thousand crumby words on paper are better than one hundred thousand fabulous words that are in your head.

Make writing a habit and you’ll see improvement in you writing.

A writer writes. Write, always.


  1. Great reminder, Suzy! I need to reconsider my goals and see if I'm on track.

    1. Tina: You where many hats as a busy momma, wife and teacher. Yet, you still find time to share your love of literacy in all that you do. All the best with your writing as you continue to stay on track.

  2. Thanks, Suzy! And really perfect timing! I'm a bit out of balance right now, so this will put me back on track. I really struggle with #3: Stick to It. There are so many people to help that my own writing often gets left behind. I am learning to set limits and think back to #1. Recently, I've felt so far away from my purpose that I've just felt like giving up. Of course, that happens to every writer. The challenge lies in getting back on the horse, but if we do, then we might gallop on into the sunset of our dreams. Thanks so much for the ReFoReMo mention. Kirsti and I are thrilled that it helped so many! Best wishes as you write and revise!

    1. Thank YOU, Carrie! You are very giving with your time, energy, and knowledge as you share your love of literacy with the kid lit community. You and Kirsti, and Janie, too, are appreciated for creating another successful ReFoReMo 2016 writing challenge. You are correct--as creatives we have our moments of self doubt. It can be so easy to lose our writer's focus and desire and just give up. YOU have stories that must be written and told.

  3. Dear Suzy, Thank you for these wise words. (And now, I must go, my boss is waiting!)

    1. My pleasure, Chris, to share some words of encouragement with writerly friends. Hopefully, Cheddar [aka your boss ; )] is keeping you on track as you continue to stick to it and continue to achieve with your writing.

  4. Yes! And as my husband always says (because he lives in the metrics world), set a monthly check-in date to assess your progress and revise your goals, accordingly. This keeps you current and focused. Thanks for a great post! Cheers to achieving our goals!

    1. Your husband's monthly check-in date is an excellent idea, Jilanne. Thank you for sharing. Together we can achieve our goals.

  5. I've been listening to Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert this week, and I love her take on inspiration. She feels that inspiration is an actual entity that goes in search of a partner to bring it to life. You need to practice being open to inspiration, actively looking for it and recognizing when it comes along. When that happens, commit to it fully, and work as hard as you can to bring it to life. That is the point where I'm falling down this year. Like Carrie, I'm having trouble with #3 and need to persevere.

    1. Sounds like Elizabeth Gilbert is speaking great words of wisdom, Patty. Thank you for sharing the importance of being open to inspiration. Together we can walk hand and hand as we continue to persevere with step #3.

  6. Inspirational post, Suzy! Love your biz cards!

    1. Thank you, Kathy, for finding some time to read and comment. I know you have been on the go with all of your many writerly activities with kids and presentations.

      My Cousin Sheri Berry made the business cards for me. Each of the books has a title of manuscript that I wrote.

  7. Great post, Suzy. Showing up at the page is so important - even if you practice the same thing every day for a week...

    1. Your continued support of the GROG Blog is appreciated, Sue. May you continue to find success with your writing as you "show up at the page"every day.