What To Do When You're Worried Your Writing Idea Isn't Serious Enough

Mar 07, 2020

Dear Writerly Woman,

What was the first story you remember loving as a kid?

Mine was Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel.

In fact, my love of Frog and Toad led me to one of my most egregious acts as a kid. I checked it out of the library and never brought it back!!!

To understand the true impact of this, you must understand that I am an epic rule follower. When I was a kid I got a knot in my stomach any time another kid broke a rule or did something dangerous.

I absolutely did not want to get in trouble, and yet...Little Emma loved this book so much she couldn't let it go.

I remember the feeling of reading it. It was pure comfort. I read it over and over again. I loved those two little hilarious characters. I loved grumpy Toad and optimistic Frog. I loved the pictures of Toad in his funny swimming costume. I read that book again and again.

I love writers like Arnold Lobel, because he had the creative courage to pursue his dream. 

He had an idea other people might have...

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What To Do When Your Writing Idea Changes

Feb 29, 2020

Dear Writerly Woman,

I went on a road trip last week, driving north through California. I went to a rest stop, and when I got out of the car, I saw a beautiful scene.

The eucalyptus trees were shining in the sun, and there were trees in blossom behind them.

I thought the blossoming trees were cherries, but when I did a little research I discovered they were almond trees. There were miles and miles of blossoming almond farms on my drive.

When I started writing this post, I was going to write about special moments of beauty like this, but now I'm thinking about the climate and the impact almond farms have on water usage.

So now I want to write about the strange dichotomies in life, the Both/Ands. How almond farms are BOTH beautiful AND hard on the environment.

And isn't this so representative of the writing life? You start with a plan, get into it, follow your curiosity, and then your plan wants to change.

I used to find these moments challenging, because I thought creative...

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What To Do When You Don't Know What To Write

Feb 21, 2020

Dear Writerly Woman,

 

"I don't know what to write."

 

This is the first sentence I write almost every time I write anything - a post, a blog, a story, a novel, anything.

 

When I'm looking at a blank page I often don't know what say, but I do know the only way to get past that is to admit it.

 

I write, "I don't know what to write." 

 

Then I write some things about my feelings and my day. I write truths. I write about the view out my window or the funny thing a friend told me, and then eventually I find myself writing something I actually want to write.

 

All the truths are like little rocks on a path I follow until one brings me to a place I want to be, and then a real writing piece emerges. I always delete the beginning stuff, but with gratitude for where it brought me.

 

I think not knowing what to write is one of the biggest challenges of writing. You might have an idea, but when the blank page stares at you it's hard to think of...

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What Would Be Easier?

Feb 14, 2020
Dear Writerly Woman,
 
I grew up in the Boston area, where the culture was super into toughing things out. The tougher you were, the more social points you got. So, even when you could make things a little nicer for yourself or a little easier, you just wouldn't, because that meant you were soft.
 
But here's the thing about me. I AM soft. I have a tender heart. I don't carry a hard shell around my emotions. I love it when things feel cozy. I always prefer the nice hotel rooms with those amazing bathrobes. I always want the sweet view.
 
But I grew up in a culture where my softness was considered weakness, and so I spent years trying to make myself tough things out when I could've made things much, much easier on myself.
 
Have you ever experienced this? When you knew you could make something easier, but you didn't, on purpose, because you thought that would be weak?
 
I don't know about for you, but for me, this pattern was exhausting. The more I toughed...
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I Can't Wait To See What You Do Next!

Dec 31, 2019

Dear Writerly Woman,

When it comes to writing, here is what I know for sure:

You get to focus on whatever writing idea makes you come alive.

You get to work on lots of ideas at once, if that is what brings joy to your heart.

You get to focus on only one idea, if that is what makes your heart sing.

You get to do the idea that makes you the most happy, even if it doesn't guarantee financial success.

You get to do the idea that makes you the most interested, even if it doesn't interest your partner, best-friend, or parents.

You get to focus on the writing ideas that light you up, because I guarantee there are other people in the world who would also be lit up by these ideas.

You get to do writing ideas that will challenge you, ideas that mean you will have to learn and grow as a person and writer to make them happen.

You get to call in all the resources you need to bring your idea into fruition.

You get to take the class, the workshop, or the program you know will help make your...

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What I had to unlearn about writing after being an English Major

Dec 29, 2019

Dear Writerly Woman,

When I was in college I was an English Major. I wrote paper after paper after paper. Being an English Major is like being a paper writing machine. One after the next is assigned, and you write each one as quickly as you can in order to get it in by the deadline.

I would stress and worry about each paper, but after I turned it in I would forget about it. I’d forget until I got it handed back to me, marked up in red pen, highlighting all the mistakes I had made.

This process certainly helped me with the technical aspects of writing. It taught me about grammar and sentence structure. It taught me about how to prove a point concisely and well. These are highly valuable skills, and I don’t regret being an English Major.

However, as a writer nowadays, I can see that my English Major education left out an essential aspect of the craft. It never included the joy of writing.

I never got good marks for getting so deeply into the creative flow while writing that...

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What My Great-Grandmother's Diary Taught Me About Writing

Dec 26, 2019

Dear Writerly Woman,

My great-grandmother wrote in her diary every day for most of her life.

When she passed away she had hundreds of journals on display in a beautiful bookcase in her living room.

Every member of our family could go to that bookcase, open a journal to their birthday, and find a note about how they were born on that day.

When I was 14, my family went on a road trip from our Boston suburb to the tiny rural town in Michigan where my great-grandmother had lived.

We visited her farm house, where her daughter now lived. This was the house with the very special bookcase. I remember pouring over those diaries. I picked them up and read as many words as I could.

The first of the journals started in the early 1900's. They contained pages and pages of what it was like to be a wife and mother on a farm in Michigan.

She wrote about doing the laundry without a washing machine. As a teenager in the 90's I was blown away at the...

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How Your Voice Could Change The World

Dec 24, 2019

Dear Writerly Woman,

One of the reasons I am so passionate about helping you become a woman who writes is that I wholeheartedly believe the world will be better when your voice is in it.

I don't know about you, but when I was growing up I was taught my voice was a nuisance.

I heard a lot about how I talked too much, laughed too loud, asked too many questions, needed too much help, cried too much....and on and on and on.

The basic message was - "Hey you, your voice is a big annoyance."

As part of my healing as a grownup, I've learned that far from being an annoyance, my voice is both needed and wanted in the world.

As an adult, when I've found kindred spirit friends, they wondered why I didn't talk more. When I've had good bosses, they've asked me to say more in meetings. When I started blogging for my ideal audience, they wanted to read more of what I had to say.

This was huge for me, because I always believed I needed to get myself to talk less in...

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Behind the Scenes of My Writing Process!

Dec 20, 2019

Dear Writerly Woman,

Today, I'm sitting at my desk and writing to you while looking out my window at the magnolia tree in front of the building next door.

The sky is bright blue above the wintery browning leaves that wave slightly in the breeze.

My writing desk is my favorite place in my apartment. It's cozy and sweet. I have just the right monitor, keyboard, table lamp, and view.

It's taken a while to get to this point with my space. I've tried all the other possibilities this small apartment offers, like the bed, the couch, and the little desk in the bedroom. But this is the one, because it offers two very important things.

One is that I can sit comfortably. I need to be physically comfortable while I write, so my back and neck don't ache. If they do start aching it becomes hard to stay sitting at the keyboard.

The other is that I can easily see something natural from where I'm sitting. When I write, I take long pauses to stare out the window and think....

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How to Become a Writer

Dec 11, 2019

Dear Writerly Woman,

You have truths inside of you that you want to express through writing, but you struggle because you're afraid of getting squashed by other people's criticism.

You have been shown your whole life that when you share your truth, you get squashed.

You get weird looks. You get shamed. You get shut down.

You have practiced, very diligently, hiding your voice, because it's just too damn vulnerable to put yourself out there.

But there's a problem. You know in your heart the path to a fulfilling life involves writing. So NOT writing is incredibly painful. 

You feel stuck between your soul's desire to write and your intense fear of writing, and you don't know what to do about it.

I’m not going to lie, this is a tough situation. Being stuck between the desire to create and the desire to stay creatively safe is not fun.

It’s like you have this golden light in your belly – this desire to write. You are walking on a path,...

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