How to Make Your Kidlit Career Success Inevitable

How to Make Your Kidlit Career Success Inevitable

What does kidlit career success look like to you? The first question I ask students when we start a new book publishing project at Society of Young Inklings is: What will make you feel like a published author?

At first, they might tilt their head in confusion, or they might grin and say, “When I sell a million books!”

Then, when we dig deeper, we find that they might hope for:

  • Seeing a reader with their nose buried deep in the book
  • Giving a book talk at their favorite bookstore — with readers in the crowd asking genuine questions
  • Reading a real (and positive) review from someone other than their mom or best friend

Over time, I’ve learned many lessons from these conversations, lessons that I’ve taken to heart with regard to my own writing career.

Here are three reasons to paint a clear picture for yourself of kidlit career success:

1. A vague definition of success leads to dissatisfaction.

When we set out to achieve a goal, a misty idea of “I don’t know what I want, all the good things,” can lift our hearts and spark our imaginations. As the prism of possibilities shifts into shape after shape, excitement shivers through us. Ooh, and maybe this might happen. Or maybe that …

Later on, that same openness leads us to say, “Yeah, that happened, but what about …” The minute we cross one finish line, we dismiss it because we’re now focused on the next. Or, we obsess over one beyond-our-control goal—say, winning the Newbery, and instead of taking action, we wait and wish and ultimately, give in to discouragement. Who did I think I was, anyway?

2. Clear goals, within our control, focus our efforts (and the efforts of our supporters).

When we know that success might look like giving a book talk at our favorite bookstore, we can then identify the challenges between where we are now, and where we want to end up. Maybe we need to practice answering questions on the fly, or we need to network to find someone who knows the bookstore owner.

Also, when people ask us how they can help, our answers are more specific. Maybe we’d appreciate our friends and family ordering the book in that particular bookstore, so that our title is top-of-mind when we follow up with our ask. Perhaps we’d prefer that they put their energy toward saving the date for our event, and inviting a friend.

3. Success feels more meaningful in small, relational moments, rather than in pie-in-the-sky impersonal wins.

What will it feel like when your 10,000th book sells? Will you even know it happened? How about receiving a fan letter from a reader who was so inspired by your book that they started writing their own? Or, what if your writing mentor reaches out, completely out of the blue, to tell you how much they loved your book and how proud they are of you?

Sales goals, winning a big award, or landing a movie deal, may seem like meaningful goals. However, in my day-to-day experience, letters from readers and feedback from people I admire have a bigger impact on my overall happiness and motivation to keep writing.

Here’s what dreaming and then achieving a specific success looks like:

At a recent kidlit night out, I found myself beaming as I told my author friends, “Society of Young Inklings is collaborating on a contest with Stone Soup!”

I’ve loved Stone Soup magazine since I was a young girl. For me, designing video lessons and teaching on camera to help youth put their best foot forward when entering a big-deal writing contest is exactly what success looks like. In fact, about ten years ago I wrote my dreams, defining what success as a kidlit author and as founder of Society of Young Inklings might look like. Working with Stone Soup was high on the list.

What does kidlit career success look like for you?

Try this. List all your dream scenarios, even the one about sailing away on a yacht and never working another day in your life. It won’t take much more than a scratch beneath the surface to get to the substantial dreams, the ones that truly light you up. You may even realize that you’ve been measuring your success against a goal that isn’t your heart’s desire. I mean, if you could sail away on that yacht, how long would you sleep and sunbathe before becoming a little restless? At what point might you start dreaming up your next novel?

Inspire us! Share items on your success bucket list, because you know your ideas will spark all of our creativity and resourcefulness. You never know, by putting it out there in the world for all to see, you may just take the next leap toward that dream.

In any case, if you share tag me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram so I can support you and cheer you on.

The Difference Between Creativity and Ideas

The Difference Between Creativity and Ideas

Have you said (or thought) something like this recently?

“I have plenty of ideas. I don’t need more creativity.”

“Creativity isn’t the issue for me. What I need is progress.”

“Creativity is actually my biggest problem. I’m always chasing whatever is shiny and new and never finishing.”

If so, you aren’t alone. I’ve been hearing this sentiment from writer friends and students often over the past several months.

I’ll be honest. When I started hearing these comments, I felt flummoxed. What in the world did these writers mean: “I don’t need creativity?” Fortunately, I was stunned speechless. Instead of arguing my own point of view, I listened to their explanations.

They continued:

“I need to develop my writing craft—you know, character arc, subtext, tone, things like that.”

“I’m trying to be more consistent about writing regularly.”

“I’m studying other writers’ work and learning from them.”

Okay, I thought. We’re clearly defining creativity differently. To me, creativity is the full set of emotional, intellectual, artistic, and physical skills required for starting, developing, problem-solving, and finishing a project. For others, creativity seemed more narrowly focused on starting a new project or generating new ideas.

I would have left the point unchallenged—I call it creativity, you call it something else. However, many of these same writers added:

“I don’t need to play. I need to work harder.”

Nope.

If the issue were semantics, I’d accept that creativity is a word that has lost its richer meaning because of how often it’s thrown around these days. I’d find a different word to capture the robust set of skills writers need to thrive artistically.

However, if the underlying assumption is that growth comes through clenched fists, gritted teeth, and painful effort, I absolutely must object. These writers are getting in their own way. The most likely result from “trying” to achieve something is to try for years and years. Or in other words, you spend so much time trying, you never do the thing you mean to do.

Here’s an example.

I’m not a natural actor. So, when I started my BFA in Acting, I buried my nose in books. I could have elaborated ten different ways to show a character’s thoughts and emotions through gesture. I understood the concept so well, I orchestrated my movements. As a result, I resembled a hula dancer running through planned movements rather than a real person reacting to my scene partners. My effort kept me from letting go. Over time, I discovered what that whoosh of moving into true creative space felt like, and slowly learned to get out of my own way.

I learned the way most actors do: through play.

When I say I learned through play, I mean I learned to breathe, walk, speak, memorize, and more through games. I also gained my understanding of character motivation, relationships, action, reaction, gesture, pacing and other advanced story concepts by stepping into creative space and following a game where it led. I did read many books which prepared my mind. However, on their own, the books never would have been enough. The games were where my learning experiences—from basic concepts to nuanced discoveries—actualized.

As writers, we don’t learn our craft this way.

We learn to read, analyze, ask questions, think, form sentences, shape characters, worlds, and plots. We learn to think as a writer. Unless we’re very fortunate, no one teaches us to step into creative space, to let go. If we are taught to let go, it’s in the context of brainstorming or generating ideas. Once it’s time to revise, receive feedback, learn new skills, or problem-solve, we settle into our writer’s chair and let our intellect run the show.

Thus, when we hit a block, such as discovering our characters are hula dancing instead of transforming into living, breathing characters on the page, our minds kick into overdrive. We make plans, set goals, toss around accusations about all the ways we’re failing, bully ourselves into working hard.

If you’re learning writing craft, strengthening your writing consistency, analyzing strategies in masterworks, building your courage for receiving feedback, or developing other challenging creativity skills, first of all, you’re on the right track. You’re tackling the meta skills that go far beyond the current book you’re writing. In the same way that actors learn to breathe and walk, you’re mastering foundational tools that show up every time you write, whether you think about them or not. Secondly, to move these skills from your mind into your subconscious, you must practice them.

One way to practice, of course, is to write.

 

However, many writers are in the habit of writing with their minds. They labor over each sentence and word, rarely losing themselves in the practice or the flow of the story. Two problems emerge. First, the story lacks the energy and passion the writer knows it can have. Second, the writer’s creative skill set languishes. Stamina, courage, spontaneity, vulnerability—to name a few—simply don’t grow at the rate they might otherwise.

Another way to practice is to play.

Games offer quick application opportunities. They offer a low-resistance way into tasks that are otherwise “hard work.” When you play a game, you often spontaneously find yourself opening up and tapping into vulnerable places in your heart. In short, play takes you where you need to go quickly, effectively, and deeply.

Especially when you are frustrated, stretched for time, or blocked, I realize that opening up to play can be a stretch. To begin, I recommend choosing a simple game, giving yourself a quick win against a significant pain point.

Here are a few games you might like to try:

Tap Into the Heart of Your Story

Experiment with Options for your Next Scene

Quick Storyboard Your Plot for a Big-Picture View

Writerly Play Activity Collection – Make the Most of Feedback

Writerly Play Activity Collection – Make the Most of Feedback

Whether we love feedback or hate it, we all eventually must decide …

How do we make the most of it?

Especially when our emotions are high, it’s helpful to have a way to approach reflection, decision-making, and next steps. No matter your style, you’ll find an activity in this collection that will help you take the next round of creative feedback you receive and apply it effectively to your work.

The art of giving and receiving feedback is one of the cornerstone skills developed in the Writerly Play Cafe.

The Writerly Play Cafe, like the other Writerly Play rooms, is designed to help creatives separate their thinking into distinct steps. By knowing the purpose of a thinking task, we can utilize activities toward stronger results.

Choose the activity that best fits your creativity style. Not sure what your style is? Take the quick quiz and find out.

ACTIVITIES

Pin the Heart on the Problem

FOR INVENTORS

List the issues raised and then use “Why …?” to narrow in on the heart of the problem.

Try This

The Question Queue

FOR ARCHITECTS

Line up your questions and address them one by one in this structured revision approach.

Try This

And Down the Stretch they Come

FOR SPECIAL AGENTS

Choose the frontrunner issues and tackle them head-on with a quick-listing exercise.

Try This

Scramble and Sort

FOR COLLABORATORS

After collecting feedback, scramble and sort it into new categories so the group can help the writer choose a starting place for a revision.

Try This

Develop Creative Thinking Skills with the Writerly Play Kit

Develop Creative Thinking Skills with the Writerly Play Kit

Psst! If you haven’t yet subscribed to the Writerly Play Kit, you’re missing out! Issued monthly, the WP Kit is a collection of activities, book recommendations, and other inspiration to help you develop creative thinking by focusing on a single skill.

Why one specific skill?

As is true for building physical muscles, you can develop creative thinking mastery much more efficiently when you’re intentional. When you focus on one skill, you:

  • progress more quickly with less friction
  • build momentum and the confidence that comes with success
  • make that skill a habit so that you can turn your focus elsewhere without losing ground

Wait … Creativity is a skill?

Yep, actually creative thinking is a collection of skills. A commonly held misbelief is that people are either creative or not. If I had a penny for every time someone has told me they’re “just not a creative person,” I’m pretty sure I could buy a private jet. One reason this myth is so prevalent, in my opinion, is that people focus on one aspect of creativity when they measure their capacity. So, they might think of creativity as the ability to generate a giant collection of ideas, or to craft a well-told story, or think quickly on the spot.

This narrow thinking often creates one of two problems.

First, a person might not be good at that thing. Maybe they struggle to come up with even three ideas, or they always figure out what they should have said hours after the moment has passed. Thus, they conclude that they aren’t a creative person without noticing other skills they DO have that are also key to creative thinking.

Second, a person may have a strength in one of these areas. When they’re asked to be creative, they play only this one note. When the process moves on to another stage, they may not have the next skill needed, and they get stuck. They may undervalue the importance of developing their creativity because they don’t realize that they are actually bumping repeatedly into a weakness in their overall skill set.

The way to develop creative thinking is through marginal gains.

In his book, Atomic Habits, James Clear shares the concept of marginal gains. Basically, when you improve through marginal gains, you make tiny changes, changes that might seem insignificant on their own. However, taken together, the collection of changes lead to overwhelming transformation. Becoming better at asking questions may not feel significant at first, but taken together with an improved ability to identify problems and generate ideas about possible solutions, soon you start to see fresh, exciting creativity coming to life in your world.

What are your strengths when it comes to creativity? How about areas that get in your way? What if you had clear, step-by-step strategies and a bookshelf of tools to overcome those challenges?

That’s exactly what the Writerly Play Kit is here to do for you.

So what are you waiting for?

Writerly Play Activity Collection – Storyboard Your Manuscript Your Way

Writerly Play Activity Collection – Storyboard Your Manuscript Your Way

No matter your creativity style, a storyboard will give you perspective.

If you’re an Inventor, you might struggle with a storyboard because it feels too structured. If you’re a Special Agent, you might feel like it’s a waste of time. If you’re an Architect, it might feel too “artsy.” Collaborators tend to love storyboards because they are visual, playful, and a helpful tool when creatives are working together.

Even if a storyboard isn’t your normal approach, I encourage you to take a look at these four different approaches to structuring your story idea visually. Use them, adapt them, experiment, and ultimately, save yourself tons of time by stepping back from your project and getting the perspective you need.

Structuring ideas is one of the cornerstone skills developed in the Writerly Play Workshop.

The Writerly Play Workshop, like the other Writerly Play rooms, is designed to help creatives separate their thinking into distinct steps. By knowing the purpose of a thinking task, we can utilize activities toward stronger results.

Here is a collection of Writerly Play approaches to storyboarding. Choose the activity that best fits your creativity style. Not sure what your style is? Take the quick quiz and find out.

ACTIVITIES

Storyboard Like a Detective

FOR INVENTORS

Define the scenario, collect clues, and ultimately, resolve your questions. Capture your thinking on your storyboard.

Try This

Storyboard Like an Animator

FOR COLLABORATORS

Use the Hero’s Journey to structure your storyboard discussion with a collaborator.

Try This

Storyboard Like a Reporter

FOR ARCHITECTS

Structure your thinking about a project with a reporter’s questions. Use your discoveries to shape your storyboard.

Try This

Storyboard Like a Coach

FOR SPECIAL AGENTS

Run a few quick scenarios for your idea and then choose a game plan for your storyboard.

Try This

How to Improvise: A Book Flight

How to Improvise: A Book Flight

For a long time, I didn’t understand improvisation. I thought it was the art of being hilarious on the spot, and the thought terrified me. When I (finally) dared to learn more about improv, I learned that improvisation was, in fact, terrifying, but not for the reasons I first believed. To improvise well, a player must let go and step into the unknown. In improv, we must listen to our fellow players, say yes to their ideas and add our own.

Improv taught me that play invites us to see past our masks and defenses to the truth of who we are. In spontaneous flashes, we tap into our intuition and discover that we know a lot more about the human experience than we might at first believe. Once I saw the transformative power of improvisation, I was hooked. I’ve been studying the art of improv ever since. 

This book flight offers a variety of perspectives on the art of improv. The four titles include activities, games, stories, and of course, wisdom from master teachers on the art of saying, “Yes, and …” While I love each of these books individually, I love the four together even more, because of the ways they spark up against and illuminate one another.

How to Improvise: A Book Flight

Improvisation for the Theatre by Viola Spolin

When I encountered Viola Spolin’s thinking, and then put those principles into practice while training at Piven Theatre Workshop, my trajectory as an artist transformed. Spolin taught me to stop trying and to start experiencing. She taught me the value of opening my hands and letting go, rather than insisting on controlling the creative process. Through her instruction, I learned that developing a player’s mindset takes practice, and that the time invested is entirely worthwhile. Improvisation for the Theatre contains a wealth of wisdom on the craft of creativity and the art of wholehearted living. No matter your art form, this book is a must-read (and re-read!)

Learn more here.

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It For Life by Twyla Tharp

When I think of improvisation, my thoughts first go to acting games or quick-drafting exercises. Twyla Tharp offers an entirely different vantage point as she describes improvisation from a choreographer’s point of view. So much is the same, and yet, the slightly different perspective helps me see my own work in new light.

Learn more here.

How to Draw a Clam by Joy Sikorski

Filled with drawing prompts, adventure prompts, and games, this book is entirely unlike any book you’ve seen before. What struck me is how Joy Sikorski teaches the reader, without ever explicitly saying so, how to improvise your way through life. Flipping through this small book infuses my day with spontaneity and joy.

Learn more here.

Pippi in the South Seas by Astrid Lindgren

Remember Pippi? When I thought about what fiction I wanted to include in the improvisation book flight, Pippi and her red braids came immediately to mind. This book is an excellent example of what it might look life to live a life filled with “yes, and …” thinking. When I find myself in need of a reminder to lighten up and be a little more adventurous, I tap into my inner Pippi Longstocking and dive exuberantly into my day.

Learn more here.

If you pick up the books in this flight, I’d love to hear what you think. Try out some of the improv activities, and let me know how they go. And please share your ideas for other titles that ought to be part of this flight. I’m always on the hunt for an excellent read. Tag me on Twitter or Instagram, and let’s chat. Happy reading!

Writerly Play Activity Collection: Improvise Your Way to the Page

Writerly Play Activity Collection: Improvise Your Way to the Page

Improvisation saves writers time.

Many writers are actually improvising when they write their first drafts. They following their spontaneity and intuition where it leads as they make their way from scene to scene. However, writing scenes takes a lot longer than playing through them in a visualization, or moving through them in a quick improv game. 

Plus, when playing an improv game, players are more likely to tap into a playful state of mind. Play can be elusive when working with words on a page. When drafting, it’s easy to listen to our inner critic and begin to re-read and revise as we go. That critical mindset blocks the intuitive flow that is so essential in a first draft. Thus, improvising not only saves you time by helping you experiment with options faster, but also by helping you avoid the mental wrestling match between your critical and creative mindsets.

The art of improvisation is one of the cornerstone skills developed in the Writerly Play Studio.

The Writerly Play Studio, like the other Writerly Play rooms, is designed to help creatives separate their thinking into distinct steps. By knowing the purpose of a thinking task, we can utilize activities toward stronger results.

In this set of Writerly Play activities, we’ll look at four ways creative thinkers of different styles might tap into the power of improvisation, while also playing to their strengths.

Choose the activity that best fits your creativity style. Not sure what your style is? Take the quick quiz and find out.

ACTIVITIES

The Who, What, & Where Experiment

FOR ARCHITECTS

Use this structured improv game to experiment with options for your next scene.

Try This

Step Into Your Character's Shoes

FOR INVENTORS

Take on your character’s mindset and play through a scene in a variety of ways in this improv game for writers.

Try This

Improvised Storytelling

FOR COLLABORATORS

Create a collaborative scene with a partner, using their questions to help you better understand your main character’s point of view.

Try This

Improvise the Highlights

FOR SPECIAL AGENTS

Use this quick-thinking improv game to identify key moments in your scene and shortcut the experimentation process.

Try This

Journey to Your Writer’s Heart: A Book Flight

Journey to Your Writer’s Heart: A Book Flight

From my MFA residencies and decades of SCBWI conferences, the largest takeaway has always been to write from my heart. Like most wisdom, this advice is simple but not easy. Sometimes, my subconscious battles me when I try to dip into a story that holds rich meaning for me. Other times, I think I’m writing from my heart, but I discover that I’ve been playing a game of smoke and mirrors. I’ve skirted around my heart, but I haven’t deeply connected.

The journey to find our artist’s heart is not a one-time ordeal. It’s a life journey, one that is traveled in multiple parts. The three titles I’ve chosen for this flight have served as companions to me on that journey, urging me on toward courage, and lighting my way in the dark. I highly recommend each individually. I also encourage you: consider reading the three as a flight, allowing their ideas and insights to illuminate one another.

Journey to Your Writer’s Heart: A Book Flight

 

The Wanderer by Sharon Creech

 The fun in a book flight is not only each book on its own, but the way the books spark against one another, creating unexpected insights and urging your thinking “farther up and further in,” as C.S. Lewis might say.

Like many books, The Wanderer is a Hero’s Journey, which is part of what I love about it. Beyond that, I love how this coming-of-age story taps into the role memories play in our lives. It’s a lens that encourages me to look at my own life and the meaning I give to my own memories. When read back-to-back in this flight, the book becomes an even more illuminating metaphor, a map that guides me toward my writer’s heart. Learn more here.

The Hero is You by Kendra Levin

Longtime readers of the Writerly Play blog know that Joseph Campbell’s concept of the Hero’s Journey has been a key lens to help me see my writing and also my writerly development. In The Hero is You, Levin looks at Campbell’s work in a different, but complementary way. She considers eight archetypes in the Hero’s Journey, and how these personas inform our work and lives.

It will likely not surprise you that I love this book. I love the big ideas explored, the questions asked, and the playful activities that invite my imagination to play. For me, play is the best way to head into the dark and face my fears. Surrounded by story, I tap into courage and momentum. This book will take you on a journey that will transform your writing and life. Learn more here.

The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler

Of the three titles in this flight, The Writer’s Life is the most dense. That said, it’s packed with insight that informs the writing craft and life. Once again, the subject is the Hero’s Journey. Vogler’s initial goal with the book was to “create a writer’s guide” to the Hero’s Journey. Along the way, he found the Hero’s Journey to be “nothing less than a handbook for life, a complete instruction manual into the art of being human.”

In this flight, the book provides a wider-angle view of what the Hero’s Journey is, how it works, and why it’s such a powerful tool in helping us craft our stories and our lives. Learn more here.

Cheers!

If you pick up the books in this flight, I’d love to hear what you think! Let me know what questions they bring to mind for you. And please share your ideas for other titles that ought to be part of this flight. I’m always on the hunt for an excellent read, particularly about the Hero’s Journey. Tag me on Twitter or Instagram, and let’s chat. Happy reading!

Writerly Play Activity Collection: Finding Your Artist’s Heart

Writerly Play Activity Collection: Finding Your Artist’s Heart

How do you create meaningful work?

Putting our hearts on the page sounds simple, but it is one of the most difficult tasks artists face. In order to make powerful work, we must brave vulnerability and ask ourselves tough questions.

After a lifetime of improv, I’ve learned the best way into tricky emotional spaces often involves playing a game. Where I might craftily evade a pointed question, or truly believe I don’t know the answer, a playful approach can surprise the truth right out of me. Now, before you worry that I’m asking you to hop onto a stage under bright lights, let me assure you that game, in this case, is a loosely defined word. To awake your intuition, all a game requires is a clear goal and a bit of a challenge.

The art of finding our artist’s heart is one of the cornerstone skills developed in the Writerly Play Attic.

The Writerly Play Attic, like the other Writerly Play rooms, is designed to help creatives separate their thinking into distinct steps. By knowing the purpose of a thinking task, we can utilize activities toward stronger results.

Here is a collection of Writerly Play activities, designed to help you find your artist’s heart.

Choose the activity that best fits your creativity style. Not sure what your style is? Take the quick quiz and find out.

ACTIVITIES

Freewrite Your Heart

FOR INVENTORS

Move your hand across the page speedily to bypass your critic and discover your heart.

Try This

Zoom In On the Heart

FOR ARCHITECTS

Answer three key questions to focus your attention on the core of this project, and its importance to you.

Try This

Frame Your Heart in Three

FOR SPECIAL AGENTS

Choose three adjectives that focus your attention on the core of this project, and its importance to you.

Try This

Share Your Heart with a Loved One

FOR COLLABORATORS

Choose a confidant and write a letter about your project. What is most important to you about creating this artwork?

Try This

Grit, Empathy, and Vision: What I’m Learning about Creative Writing

Grit, Empathy, and Vision: What I’m Learning about Creative Writing

I woke up in the middle of the night before our most recent Inklings Book launch with these three words bouncing around my mind – grit, empathy, and vision. Sometimes the answer to a question I’ve been wrestling shows up this way. The question? Why is creative writing important, in a world filled with opportunities and responsibilities? The answer:

Creative writing is one of the best ways I know to build grit, empathy, and vision.

 

Creative writing builds grit in a number of ways. First, and possibly foremost, as Brene Brown eloquently states: “There is nothing more vulnerable than creativity. . . It’s not about winning, it’s not about losing, it’s about showing up and being seen.” She has a number of other important things to say about creativity, some of which you can read on her Facebook page.

For now, let’s stick with creativity requiring us to show up and be seen. Is there anything that requires more resilience than putting our thoughts – and our hearts – into the world, regardless of the response? In addition, if we want to write well, we must work and rework each passage, weighing not only what we mean to say, but also how our words communicate with our intended reader. Add to that the fact that sitting down to write regularly, especially when there’s no deadline or true consequences should we choose to skip a session, and we can easily see the sum results.

 

Regular creative writing builds grit through requiring us to face our fears, developing our patience and stamina, and pushing us to stick with a challenge in spite of how we feel.

 

Entering a character’s thoughts, asking why they act as they act, delving into their backstory to pinpoint where mistaken beliefs come from, and tapping into their thoughts and emotions is always an act of empathy. This kind of questioning and reflecting is at the core of writing any story. Writers can’t help but transfer the fine-tuned skill to their own lives, asking “Why do I do what I do?” and also to friends, family, and other relationships, “Why do THEY do what they do?”

 

Writing creatively is a way to actively practice empathy with ourselves, and with those around us.

 

And vision? For me, vision is the ability to see a future possibility, and then, to create a plan to make that possibility real. How can we build our ability to set and achieve goals? The crux issue is our confidence – do we believe we can achieve the goal we set for ourselves? Brooke Castillo talks about the concept of “believing hard,” and if you haven’t heard her discuss this powerful thinking tool, by all means check out that podcast link. While it would be lovely if we could use sheer will power to create confidence, the truth is that building confidence is a process. We must prove to ourselves that we are trustworthy. And if we’ve broken our word to ourselves in the past, we have to work doubly hard to convince our inner skeptic.

With vision, as with grit and empathy, creative writing is a deceptively simple, but powerful tool. As writers, we have full ownership over the creative process. We don’t need fancy equipment, a huge budget, or a crew of people to write a book, as we might need in other art forms. Writers have ownership over setting their expectations and meeting them. In other words, creative writing is the perfect place to prove to yourself that you can keep your own word. Over time, confidence grows. Your success multiplies, and you gain the ability to set even bigger writing (or any other) kind of goal.

 Writing creatively gives us a landscape in which to build our confidence around goal-setting, and thus, can convince us to believe in our own vision.

 

 Here’s what has surprised me as I’ve started to talk about grit, empathy, and vision with my clients. The connection between these core skills and creative writing is a surprise. The reason I woke up in the middle of the night with those words rattling around my brain is because I’d never thought to express the importance of creative writing in this way. And if I hadn’t thought to do so, as someone who spends all day every day thinking about creative writing–my own and that of my clients, why should I expect others to make the connection?

Make no mistake. When you take time to write creatively, you are not wasting time. Publication may be your ultimate goal, and if public or financial success comes for your project, fantastic! However, I’d say that your investment in your own heart, in YOU, is the true value of those hours spent typing or scribbling away. When you wonder whether it’s worth the trade-off to spend a Saturday morning writing, publication someday may feel like a flimsy result. But how about more grit, empathy and vision today? For me, the clarity of knowing what I’m really doing when I’m writing changes the game. My sincere hope is that this language, these three simple words, will do the same for you.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how creative writing builds your grit, empathy, and vision. Share your insights, and tag me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. I can’t wait to hear all that you have to say.

Get Practical Creativity Tools and Strategies

Writerly Play resources twice a month. No spam ever.

Watch your inbox for your first Writerly Play Kit!

Get Practical Creativity Tools and Strategies

Writerly Play resources twice a month. No spam ever.

You have Successfully Subscribed!