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  • The Hunt for Inspiration

    Posted on September 28th, 2012 jean 4 comments

    This is a guest post by writer Kathy Coatney and her critique partner Lisa Sorensen on their hunt for inspiration in the their writing. Where do you get yours?

    My writing has been peppered with highs and lows. And many times I’ve swung from the top of the swing to the bottom of the teeter-totter. Both of which can throw me off my writing game.

    All that changed a year ago when my friend, Lisa, suggested we do a month-long, self-guided workshop that evolved into more than I ever imagined.

    What Lisa proposed was a month where we challenged ourselves with tough writing goals and then rooted for one another to succeed. As a result of that month, we’ve become each other’s private cheerleaders. I’ve come to believe this is more valuable than critiquing because if I’m not inspired to write, I don’t write.

    Our weekly meeting often consists of searching for ways to be so eager we’re literally bouncing in our seats to get home to write. Nothing is off the table, and it’s a ‘whatever works’ philosophy. We do positive affirmations, daily e-mail check ins, flash cards with words and phrases that inspire us, and we talk a lot about what might be holding us back.

    Time and again it’s the dreaded F word that is the most common culprit that stalls our writing. FEAR.

    Fear: The Most Common Culprit that stalls our writing.Another writer who’s been there (and we all have!) can help you face down those fears so you don’t get stalled out. We’ve tackled fears together, written them down, and discovered they’re not as scary when we look at them objectively. We followed up with specific desires, goals and action plans. A bit of teamwork can be all it takes to get us steaming down the writing track and headed to our destination.

    Since that ‘month-long workshop’, we’ve developed a slew of tools to help keep us motivated. One simple tool is our brief morning e-mails where we state our writing goals for the day and follow up with progress reports. This act of declaring a goal and establishing accountability is powerful, and the small daily ritual fuels our progress, feeds our fire to write.

    And feeding the daily fire is critical. It keeps us disciplined.

    Discipline may not seem like a source of inspiration. The very phrase ‘finding inspiration’ makes it sound like a random event.  Something we’ve no control over that just springs out of the mist when we’re driving on auto-pilot or chopping veggies for the soup pot. But for us, it’s clear that the discipline we help each other create fosters those flashes of insight. Those moments when magic appears out of nowhere, like when a plot puzzle suddenly falls into place.

    If working with a partner like this intrigues you, finding the right person is essential.  Both of you need to be willing to get sweaty stoking the engine. Both of you need to be open to pushing into new territory to see what works. Both of you have to want to succeed and want to see your partner do the same.

    Our creative process is constantly evolving. Keeping our writing fresh means being willing to try something new. Something that might even be out of our comfort zone, in a word–intimidating.

    Have you been thinking about something as crazy or scary as a ‘month-long intensive workshop’? If so, go for it. We’re rooting you on!

    And let us know.  We’d love to hear from you.


    Lisa Sorensen and Kathy Coatney both freelance, Lisa as an architect and Kathy as an agriculture photo/journalist. They both enjoy living in northern California, getting out in nature and tackling writing challenges together. Kathy also writes the Farmer Guy/Gal series of children’s books based on agriculture. Lisa writes historical women’s fiction with an emphasis on happily ever after.

    You can find Kathy at her website, on Twitter and Facebook, and today and tomorrow only–get a free copy of her first book on Smashwords. Click here to download the free ebook.


    How about you? What inspires you to write? Have you been part of a motivating writing group before?

    (I’m (Jean) part of a great group on AgentQuery Connect, as well as have been part of a Google group, and a few other small, online writing groups–I’ve got to say, writers rock at motivating and encouraging each other! LOVE them!)


  • Does Your Writing Show Passion?

    Posted on September 4th, 2012 jean 2 comments

    Writing with Passion is like catching an updraftWhat’s your passion?

    What makes you want to spring out of bed every morning? What brings that sparkle to your eye?

    What drives you? What keeps you trying something difficult even when you fail? What drives you to try again?

    What are you passionate about?

    Find it. Embrace it. Live it. Breathe it.

    Let it guide you.

    If you don’t have passion, what do you have? One step in front of the other but no spark?

    As writers, it is our passion that keeps up adding one sentence after another, sending one query after another. It’s our passion and enthusiasm that makes our work stand out from the crowd. That keeps us moving forward. It challenges and taunts us to keep improving. It’s when we feel that passion and let it channel through us that we write our best stuff.

    Where is your passion? What are you passionate about? Is it still writing? Share your passion. Let it ooze from you and draw readers to you.

    You can do it.

    Love it. Live it.


    I ask because I’ve renewed vows with my passion and have some very exciting stuff planned for this fall. I’m going to follow my passion. I’m going to step off the cliff and see if I have wings and if those wings can catch an updraft.

    How about you? What’s your passion? Have you hit an updraft lately?

    Easy share:

  • R U Stupid?: How to Get Ahead

    Posted on August 14th, 2012 jean 7 comments

    "Are you stupid, or just inbred?" Don't let someone think this about you. Continue your education.

    Don’t Be Daft

    Are you still learning, striving, testing your boundaries, and basically giving your brain a workout?

    Or are you sitting at your computer and just writing, writing, writing in hopes that something will suddenly click and things will get better?

    That you will get better?

    Let Me Tell You a Little Story…

    Once upon a long time ago I lived in a small town. Really small. A hamlet. A ghost town–except it had some people living there who had a dabbling of charming and not-so-charming worldviews and behaviours.

    In case you are wondering, I was the girl with wide-open world views who was raised by hippies. Well, former hippies by the time I rolled out of the womb. And I was a farm girl in a conservative religious area that was speckled with dollops of hicks.

    On our bee farm, we hired just about anyone around as my parents have always believed that, whenever possible, it is worth giving everyone who applies a chance. Sometimes they would get brilliant folks. And sometimes not so much.

    One of the smarter employees happened to be a kid from up the road who had a habit of verbalizing whatever floated across his frontal lobe. One day he was working with a fellow who was having troubles catching on. And what did the kid snap out?

    “Are you stupid, or just inbred?”

    <Jean just dies.>

    And yes, my mom had to mention to the kid that some things you think aren’t necessarily things you should say.

    But this story got me thinking about us writers. Not that I think we are all inbred or stupid, of course, but more that sometimes we don’t think as hard as we should. Or that sometimes we don’t pursue our education as much as we should and push ourselves out of our comfy box.

    In other words, we don’t push our limits, boundaries, or workout our brain muscles. There is so much to learn about writing and the business of writing that there really is no excuse to get lazy about it and sit on our laurels. But we often do. We get to a place where we feel as though we are good enough and that “this” will do.

    But Are You Good Enough to Be the Cream of the Crop?

    Here’s a little quote from Austin Kleon (author of Steal Like an Artist) you might find interesting:

    You have to be curious about the world in which you live. Look things up. Chase down every reference. Go deeper than anybody else–that’s how you get ahead.

    How about you? Are you working to get ahead? Are you digging deeper than other writers? Are you wondering how and why some writers just seem to know a lot? How they always seem to have the answer? How they have managed to get good at what they do? How they seem to get the book deals and followers?

    Maybe it is because they are always learning, continuing their education, testing things, Googling things, snooping through old books, and asking questions like they have suddenly regressed back to good ol’ toddlerhood. (Why? Why? How come? Why?)

    Find your curiosity. I dare you to rival a cat or a toddler. Don’t let yourself become complacent. Don’t let other writers overtake you as they rise through the changing and challenging world of publishing. It is too easy to stagnate and not to grow. If you are reading this and nodding, you already have what you need to move ahead of the pack. All you need is action.

    So, what are you doing to continue your education, feed your curiosity, and get ahead? I’m looking for one thing. Just one thing you are going to do or start doing today. It can be enrolling in a class or finally figuring out how to use a semicolon–properly. Share what you are going to do in the comment section.

    (As for me? I’m going to read another chapter in my book on building a writing platform and see what I can apply to my own writing.)

    It’s easy to share this post:

  • Gimme Five Reasons: Writing Prompts

    Posted on March 30th, 2012 jean 2 comments

    Today I’m over at From The Write Angle talking about 5 great places to find writing prompts. But why do we need writing prompts? Aren’t they just for when you are stumped or in a creative writing class?

    Nope. Here are 5 reasons writing prompts are great for writers:

    1. They build creative muscle
      Writing regularly and thinking about different stories is great for building those writing neurons and stretching your imagination.
    2. They stretch your skills
      Writing prompts make us think outside our genre and common story ideas–stretching our skills in a good way. (Makes you more diverse.)
    3. They induce creativity
      Writing prompts get us thinking, get us imagining, and get us creating!
    4. They keep us writing
      It’s easy to fall into a rut of “I’ll write tomorrow” or “That’s enough for today” and get complacent about writing often enough to keep our skills lubed. If you use writing prompts it inspires you to the point where you are wanting to write lots and lots. It keeps that creative part of the brain lubed and churning along at a great rate.
    5. It’s fun!
      Writing prompts are a fun challenge that can be done anywhere and anytime. So next time you are hitting a slump in your writing, try picking up a writing prompt to perk you up and put the fun back in your writing.

    Would you like some writing prompt ideas? Pop over to From The Write Angle and check out my 5 writing prompts as well as the ideas in the comment section.

    Have you used writing prompts? Why do you use them?

  • Be Dangerous–Write For the Love of It

    Posted on March 1st, 2012 jean 2 comments

    The world doesn’t need more safe writing. Write something dangerous — something that challenges the status quo. Something that moves you (maybe it will move others, too). Then, no matter how scared you are, share it.
    Jeff Goins, writer

    Dangerous. Such a strong, fear-invoking word.

    The Dangerous Book for Boys. Why do you think that book has sold so many copies? Because it hints that we will have a more exciting life by picking up that book. That we’ll toy with the sharp edge of life.

    And let’s face it. We all want to live a little more dangerously. To feel that edge of fear and the thrill of being ‘dangerous’ whether it is telling that nosy nellie in the grocery store where to shove her curiosity or doing something more extreme like jumping out of an airplane.

    We want to feel.

    The exhilaration.

    The rush.

    As a writer, that feeling is a sweet high that can become so addictive. And as Jeff Goins says there are a lot of things to distract us from writing those things we love and following it, armed with passion. And why? Why?

    Why? Why? Why?

    So go out there and write what you love. Don’t be distracted. Don’t fear what others are going to think.

    Just do it.

    Love what you do.

    You aren’t a writer if you aren’t writing. Live dangerously. Write with exhilaration under your wings.

    How are you going to/How do you write dangerously and inspire the passion?

    This post was inspired by Jeff Goins.