The Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway 2009 Day Two

page-after-page

Coming out in paperback this month!

Welcome to day two of the annual Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway. Today’s giveaway is Page after Page: Discover the confidence & passion you need to start writing & keep writing (no matter what!) by Heather Sellers (Writer’s Digest, September 2009).

Have you experienced false starts, self-doubt, or mind games? They end the moment you pick up this book. With an inspiring mix of humor, wisdom, and creativity, Page after Page shows you how to find the courage and commitment to start writing and keep writing. As each chapter takes you deeper into the eccentric, exclusive world known only to writers, you’ll learn how to build a productive creative life that keeps you writing page after page, day after day.

Ninety percent of beginning writers stop practicing their craft before they have a chance to discover their talents. Page after Page is an essential and encouraging guide that:

  • Helps you build a writing life, one that will help you continue to write without giving up.
  • Approaches the writing life without using new age and self-help techniques, so writers from all walks of life will benefit from the advice.
  • Provides engaging exercises to help you shape your writing life and achieve your goals.

You’ll discover how to celebrate the momentum of slow and steady, stay in love with your book project through soggy middles and long revisions, and embrace the nakedness that is creative expression.

And you’ll realize you’ve got exactly what it takes write your book!

Heather SellersAbout the Author
Heather Sellers is a professor of English at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, where she teaches creative writing and writes every day. She has just completed a memoir, Face First, and a new textbook for the college classroom, The Practice of Creative Writing. Her fiction and poetry appear regularly in journals and anthologies. She enjoys public speaking, triathlons, cooking, kids, and growing Japanese vegetables. Her Web site is http://www.heathersellers.com/.

See Heather Sellers feature article, “Cups of Men,” in the September 2009 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine. On stands now!

Here comes the question you must answer to be entered in today’s giveaway.

If you are new to the giveaway, please read “Da Rules.” Seriously, there’s a few picky things (like we will only ship to U.S. addresses) and if you break a rule I have to disqualify your comment (and I hate when that happens because it ruins all my fun).

Today’s question is…

Yesterday, you brought up your worrisome question and presented some challenges writers face. Today, I want you to tell us your biggest challenge…and then solve it. What holds you up? And what are you going to do about it? Be gentle but firm with yourself. (Please don’t beat yourself up, though. We don’t want that!)

Before you go! We have a cause to raise money for this year. Please read the story about the Applin family here and consider  making a small contribution at some point during the giveaway. We’re aiming for $100/day.

And don’t forget to read the rules! Several posts had to be deleted from day one because they were not the proper length. What is the proper length? It’s in “Da Rules“!

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58 Responses to “The Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway 2009 Day Two”


  1. 1 jessicavarin September 2, 2009 at 1:37 am

    Literary magazines often state that they welcome new (albeit talented) writers. My work seems like a good fit … until I read the contributor bios and become intimidated. As a young writer, I’m reluctant to submit my work for consideration. I need to start judging publications by the caliber of their work instead of the prominence of their writers/poets.

    • 2 Laurie September 8, 2009 at 11:35 am

      My biggest challenge every day would be simply reminding myself of the person I once was. Not to say that I am not thoroughly enjoying my motherly duties and dear children, but I struggle to remember when I wrote regularly and avidly. In fact, that’s why I’m here replying to this post–just browsing, somehow remembering that I am a writer inside somewhere. We forget too often to see ourselves in the blur of daily riff-raff around the house. I’m sure there are many that can easily relate.

  2. 3 Mar Junge, c3PR September 2, 2009 at 2:52 am

    Good morning, fellow writers. My biggest challenge? Making payroll. It keeps me up at night (note the time of this post.) I employ several writers and it’s not always easy finding enough work to keep everyone busy. Or alternatively, finding good PR contract writers available during crunch times. And there’s the challenge of going over budget on writing projects. Or clients not happy with the way something was written. (Doesn’t happen often, but a concern at times.) Or how to make the same features and benefits sound fresh and unique. Or write keyword-rich web content that doesn’t read like a bunch of keywords. Those challenges I solve every day. As far as my biggest personal writing challenge, it’s lack of time. Only way to solve that is to sell the PR agency and retire. With three kids in college, that’s not happening any time soon. But I’ll keep my eyes on the future, because when I do make time for writing fiction, it’s a guilty pleasure that transports me to another world.

  3. 4 Jane Wells September 2, 2009 at 4:48 am

    At this point in my life my biggest challenges are 1)finding time to research and write with two children at home – A McDonald’s playplace with a wireless hot spot goes a long way toward solving that. As will school when it starts next week (yay!)
    2) My other biggest challenge is much harder – it is the pressure from my husband to “get a real job”. For him, it’s not a job if it’s not 9-5, regardless of the payoff at the end. Not even this week’s $30/hour grant writing gig seems to faze him. (You think “da Rules” are strict? Try a Federal grant!) It’s a very disheartening buzz kill that I haven’t found an answer too yet.
    My solution is to keep plugging along and keep praying. I know writing is what I was made and called to do, whether it’s writing a grant or writing a book looking at the spiritual aspects popular culture.

  4. 5 Meryl Evans September 2, 2009 at 5:30 am

    I believe my biggest challenge is coming up with unique and fresh ideas to common topics. While I know many blogs and online publications will cover the same topics — I know I have something somewhere in my brain that can come up with a different twist. It’s frustrating when I come across an article and think, “I coulda done that! Why didn’t I come up with it sooner?”

  5. 6 Maribeth September 2, 2009 at 5:34 am

    With four children, finding time is always a challenge. Over the past few years, I have learned how to incorporate writing into my daily schedule. Time is no longer my biggest challenge. I think the one thing I always find challenging is proper grammar. I have been known to write sentence fragments, run on sentences etc. I am sure I included a few here-lol, I am fortunate enough to have a great team of critique partners that point my grammar mistakes out but it will always be a challenge to me.

  6. 7 Brianne A September 2, 2009 at 6:11 am

    My biggest challenge is overcoming that voice in my head that creates self-doubt. The self-doubt leads to fear of failure, and the fear leads to lack of productivity. To solve this, I am going to pay close attention to my thoughts and stop myself when I start to think something negative. I will then change that thought to something positive. I am also committing to a writing schedule, so that I am practicing my craft regularly.

  7. 8 Janel September 2, 2009 at 6:21 am

    My biggest challenge is that I am a master procrastinator. The squirrelly part of my mind finds all kinds of ways to keep me from writing. I write on my computer, but wait, look at that new email. How about my blog reader? One hundred unread posts! I’d better go through those first. Oh, and I need to load some new podcasts on my iPod. If that doesn’t work to completely derail my writing intentions, the dog is always willing to play Frisbee.

    When my kids return to school next week I will be setting time limits for myself. If I want to read 100 blog posts, then I’ll just have to get up early. I also plan on starting a new exercise routine. I find that the more fit my body is the better my brain works. I’ll have more energy and be happier. For September, answering your giveaway questions will be a great way to jump start my brain and just write!

  8. 9 Rene Eyerly September 2, 2009 at 6:32 am

    Well, I think I solved, or am close to solving, my first challenge, which is defining my niche topic and committing to it. Yea! The commitment is an exciting prospect that I know will help me focus and finish projects, which is my second challenge. Since I have good systems in place, even if I don’t use them consistently, I am determined to write again, daily, only on relevant pieces, finish them, and submit them. My goal; to submit at least one piece a week for the next month to gain some momentum.

  9. 10 Jennifer September 2, 2009 at 6:44 am

    My greatest challenge is fitting the writing time into the day. Right now, it’s squeezed into the late night hours, after everyone’s in bed. So my eyes literally shut as I write, and since I stay up so late, I walk around like a zombie most days. The solution? Carve out a piece of daytime to write. Hopefully, when my son starts kindergarten next week, I will be able to dedicate the baby’s naptime to writing. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this will work!

  10. 11 Sarah Pagliasotti September 2, 2009 at 6:45 am

    My fear is that I can’t sell my work well enough to, well, sell it! This has two parts, in my mind: creating the right “hook” for my article to sell it to the publication I’m aiming at; and writing a concise, grabbing query letter. Because I’m stuck about selling my ideas, I end up taking work that – while lucrative – isn’t what I really want to be writing. So my larger fear is that I’ll forever be writing what “comes my way” rather than what I’ve conceived, pitched well, sold, and would really love to write.

    Solutions? Putting in the regular work to query. I KNOW that I would sell if I did this. I queried three articles to a local magazine and got very little response; then the editor asked me to write a different article. So I can sell my writing, I just have to practice so I can effectively pitch my ideas. Getting clear and having a plan would help: Step 1. Write down what I want to be writing about. 2. List ideas. 3. Find target pubs. 4. Brainstorm hooks for each pub. 5. Query. 6. Do it every week.

  11. 12 Pat September 2, 2009 at 6:46 am

    My biggest challenge is lack of patience. I’m unfortunately too steeped in the culture of “instant gratification”. When the words don’t flow easily, I get discouraged. When a rejection comes, I get discouraged. Then I start to wonder, “Why are you doing this?”

    The solution? Having writer friends. Attending workshops. Being part of a critique group. Anything that allows you to be around people who know what it’s like to write.

    I can’t think of anything that provides more encouragement and motivation to a writer than being in the company of other writers!

  12. 13 Mary Potter Kenyon September 2, 2009 at 6:52 am

    My biggest challenge is one I am sure I share with many, many mom-writers; lack of time. Unlike most mothers I know, my time alone is greatly diminished when school begins, because I homeschool. Once the kids are awake (we have four of our eight children still at home) my time is no longer my own. This year it is particularly trying since I have one book coming out in November that I will be actively promoting and another on the back burner that I am working on a proposal for. This was the first year in 17 years of homeschooling I thought about putting the kids in school just for time for myself. Instead, I have decided to get up earlier for alone time. As much as I need writing time, though, I need exercise, and one sister can walk with me from 6:45-7:45, so it is cutting into my 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. “alone time.” I haven’t found the balance yet. I hope I do soon.

  13. 14 writethejourney September 2, 2009 at 6:58 am

    I have a feeling this will be a biggie for everyone: time, time, time. I have two young kids at home so I have to be proactive about making and finding time to write without completely alienating my husband (writing every night from the kids’ bedtime to 11:00 gets old but has been the only solution for the past year).

    My solution/luck: my daughter starts kindergarten next week (!) and my son will be in daycare one full day per week, leaving me at least one full day to write. Aah. I’m also lucky enough to still have naptimes in the afternoons–and they’re still long enough to get something accomplished. This means I can start 1) committing to more writing time during the day and 2) committing to one-two nights per week when I don’t write but keep the balance.

  14. 15 LaNeta Crighton September 2, 2009 at 6:59 am

    As a former nurse, I’ve had success with writing health articles. I welcome the work and enjoy writing these articles, but I would love to break out and write about different topics too. Now that I have some steady work in this area, I’m committed to jumping out of my comfort zone and trying some new things.

  15. 16 Julie S September 2, 2009 at 7:17 am

    There is always something else that needs to be done. Breakfast dishes piled in the sink, laundry stacked sky-high and supper begging to be cooked. Did I mention blogs to read, FB status-checking and emails?

    As a work-from-home person, I have to make myself bypass the chores and the temptations and nurture my career while I have the chance. Any large or small success lifts me up, from submitting an article to seeing an essay in print.

    A to-do list keeps me from straying off-course (most of the time), and I when I am having trouble focusing, I promise myself some online social time after one item is crossed from the list.

  16. 17 Erica September 2, 2009 at 7:19 am

    My biggest challenge is finding the time to just write. I think about it as I am doing other things but hardly ever sit down and do it! Right now it seems like a dream that is not going to happen!
    My goal is to try to start writing at least once a week while the kids are in school. I hope to increase that as the schoolyear progresses.

  17. 18 Jaymie September 2, 2009 at 7:22 am

    My biggest challenge is fear. Fear keeps me from writing. Fear keeps me postponing – I am going to read this article or study this book and THEN I will write. I get Hope Clark’s weekly emails and see the contests and things, but have nothing written to submit. It is hard to overcome fear of rejection if you do not produce anything for people to love (or to reject and allow you to learn from the process). To overcome this, I have to write. Every Day. Something. I am adding a line to my weekly schedule/to do list to check off every day when I write something. Next I need to define what “counts” – I journal and have three blogs. I need to determine what’s the next level.

  18. 19 Holly Rutchik September 2, 2009 at 7:50 am

    The challenge for me is the actually write these days! I’m so worried about doing it well and following the rules and such, I spend all my time on blogs and sites learning about the business of writing – it cuts into my actual writing time! With 2 kids under two at home, if something isn’t done at 2 in the morning, it doesn’t get done. Just this month I have set aside the 2 hours after the kids go to bed for personal writing only. I do not allow myself to work, watch TV or sleep during this time. It is really helping – but I am so tired!!

  19. 20 Emily September 2, 2009 at 8:02 am

    My biggest challenge is exactly the subject of today’s giveaway. How to go from great story idea to finished book. I’ve gotten into a groove with my nonfiction writing so I don’t have that problem with my “real” (read: paid) writing, but lately I’ve been bitten by the fiction (or creative nonfiction) bug and seem to get stuck in the middle. How do I create a compelling plot and characters with depth and humor? I’m trying to solve the problem a few ways. First, I’m working through The Artist’s Way. Second, I’m just going to keep plugging along and gain confidence and great tips from my wonderful, supportive critique group. And third, I think I’ll get Page after Page from the library, unless I win today’s sweepstakes!

  20. 21 Cara Holman September 2, 2009 at 8:30 am

    My biggest challenge is keeping my momentum going. When things are going well for me, writing-wise, I feel like I am at the top of my game and the stories and submissions flow. But sometimes I hit a brick wall. My inspiration dries up, my words come out stilted and awkward, I don’t hear back on some of my writings (which in my book is far worse than getting a rejection!), I can’t find markets that speak to me… Okay, you get the idea. Writing is not all sunshine and inspiration. Into every writer’s life some rain (and rejections) must fall!

    So what do I do? I re-read some of my favorite pieces (I just re-watched The Sound of Music, can you tell?), review my growing list of acceptances, and remind myself just what got me into writing in the first place. Then I find a new call for submissions, and get back to the business of writing.

  21. 22 writerinspired September 2, 2009 at 8:30 am

    My biggest challenge is balancing my time to effiently complete my writing and teaching goals. I’ve learned that accepting too many projects bogs down my schedule and my creativity. So, to start, I need to reprioritize and really focus in on what my platform is and the best ways to grow it. I’ve changed roles through my volunteer work with a young writers non-profit to better suit my time and talents; I’m being more selective of what and when I post on my blogs; I’ve also learned to say “no” and be more realistic of my time and commitments for teaching opportunities. That said, I still need to “unplug” and write more (vs surfing the web, social networking, email maintanence, etc.) Whew!

  22. 23 Kristen R Murphy September 2, 2009 at 8:48 am

    As someone who is a beginner, my biggest challenge for starting my writing career IS getting started. I struggle with what I am going to write for magazines, for example. Setting time aside to focus on writing is another challenge while raising three girls. My two oldest are in school presently, so that helps. Next year my youngest will start Kindergarten and I will have no excuse. Ah, quiet time! Summertime…that will be a challenge in of itself!

    Since uncovering my call of duty (I’m a writer) over a year ago, I have been struggling with what I am here to write. I’m working on my personal essay from WPSS class for a submission, and I’m passionate about finishing this piece. But then I think to myself, what will I have after that?

    Looking back, writing has always been there. I’m just now figuring out what to do with it. That is the late bloomer in me coming out! So to fix these challenges, write no matter what and it WILL happen!

  23. 24 Diane J. September 2, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Not having a deadline. That’s a huge challenge. I just discovered this, even when my household is super hectic, if I have a deadline I find a way to get it done. No deadline, nothing done.

    To solve, I need to find a person to serve as a check-in point. Once a week I have to check in with how I’m meeting my goals. Whether it be, sending out query letters or spending a set amount of time at the computer writing each day.

    Now, I’m off to make calls and see who will be my deadline check-in.

  24. 25 Renee Roberson September 2, 2009 at 9:14 am

    My biggest challenge is letting research go to waste. I’ve written so many articles over the past few years and then . . . just left the material on my hard drive. I have so many expert sources, “scraps” from articles that could be repurposed and rewrite/reprint possibilities just lying around that it is really ridiculous. I’ve been solving this challenge as of late by going through my computer, polishing up these items and hitting send. It’s been a great feeling. Now if I can just find three more hours out of the day to do this, I’ll be all set!

  25. 26 Sarah Joyce Bryant September 2, 2009 at 9:33 am

    My biggest challenge has been finding a regular time to write. There are a lot of successful writers that advocate writing at the same time of day if at all possible. It took me quite some time to figure out how to create a schedule that could include regular writing time. I had to rearrange how I normally do things as well as my work schedule to get the timing just right. I knew if I scheduled writing time in the afternoon that, just like exercising, things would come up and I would never get it done. So, first I transformed a room that wasn’t being used into a writing room. Then, I set my schedule. I take my son for a quick walk at the park, drop him off at pre-school, go back to the park and walk by myself (provides lots of inspiration) and then it is time to write. All this takes place before 8:00 am. By then I am sitting at my desk ready to write for the next 3-4 hours before I have to go to work. I just started this on Monday and so far it has been very successful!

  26. 27 L'Tanya September 2, 2009 at 10:01 am

    I tell myself that I’m inconsistent so much that I get afraid to start something thinking that I won’t see it through. I’m taking Writing & Publishing the Short Stuff class right now and it has done wonders for my confidence in knowing I can complete work by deadlines.

    My solution is first to stop the negative self-talk. Then set small goals with fairly quick deadlines in order to feel good about completing things.

  27. 28 Bet September 2, 2009 at 10:03 am

    Yesterday I wrote that one of my main “blocks” is the fear that the article on which I worked so hard won’t fit in any known magazine.

    I have had a crazy summer filled with family commitments, but my college kids are all moved in and my high school age kids go back to school next Wednesday. So I plan to block off a little time each day to write and to research markets. I think I also need to start sending articles out, even if I am not sure that a particular article is really suitable for a magazine. I just need to get into that habit!

  28. 29 Beth Cato September 2, 2009 at 11:02 am

    My biggest challenge is networking and reaching out to others. I’m extremely introverted. I NEED to join a critique group for my novel. I know it. My close friends and family help some, but they can’t provide the level of feedback I really need. I’m currently doing a major rewrite of my novel with the intent of starting the sequel for Nanowrimo; the goal is to face down my fears and join a critique group in January and get this thing ready for querying in 2010.

  29. 30 Beth Meleski September 2, 2009 at 11:13 am

    I woke up this morning at 4:57 and thought, “I’m wide awake. I should write.” Then I brushed my teeth, thought about flossing, started coffee, and then decided I was hungry and wouldn’t it be good if I was finished with breakfast before the rest of the family got up. So I made my breakfast and then thought I’d just check the weather on the news. Which led to checking my email and Facebook. So then it was 6:00 am and I thought, “I should write.” So I cleaned up my breakfast dishes and realized the dishwasher was full of clean dishes and the housekeeper was coming. I finished emptying the dishwasher just as my husband wandered into the kitchen. We talked for a few minutes and I realized that if I was going to have time to get dressed before the kids woke up, I should do it. As I was putting on my pants, I thought, “Now, I’ll write.” And my son walked in – hungry. So, I made breakfast for my two kids, got them dressed, teeth brushed and out the door to school. Hustled back home and thought, “Finally, some peace – I’ll write.” And the electrician and the contractor needed to talk to me about where the outlets are going to go in our renovation. So, at 11:20, after realizing that I had to pick my kids up from their 1/2 day of school in an hour, I decided to get a manicure. So now I have an hour-by-hour schedule of each of my weekdays which shows my workouts, my volunteer schedule, and where I will shower, nap and make dinner. It also carves out, very specifically, a time EACH DAY for writing. Because somehow, I manage to work out, volunteer, shower, nap and make dinner every day. Because it’s on my calendar. So now, writing is too.

  30. 31 Laura Meehan September 2, 2009 at 11:17 am

    Where do I begin? The excuses I rattle off to other people (and myself) never end when it comes to why I let myself off the hook, writing-wise: as a mother of a three-year-old and a two-month old, I lack the time, my middle-of-the-living-room “office” is full of noisy people who touch my stuff, I have to focus on gigs that pay…I think the bottom line, however, is that I lack the emotional energy. It’s easy to be lazy instead of creative when you have thirty minutes a day to yourself. And yet I know I would be more rejuvenated if I sat down with a pen and paper instead of hauling out the ice cream and Netflix each night, and it could help me find myself again!

    Okay, gotta go–the baby’s crying. 🙂

  31. 32 Carrie Ure September 2, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    My biggest challenge: avoiding submitting my work to those who can actually pay me, by staying busy with volunteer work.

    Phew! That was hard to say out loud. Yet I just realized by going through this exercise that I keep shooting myself in the foot by offering my work as a volunteer! I have a lovely job I enjoy as chief copy editor and contributor to a new local publication, but it doesn’t pay! While I intend to keep this gig in the short term for the pleasure and experience it provides, I must now begin to submit my work to those who can pay me.

    I resolve to submit my work to paying publications, to firmly entrench that as a habit, before taking on a single new pro-bono project.

  32. 33 Jenny September 2, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    My biggest challenge is me! Since I haven’t been widely published I sometimes let doubts or fears stand in my way. However, when I put my mind to a piece, I find that I can find a way to get it published. It’s all about studying markets and sitting down to write the most compelling article, essay or in recent months, book proposal, that I can.

    I plan to combat the doubts/fears by feeling those feelings…and writing and pitching anyway. I’ve found that the more I submit, the more confidence I get even if I don’t get an immediate acceptance. Even an “encouraging rejection” is a boost to my self confidence as a writer.

  33. 34 Cheryl M September 2, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    Time is my biggest challenge. Not a novel issue, obviously. I have a newborn, a daughter in ½ day kindergarten and a 2nd grade student. My solution: the newborn WILL nap while her sister is at kindergarten. My backup plan will be to spend some time writing on the weekends, if the napping doesn’t go well that week.

  34. 35 Barbara Hodges September 2, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    My biggest challenge is to believe in myself. I let “seasoned” writers in books and magazines discourage me. I let the news of our unsettlng economy throw me off. I need to believe in myself, do my best, and find the right markets for my work. Then, I need to start sending things out. I have a notebook and I am keeping a record of my endeavors. I have made a commitment to send, send, and send some more. I am going to get an accountability partner who will challenge me to follow through.

  35. 36 PatriciaW September 2, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    My biggest challenge is carving out time and space to write consistently, given the family’s shared computer. Just today I priced a netbook that I think I can save for and perhaps buy by the end of the year or my birthday early next year. Then, I can write wherever I am, on my dedicated machine, and still spend time with the family.

  36. 37 Beth Vogt September 2, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    Me, myself and I — that’s what holds me back from accomplishing what I want to as a writer.
    Oh, sure, I could talk about my messy desk or my avoidance tactics, like when I watch the latest episode of Burn Notice instead of working on my WIP.
    But what really kills my passion and stalls my writing is when I doubt myself. Or when I look at someone else’s accomplishments and think, “I wish I’d written that” instead of saying, “Good for her” and getting on with achieving my own goals.
    What am I going to do about it?
    Recognize doubt for what it is: a dream-killer. Know that it will crop up again and again–especially when I am overworked and over-tired. As a good friend likes to remind me: “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”
    And I’m posting this card over my computer because it makes me laugh–and it’s motivating:
    She packed up her potential and all she had learned, grabbed a pair of cute shoes and headed out to change a few things.

  37. 38 Kelli September 2, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    I hate to admit it, but as a beginning writer, I think my biggest problem sometimes is that I am not disciplined enough to make myself sit down every day, DISTRACTION FREE, and write!!! I have every excuse in the world being a mom of a three and five year old -laundry to do, meals to cook, errands to run, etc… But after reading an article in the 2008 CWIM by Candie Moonshower (a writer mom who had all the same excuses), I have a game plan to solve this chronic problem. Moonshower shared some tips on how undisciplined writers can “get over themselves” including BIC HOK TAM! Butt In Chair! Hands On Keyboard! Typing Away Madly! She also brought up the fact that a lot of us spend more time talking about our desire to write, potential story ideas, and dreams of success than we spend actually writing. Seriously, have we met? I am SO guilty of all of the above. She says if writing is going to be your job then you need to 1) Stop thinking (and reading) about writing and WRITE! 2)Act like it’s a job 3) Take classes and attend workshops 4) Join professional writer’s groups.

    So…who’s with me?

  38. 39 chloe September 2, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Fear is what keeps me from getting the words on paper. Everything else is secondary.
    Fear of abandonment, of letting go.

    The image that comes to mind is I standing on a very long beach, miles and miles of white sand, gentle ocean warm sun but alone. The scene is filmed from a helicopter or an enormously high crane—I’m sure they have those in Hollywood—as to give the viewer a panoramic view that amounts to: person stranded on a desert island.

    I am going to change my daily meditation time to coincide with my writing times. I will also write an outline of what I will work on next as my final task everyday.

    This will hopefully give me time to inhabit the desert island and slowly furnish it with the props that will gently become the words on the page.

  39. 40 Amy Simon September 2, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    My biggest hang ups are having enough energy, since the only time I can really write is during the kids’ rest time. That’s frequently an energy slump time for me as well. Usually a cup of coffee does the trick! My other hang up is following through with what I decided to do (like finish my novel) or blog weekly or write tons of articles to submit, even when I don’t feel like it. I usually come up with excuses, like “my novel stinks, anyway” or “that article will never get published” and “no one reads my blog, anyway”. My solution? Get determined to do it and stick to it! I have an accountability partner whom I share goals with each week, but we’ve both been bogged down with starting school with our kids (we homeschool). So, I need o contact her again and get those weekly goals going!

    Thanks for doing this contest!

  40. 41 Liz September 2, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    My biggest challenge is the roller coaster effect – feeling great and up when an editor accepts my work and then seeing it published, but then feeling low-energy and a lack of inspiration when I don’t have any outward encouragement (such as publication, etc.). My solution recently has just been self-awareness…realizing that I’m in a lull when I’m in a lull and experiencing that for what it is. So far that’s helped me get back on the upswing sooner!

  41. 42 Kim September 2, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    I recently discovered that I am my biggest challenge. I am a dreamer, but not a risk taker. I call myself practical, but that is code for fear of failure. I have an idea, and then come up with a million reasons why it’s not going to work. I keep these ideas to myself. I then talk myself out of them.

    To overcome this I have started a blog to share my ideas. I’m telling my friends about my writing aspirations. I’m also now diligently researching ways to build up a social network to keep myself accountable and motivated.

  42. 43 Sarah @ Baby Steps September 2, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    With self-doubt and lack of time being my greatest setbacks, the best way for me to overcome them is to set aside a specific amount of time for writing and then sit down and just do it. Obviously, with a one year old and a two year old in the house, this can be difficult sometimes…but not impossible. So what I have been doing now is committing to two hours of writing time every day. When I’m lucky, I occasionally get a two-hour time slot to write (usually only happens in the early morning or late night), but most of the time it’s ten minutes here and there. I’ve noticed, though, that as long as I commit to a certain amount of time every day (and stick to it!), I am slowly but surely making progress.

  43. 44 Janet September 2, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    By biggest challenge is not quitting and having the patience it takes to be a writer. I keep thinking I’m never going to make it as an author and why not just quit. I hate the waiting for a response from stories sent in. It takes so long! I’m going to overcome it by being stubborn and keep plugging along, because a quitter never succeeds.

  44. 45 Melissa M September 2, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Biggest obstacle? DEFINITELY my health (or lack thereof). By nature I am a planner, an organizer, a color-coated-sock-drawer sort of gal. My head knows how to make (and follow) a schedule, to never miss a deadline, to cross off every item on a list. Yet more often than not my body no longer follows suit; it simply can’t. I have a rare, progressive disease that makes my every moment unknown. I never know on which days I’ll be useless (about 40%) or when I will be hospitalized for weeks. I depend on gadgets around the clock which love to malfunction; my life depends on them so I can’t tell them to wait. On my best days maintaining my tubes, IVs, meds, & machines takes hours.

    I haven’t figured out how to apply organizer me to sick me and it pains me to know I’m not making the most of the time I have left. I love to write have a unique voice with much to say.

    A solution? I’m at a loss. It must lie somewhere in my letting go of my all or nothing approach to organization. Yet applying this is something I have yet to decipher. Ideas anyone?

  45. 46 Laura September 2, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    My biggest challenge is making a writing schedule and keeping to it. I’ve read that the only way to make it as a writer is to show up at the same time every day, and put your ‘backside’ in the chair, and hands on the keyboard. I’ve made these schedules, and kept them for a while, but life keeps interfering. Or I let it. What I need to do is to find a simple yet workable weekly writing schedule, and with much determination (and perhaps a set of headphones to keep the world out) keep up with the daily writing.

  46. 47 Joanna September 2, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    I think what’s hardest for me is maintaining some kind of economically viable cycle where I’m finishing an article, have a few queries out there, thinking about the next topic, and so on. I seem to get an assignment, work like crazy on it, finish it, and then, oops, have to start all over with a major time lag in between. I am making progress in this department but it continues to dog me. I’m also a master at procrastination, so that doesn’t help.

    Solution: Keep plugging away at various-sized submissions, keep many things circulating out there. Dedicate my time to a variety of projects each day, making a little progress on every one of them. Finish them! Be patient.

  47. 48 Fawn September 2, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    Has anyone ever seen that episode of Curious George where he keeps turning back the clock when the man with the yellow hat isn’t looking so he can have more time to play before he goes to bed? By the end of the episode, George is falling asleep in the middle of the day because he’s so tired. Time management. That’s my biggest challenge.

    As far as solving it goes, I’m trying new methods every day. I think the primary thing I need to learn is how to say no. I need to narrow my focus and concentrate on a few key things instead of trying to do it all. I also probably need to reign in my facebook and internet addictions. 😉

  48. 49 anna September 2, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    My biggest challenge would have to be my own insecurity–strange how in the one area in which I’ve always had such a natural proclivity, I also have the greatest difficulty trusting myself. I guess it is more important to me than, say, other ways to just make ends meet. As such, it is easier to procrastinate by telling myself excuses and by being held back by fears of failure. But when it comes down to it, I KNOW I am meant to be a writer. Why ? Because I write. Because I can’t help but write. And so I should just write . . . right? 🙂

  49. 50 Dawn Herring September 2, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    My biggest challenge is TIME. Making time to write as often as I should and staying on target with my goals. I use a writing calendar where I record each days writing and use to do lists to keep me reminded of what is next. Both help keep me motivated. I always celebrate what I accomplish and record what I write in my journal; so I have two written records of my progress.

  50. 51 Kathryn Lang September 2, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    The biggest challenge I face is building a platform that will draw an agent or publisher to my material. I appreciate what Christina is doing to help me learn the ropes when it comes to building that platform.

    I have also discovered that being creative and pursuing my personal writing while making a living is a balancing act that can quickly drop out of control – to one side or the other. I am working on scheduling and consistency that will keep me moving forward in both aspects of my writing.

  51. 52 brigidday September 2, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    Hmmm, I’m torn between being in a comfortable rut, poor time management and LIFE sneaking up on me when I least expect it. I have been eagerly awaiting September when I would be able to get on a writing schedule that would allow me to push myself, when a surprise tonsillectomy for my daughter popped up and I wait on MRI results on my son. Two weeks. I give myself two weeks to get through the current round of crises, while I continue blogging and reading blogs to stay connected, and then I start setting some on-paper goals.

  52. 53 Pattie September 2, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    My biggest writing challenge today (as it seems it changes daily!) is to find my place in the writing world. Some days, as I open a new Word document, it seems crystal clear. Other days, not so much.

    So what am I going to do about it? Find my writing purpose. Using my talent for the good and not merely for the trivial. To tell the story I must tell, in whatever format serves me best at that time: fiction, nonfiction, blog, personal journal.

    I have had this particular prize book on my wish list on Amazon for quite a while! Thank you for the opportunity to enter to try and win it.

  53. 54 Stephanie C. September 2, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    My biggest challenge is finding the time to write. I am usually too tired after my toddler boys go to bed. During the day, my husband always finds an excuse to not watch the boys so I can write. I try to write all my ideas down and just write one article at a time. It may take weeks just to get one article done, but that is one more than if I just quit out of frustration (which I have done numerous times). Even if I just write 50 – 100 words a day, in a week that is 350 – 700 words written, which is the size of a small article for some publications. I also don’t take assignments that have deadlines because I don’t want to disappoint a customer. Okay, I need to go write my 100 words for the day.

  54. 55 David Noceti September 2, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    Follow through. No matter how many rules I learn, no matter how many books I read, it’s the follow through that always kills me in the end. But I’m devising tricks to deal with it and methods to work through the issues that hold me back. One of those tricks is blogging about it, and not just random, “oh I feel like posting today,” blogging. I’ve turned it into a daily exercise, one that I have to complete and it has gotten me into a frame of mind that looks to complete tasks, not simply start them.

    The next method? Starting a small novel critique group with deadlines. Everyone submits a chapter each week. They all get critiqued, and you’d better have one to share next week. We can create artificial deadlines, but somehow when we have peers counting on us we find the motivation we need to get things done.

  55. 56 Abbey September 2, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    My biggest challenge is finding the time and motivation to make writing a priority. I had a successful writing run from Sept. 07 – Dec. 08 with several regular gigs. The more assignments I received, the more motivated I was to seek out new opportunities. And then, I moved. And following the move, I became pregnant with my 3rd child and got very sick. Everything came to halt and writing got placed on the back burner. Now, I’m in a place where I do have the time and energy to get back into writing, but it’s hard to find my groove. My kids start preschool next week and baby #3 doesn’t make her appearance until early December, so I’m going to spend some time each day getting back to basics. Querying, researching, and writing – at least something – every day.

  56. 57 Sunnymay September 2, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    My biggest challenge in writing is to settle on one thing to focus on. I tend to be a bit scattered and follow tangents, because I think they’ll eventually go somewhere. What works for me is to write a few words and see if I can keep going for a whole page and not run out of steam. I find the common denominator and the feeling to convey through questions like, “What if?”and the usual curious ones like, “Who is that exactly?” Characters become more full-bodied with alyers added and peeled away to reveal vulnerability, fear and sensitivity.


  1. 1 The 2009 Giveaway List: The Writer Mama Back-To-School Giveaway Starts Tuesday, September 1st! « The Writer Mama Riffs Trackback on September 5, 2009 at 8:47 pm
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