The Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway 2009, Day Seventeen

Welcome to day seventeen of The Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway!

Today’s giveaway is Chapter afterchapter after chapter3 Chapter: Discover the dedication and focus you need to write the book of your dreams by Heather Sellers. (I gave away a copy of Heather’s book Page After Page on day two.)

Writing a book requires a focus, a sense of knowing and trusting in yourself and your work. And it requires an unflinching commitment to staying the course. Chapter After Chapter shows you how to build on your good writing habits, accrue and recognize tiny successes, and turn your dedication to the craft into the book you always knew you could write if you could just stay with it.

Chapter after Chapter is a different kind of writing book. It’s a method for completing the book you are working on (or have always wanted to write). Yes, you need to know how to structure your book. And you also need to know how to create the time you’ll need (it’s a lot) to write the dang thing. For most people, technical skill comes faster than “discipline.” You need both and that’s how Chapter after Chapter is unique. It offers a friendly program for honing your writing skills (key secret: read only what you love to read and write what you want to read) and terrific, student-tested techniques for keeping your butt in the chair. Your book might not change the world (but it might make a difference). It is absolutely going to change you. Your not-writing isn’t helping anyone! You can write your book. Chapter after Chapter helps you get out of your own way. Writing: more fun than dieting and more transformative, too!

About the Author
Heather Sellers is a professor of English at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, where she teaches creative writing andHeather Sellers 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 www.heathersellers.com.

If you are new to the giveaway, please read “Da Rules.”

Today’s question is…

Is writing trasformative for you? If yes, how so? If not, why not?

Give me the goods in 50-200 words, please. 🙂

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44 Responses to “The Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway 2009, Day Seventeen”


  1. 1 Laural September 17, 2009 at 6:29 am

    I find every aspect of writing has the power to transform. The act of writing re-shapes an experience I’ve had (I’m writing non-fiction). That process often leaves me with a different level of understanding of myself, or the event, or a relationship. Feels like experience creates a worldview, and then writing draws my attention to the details and the themes.

    Rinse and repeat for each aspect of writing:re-writing, editing, receiving feedback, etc. Gain transformative learning, take action. The creative circle.

  2. 2 Meryl Evans September 17, 2009 at 6:42 am

    Writing transforms my style rather than me as a person. I learn from feedback. I discover new tips. High quality books and good online articles do help me refine and clarify my writing approach. When doing a new article, I just throw my words onto the screen not worrying about creativity and let it come to me as I go or after finishing the first ugly draft.

  3. 3 Cat September 17, 2009 at 6:50 am

    Writing is the most transformative thing in my life–I think through writing, and figure out who I am and what I feel, what my goals are. When I have something to work out, in life or in a writing project, I almost always turn to a notebook. My journal is a record of my many transformations as a person, and it’s the place I turn for a nonjudgmental look at things. If I’m not sure where I stand on something or what direction I should take, I write about it, and during the process, things usually become clear. Sometimes I go back to my notebook over a few days, reread and revisit the issue, but in the end, I find out who I am–and sometimes change who I am–through my writing.

  4. 4 Pat September 17, 2009 at 6:52 am

    I believe that writing is transformative for me. When speaking, I don’t always much consider what comes out of my mouth…not always a good thing.

    But writing is different. I think about what I want to say and how to say it. I try and choose the words that say what I mean in a way that makes sense. The mere fact that time and effort go into writing helps me to analyze the topic in a way that I wouldn’t do otherwise.

    And in the process, I learn something about myself, too.

  5. 5 Laura September 17, 2009 at 6:52 am

    Writing is trasformative for me. If I’m writing a personal essay, then I’m plunged into the details of the experience, which enables me to relive it, and to see it in a new way. If I’m writing fiction, I get lost in the story. It’s such an intense experience that I feel what my characters feel. It feels almost like I’m reading, only the words are coming out of my favorite pen. It always takes me a bit of work to get into the story, but once I do, it takes me away to another world, another time, another person. I love it!

  6. 6 Michelle Mach September 17, 2009 at 7:10 am

    Writing is transformative. I always know more, understand more, feel more, want more, after I write. I’m to the point where if I have a problem in my life that I’m trying to ignore, I don’t want to write about it because I know it will force me to confront it and do the hard work of change. Writing is power.

  7. 7 Cara Holman September 17, 2009 at 7:12 am

    For about as long as I can remember, writing has always been a release for me. Somewhere deep inside of me is a wellspring of words waiting to erupt, and it is all I can do to get them on the page. I discovered the delights of journaling in my teen years, and filled notebook upon notebook with my musings on life. But I laid that all aside upon going off to college, when my life took me down a totally different path.

    It was a chance event that caused me to rediscover the transformational effects of writing again. Almost three years ago, a flier for a writing group caught my eye, as I waited in the lobby of my oncologist’s office for a follow-up appointment after undergoing surgery for breast cancer. My story appears in today’s Oregonian and on OregonLive.

    On the eve of the Portland Komen Race for the Cure, my breast cancer diagnosis has been very much on my mind. But thanks to reconnecting again with my inner writing passion, something good has come out of the experience, and I’ve emerged on the other side a stronger person.

  8. 8 Renee Roberson September 17, 2009 at 8:30 am

    Writing has always been transformative for me, from a very early age. An introvert at heart, writing allows me to express feelings I normally wouldn’t have the courage to talk about aloud. It also gives me a chance to be noticed in situations where I’m up against someone far more gregarious. Writing transforms me from being “just a mom or wife” and gives me something to call my own, career-wise. Writing is also transformative for my bank account, which is always a great feeling!

  9. 9 Liz September 17, 2009 at 8:35 am

    Writing is definitely transformative for me. Through writing fiction and non-fiction I’m able to explore parts of myself, experiences I’ve had, and my role as a mother. Without knowing it, I’ve been following Heather’s advice – I read what I love and I also write what I want to read! If I weren’t writing what I wanted to read, it wouldn’t be transformative for me. It would just be work. And not a lot of fun.

  10. 10 Jaymie September 17, 2009 at 8:38 am

    I don’t know that “transformative” is the first word I would choose. I think for me writing is a means of clarifying and organizing and seeing things that are a jumble in my mind or in my heart. By putting those things on paper, by re-examining them later, they may bring about transformation. But I wouldn’t say it is transformative first – in my experience.

  11. 11 Writing Nag September 17, 2009 at 8:50 am

    Writing is transformative for me. If you journal… writing can help you work through a problem, laugh at yourself, get all of your emotions out on the page instead of replaying in your mind and find material for fiction and non-fiction writing. For me poetry has been transformative giving a voice to my emotions and helping me find beauty in the everyday moments. Every finished piece for a writer is another step forward on the path. If you write with honesty it is hard not to be changed by your words.

  12. 12 Jan Udlock September 17, 2009 at 9:11 am

    I would love Heather Seller’s book. I have Page After Page, and it’s one of my favorite writing books.

    How is writing transformative? With writing, I am trying to convey a problem, an emotion, a truth, or a just a thought. The process requires a lot of peeling away of the non-truths of what I thought I wanted to convey.I try certain words and they don’t work. I try different words and they don’t work. I use different words in different combinations,and I finally find what I want to say.
    Writing helps me order what is swirling around in my heard or heart on paper.

  13. 13 writerinspired September 17, 2009 at 9:12 am

    Wow, writing transforms me in every way, which is why I’m so addicted to it! I tell this story to my young students: how when I was a defiant preteen and had a horrible argument with my Nonna (Italian for “grandma”) who lived with us, and stormed to my room, my mom knocked on my door later and presented me with a spiral notebook and the instruction to “write it out.” Not only did journaling begin my love of fiction and essay writing, but it also soothed me, centered me. Writing has transformed my relationship with my mom-in-law when I drafted a heartfelt letter and later convinced my dad to go into recovery when I read my letter at his intervention. Writing captures my family’s memories in our scrapbooks and links me to the world through my blogs (and even Twitter!) Transformative is the best way to describe what writing does for me!

  14. 14 Lorraine Wilde September 17, 2009 at 9:36 am

    Transformative. I think I’m too set in my ways to be transformed by writing, although writing does help clarify how I feel or think about a topic.

    I think I would like to be transformed, at least for a time, into my alter ego, and live there for a short time, experience it, in all aspects.

    I think instead, writing helps me reach the true inner core, when I’m able to reach it. Finding that moment is exhilerating and subtle at the same time, so natural and comfortable, but I don’t get there often.

    Has anyone else had trouble reaching this space because you don’t even attempt to find it unless you know you’ll get rare 3 hours uninterupted? I need to figure out how to get there in 15 minutes!

    Go Writer Mamas!

  15. 15 Kristen R Murphy September 17, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Well, I can’t believe I’m the first one so far today! I hope no one is feeling sick like I have been for two weeks! Today, after a short nap, I actually feel pretty good…thank goodness! Moving on to my answer:

    I would say that writing is transformative for me because writing allows me to get all the feelings and thoughts that linger around in my head out and I can learn from whatever the result to move on. Writing allows me to think things out that trouble me and therefore, I can grow/learn from the situation. I love my journal! What is also a great way to see the transformation of yourself is by reading your past journals. I need to that again!

  16. 16 David Noceti September 17, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    You know how our characters tend to be patterned after ourselves? They take on our traits, say things we would say, do the things we would do, so on and so forth. Well, I just realized during a brainstorming session with a friend that they also have our pitfalls. Their story worthy problems tend to be our own. My character’s fear of success is my fear of success. When I’m aware of these things, helping my character through their problems has the potential to help me through mine.

    But in the same way it can help, it can also hinder. If we’re not ready to face those things holding us back, we might not be able to make it through our story. Definitely a double edged blade.

  17. 17 Stephanie September 17, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    The act of writing transforms me from someone who worries about my family, my finances, my job status, my parenting strategies, and whether or not to eat that last piece of cold pizza in the fridge, into someone who believes I can make a difference, who believes I can create beauty with words, and who believes in myself. For the moment, it is wonderful!

  18. 18 writethejourney September 17, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Absolutely. It’s probably one of the reasons I made the decision to begin writing “for real” (not just in a journal). Writing essays (though I haven’t completed many) and blog posts is an emotional process as well as a writing task. They come out best when I write the truth, and in order to write truthfully, I have to do some internal observation. I almost always come to a different conclusion than I thought I would.

    I even find transformation in the nonfiction articles I write. Because I researched whole grains, I now avoid enriched white flour when I can. As a result of an article on vaccinations, I have a stronger opinion than I did before and feel prepared to discuss it more intelligently. A piece on the gluten-free diet helps inform my understanding of the food needs of friends.

    The writing process itself–the hard work of wording something clearly and beautifully–also stretches me to be a better laborer and more dedicated person.

  19. 19 Brianne A September 17, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Journal writing is especially transformative for me. If I have a lot on my mind or I’m having a bad day, it’s so freeing to get it all out of my head and onto the paper. It also makes me more aware of the thoughts that I’m having. If I’m thinking negatively, seeing it in writing really helps me to turn my mood around and start changing my thoughts into positive ones.

  20. 20 Linda Harris September 17, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    I love Chapter After Chapter. It’s the kind of book you read over and over. The exercises are really great, too. (Just raving about the book, not entering to win the contest!)

  21. 21 1dancluvr September 17, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    What writing a novel has done for me is made me much more aware of language and word choices. Before I began this journey, I just threw sentences together, not thinking about passive vs. active verb tenses, using or not using adverbs, etc. Since I’ve finished my first draft of the novel and edited it repeatedly, I’ve become cognizant about how my word choices can impact the reader and bring him/her into my characters’ world. Does that make it transformative? I guess so. Especially since I use my new word choice skills in my nonfiction writing, too.

  22. 22 Joanna September 17, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    How can I be the first comment? Wow.

    Is writing transformative for me. Yes, often, although sometimes it’s just plain hard work that feels like a trudge. But I find it transforms me most when I’ve worked the hardest and have gotten into a zone, not unlike the runner’s high you can experience out on the trail. I feel transformed at the end of a solid round of free writing. I feel transformed when I’ve edited a piece to the point I think I’ve really nailed it.I feel transformed after a great interview. I feel transformed when I’ve fact-checked the heck out of a travel piece and know I really got it right (and maybe all I did was make phone calls all day, but I sure got the right information). I feel transformed when I get to see a piece in print. There are times when I don’t feel transformed, often when I’m not inspired by an assignment, but mostly those are few. I can almost always find something positive in the work.

  23. 23 Joyce Lansky September 17, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    Writing has transformed my life in that it has given me something that I really enjoy. I look forward to having the time to write and to connecting with other authors either through SCBWI conferences, writing listservs or Twitter. I have enhanced my creativity with works that I am proud of. It has also changed me in that I read a lot more than I ever did and see deeper into what I read.

  24. 24 Janel September 17, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    I have always been a big day-dreamer. For as long as I can remember I created little scenes and scenarios in my mind. Turning those alternative realities floating around in my head into stories makes me happy. It transforms me from just a wife and mother to a creative writer. Maybe someday I’ll sell enough of those stories that I will be confident enough to describe myself as a writer when I’m asked what I do for a living.

  25. 25 Kristen R. Murphy September 17, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    Okay. Okay. I now realize that you were already gone for the day to approve comments. I meant well!

  26. 26 Kelli Perkins September 17, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    Over the past year and a half since embarking on this journey to learn more about the writing world, make time to write, and then submit my work has been a transformation process in itself. The process is definitely not complete as I am not even close to where I want to be. My goal is to develop that discipline that is going to transform me as a writer and motivate me to stay the course.

  27. 27 Beth Cato September 17, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    Writing is transformative for me as well. It’s part enlightenment, part release, part escape. I get to be someone else for awhile – a mother trying to survive with her newborn in post-apocalyptic Seattle, a superhero who has lost her power – things far and varied from my mundane stay-at-home existence. Even when I write personal essays, I become a different person because I’m not who I was then. I can lose myself in a memory of my former self.

    Even more importantly, I transform into a better person because of my writing. I’ve learned new discipline and resolve, and I’ve taken some pretty harsh rejections and critiques. But I keep going. Why? Because I can’t see myself doing anything else. The only way to improve is to keep trudging along.

  28. 28 Diane J. September 17, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Sometimes,it just depends on the subject. If I’m writing about something I know and not doing any research, I don’t get a whole lot out of it. If, on the other hand, I’m writing about something that has peaked my curiosity, then yes, I am getting something out and learning is always transformative.

  29. 29 Kathy Bitely September 17, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Writing is definately transformative. I can start out in one mood and the simple act of pen on paper transforms chaos to peace as I try to spell out the issues or thoughts. Writing has the power to transform others as well. This is my prayer – that God will use my words to help others. I hope that others would learn from my experiences and mistakes, or be motivated or helped along in the right direction.

  30. 30 Sheila Siler September 17, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    Is writing transformative for me? Yes, it helps me process my thoughts and feelings into something tangible. The best writing I have done has been about events in my children’s lives that touch inside me as a mother. I have written about the experience of watching the Wizard of Oz on stage through my five year old’s eyes and the embarrassment of my 15 year old when he broke his first pair of glasses after only a week. I find that putting those situations down on paper helps me to see things differently, and process them. A side effect is that I am constantly looking at my family’s life and when things happen, good or bad, my first thought is “how would I write about this”. I think it makes me a bit more patient.

  31. 31 Brandy September 17, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    I think for me, writing transforms my mood. When I have written something that I am particularly proud of, or something that I think I have written well, it makes me feel a huge sense of accomplishment. It gives me confidence to push ahead with writing more. I feel like I have a contribution to make to someone somewhere. Writing is my outlet, even if it is only a few sentences a day. When I am unable to write honestly or regularly I feel grumpy and stifled.

  32. 32 Carrie Ure September 17, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    Absolutely! I have always gained objectivity about myself through journaling. To put an issue on the page allows me to turn it over, play with it, study it. To see my thinking in black and white helps me to detach from my opinions and beliefs and to consider other options, other people and new ideas. This, more than anything, helps me change. As I allow my written thoughts to turn away from myself and toward the big world, the transformative affect is magnified. And the process of growing a writing career is changing me dramatically. Just the fact that I have posted to this contest for seventeen days in a row, testifies to the changes happening for me. I’m developing good habits, taking time for myself, doing what I love instead of only what I should. This is new territory for me. I’m thrilled to have the good fortune to be a writer.

  33. 33 Beth Vogt September 17, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    Yes.
    Writing has changed me from a “big picture” person to a more detailed person. Not all the time–but definitely when I’m editing or when I’m fine-tuning my voice.
    As a writer, I’ve confronted fears, embraced my past, learned new things and realized through the retelling of stories just how blessed I am.
    I’ve also been transformed by all the other writers I’ve met. There passion, their vision, the way they strive to be better writers–all of that challenges me to grow as a writer too!

  34. 34 Amie September 17, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    The process of writing. The process of finding the words. The process of going back in memory. The process of looking out my window. The process of slowing down. The process of listening deeply. The process of discovering points of view. The process of sharing a story. The process of taking inventory. The process of coming back to the same empty place and finding a way to fill it again. The process of recovering a lost jem. The process of forgiving myself. The process of pushing myself. The process of letting go. The process of learning how to see. These are all the ways that writing transforms me.

  35. 35 Daree Allen September 17, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    Wow– such a short question, but one that requires much thought!

    At this stage, I’m not yet sure that the process of writing itself is transformative for me. However, almost everything I write about is the RESULT of transformative experiences–either mine or those around me. When I share how situations and circumstances in my life have changed me (in a positive way) and helped me learn and grow, I like to share it with others, and in turn pass on the transformation with them.

  36. 36 karen k September 17, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    Most definately. I wouldn’t have said this, or believed anyone who told me so until recently. When I wrote an essay for a contest about a particularly nasty time, my critique group helped me sort out that I wasn’t being honest. Turns out with myself or my readers. No wonder things weren’t right with the piece. Or me. I can’t help think without writing, I wouldn’t have turned that most valuable corner.

  37. 37 Mar Junge, c3PR September 17, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    Heather Sellers says, “Your book might not change the world (but it might make a difference). It is absolutely going to change you.” OK. I’ll agree with that. And so does just about every other writer mama who replied. Of course writing changes us in some way. But every career or pursuit changes the person performing the action. Mothering changes the woman. Practicing medicine changes the doctor. Waiting tables changes the server. Growing flowers changes the gardener. Finding a shopping cart changes the bag lady. In fact, all experiences cause change, even if it’s just recognizing that the person who experienced the change is now more experienced.

    But change and transformation are not the same. For writing to be truly “transformative,” it must radically change your appearance. Or your form. Or your character. Or your very nature. Has it? If you believe that writers are born with an undeniable urge to write, and that change is inevitable through the process of writing, then perhaps the only way writing can really be transformative is if it stops you from writing. And that’s unthinkable.

  38. 38 Tonja September 17, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    I don’t write nearly as much as I think about writing. When I am actually able to sit down and write, whether it is journaling about my life and my family or tackling a fiction piece, it certainly is transformative. In my daily life, I am unorganized and chaotic. When I write, I am able to channel that disorganization and chaos into something clear and simple. The process of writing forces my busy mind to be still and the focus becomes necessary. Afterward, I walk in this state of euphoria because I have put thoughts to paper (or electronic document in my case!). It is a natural high for me. I only wish it would last a bit longer, but then the real world kicks back in. The circle is unbroken.

  39. 39 Melissa M September 17, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    I have come to realize that the type of writing I enjoy – and in turn am most likely to excel at – is by very definition the variety that has the propensity to transform me (the writer) as well as – when applicable – the reader. I can blame a plethora of powerfully transformative private moments journaling for first giving me the writing bug long ago. And while not every piece – privately penned or publicly published – can (or should) hold equal weight in the “power to transform” category, I continue to be drawn to writing that transforms – that which makes a difference in the lives of others (or simply in the life of little ol’ me) – and have learned to embrace rather than resist this inclination.

  40. 40 Sarah Lindsey September 17, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    Writing is definitely transformative for me…it has been since I got my first journal at seven years old. I have always been more on the quiet side, but with writing, I feel the freedom to express anything and everything on my mind and in my heart. It provides me with a clear, strong voice that I wouldn’t otherwise possess. Not to mention, it helps me in my juggling act of mother and career.

  41. 41 Jessica Varin September 17, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    Definitely yes.
    Writing gives shape to memory, clarifies ideas, and creates peace. I can pour my heart into paper and leave it there if I need to.
    Even the process of editing can be transformative. I have the opportunity to mold fact or fiction to reflect what and how I feel about a piece.
    Writing changes my world. Writing can change the world.

  42. 42 Kris Lozano September 18, 2009 at 1:54 am

    Yes. Oh, wait…49 words to go 🙂

    I find writing transformative in a similar way to many here. It has always been much easier to convey my thoughts in writing than verbally. If I care for someone, I can take my time and write them a thoughtful note MUCH easier than I can face to face. In that way, I am transformed from being perceived as an aloof person to a caring person. So I suppose that at least my perception is transformed.

    Another way that I am transformed is in my thought life. When I’m struggling with an issue, a decision, stress or difficult personalities in my life (we all have them, right?!) I turn to my journal. I find that in the process of writing I find enlightenment. It’s almost like I’m ‘talking’ to my best friend and in the process I work out my feelings on the particular subject, thereby transforming my attitude, solidifying a perspective and often coming to a decision or course of action I would have otherwise not been able to reach.

    I love these questions! Great writing prompts!! Keep ’em coming Ms. Katz 🙂


  1. 1 Day 17: And the winner is… « The Writer Mama Riffs Trackback on September 18, 2009 at 6:11 am
  2. 2 The 2009 Giveaway List: The Writer Mama Back-To-School Giveaway Starts Tuesday, September 1st! « The Writer Mama Riffs Trackback on September 30, 2009 at 10:02 am
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