Some Inspiration: Joyce Hollyday
Treatment Plan #7: Borrowing Faith

Treatment Plan #6: What would if feel like to ________

Mae writing 1Hey, insanely interesting Writerly Women. I try to limit my granddaughter stories to one per conversation. Otherwise I would be even more insufferable than I am now. But, I mean, seriously, it does not get cooler than this in my world. (Even with the kitchen reno still in progress around us.)

Maeryn is writing a chapter book for her parents for Christmas as part of our homeschooling for writing in M&N Studio (Maeryn and Nanny). With the story board done, she writes a chapter or two in each session and is now up to 1100 words, an achievement of which she is understandably proud. My new favorite question coming out of her mouth: Do you want to hear what I have so far? That usually means going all the way back to the beginning every time, but who am I to argue with that?

The project has evolved. It started off as a short story, and the more she added to the story board,  the more it became apparent that that container wasn't big enough to hold everything. When I asked her if she wanted to give a chapter book a go, she was all over it. She wanted to see what it felt like to write a book. 

So far, it seems to feel pretty good. ADHD makes some forms of concentration a challenge, but when Maeryn is plugged into writing this piece of fiction, she can sit for 30 to 40 minutes, typing, re-reading, editing and, of course, sharing with me. When she really gets into it, she starts abandoning articles of clothing and changing position so she can keep going.  I act like I'm also working on my novel beside her, when in truth I'm simply basking. Bask. Ing. Mae writing 2

My nine-year-old granddaughter is  sticking with her project by experiencing what it feels like to write something she loves.  It feels good, satisfying, confidence-building, so she wants to do it some more. She reflects what I have come to know as a truth: if we allow ourselves to do something that makes us feel positive and fulfilled, we'll want to repeat that experience. It won't feel like self-discipline to clean the house if the end result is some pretty smug satisfaction. It won't require an act of will to practice yoga or Pilates if you come out of a session feeling energized. Who needs accountability to stay on a healthy eating plan when those jeans you couldn't squeeze into last winter now zip up without your having to hyperventilate in the process? We do what brings us into the zone that feels most like us, in our True Nature.

The same applies to "finding time to write." If we're "making ourselves" sit in front of the computer and write 500 words before we're allowed to get up for a coffee, we're not going to stay with that regimen for very long, as we talked about in a previous post. But what if it felt GOOD to create a scene? What if finding just the right word or image made you grin, earring to earring? What if putting in 90 minutes without interruption was right up there with savoring a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream? Actually, if that isn't the feeling we get, why are we writing in the first place?

I've shared with you that I was fooling myself into thinking I was writing when in truth I was sort of afraid to.  So I tried an experiment. What if I did just turn off my phone, close down the email, fix myself the perfect cup of tea and luxuriate in writing a chapter of my novel? How would I feel? That involved shedding the Donald-Maass voice in my head -- the wails of fellow writers about the market -- the tape that turns on and says, Isn't it a little late to be starting down a new writing path? It involved composing at the keyboard for the sheer joy of it. Writing at Walden POndI gave me permission to stop if I started to feel anxious -- if I began questioning my work, my abilities -- basically if it ceased to be a joy.

I never had to. Because the better I felt about my creative session, the more delicious the experience turned out to be, the more I wanted to do it. I'm not suggesting that writing is always sheer Nirvana. It's called a WORK of literature for a reason. But I'm thinking that if we always dread it -- if we find ourselves grinding our teeth in front of the screen -- if we can't wait for it to be over so we can, oh, I don't know, go clean the toilet -- we need to ask ourselves if this is really how we want to spend our time. 

I'm betting that giving up completely and getting into origami or something isn't an option for you, or you wouldn't be here. So, let's try an experiment, yes? Here's your challenge:

        * Name your favorite part of the writing experience. Maybe it's tapping out a first draft with abandon (like Emii). Could be it's doing the research or journaling with the characters. Very possibly you like coming up with great dialogue or precise images or writing fight scenes. 

        * Set aside time and space -- at least an hour -- and do THAT part of writing. Even if that's not where you are with your current project, you can adapt or focus on a new work. Savor. Make it delicious. Do it like you're already a published author in demand and have nothing to worry about from editors or agents. Let. It. Be. FUN.

        * Share with us how that felt. Tell us if you want to do it again. And again and again and again. Can you just do that part of writing all the time? Um, no. But if you have a positive experience in front of that laptop or with that legal pad in this one area, that will translate into the rest of the process. It's that good, satisfied feeling that keeps us going -- not stick-to-it-ive-ness -- not grit -- not guilt. Hannah doing research

I'm here to tell ya, if you feel great while you write, someone holding your book in her hand at some future time is going to feel great while she reads. I have it on the best authority.

Can't wait to hear from you -- ALL of you. Even if you've been lurking in the shadows, come into the light and for Pete's sake have some FUN!      



Nancy Rue           


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Nancy Rue

That sounds like great progress, Margie! ENJOY!!!

Margie Wood

Nancy, Thank you for creating this community that I needed so badly. After the inspiration of our Zoom fun a few weeks ago, I felt a kick in the pants to get started. (I seem to need these a lot!) I'm more than half way into a first draft of my second book and have a wonderful mentor/coach. But I just couldn't get out of stuck mode. No matter what I did.

For several months, I've been contemplating all the fun and not so fun aspects of self publishing. I've started a website several times but nothing ever felt right and was always abandoned for a better time. (which never seem to come)

Finally, something clicked. Or I should say Someone. I just felt that nudge from God that I should make a website my priority. I scheduled a vacation day from work a few weeks ago and purchased a very cool WordPress theme at a Black Friday sale. It's just the beginning but I'm so pleased to be on the right track. My goal is to have the website complete and ready to share with the world by the end of this month. (and the end of this year!)

In January I will get back to the draft of Book 2. It's been percolating in my brain all this time and I'm excited to see how the story will unfold.

Nancy Rue

That is a GORGEOUS comment, Skeli. You have captured what it's like for almost every single writer on the planet -- the ebb and flow. An ebbing tide leaves the shore naked, and that's when we can see the stuff we don't really need. I love it when you come up with a metaphor that continues to work!

Nancy Rue

Thanks! We named it together, and Maeryn calls it that consistently.

Nancy Rue

Not that you need permission, Emii -- grown women simply do not need permission -- but yes, you ARE allowed to do whatever the Sam Hill you want when it comes to your creativity, your passion, your purpose. Who was it who said, "Do what you love, and you will never work a day in your life."? I'm going to look that up ...

Nancy Rue

This is a GREAT comment, Colleen. I especially love the part about the goal being CREATIVITY rather than PRODUCTIVITY. A thought about the first draft -- it can be absolutely skeletal. I consider my 40-page outline to be my first draft. That gives me permission to play when I start to flesh it out. Might that help?


Pam! A story in 1844? Wish I could read it!

As to the challenge, if I had read it last year, I'd be like "Well, that's kinda how I always write, because if it ain't juicy, what's the point?" But this year has been so full of challenges and remembering to let it be when the words won't come has been the learning for me. Writing is like the tide for me, ebb and flow. If the tide is out, I can throttle a few words from my characters, but I end up feeling like a wrung out sponge. I need to remind myself that it is ok to do other creative things, fill the well etc. When the tide is in, my favourite part is looking into a juicy scene with my characters and finding out what is going to happen with them, and then finding the precise words that give it all the flavour. And that's what I'm planning for today's writing time. :) -Skeli


I absolutely love the M&N Studio, by the way.

Pam Halter

I meant to put this here, so I copied it. Sorry if you read it twice.

My favorite part of writing is getting that new idea, writing the beginning, dreaming about the middle and ending, doing research, and writing that first paragraph. After that, it's HARD WORK! hahaha! That's when most people give up. They don't know you can have the whole dang story in your head, but getting it out on paper is truly hard work. But it's worth it.

I usually don't write in December because of Christmas sewing and crafting and baking ... but I wrote a short story last week for a Christmas anthology set in 1844. That was some fun research! It helped that some of us put each other's characters into our stories. Gave me a path to follow. Once I got going on it, it was actually fun. I did everything I said above and made myself sit down everyday and write a little. I finished it a day early of the deadline and just under 3,000 words.

Can I say how GOOD it feels to accomplish something hard? Even though I'm mostly a picture book writer, a short story is NOT like writing a picture book.


Wow. I love this. A challenge to do what I want to do. I'm allowed to do that? Really? Okay. This week, I'll give it a go. Thank you.


I felt like you were “channeling” me in this post. And somehow it gives me all kinds of permission to perceive me and what I accomplish differently. My sister is always asking how I am doing in productivity. *Shove bamboo under my fingernails* She is a methodical, list doer. I seriously wonder why I’m the first born. Anyway, I have decided, and believe it or not, just recently, that my goal isn’t productivity. It’s creativity. That sheds a whole different light on my life and daily stuff. What I LOVE to do in my work is the rewrite. Looking for a stronger verb or adjective, adding sensorial details, an original simile. . . That’s where I have fun. But for that I need a rough draft. That’s where I struggle. That’s where I long for a breakthrough and want it to be fun, too. I’m rambling. I’ll be back to tell you how I feel doing that when I have the draft to do it to!

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