Susan Dennard, Writing and Everything Else

I was going to do a top five Wednesday today, but when I went to start it I was really struggling to come up with stuff that followed this weeks topic.

Instead, I’m taking note from Jenn (she does Thursday Thoughts from time to time and they’re always so thought provoking and interesting) and writing about something more meaningful.

I’ve said it many times, but in case you’re new here or you’ve missed it in other posts, I used to be a journalist. I’ve worked for several newspapers as well as doing PR for associations and editing websites. So, it should come as no shock when I say that writing, for me, comes naturally.

Or, at least did.

Since leaving the journalism field and becoming a teacher, I’ve given up a lot of the time I used to spend writing. Honestly, it would take me an hour to write a 700 word article before — with quotes and facts and the whole layout of a proper news story. Now, 700 words sometimes feels painful.

So, to the point of this post. I planned to spend my summer hammering out a rough draft to a story I’ve had circulating in my head for a while. For weeks this summer I watched myself sit down in front of the computer, turn on music and stare at a blank screen with a cursor that seemed to enjoy mocking me.

My professors and editors always said that writing is it’s own part of your brain — its own muscle — and it needs to be exercised. I hadn’t exercised that part of my brain in almost a year and I’d never felt lower about myself. You guys, I actually had a moment where, while watching 10 hours worth of Pretty Little Liars, I believed that I was just wrong about everything in my life. That I wasn’t “Eden the Writer and Co-Owner of a Semi-Successful Book Blog” but “Eden That Loser That Watched Five Season’s of PLL in Two Weeks”.

It was like this crazy identity crisis and nobody I knew could fully understand how much of a fraud I thought I was.

Then Susan Dennard started doing her writing sprints and Q&As and it all reminded me that I wasn’t alone. Dennard has talked a lot about how much she struggled to put together Windwitch, and while I am in no way comparing myself or anything I’ve done to the success of Dennard, I can finally sympathize with that struggle.

Dennard answered a question that seemed to help alleviate my struggle. (I’m sorry to whoever asked this because you really helped me here and I would love to thank you personally) It was: How do I make a scene happen when it’s not actually happening? (Or something along those lines).

Her answer was simple: draw it out. Make notes and diagram it and break down every detail until you have the piece constructed enough that it’s simple enough to write down.

What’s crazy, is I knew this. I’ve done it time and time again when I’ve written articles, stories, whatever. It was just that I’d been out of it so long that I’d freaked myself out because I hadn’t fully formed my scene.

Even more, she gave another bit of advice that was hugely important:

If you stress than you will never get anything written because stress to kills your motivation.

With all that said, this is for my writers out there that are struggling to get words to paper:

  1. Remember that you’re not incapable of telling your story. It’s just the stress.
  2. If you need some solid advice because you feel like you’re floundering ask for help. Apparently that’s allowed.




3 thoughts on “Susan Dennard, Writing and Everything Else

  1. All of this! So much!

    I think there’s also this pressure that people feel in creative pursuits where it becomes necessary to always be writing because that’s the sage advice of people who are making their living as writers. But also, everyone has their own path to walk. Always be writing is ideal but I think it’s more critical that everyone who wants to write finds their authentic voice and methods.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so true! Honestly, I think people’s biggest issue is that mental block from too much pressure and the pressure to always be writing. I think that pressure had a lot to do with what was stopping me. I’d spent so much time with the job that pays my bills that I’d put my writing aside and my brain just saw that as bad.

      You’re so right about finding an authentic voice and discovering the best methods for writing. These are just such important aspects of writing. It’s easy to get bogged down in the self doubt.

      Thanks for the comment!


  2. Thank you for writing this! As someone who is determined / motivated to finish three novel attempts from three past NaNoWriMos (and have an idea percolating for a fourth), I now realize that I need to get out of my own head (A lot!). I really appreciate this post. Seeing advice is so valuable to me – As a visual learner, I do much better sometimes when I’m able to read things and process them in my head. I also stress myself out, and I’ve learned to step away from my blog or whatever project it is for a little while. The break typically helps me refresh and rejuvenate. Plus, after the break, I usually have a burst of energy and motivation! I also set monthly goals for myself on the blog – One for this month is to write 200 more words for my 2012 NaNoWriMo attempt, and I’m excited to accomplish that! Breaking it down into chunks, just like learning something for school, is so helpful, and it’s less overwhelming and daunting. You guys are awesome!


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