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Writing in the Dark Part 2: Writer Joy by Guest Blogger and Middle-Grade Writer Susan Leigh Needham

Hi again, friends! As promised with this week’s BLOG DOUBLE-FEATURE (cue the brass band once more!), here is Part 2 of the Writing in the Dark series, written by fabulous guest blogger and Middle Grade writer Susan Leigh Needham!

Susan will explore the concept of finding your Writer Joy, and how to keep that fire burning when you hit those inevitable rainstorms on your path to publication. Enjoy!

“It is not about the destination, it's about the journey.” And for a writer that journey can take a long time so you should try your best to sit back, ride the waves as they go up and down, and enjoy it. Though the ‘downs’ aren’t usually as joyful as the ‘ups’, they are a starting point from which to soar up to find your joy.

Recognize that down feeling when it comes, analyze why it is happening, and move forward.

Focus on how you write best and don’t worry about what works for other writers. Maybe you like short writing bursts. Maybe you can only write at night or when you are locked away from the world. Pay attention to what works for you and let that knowledge of your habits instill confidence. Will your writing habits change? Probably. But they are YOUR writing habits. You control them. Be flexible and go with the flow. Sometimes there is a high tide of creativity and sometimes the tide is low. As writing projects change from brainstorming all the way through final edits, your habits can change. From project to project, your habits can change. Make them work for you (and your Writer Joy).

Take those little lemons, add a ton of sugar, and make some positivity juice that fuels your creativity and imagination!

I am sharing a list of some things you might try if you are feeling that your writing habits need a little something new. Remember there are so many different kinds of writers, all with different habits. The key is to find a writing rhythm that you enjoy.

Try these:

— Schedule your writing goals on a calendar. Some find a daily checklist is helpful, while others like a weekly or monthly goal list. I really find that this helps me stay on target and the sense of completion keeps me in charge of the process - which keeps me positively smiling!

— Recharge. Take an inspiration break from writing by doing something related and helpful to your writing project. Make a music playlist, draw a character or a world-building map, or make a mood board or an aesthetic. OR Take a rest from all writing related things. Binge on some Netflix. Give your brain some fresh air. Sometimes the creative tide goes out and you need to just wait until it comes back. The tide always comes back in.

— READ for the fun of it.

— Find a writing buddy. They can simply be an accountability partner, or they can even swap pages with you for feedback. Sometimes when we writers are down, we simply need a writing buddy that we trust to point the way back up.

— Sometimes, it’s all about the timing. Write for 10 more minutes. I find this tactic motivates me. I think I am about to finish a writing session. I check the clock and will just dedicate myself to writing to the next hour or ½ hour. I am always surprised how much more I get done and those types of accomplishments are generally rewarded with a kitchen dance party. Take advantage of times when you will not be interrupted. You know when they are. You love those little interrupters but they can be zappers of creativity and imagination. We need to protect those things that are essential for storytelling!

— Don’t expect perfection the first time. Most published writing projects have gotten where they are in the editing and revision process. I have more ‘A-HA’ moments in those later stages of writing - and they are a big boost for my Writer Joy!

Something to think about in search of your Writer Joy:

What is that one book or story that inspired you to give writing a try?

Do you remember that feeling when you first started? Do you still feel that way? If not, why?

About Susan Leigh Needham

Susan Leigh Needham has been creating and sharing stories since she learned to talk. When Susan isn’t writing stories for children, you can probably find her outside playing, hiking, or boating with her family. Susan lives in North Carolina with her husband, Eric, and children, Nicholas and Lily. She is currently seeking representation for a fantasy novel for middle-grade readers and crafting a new children’s story about the environment. You can find her online at .

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