Growing Your Writing Practice

By Deborah Lyn Stanley

We’ve been writing and developed certain habits. Maybe this is a good time to improve our practice, or even call it our custom: our personal way of working.

First, let’s list the reasons why we write.
1.    To explain what happened and why it matters,
2.    To hold dear things that would otherwise be lost through the passage of time,
3.    To embrace the writing process for personal discovery, to make sense of things,
4.    To stretch our imagination and write more creatively,
5.    We make connections as we write and see more clearly, because it’s greater than just us.

Second, what stalls our process, or what holds us back?
1.    Expectations of perfection break our stride,
2.    The critic inside cripples with thoughts of  “you’re just not good enough”,
3.    Creativity is a vulnerable place, under attack it breeds anxiety and then we flounder at the keyboard’s blank page

To grow confidence and build a stronger writing life, let’s further develop our everyday custom and practice of working.
1.    Give yourself a special place to write, for just writing: A place of quiet, a place to listen, and a place of inspiration with a view window.
2.    It’s a place that speaks of “well-being” that surrounds you with your favorite books and reference materials.
3.    Include a keepsake that grounds you in the positive, to reflect on the best moments of life.
We need that positive energy to spark our creativity and develop our thoughts.

What changes can you make to your writing space to give you more energy and creativity?

We want to share our work. Only do so to the right person, ideally someone of similar nature, who respects and appreciates you.

It seems a common occurrence with writers to think they are in good company. You share your article or story, and the crusher follows. It happened to me too. I read my essay in a quaint critique group and the leader crushed, distorted and joked as feedback. I quit writing for a few weeks until I realized what was going on, pulled up my bootstraps, bowed out of the association graciously, then continued writing. It seems we need these kinds of experiences to discern what, why and with whom to connect.

Consider joining a group or organization of writers for support, companionship, and ideas, while nurturing your writing. It has to feel right, chemistry matters. Then be specific when you share your work by asking for exactly what you want. Some feedback is on point and strengthens your work; others are just bad advice or resemble a “takeover”. Learn, by experience to judge what is of value to you and what is not.

It’s A Journey We Are On, A Journey Of Discovery,
Practice and Process, Always Learning  


Deborah Lyn Stanley is an author of Creative Non-Fiction. She writes articles, essays and stories. She is passionate about caring for the mentally impaired through creative arts.
Visit her My Writer’s Life website at:   
Visit her caregiver’s website:

Mom & Me: A Story of Dementia and the Power of God’s Love is available:


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Karen Cioffi said...

Deborah, what a great article. What stalls our process hits every writer at one time or another. And, it is so important to find the right critique group. There should always be a way to offer input across without crushing the author. It was a wise decision to move on.

Kayleen Reusser said...

Thanks for this article. I have learned much. As a leader of a Christian writing club, I admit it is easy to fail in providing appropriate feedback for each member. Each person seems to want something specific. That can be hard when it is at the end of the meeting and we're ready tired and ready to leave. We're now designing our meetings to have critique first, announcements later.

Terry Whalin said...

Deborah Lyn,

You have some wonderful ideas and steps for every writer--whether a beginner or experienced. If something isn't working in our wwriting life (space, writing, whatever), we need to make adjustments and you have given each of us some great direction. Thank you.

author of Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success (Revised Edition)

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Love your opening list. It gave me warm fuzzies about writing. I needed that this drizzly morning!
Carolyn Howard-Johnson

lastpg said...

Excellent article, Deborah. My current critique group is trying something new rather than simply reading the critiques from our track changes. First we read a few sentences that we liked of an author's work, then the author asks questions about the work. It was an enjoyable way to critique. We had excellent discussions. I also agree with what you said about having our own writing space. Mine has been my refuge for many years, a place that has helped me gather my thoughts, let my hair down, and create; a place that has helped ground me.

Sallie Wolf said...

Deborah, the reasons to write really hit home with me, especially #3--"to hold dear things that would otherwise be lost through the passage of time."

I will be revisiting this reason over and over as it explains to me, in a way I have never myself expressed nor heard expressed by someone else before, why I write (and why I make art) and why I choose the subject matter I choose.

Thank you for this insight.

Sallie Wolf

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