How to Overcome Pitfalls in Critiques of Your Work

Never give up!

Sharing your work-in-progress, WIP, takes courage. Our work is so personal. We’ve invested our heart and soul into it. It can be stressful to allow someone else to read what’s so personal to us, let alone have them critique it. The fear is that a critique could so easily become a criticism, not only of our work, but we may perceive that a critique could even be something negative about us, personally. 

Since I began writing to publish in 1989, I’ve participated in quite a few different types of critique groups. In that time, most critiques have gone smoothly. But I’ve known writers who have taken great offense to certain critiques of their work. It’s happened to me, and perhaps it’s happened to you.

Certainly, writers must know not to take critiques personally. But in some cases that’s easier said than done. The two most, shall I say, challenging critiques happened to one of my writing friends. And to me. 

My Friend’s Critiquing Stumbling Block 

She’d been a business woman, an executive with many employees working for her, had written reports, instructional materials, and letters and emails and more, for many years. She decided to try her hand at writing picture books. She read hundreds of picture books, took courses, and studied hard to learn how to write picture books. 

Her stories have the funniest, wackiest ideas that she has shaped into many picture book manuscripts that sparkle with wit, original characters, and are just plain fun. The members of her critique group, many of whom I know personally, genuinely have critiqued her work to the best of their ability. They have helped her shape many of her stories with structure, essential elements, word length, and all that goes into writing a picture book. 

But their critiques became very painful for my friend. I’m afraid she felt that they were too hard on her. My thoughts? Her stories are wonderfully inventive and original. She simply needs to stick with it.

My Own Critiquing Difficulty

I came from an elementary teaching background. When I began substitute teaching rather than working full-time, I taught myself how to write non-fiction by reading books and taking courses; and wrote articles for newspapers and magazines for adults and children. That experience helped a great deal when I turned to writing fiction for children. My first few years (more than a few, truth be told) of learning to write children's fiction were replete with setbacks. My stories needed all kinds of work. Understanding what goes into writing fiction for children is not easy to learn. It takes years of trying. It was mind boggling how much I still had to learn. 

A few years ago, I received what I perceived as a harsh critique for the pages I submitted, about a humorous middle grade story, for 8-12-year-olds. It's a story that one day I want to write based on funny experiences I had during my childhood. I brought a few episodes of the funniest stories, written in third person point of view, with action, dialogue, and a close inner dialogue showing my character's thoughts, feelings, and motivations. I thought my group would love it! I thought they’d laugh their heads off! I certainly had fun writing it! 

Instead, at the meeting one of the critiquers told me point blank that kids today wouldn’t like my story. That I was old-fashioned and out of touch. I was stung and went home and cried. I spent a few days obsessing on what the critiquer had said, ready to give up writing for children, thinking I didn't have what it takes. But I didn't give up just yet. I dropped that project and moved on. 

Later, I presented the same episodes, edited now, to another critique group. I told them what the critiquer had said and honestly didn't know how I would be able to succeed with this story. Together they helped me come up with a solution: make my story historical fiction. I went home and read comparable books, such as Dead End in Norvelt, winner of the Newbery Medal, by Jack Gantos, and the multiple Eisner award-winning graphic memoir, Guts, by Raina Telgemeier, both based on the authors’ childhoods.

In the end, the “harsh” critique wound up being the best advice I could have gotten. It opened my eyes. It made me realize what to shoot for. For me, not stories with current language kids get. I believe that kind of writing needs to be left to writers intimately involved with today’s children. I am not. I'm retired. My grandchildren live across the country. I realized that I need to stick to stories I know. Stories I want to tell. Stories that might even include bits of history if I sneak them in just right. 

By now, you’ve probably guessed what I’m driving at. As is true for all writers, I’ve had many disappointments through the years. But I never gave up. I stuck with it.  An editor once told a class I took that it’s not so much the talented of us who become successful writers; it's the writers who persevere. I hope my friend is one of those writers. I know I am. 

Reader, please don’t let experiences such as what happened to my friend and me stop you. You might get hurt. You might suffer like we did. But if you stick with it, keep reading and studying, and keep writing, I believe you will come up with a plan that will fit you just right. As long as you stick with it.

Photo by Linda Wilson: On a bitter cold and windy day in Albuquerque, New Mexico, these pygmy nuthatches clung to a twig in the giant pine tree in my backyard. They were shaking, I couldn't tell from being cold or from the wind blowing the branch they were perched on. They'd come for the bird seed in my feeder. One by one they would swoop down, eat what they could, then fly back to the branch. They never gave up!

Remember: You are already a
success if you listen to your
inner voice and keep trying. It's
amazing how many creative ways
you will discover to do most anything!

Linda Wilson is the author of the Abi Wunder Mystery series and other books for children. Her two new releases are Waddles the Duck: Hey, Wait for Me! (2022) and Cradle in the Wild: A Book for Nature Lovers Everywhere (2023). You’ll find Linda on her Amazon author page, on her website at, and on Facebook.

Are Limiting Beliefs Keeping You from Writing Your Book?

by Suzanne Lieurance

Do you want to write a book, yet you just can’t seem to sit down and do it?

Well, most likely, you have some limiting beliefs that are getting in your way.

Limiting beliefs can significantly hinder you from reaching your goal to write a book in several ways.

See if any of the following seem familiar:

#1. Self-Doubt.

Limiting beliefs often lead to self-doubt, where you may question your abilities, creativity, or worthiness to write a book. 

You may believe you're not talented enough, don't have anything valuable to say, or fear criticism from others.

#2. Fear of Failure.

If you have limiting beliefs, you may fear failure or rejection, causing you to procrastinate or avoid writing altogether. 

You may worry about not being able to finish the book, not finding a publisher, or receiving negative feedback about your manuscript.

#3. Perfectionism. 

Limiting beliefs can fuel perfectionism, where you set unrealistically high standards for yourself and your writing. 

You may constantly revise and edit your work, striving for unattainable perfection, which can stall progress and prevent you from completing the book.

#4. Comparison.

If you have limiting beliefs, you may compare yourself to other authors, feeling inadequate or inferior in comparison. 

This comparison mindset can demotivate you and undermine your confidence in your writing abilities.

#5. Imposter Syndrome. 

Imposter syndrome is common among writers and stems from the belief that one's achievements are undeserved or the result of luck rather than skill or effort. 

With imposter syndrome you may feel like a fraud or worry that you'll be exposed as incompetent, which can hinder your progress and productivity.

#6. Negative Self-Talk.

Limiting beliefs often manifest as negative self-talk, where you constantly have critical or self-sabotaging thoughts. 

This negative inner dialogue can erode your confidence, motivation, and creativity, making it difficult to generate ideas or make progress on your book.

#7. Lack of Confidence. 

Ultimately, limiting beliefs chip away at your confidence in yourself and your abilities. 

Without confidence, you may struggle to take risks, express yourself authentically, or share your work with others, all of which are essential components of writing a book.

So, how do you overcome those limiting beliefs that are keeping you from writing your book?

Take these steps:

Step #1. Identify Your Limiting Beliefs.

First, notice those pesky thoughts that make you doubt yourself or your writing. 

You know, the ones that say you're not good enough or that your ideas stink.

Step #2. Challenge Those Limiting Beliefs.

Once you've spotted those negative thoughts, challenge them! 

Ask yourself if there's any real basis for these beliefs or if they're simply assumptions or perceptions.

Think of times when you rocked it as a writer or when someone praised your work. 

Step #3. Be Kind to Yourself.

Cut yourself some slack! 

Writing is tough, and it's okay to feel unsure sometimes.

It’s normal to have doubts and fears but remind yourself that you’re capable of overcoming them. 

Treat yourself like you would a friend who's struggling—with kindness and encouragement.

Step #4. Set Realistic Writing Goals.

Writing a complete book is a big goal and it can feel overwhelming. 

Break down this big goal into smaller, manageable tasks, like writing a certain number of pages each day or brainstorming ideas for a new chapter.

Step #5.  Celebrate Your Progress.

Even small victories deserve a reward! 

Finished a chapter? 

Treat yourself to a cookie. 

Got positive feedback from a friend? 

Give yourself a pat on the back. 

Every step forward is worth celebrating!

Step #6. Develop a Growth Mindset.

Be excited that your writing abilities can improve with effort and practice. 

Instead of seeing challenges as roadblocks, see them as opportunities to grow and improve as a writer.

Step #7. Make Friends with Other Writers.

Get to know your fellow writers. 

Share your struggles and successes with them. 

Soak up their support and advice like a sponge.

Step #8. Picture Success.

Close your eyes and picture yourself holding a finished book with your name on it. 

Imagine the thrill of readers loving your story.

Let that image motivate you to keep writing.

Step #9. Roll with the Ups and Downs.

Writing can be a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs. 

Some days the writing flows with ease, other days you can’t seem to get anything down on paper.

When you hit a rough patch, dust yourself off, learn from it, and keep on writing. 

You're tougher than you think!

Step #10. Just Stick with It.

The most important thing is to keep writing, even when it's hard. 

Set aside time each day to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. 

Every word you write brings you closer to writing your book.

Now, connect with other writers by joining Write by the Sea Creative Writers, our free Facebook group. 

And be sure to get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge and The Law of Attraction Checklist for Writers at

Suzanne Lieurance is an award-winning author, with over 40 published books, and a Law of Attraction coach for writers at


A Call for Writers to Find Balance

By Terry Whalin 

Within the publishing world, I’ve often heard it is harder to sign with a literary agent than to locate a publisher. Because publishers have been inundated with poor and inappropriate submissions, many of them have created policies of only accepting submissions from literary agents.  This practice created pressure on the agents to find the right authors, shape the right pitches and send to the right publisher. Also, agents have become gatekeepers in the publishing process. 

For over 30 years, I’ve worked with multiple agents on proposals and pitches. For several years I ran my own literary agency and I’m currently an acquisitions editor at my third publishing house. I’ve read thousands of submissions. Every writer needs to learn the skill of producing an excellent manuscript, book proposal and query letter or pitch.  You can learn each of these skills. Now you have created each of these tools and you are looking for the right literary agent. Here’s some basics (rarely verbalized facts you need to know):

1. The literary agent works for you. When you sign an agency agreement, you become one of their clients or the authors they represent. 

2. Some agents are former editors and will work back and forth with you to perfect your proposal and/or pitch. Other agents will take your proposal, add a cover letter and get it out to various publishers. Before you sign, I encourage you to ask about how they work with their authors and make sure it is the right fit for what you need.

3. How frequently does the agent communicate with you? Do they send you the rejections? Years ago, a well-known agent represented me and he never sent me the rejections. Instead, he would tell me, “Everyone passed, Terry.” When I asked who, he never gave me the specifics but repeated “everyone.”  When I was an agent, I sent each rejection to the specific author. Maybe you don’t want your rejections but ask about this practice ahead of signing.

4. Does the agent work with you on a list of possible publishers or do they create the list and handle it? Does the agent guide your future projects and bring you writing opportunities they have discovered from speaking with publishers? 

Some additional areas to examine include years in the industry, their list of other clients and ask if you can speak with a few of their clients. Also use google and see what you can learn. Also ask about their negotiation skills with contracts and some of their results. The business of publishing is filled with complexity. These are just a few of the questions to ask and make sure you have the right fit before you sign with a particular agent or agency. The agent or agency you select is an important decision. My encouragement is for you to ask questions before you sign their agreement and make sure it is the right fit for you and your writing goals.  I know many excellent literary agents. Writers have multiple choices in this area—whether you are aware of it or not. Good and clear communication is a critical part of the process.


As writers look for a literary agent, this prolific writer and editor has seen an imbalance in publishing. He calls writers into a balanced approach. Learn the details here. (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in California. A former magazine editor and former literary agent, Terry is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 nonfiction books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and Billy Graham. Get Terry’s recent book, 10 Publishing Myths for only $10, free shipping and bonuses worth over $200. To help writers catch the attention of editors and agents, Terry wrote his bestselling Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success. Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: Connect with Terry on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

Confessions of a Dyslexic Writer


Contributed by Margot Conor

I’ve always had an active imagination. As a child the adults in my life were unstable, dealing with their own problems and it left me adrift. No one noticed I was having trouble at school. I escaped by creating worlds where life didn’t hurt.

From a young age, I loved creating stories and I even tried to write them, but they were a mess of misspellings and reversed letters. Because of this difficulty with writing letters and numbers, my teachers accused me of being inattentive and lazy. Rather than recognizing I had a learning disorder and offering to give me additional attention, they would showcase my problems in front of the other students to shame me. My issues went undiagnosed and the damage to my self-esteem stuck.

I always wanted to be an author. I continued to write stories and attempted longer projects at various times over the years. I have many unfinished manuscripts and unpublished short stories. However, I didn't attempt to be a professional writer until technology provided a path forward for people like me.

As a child, I was not aware that there were other people who suffered from the same issues. It wasn’t until high school that I was tested. By that point, I had gotten very good at hiding it. But a teacher at a new school finally noticed and helped. These tests informed me that I had dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia.

Dysgraphia: issues with spelling, grammar, numbers. Writing letters in reverse, struggling to form written sentences with correct grammar and punctuation. Using verbs and pronouns incorrectly.

Dyscalculia: is a learning disorder that affects a person's ability to understand number-based information and math. People who have dyscalculia struggle with numbers and math because their brains don't process math-related concepts like others do.

As a generalization, these all get put under the umbrella of dyslexia. It is important to understand that no person’s brain exhibits the same form of dyslexia, we are all unique. I have also experienced changes; it is not a fixed problem. For example, when very young I saw everything in a mirror image, and I wrote everything backward.

I can still easily write and read in this way, but somehow, I made it turn around. Words now change places or morph into words they shouldn’t be. Letters and numbers get mixed up. With words I can cope, but with numbers, there is no place they should be. No order or rule for placement.

While we can’t change how our brains work, we can learn how to better work with the brain we’ve got. I began by enrolling myself in a reading course for dyslexic people. It taught me to glance at groups of words at a time, rather than trying to puzzle out each word individually. I had trouble with both Anagrams and Anadromes.

Anagram is a word or phrase formed by rearranging the letters to form another word. The original letters are used only once. (Fried - fired, bare - bear, reed - deer, calm - clam, listen - silent, secure - rescue).
Anadrome is a word or phrase with the same letters which form a different word when spelled backward. (Parts - strap, evil - live, stressed - desserts, deliver - reviled, drawer - reward, nametag - gateman).

People with dyslexia experience the wrong order of letters or words while reading. Glancing at a group of words I could determine what each word in a sentence was by context. It took practice but eventually, it sped my reading and comprehension significantly. I now read at a normal rate, and I read a lot!

Dyslexics have advantages over other many neurotypicals. We read patterns, body language, and facial expressions. Our verbal communication skills are strong. Because we have experience as outsiders we develop empathy for others. We have sensitive auditory processing, creative problem-solving, and increased 3-D spatial perception. We love to think outside the box and solve puzzles. We develop critical thinking and analysis skills, and the ability to problem-solve with creative concepts.

So, what happens when a person with this mix of limitations and gifts decides to take writing seriously and become an author? As a writer, I am what they call a Panster. This term came from the idiom “Fly by the seat of your pants.”

Many writers prefer to do outlines and have various ways to organize their story arcs by planning out each stage of their novel ensuring they hit every plot point. I have tried to do this; I would like to be a plotter! But it just doesn’t work for me. Nor can I write in a linear fashion, from the opening chapter to the end.

I begin with a rather cinematic view of a story; it comes to me visually. The characters form personalities and even live in my dreams. I write whatever they are doing, and whatever they tell me. The characters come alive in my imagination, I get involved in their dramas and troubles. I feel their needs and their desires. I start to see the possibilities and then I move with them on a journey that ultimately becomes a novel.

Finished for me begins with a folder full of chapters that are out of order. I only know in my mind that they will fit together to form a whole. Then I start to organize the chapters. It is like fitting together a puzzle. Sometimes I have to add a chapter here or there to tie the pieces together. Other times I must exclude chapters or whole subplots that don’t move the main story forward. I save those unused parts and they become novellas or short stories set in the same world as my novel.

It is only because of the modern age of access and the wonderful tools created for authors that I am now able to share my writing with the world. Previously I would have had to have someone retype my manuscripts to correct my misspellings, punctuation, and grammar. This sort of assistance was costly, and I didn’t have the income to support it. All my stories languished in boxes and later in computer files, waiting for me to get back to them.

Now, I first create a Word document. I like the Find-Replace feature. This allows me to type a word in the search box and every place it appears in the document will be highlighted. For example, if a misspelling is found in a character name or a made-up place, spellcheck might not catch it. I can type the various alternate spellings in the search box and find where I have reversed letters.

I use Grammarly and Autocrit to polish and edit my stories and manuscripts. Writing is a complex task, and several areas of our brains are involved in the process. There is no reason why someone with a brain like mine can’t be a successful author. There have been others before me. For example: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Agatha Christie, Richard Ford, George Bernard Shaw, Octavia Butler, WB Yeats, Gustave Flaubert, and Jules Verne to name a few.

I will follow in their esteemed footsteps and do the best I can with the way my mind sees the world. I hope you will enjoy my stories.

Thinking in 3-D
Visual-Spatial Abilities in Dyslexia: National Library of Medicine


Margot Conor has been writing for as long as she can remember, but it wasn't until the COVID lock-down that she had enough time to dedicate to the craft and bring something to completion. Having finished her first novel, she went through the grueling two-year process of editing. Now she has jumped into the author's world with both feet. She's preparing to debut her first novel, which means learning how to promote it. The last year has been spent attending many writing retreats, seminars, and writers' events. She also listened to presentations specifically on the topic of publishing and book marketing. She will be sharing what she learns with the reader.
Learn more about Margot at

Honoring Your Voice

As a writer, your voice is one of your most powerful assets. Whether you write fiction, non-fiction, novels, screenplays, marketing copy, you must accept, harness, and amplify that power to make the most impact with your words.

On a recent GoalChatLive, I discussed Honoring Your Voice with Stacia Crawford, David H Lawrence XVII, and Richard Walter. Stacia is a media strategist and founder of Stay Ready Media; David, who is an actor, voiceover artist, and educator, is founder of Narrate Your Own Book; and Richard, a long-time (now retired) screenwriting professor at UCLA, is a screenwriter and author, whose latest book is called Deadpan. The trio, who work in various aspects of storytelling (PR, voiceover, and writing), talked about the power of words, owning your voice, and more.

How to Honor Your Voice 

  • David: Your voice is far better than you think it is; realize the value of being human
  • Richard: Stop striving for perfection 
  • Stacia: Make sure you have something worth saying

Watch Our Conversation:


  • David: Reframe how you look at your voice 
  • Richard: Allow yourself to get distracted 
  • Stacia: Stop worrying about what other people think; your voice, your message, is unique to you
You have something to share - to write - say it loud and proud. That is the best way to honor your voice!

* * * 

For more inspiration and motivation, follow @TheDEBMethod on Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin! 

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How do you honor your voice? Please share in the comments. 

* * *
Debra Eckerling is the award-winning author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals and founder of the D*E*B METHOD, which is her system for goal-setting simplified. A goal-strategist, corporate consultant, and project catalyst, Debra offers personal and professional planning, event strategy, and team building for individuals, businesses, and teams. She is also the author of Write On Blogging and Purple Pencil Adventures; founder of Write On Online; host of  #GoalChatLive aka The DEB Show podcast and Taste Buds with Deb. She speaks on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Why Authors Should Learn to Love Amazon’s Freebies

Learning to Love Amazon’s Freebies


By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Award-winning writer of fiction and poetry and
author of the multi award-winning 
#HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers



Even with a publicity background, I stepped in lots of mucky publicity potholes when my first novel was published. Here on the four phases of my disillusionment:


  • I thought that hiring a professional was the only way to go—after all I had once been a New York publicist! so it was only natural to suppose that, right?
  • When I realized that book promotion not only offered but that it pretty much demanded processes that were different from the PR I had done professionally, I thought I had to hire one. And due to my frugality, I hated that, but I did it anyway.
  • When I realized I didn’t have to spend money and reclaimed my independence, I fell into shooting publicity bullets at…well, if not really the wrong audience, then certainly not the audience that would buy the most books.
  • I was new at the self-publishing part of my writing life, so I believed the misinformation I was hearing from authors who were determined to avoid Amazon.


Of course, I was dead wrong on all accounts. Primarily because when we learn new rules, they always seem so didactic. They leave no middle ground. I had to learn the hard way from each of first three phases. Luckily, I learned quite quickly that if Amazon sells 60% of the world’s books, they couldn’t be all bad even though my author friends loved to hate it.


So, I am now an Amazon fan who chooses to skirt the parts that seem antagonistic to a writer’s goals or research them to find why Amazon does those things. Most often, I learn something new (and positive) from that search. It is worth the effort. It is, after all, a great place to find people who read.


My favorite Amazon tool is a free KDP feature that lets authors (or publishers) dress up their book’s buy pages with quotes and images. Find the one my publisher did for the third edition of the winningest book in my series for writers, The Frugal Editor from Modern History Press. Self-publishers can do it, too, directly from their magical KDP bookshelf.


My second favorite is the profile page Amazon does for authors. It is w-a-ay underused by authors. When your readers use the “follow” icon on your profile page, Amazon pings all of those who followed with announcements of your newest book. The thing is, your readers need to know about the page even if they prefer not to be pestered with frequent emails. They will want to know about each of your new books! It’s free and it works. One of my mottoes is, “For a promotion to work you gotta promote the promotion.” So, here are some reasons to love profile pages and to get one for yourself:


  • If you’re self-published, you’re in charge of your own profile page. If you’re under contract to a publisher, you might have to ask them to do it, or give Amazon permission for you to do it for yourself.
  • It’s a great way to reach some of the readers you would otherwise never know about. Amazon never shares the names of people who have looked at your page or purchased your book, but they will share your book with those readers.
  • Amazon is a huge search engine where your book gets more exposure with the key words you or your publisher supplied when they installed your book on this wondrous online bookstore.
  • Every time you participate in one of Amazon’s features—that might be a review you post for your favorite books—your name links back to that page.
  • If you have a series, Amazon now offers a free series page where your new readers can order all the e-book versions of your books with one click. Amazon’s logarithms love that, too, and it helps with Amazon’s searches. (See the next bullet for more on their logarithms!) To see an example, go to mine at
  • Every time you participate in any Amazon feature—like your profile page—Amazon’s logarithms get a little nudge. With enough nudges, you might be amazed at how much free promotion you’ll get—some of which you’ll never know about until the logarithm is so happy it makes it happen and a friend or reader tells you about it.


So take a look at how I installed and fancied my profile page up with a biography. I also importing all my self-published titles from my bookshelf at AuthorCentral bookshelf in addition to traditionally published ones. I made a short, memorable link (no gibberish or codes!) for it. Real words are more memorable—and better marketing—than a string of html. To get people to come (and help ping that logarithm), I put an invitation to follow me there in most of my email signatures. If you haven’t seen one, check mine at


            One thing you should know: Rumor has it that Amazon claims to “own” any writing you post. In my The Frugal Book Promoter I explain that this is misinformation using a quotation directly from Amazon as proof. Authors still maintain rights to use the reviews or anything else they write and put on Amazon. (Amazon may use it, too, but they have never used anything of mine. If they ever should, I will cheer rather than gripe. And, yes, even try to find the person responsible to thank them for the great exposure!



Carolyn Howard-Johnson tries to share something she hopes might save some author from embarrassment (or make the task of writing more fun or creative) with the subscribers and visitors to Karen Cioffi’s Writers on the Move blog each month.

She is the author of the multi award-winning #HowToDoItFrugally. Series of books for writers including the third edition of its flagship book The Frugal Book Promoter and, more recently, the third edition of The Frugal Editor from Modern History Press. Find both (among her others in that series) on the new Amazon Series page. The new edition of The Frugal Editor book has been fully updated including a new chapter on how backmatter can be extended to help readers and nudge book sales.



Green Eggs and Ham and a Bet


Contributed by Karen Cioffi, Children's Ghostwriter, Rewriter

This is a short post, but I found it fascinating and wanted to share.

Who would think that a random bet and constraints could lead to a book that sold 8 million copies as of 2019, and would become the best-selling book of the Dr. Seuss series?

When most people think of the word ‘constraint,’ it invokes a negative feeling or idea.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the definition of constraint is “something that controls what you do by keeping you within particular limits.”

This is where the negative idea comes from.

It makes sense that something that limits you, controls you, isn’t a good thing.

Well, according to James Clear, constraints are our friend. Constraints foster creativity and motivate us to work within those limits to accomplish what we need to.

What I found exceptionally interesting is that “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss came about through a bet and constraints.

In 1960, Bennett Cerf, the founder of Random House, bet Theo Geisel that he couldn’t write a children’s book with only 50 words or less.

The bet was for $50.

Imagine if Dr. Seuss balked at the idea of writing a story of only 50 words for a bet of a measly $50.

I’m sure you’ll find the rest of Clear’s article as interesting as I did:
The Weird Strategy Dr. Seuss Used to Create His Greatest Work


Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author, ghostwriter, rewriter, and coach. If you need help with your story, visit Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.

Karen also offers authors:

A DIY book to help you write your own children’s book.

Self-publishing help for children’s authors.

Active vs. Passive Writing: Energize Your Prose!

 by Suzanne Lieurance Ever feel like your stories and articles are a bit slow-paced and wordy?   If so, that’s probably because you’re using...