12 Baby Steps That Rocked My Writing

Welcome to Thoughty Thursday here at More Cowbell! This is the day you get to be privy to whatever’s buzzing in my brain for the week.

Today, I’m sitting here thinking, “What a difference a year makes!”

This time last year, I was having a crisis of creativity. I had a pretty decent case of post-partum depression and was struggling with Tired Mommy Syndrome. My thyroid was jacked. We’d just lost my mother-in-law… It was Sob Story City at the Hansen House.

I wasn’t writing AT ALL and had no idea how to get back to the page. I bought myself a Julia Cameron book as an early Christmas present and read for 20 magic minutes a day. Every day, for several weeks…two chapters over morning coffee.

Note:  The book’s called The Sound of Paper — run, don’t walk, to get your hands on this if you’re a struggling writer!

On December 30, 2010, I had the following epiphany:

When you aren’t sure what to do…do something.
Even if what you’re doing isn’t “THE” thing, you are out there showing up each day
so you will be ready when the perfect thing comes along.

(For me, that perfect thing was Kristen Lamb’s class, which led me to create More Cowbell.)

That dark December day, I realized that all I had to do for the muse to come was SHOW UP. (WTF? That’s it??!!)

Yes indeedy, that’s it. Every writer knows the entire writing universe revolves around the phrase, “butt in chair,” so why is it so dang hard to do it?? I can’t speak for others, but for me the root of the problem was this:

Somehow I’d become convinced that I had to build a writing temple, a schedule, a process or some sort of structure, all so the muse would have a destination to show up TO (and yes, I became aware how colossally dumb that sounds once I wrote it out loud).

Anyone who tells you your baby steps don’t matter needs to spend a little more time taking them. They DO matter.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a quick rundown of what I’ve been up to the last year:

  • Jan 5, 2011 – Show Up For Your Writing, my epiphany in black and white at Writers In The Storm
  • Jan 6, 2011 – Joined Twitter
  • Feb 7, 2011 – Discovered Kristen Lamb with this post (Wowza!)
  • March, 2011 – Took Kristen Lamb’s class Blogging To Build Your Author Brand
  • Apr 1, 2011 – Official Launch of More Cowbell
  • July, 2011 – Joined ROW80 for Round 3
  • July, 2011 – Joined Life List Club and created a Life List
  • Oct 5, 2011 – Co-hosted 1st ROCK THE ROW Twitter Party with Nicole Basaraba
  • October, 2011 – The Undie Chronicles hit the scene
  • November, 2011 – Answered Roni Loren’s call to Triberr
  • December, 2011 – I signed up to sponsor ROW80’s Round 1 in 2012
  • Dec 30, 2011 – I celebrated my 2nd Life List Club milestone and my 200th post.

That’s like 12 pivotal steps that, on their own, might not have amounted to much. All together, they blow my mind a little. The biggest thing I noticed, besides how quick those dang baby steps accumulate is how many people it took to support my journey.

The sheer number of people who will enrich your world if you embrace your passion will stun you. Again, don’t take my word for it, let’s count ’em up!

  1. The other 4 founding members of Writers In The Storm
  2. Elizabeth Craig, my first friend on Twitter (have you seen  Twitterific??!)
  3. Kristen Lamb – my funny, wonderful writing ninja friend & mentor
  4. The 15 people in Kristen’s class with me (Amy Shojai & Tiffany White are two of my co-grads for this WANA311 class who have AMAZING blogs!!)
  5. Kait Nolan and the writers who are chasing their dreams through ROW80
  6. Jess Witkins & Marcia Richards who founded the Life List Club
  7. Plus all the other LLC members I’ve met and blog hopped with
  8. Every single WANA class that came after mine (like HUNDREDS of Kristen-grads)
  9. Margie Lawson, her daughter Tiffany Lawson Inman (NakedEditor) and all the Margie-grads who hang here
  10. Roni Loren and the Triberr posse (I PROMISE to discuss this in a future post!)

More Cowbell wouldn’t be so much fun for me without all these people.

Did I work hard? Hell yes!
Did it feel like work? Absolutely not! It felt like playing with all my pals.

Whether you’re a writer or not, I know you have goals in your life that feel so daunting you just want to hide in the closet with your chocolate stash. I soooo feel your pain.

But here today, in this first week of the year, can you think of just one step you can take that will start you on the road to that dream you want more than anything else? Will you share it? Enquiring minds always  love to know these things here at More Cowbell!

Jenny

About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm (http://writersinthestormblog.com). Write on!
This entry was posted in Blogging, The Writing Journey and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

66 Responses to 12 Baby Steps That Rocked My Writing

  1. Woot! Go Jenny…🙂 I took Kristen’s class last year, too. I learned so much in that class and met many wonderful peeps.
    There is a spot in my mind where I can see my dream.
    The first step I took was Follow Through. . I always had a bad habit of giving up when I was almost there. Self sabotage?
    It doesn’t matter. Now I am on a path to greatness!!

    Great post, Jenny.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Her class opened to worlds to me. Truly. Were you in WANA711 or WANA1011?

      Darlene, I’m so glad you can see your dream. If you can see it, you can find the way there. Those days of giving up are OVER.🙂

      Like

  2. K.B. Owen says:

    Jenny! You rock, girl! I can SO identify with the “perfect schedule/strategy” thing. Sometimes it helps, but sometimes it gets in the way if you can’t get it perfect. Isn’t Elizabeth Craig the best? It meant the world to me when she was the first person to join my blog list of friends, back when I was flailing around and didn’t have a clue what I was doing with a blog (well, there’s still SOME flailing, LOL). And thank goodness for Kristen Lamb, who has totally changed not only my blogging but my writing, too!

    Keep going, Jenny – and kudos!

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks, Kathy…you are one of the supporting people in this process. I believe you and Raelyn were among my first non-WANA readers. Certainly, you are team captains for the PantyPeeps and I appreciate the hell out of you.

      Elizabeth Craig is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. She and Kristen have provided some of my most pivotal change this year.

      Like

  3. Very inspiring post! What a great year for you, Jenny! I love schedules, but when it comes to writing, for some reason, it doesn’t work. I just have to do it when I can. Because ulitmately, family comes first . They’re really great and understanding, though.

    “The sheer number of people who will enrich your world if embrace your passion will stun you. ”

    So, so true, as I’m finding out more and more each day!

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks, April! Schedules don’t work for me either – I have to kind of grab it where I can in between kids and work and life. I do set minimums though, just to push myself to be accountable on the writing front. Otherwise, I’ll ride the Slacker train full time.🙂

      Like

  4. Congrats and Woot!, Jenny on your 2010 accomplishments. When I found your blog–no, I don’t recall when or how–I thought, “this chick has been blogging for years.” Your 200th post celebration was my first clue that your blog was relatively new. What a testimony to that fertile, clever mind of yours.

    My baby steps this year? Row 80, LLC, WWBC (first meeting Saturday), WANA 112, and a TON of writing. First draft. No more wallowing in edit-as-an-art-form and career-buster. Why do I suspect WWBC is going to kick my rear into gear on that one?

    Oh! And, more Margie Lawson Magic MoJo. One Tiffany course and Margie’s Fab30.

    Keep your happy blogs coming. Off to check stats on my Row 80. MUCH to do before I update on Sunday.

    Like

    • K.B. Owen says:

      Hey, Gloria, I’m in the WWBC Bravo (online) group! How cool that you get to do that in person. Best of luck with your writing this year!

      Like

    • I agree with Gloria. Hard to believe you’ve just been doing this for a year.

      Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Gloria, those are some major baby steps. Totally jealous that you’re far enough down the Margie path to take the Fab30 – Laura Drake and Fae Rowen are both taking it too.

      On the blogging front, I’d done about 40 blog posts previous to More Cowbell, mostly at Writers In The Storm but also some for my writing chapter. The blog format comes very naturally to me since I like to write short. It’s the longer stuff that gives me fits.

      But for all of you that thought I’d been doing it for years, BLESS YOU.

      Like

  5. FAB post and made me feel like grabbing my pen and paper and hitting the writing hard. Totally inspired and pumped up! Wowzers….
    You said it best. As you know, I was waiting for quite some time myself. Waiting for the perfect story idea to present itself with perfect characters, perfect scenes and all VOILA poof in my head, ready to roll!
    You were so right when you told me to just WRITE already – anything – something – and see what happens. All that waiting was killing my mojo….but in doing something, anything, the old mojo gets fired up and all of a sudden stuff starts happening all over the place.
    I mean…LOOK at what you accomplished in ONE year?!?!? Each step building on the one before…you couldn’t have known where it was going to take you but you just took that step and went for it! I love it. And it didn’t even feel like work. That’s ahhhmazing! It’s huge. It’s fun and you are happy and vibrant and rocking it out.
    I love it. An inspiration and lesson to us all. Thanks for sharing Jenny….

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I had no idea where any of it would go, but I’m completely in favor of throwing it all in to the universe in kind of a “let go and let God” kind of way. It’s working for me (go Julia Cameron).

      I am sooooo glad that you put your pen to paper!!! Don’t you feel like a million bucks every time some made up thing comes from your fingertips?

      Like

  6. Emma Burcart says:

    That is awesome advice! I just recently had an epiphany about my writing future, too. This post of yours has just helped me move forward on it. I realized that I have been working away of the novel writing part very well. I get up before the crack of dawn and write for two hours before the day job, every day. And I recently started blogging, also thanks to Kristen Lamb. But I realized that the one other thing I want to do will help build my career and really just takes a few baby steps. So, this month I am going to query a magazine. There are so many articles I am dying to write, so I’m going to stop waiting for editors to come to my door and I am going to do the research and the work. Thanks for the motivation. I am saying it here, so now I will have to follow through. My goal is one query a month. That should be doable. Thanks for the inspiriation.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Emma, that is AWESOME!!! That is on my list too, and I’ve been having that same lack of querying problem. I think 2012 is going to be a great year. Will you tell me how your queries come out?

      Like

  7. Wowzer is right, Jenny! I agree with the others that I thought you’d been blogging for years when I found your blog. You have rocked it so much in the past year that I’m going to break into a line dance for you, right here at work.🙂 One Cuban shuffle coming up.

    Last year was hard for me as I dealt with some injury fallout from a car accident and insane insurance industry circle game I fell into. For the first half of the year, I was throwing my own pity party on the east coast. You are so right on just showing up. Once I did that in the summer, I’ve been able to keep the baby steps moving forward. And Kristen’s class, my WANA711 peeps and all the
    others in the MyWANA world? Best learning opportunity and supporters ever. I was on the verge

    Like

    • of quitting my original blog. What a difference support makes! For 2012, I plan to run (or crawl at times) towards my fears.

      Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Fabulous Cuban shuffle, Barbara. I LOVE your spirit, and I’m glad you’re starting to feel better. Lean on those WANA peeps of yours – they won’t steer you wrong. I’m delighted you didn’t give up your blog…when I read your stuff, I hear your joy. It would be a shame to lose that.

      Like

  8. Ginger Calem says:

    Very inspiring and “go-get-em”! Love it. Thanks for all the great links too. Checked out many pages I’ve been hearing about but hadn’t taken the time to search.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Groovy, Ginger. And I was a little bit on fire when I wrote this post. I looked at the (pretty draggy) blog post I wrote about my epiphany and thought, “I feel like a completely different writer now than I did then….WHOA.”

      Like

  9. Awesomness. I love Julia Cameron. Morning Pages really helped me develop a morning writing routine naturally. I haven’t read this book though, but it sounds amazing.

    My baby step is what I feel is like the ultimate baby step. It’s less than doing and more about my state of mind as I do. I already have so many plans and steps that I never seem to get around to. I’m discovering its less about the step/task and more about how I approach it, like how you simply show up and things just happen on their own accord. I too will focus more on just “showing up” and “being present” as I write every day and just let the muse take me where I need to be.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Good for you, Amber. This was a hard lesson for me. I had to be at the bottom of the barrel to be humble enough to learn it. Julia Cameron saved my writing – plain and simple. She’d say that I saved it, but she pointed me on the road to do so.

      Like

  10. You are such an inspiration, sweet Jenny!! Congrats on your fabulous year last year…I know 2012’s gonna be another one for you! So glad our paths have crossed…

    Like

  11. Love the way you think, Jenny! I’m a diehard fan of recognizing and embracing epiphanies and moving forward even when we’re unsure of the specifics. Congrats on your many accomplishments. Wishing you an even bigger, brighter 2012!

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks, August!! I’m telling you, this has all been uncharted territory. I’m not good at moving ahead and trusting it is to the right place, but I’m fast becoming a huge convert to the idea, as you can see from this post.🙂

      Like

  12. Laura Drake says:

    Yeah, Jenny, we want to know about Triberr! Dish, Girlfiend!

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I can’t believe you were the one who pushed me to write this post and your comment is, “More about Triberr, please!” It sure is a good thing I love you…

      Like

  13. I love baby steps! I had the same idea last year and things are finally starting to happen for me. When I get overwhelmed, I pick one thing to do and just do that. If I pick one thing a day, they build Great post and I love your blog!

    Like

  14. Marcia says:

    Congrats on a fabulous year, Jenny! Baby steps are where it’s at, for sure. You’re right, it can “take a village” to help us get where we want to be. There is a whole community out there ready to help any new writer get started. I’m happy that our Life List Club was one of the steps that helped move you forward. We love having you on our team. Keep the momentum going, girl!

    Like

  15. amyshojai says:

    This. Yes, show up, that’s the name of the @#$%^&U! game. Who knew?

    Well…now we do. And I’m so dang pleased to have you in MY journey (a similar one).

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I know, right? You mean there’s no special magic, after I built that entire super-shiny temple?? I felt like an idiot when I realized I just had to plot my cranky ass in a chair and type, whether it was good or not. If I hadn’t had people like you egging me on, I might’ve just rolled over and gone back to sleep.🙂

      Like

  16. What a fabulous year you’ve had Jenny!!

    Like

  17. Elena Aitken says:

    WOW! Huge success and what’s more…you sound so excited and THAT is huge. Congrats and wishing you even more great stuff for 2012.

    Like

  18. Julie Glover says:

    I’m in a posse? Cool. I guess Roni’s our sheriff.🙂

    I love your focus on baby steps. It’s the little stuff that adds up. Also, Woody Allen said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” That means, whether you feel like it or not, show up to your blog, your WIP, your goals, whatever. Consistency and persistence go a long way toward success. Great reminders, Jenny!

    P.S. So happy to be a sponsor for ROW80 too. What a great way to write down those steps and get moving.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      You are indeed in a posse, Julie (thank the Lord, since you write such fun stuff).

      Consistency and persistence aren’t for sissies, I’ll tell you that. It’s hard to show up when you’re cranky and tired. But very, very important.🙂

      Like

  19. Wow! Is so right. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating… you are an amazing woman, Jenny! Such an inspiration. Love your positivity and enthusiasm. Well done and keep it coming!

    Like

  20. Goodness gracious Jenny, you’re a force of nature is what you are! You’ve accomplished quite a bit girl in one year. I’m out of breathe reading about it. You’re an amazing source of energy and all things positive!🙂

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Karen, you have given my honey such grist for the mill with this one…He said, “Yeah, you’re a force of nature all right!”

      I chose to think that was a compliment.

      Like

  21. Brinda Berry says:

    I love reading your posts. If it weren’t for baby steps, there’d be days I’d have no steps at all. YAY for the little things that matter and keep us going. Your post is so true. On days when I don’t feel like cranking out the masterpiece WIP (lol), I’ll blog, read craft books, work on my website, or do any baby step I can manage between the job and life.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks, Brinda…we love having you over here. I like that you include things like working on your website. Good for you.

      My New Year’s resolution last year was to spend 5 hours a week on writing, whether it was social media, the WIP or the blog…before I knew it, I was doing 4 times that much. It really does work when you take the pressure off.🙂

      Like

  22. Awesom post, Jenny. So very inspiring. I’m following links and subscribing to blogs. LOL! I can tell, 2012 is going to be an amazing year. Thanks for the great post!

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      You go, Sheila! Fae Rowen from WITS told me tonight that 2012 is the first year in 60 years that some sort of publishing star is visible in the East. Might be woo-woo, might be real. Either way, I’ll take all the luck I can get! Keep on baby stepping.🙂

      Like

  23. Jess Witkins says:

    You are an example of taking the steps necessary to make HUGE changes in your life. Whether it’s a little step like reading a book over morning coffee to the big changes like starting a blog and beginning writing again. I’m continuously impressed with you. You have the guts and gumption it takes to earn your success and I wish you lots of it. Couldn’t be happier that you’re part of the Life List Club!

    Like

  24. Amy Kennedy says:

    I love coming here. Always fun, always welcoming, always smarticle. I’m, yet, another person who thought you were doing this for years! Dang, I’m gonna have to step it up! Thanks for being such a beautiful, wonderful, awesome inspiration!

    Like

  25. When you told me a couple of months ago that you’d only been blogging since April I remember saying WHAT? I thought you’d been doing this for forever! What an amazing journey you’ve had. You’re an inspiration Jenny. Thanks for all the great content here at More Cowbell and the great laughs. When I grow up, I want to be like you.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      You’re a sweetie pie, Kate. When I grow up I want to be like Piper Bayard. Isn’t it fun to get to scope out each other’s blogs and enjoy all the wonderful wackiness that is WANA?

      Like

  26. tomwisk says:

    Jenny you rock. You’ve made more sense than a bunch of advice I listened to. I stopped looking at my WIP as a multi-chapter monolith and started living each of my protag’s life. I have some idea where he’s goin’ and who he’ll meet. Just gotta keep the faith. A small well-written addition to the story is a lot better than 15K wds of gibberish.

    Like

  27. How fab is that. The difference a year makes. There is a quote my husband often says (I’m not sure who said it originally), but it goes like this: “Champions are made on a thousand invisible mornings.” You proved that.🙂

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Leanne, I LOVE that quote!! I had to look it up and it looks like the credit goes to a Coach Neely of Michigan State University Spartans for the super stealth championship season they had. I know you’re a hockey buff (I’ve seen you and Clay go at it!) but is your hubby fanatic?

      p.s. Did you see my blog about Christmas morning and “Pretty Kitty” IYKWIM…?

      Like

  28. Holy cow, Jenny! These are some super impressive 12 steps. You rock! I’m sure I’ve said this about 100 times (at least) already but it’s so true!

    During an early spring of 2011 I suffered from a serious case of a writer’s block, followed by a bad injury. The world was quickly crumbling into pieces and I was grasping at the straws. I wanted to write but it wasn’t up to me. My brain decided to lock itself up and mourn.

    I am a hyper person so I had to do something. Anything! I met my good friend, Diana Murdock on Goodreads.com and we started to chat. She recommended Kristen’s book (which I promptly downloaded to my Kindle and devoured within a couple of weeks) and then she told me about wana class. It was the end of June 2011 and we both signed up for the fabulous wana711.

    That’s how I started to learn about the social media and made a lot of wonderful friends. After a few weeks the writer’s block was gone and I was back in business! So yes, those baby steps are crucial. And double yes on “doing something – anything”🙂

    Like

  29. What a great post! I am so glad that I met you in Kristen’s class. You are one of the finest ladies I have met in a long time. I do miss our Friday morning calls over a cup of coffee though. 🙂

    Happy New Year!!

    Like

  30. Pingback: Sharing is Caring: My Weekly Finds | Barbara McDowell's Blog

  31. Jenny–Wow! Thanks so much for this amazing mention.🙂 You’ve put a smile on my face today—thanks for being my friend!

    Like

  32. Pingback: The 2012 Water Dragon is Giving Us All an E-Ticket Ride…Are You Ready To Hop On? | Jenny Hansen's Blog

Comments are closed.