Thursday, January 15, 2009

I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!

Does the title of this post ring a bell? It was the daily affirmation for Stuart Smalley, the twelve-step-obsessed loser played by Al Franken in the classic Saturday Night Live sketch.

Despite the fact that Stuart was a dysfunctional nightmare, I can relate to his need to lift himself up every day. As everyone who’s not Stephenie Meyer well knows, writing and pitching children’s books can be one big ego-bruiser. Without my critique group, there’s no doubt I’d be one big mental mess.

The two weeks between meetings—-aka “sessions”—-can feel long and dicey, so I have my own daily affirmation ritual to tide me over: reading the Post-Its plastered all over my computer, desk drawers, and walls. Some contain advice on writing from famous authors. Others are encouraging words I’ve received from editors or agents. (I should really frame those.) These little pearls always raise my spirits and get my fingers working the keyboard. Among them…

1. Be persistent. Editors change; tastes change; editorial markets change. Too many beginning writers give up too easily. —-John Jakes

2. Today is the day I will not quit! --Some famous writer, speaking at some big conference, on the daily promise he makes to himself (can’t remember who or where, sorry)

3. Write when you feel like it and write when you don’t. -—Joan Bauer, keynote speaker at One-on-One, on the best writing advice she ever got

And my personal favorite for daily goal-seting…

4. BIC HOK TAM. But in chair, hands on keyboard, typing away madly (source unknown)

What’s yours?


  1. Janice -
    # 2 was said at the New Jersey Rutgers University Council on Children's Literature 2007 One On One Plus Conference. I don't know who said it either, but I wrote in down on the front of my file folder.

  2. Dug out my folder from the conference and #2 was said by Paul Acampora during the first presentation of the day at that conference.

    Thanks, Paul!

  3. "Writing is like driving at night in the car. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."
    --E.L. Doctorow

  4. "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to after it with a club." Jack London.

  5. Thanks, Meg and Gale, for your expert sleuthing.

    Thanks, J.A., Bish, E.L., and Jack for your Post-Its pearls.

  6. As many times as I repeat these kinds of mantras, it's always helpful to have someone reiterate them for me. So, thank you. I particularly like the one about writing when you don't feel like it. I know writing is a job, but I don't treat it that way often enough.

  7. This comes from "The Observation Deck: A Tool Kit for Writers" by Naomi Epel : Ribe Tuchus! In other words, stay put, sit still, and just write.

    This entry makes me miss you all and our sessions so much!!