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12 X 12 Featured Author January 2018 – Susanna Hill

12 x 12 Featured Author January 2018 – Susanna Hill

It’s a new year and that means a brand new year of 12 x 12! We are pleased to announce that, for the second year in a row, all of our Featured Authors will be published 12 x 12 members! We love celebrating the success of our members and watching 12 x 12 drafts bloom into picture books to be read by children everywhere. We start the year off with Susanna Leonard Hill, who many of you may know from her popular kidlit blog with features like Perfect Picture Book Friday, her Annual Holiday Contest, her Halloweensie Contest, or her Making Picture Book Magic course. She is a wealth of information on picture books. For the first time, our Featured Author is celebrating a Book Birthday on the day of their Featured Author post. Happy Book Birthday, Susanna!

Happy New Year, Fellow 12 x 12ers!

There is something so inspiring and energizing about January 1st, isn’t there? A feeling shared with Mondays when the week is new, and September when school begins… but a hundred times more potent because it’s the start of a whole new year!

It’s almost enough to make you want to vacuum, or organize your post office receipts, or (heaven forbid!) dust!

Let’s look ahead into 2018, shall we?

Let’s grab ahold of this energy and all make up our minds that it’s going to be a good year!

(I hope I’m hearing loud cheering from everyone, even you there at the back!  Thinking positive is like calisthenics for our souls!)


I want to ask you a question.

Let’s say you run into an acquaintance you haven’t seen in awhile at the grocery store, or go to a high school reunion, or meet someone at a party, and they ask you what do you do?

What is your answer?

If you’re like me, your answer is probably some kind of mumbled jumble of being a mom, maybe doing some other kind of work in the home or outside it, volunteering in the community, etc. But the words, “I am a writer” stay locked up tight in your heart, too precious to speak aloud lest the person you’re talking to dismiss your answer, disbelieve it, demand some kind of proof, make light of, belittle, or make fun of this thing that is essential to what makes you you.

Because let’s face it: for writers it’s not really what you do.

It’s so much more than that.

It’s who you are.

But a lot of us have two problems.

One is that there is a feeling out there in the world that writing is easy – anyone can do it! – and that it is somehow not a real career. Measured up against doctors and lawyers, teachers, accountants, firefighters, bankers, mechanics, and chefs, we somehow fall short in the eyes of others. Many people, our loved ones included – sometimes especially – do not take us seriously. They treat our writing with indulgence, as if it’s at best an endearing little eccentricity and at worst a waste of time.

The other problem is that we allow this. We enable it. Because we don’t quite dare to believe in ourselves. We don’t take ourselves seriously.

It’s hard to believe in yourself as a writer when you can’t point to a publication of any kind that has your name on it.  (Yet! 🙂 )

Although I knew in my heart for my whole life that I was a writer (which I’m guessing is true for many of you as well) I couldn’t say it out loud – couldn’t even begin to own it – until my fourth book was published. And even then, even when I felt that having four published books legitimized me somehow, I wondered if it was really okay to say it. What if those four books were the only books I ever published? What if I never got another good idea, or never sold another manuscript? What if four books was the sum total of my writing career? Could I really call myself a writer?

And what about before we achieve publication?  Can we call ourselves writers then?

The answer absolutely positively YES!

Because writing is about who you are as a person: the way you see the world and want to share it, the fact that you love the flow and play of language – finding the perfect word or phrase to express yourself accurately and articulately, or to evoke emotion in your reader – the fact that you use story to connect with the world and help others feel connected too.

The fact that you can’t not write.

You don’t have to be published to be a writer. You just have to write.

But since the goal for most of us is publication, so that others out there in the world can gain some benefit from the stories we work so hard to create – entertainment, enlightenment, understanding, comfort – and so that people in our lives (ourselves included) can feel the validation of publication – let’s take a minute at the start of this brand new year to talk about how we can enable ourselves to own who we are and make good on it.

Get ready.

I’m about to give you A List Of Tips!

(Because what would a blog post be without A List Of Tips?!)

Susanna’s Top Ten Tips For Getting People (Including Yourself!) To Believe You Have An Actual Career

1. Identify Your Career – Name it. Own it.

Wake up in the morning and do what Jane Yolen says: “Writing is a gift.  Unwrap it every morning with joy, like a child with a present!”

Look yourself in the eye in the mirror (maybe after you’ve washed your face and brushed your hair so you don’t scare yourself!) and say out loud: “I am a writer!”

Tell anyone who challenges you, even if you’re not published yet, that you’re a writer, you’re writing, you’re working toward publication. And your work counts!

2. Find a space to write – establish your “office”

An office is great if you have one and work well there, but any space that works for you will do.  A sunny kitchen table?  A closet near the attic stairs – small, but with enough space to write and a door that closes?  The hammock behind the house?  Your car in the school pick-up line?  A walk around the neighborhood where you write in your head or record on your phone’s voice app?  The local library or café?

Whatever space you can claim as yours, make it about the writing. When you’re there, you write. It becomes a habit and helps focus your mind on the task at hand. And when you’re there, others recognize that you are at work – even if it’s a nontraditional space, even if you haven’t left the house.

3. Set a regular writing time. . . (– establish your “hours”)

and keep it sacred – even if it’s only 15 minutes before you have to get the kids up or rush off to work in the morning, or while the baby is napping, or on your lunch hour, or before you go to sleep. That is YOUR TIME!

During Your Time, you write.

You do not answer the phone.

You do not check social media.

You are not available to whip up school play costumes, wash skunk off the dog, settle sibling disputes, deal with man colds, or explain time zone differences to your mother-in-law!


(And train your tribe that they are on their own during your office hours – even if you haven’t left the house!)

4. Include Continuing Ed. in your annual plan

There are many other careers that require continuing ed, so you should stay at the top of your game too. Take a writing class.  Attend an SCBWI conference (not only an opportunity to learn, but a chance to connect, network, and actually see other human beings if you’re a writer who has the good fortune to write full time.) If you have another job, many classes are available online and you can do them at night or whenever you have time.  Conferences are on weekends. If you have a family to look after, let your spouse/partner take charge for a weekend or two a year so that you can get to a conference. People in fields such as business, medicine, and law go to conferences. We are writers. We do too!

5. Look for ways to expand your writing business/income.

Critiques and/or coaching, work-for-hire, school and library visits, writing for magazines . . . It will help others regard you with more legitimacy if you earn some money.  It will help you regard yourself with more legitimacy.

6. Make 12  x  12 work for you so you’re really producing new work on a regular basis.

It is a simple method of accountability and productivity. As writers, we are self-employed. No one else sets our hours, gives us goals or deadlines, or holds us accountable for getting our work done. We need the self-discipline to do those things for ourselves. But it’s not always easy, and 12 x 12 can be a huge asset. If you do 12 x 12 faithfully, not only will you have the support of this amazing community, but you’ll finish each year with at least 12 new manuscripts. Producing writing proves to yourself and others that you are a writer. It allows you to Show Your Work. 🙂

7. Chocolate.

No explanation necessary 🙂

8. More chocolate. . .

9. Really, is there anything that can’t be improved with chocolate? 😉

10. Most important of all: (this is the part where you sit up and pay attention!)

If you want others to take you seriously, you must first take yourself seriously.

All the other tips are part of this one (well, maybe not so much the chocolate) but it goes further. If you went off to a doctor or lawyer’s office or a police station to work every day, your partner wouldn’t expect you to be solely responsible for shopping, cleaning, cooking, laundry, errands, the kids, etc. Writing is your job. It is real. It is hard work. It requires time.  And therefore household chores and life responsibilities should be equally shared between you and whoever you live with. (If you live alone it’s a little easier – no one cares if you don’t clean the bathroom grout every five minutes, or if you serve Raisin Bran for dinner.) But if you want writing to be your job, think of it that way yourself and expect others to think of it that way too.  Demand that others treat your job with the same respect they would accord a veterinarian or a dentist or an engineer. But remember, it has to start with you. You have to respect yourself. It isn’t always easy, but it’s important!

And I think you’ll find that believing in yourself as a writer will actually help you write better. You know how if you’re feeling down just the simple act of smiling – putting your face in a position of happiness – can make you feel better?  It’s kind of the same thing. Calling yourself a writer, believing that’s who you are, gives you a kind of self-assurance, and that in turn can enhance your feeling of competence when it comes to writing.


Say it with me now.

“I am a writer!”

It gives you a little boost of confidence, doesn’t it?  To say it like that?  Doesn’t it make you feel like a writer?

So when someone asks you what you do this year, 2018, starting right here, right now, let your answer to be, “I am a writer!”

Say it with conviction!

Say it with pride!

Own it!

You are a writer!


Now go write and make 2018 your best year yet!


Susanna Leonard Hill is the award-winning author of more than a dozen books for children. She teaches an online picture book writing class – Making Picture Book Magic – offers picture book critiques, and does frequent school and library visits. She lives in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley with her husband, children, and two rescue dogs, and her newest book, WHEN YOUR LLAMA NEEDS A HAIRCUT, will be out January 2, 2018!

Susanna will be offering be two prizes to 12 x 12 members who register and complete the January check-in at the end of the month—Enrollment in Making Picture Book Magic and a personalized signed set of WHEN YOUR LION NEEDS A BATH, WHEN YOUR ELEPHANT HAS THE SNIFFLES, and WHEN YOUR LLAMA NEEDS A HAIRCUT.

12 x 12 general registration opens January 9th HERE. Returning 2017 members, watch your email for your renewal instructions!




This Post Has 618 Comments
  1. Hi Susanna! So I’d planned on cutting out all sugar from my diet in January, but hey, writers require chocolate & I Am A Writer! 🙂 Love your post, love your contests, love your books–thx for kicking off the year with such great tips from the heart. Now to find sugar-free choccies that taste good!

    1. Hi Jenny! I have only one thing to say: chocolate is a vegetable! It comes from the cocoa BEAN 🙂 And we all know how important it is to eat your veggies… 🙂 Thanks so much for your kind words about my books and blog etc. I’m so grateful for this wonderful community!

  2. Susanna, I love your books, contests, and your gentle, spot on advice. I also loved taking your class. And I really love the tips from this post because they will help me say “I am a writer,” which is so hard to say especially at parties. Here’s where you convinced me to start saying it in 2018 and with confidence: “you love the flow and play of language – finding the perfect word or phrase to express yourself accurately and articulately, or to evoke emotion in your reader – the fact that you use story to connect with the world and help others feel connected too.” Those needs are in me and I can’t stop. Thank you for your books and wisdom and book wisdom.

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post (and my class 🙂 ) Lori! It’s a wonderful thing to belong to this community of kidlit writers. While others may not really understand us, we all understand and support each other, and that is so important!

  3. Susanna, have you been living in my house? After years of putting family first, I’m realizing it’s my responsibility to write, not my opportunity? Thank you, Julie and the entire 12 X 12-ers for educating, enlightening and putting a smile on my face?

    1. Remember, too, Yvette, what a great example you’re setting for your family by being self-motivated, determined, and taking your art and your work seriously! Maybe your family has to fend for themselves for an extra couple hours a day, but you’re showing them what a strong, dedicated woman looks like!

  4. Thanks for this inspiring post, Susanna! I’ve started telling people that “I write,” but saying “I am a writer,” still feels scary. Congrats on your book birthday!

    1. I know how you feel, Gabi! I STILL feel that way! 🙂 And at this point I’ve been writing out of the closet for 17 years! Thanks for the congrats! I look forward to the day when I get to celebrate one of your book birthdays with you!

  5. Thanks, Susanna, for kicking off the new year! So I went to the gym yesterday and am going back today– because it’s on my schedule–but I need to flex my writing muscles as often. Your point about making a writing schedule is one that resonated. Thanks for the encouragement.

  6. Wonderful advice as always Susanna. I am resolved to write much more this year. Last year was tough, but it’s over now and I want more (my OLW!)

  7. Susanna thanks for kicking us in the pants to start 2018 off on such a truthful note. It’s hard to get that “I’m a fraud” thought out of your head, but with your steps we are moving in the right direction. I can’t wait to add Llama to my shelves! He looks SO cute!

    1. What kind of friend would I be if I wasn’t kicking you in the pants? 🙂 “I’m a fraud” is the exact feeling – you put it so well! What are you, a writer?! 🙂 Llama says thank you for saying he’s cute and that he is also smart, athletic, and incredibly modest 🙂

  8. Thank you Susanna for kicking off 2018 with great tips and heartfelt message. I’ve been asked recently what I am doing now I have given up work and I’ve found saying I’m a writer sometimes catches in my throat. But 2018 will be much easier with dedicating specific time to writing and getting my work out there. Being positive and believing in oneself is half the battle and having great mentors and writing friends such as yourself. 🙂

    1. Good for you, Diane! Get out there and write, believe in yourself, and take comfort and strength from this incredible community we are all so lucky to be a part of. I look forward to celebrating the launch of one of your books some day soon! <3

  9. It’s taken a couple of years, but I’ve finally reached the point where I do mention I’m a writer if asked. I still work a full-time day job too, so I usually say I’m a library assistant and also a writer. Perhaps someday I’ll put writer first. Maybe that should be my goal for the year. PUT WRITER FIRST!
    Thanks, Susanna, for kicking off the new year with your inspiring post! 🙂

  10. Love the advice. Love the chocolate. And totally love you, Susanna!!!My entire involvement in the kidlit picture book writing community started on your blog with Perfect Picture Book Friday. More importantly, I took my first picture book writing class with you in Feb 2014…and I never looked back! Thank you!

    1. Aw shucks, Vivian, it’s all YOU! Your talent, your dedication and perseverance, your hard work! Those are the things that have gotten you where you are today. I’m just glad if I helped a little along the way <3

  11. To tip #4, taking classes like Susanna’s Making Picture Book Magic have been great fuel to my growth as a writer! Thanks for sharing your tips, encouragement, and most importantly, your voice as a writer.

  12. Susanna,
    You rock all the way around. <3 You just helped me create my new year resolution with your tips. Thank you so much for all you do for kidlit and your ever present positivity.

  13. Susanna, thank you for this inspiring post. I love your sense of humour. Your writing course was already at the top of my list for this year.
    I look forward to reviewing Llama on my blog sometime this year.

    1. It is wonderful to have a husband who will deal with cleaning the bathroom grout and serving the Raisin Bran so you can write! 🙂 I’m so glad you’re finding time for your writing, Amanda, and can’t wait to celebrate one of your book releases with you!

    1. You’re half way there, Lily! Tell people you’re a writer and stop right there. If they ask if you’re published, you can say, not yet, or I have work on submission, or I hope to be soon – something positive! But don’t sell yourself short by offering the information that you’re not published yet. You’re writing, so you’re way WAY ahead of everyone who just says they’re going to write a book someday! And if you keep writing you WILL be published!

  14. Thanks for the encouragement! It may take me some time. Last spring break when a friend asked what I was going to do while my kids were in Mexico building houses, I let it slip that I had plenty of writing and revising to do- her dubious look told it all. Someday I hope I’ll have the confidence. I do carve out time to write. It’s at 4:30 in the morning and I’m not a morning person, but it’s when no one-even the animals-want to bug me. Thanks for your post!

    1. Anyone who puts in the time and makes the effort to get up at an unnatural hour for them so they can write undisturbed is someone who is passionate about their writing and really cares. You’ll get there, Megan. And in the meantime, never sell yourself short. Writing stories that entertain, inspire, comfort, make someone laugh – that is just as important emotionally as building homes for people physically!

  15. Thanks so much for the great pep talk Susanna! You have a way with words. And thank you for all you do to support the kidlit community. Happy New Year fellow writers!

  16. Happy Book Birthday, Susanna! I can’t wait to read your latest PB. And thank you for your encouraging, funny, and RIGHT ON post! So many of us struggle with imposter syndrome. But we are indeed writers!

  17. I have reviewed Susanna’s books from the beginning and am a big fan of
    her Picture Book Magic class 🙂 Glad to see her featured here as she does
    so much for the community (like Kelli and Julie) and it’s nice to give her
    some love back! XO

  18. Susanna, your enthusiasm for our career and your passion to share within our community is so contagious! I’ve really enjoyed your contributions to kidlit via your blog, this year, and the contests you host are some of my favorite writing memories from 2017! When I saw your name as the featured author for this month, I was instantly excited. Happy book birthday to you, and thanks for helping us start 2018 off right!

    1. Well gosh, Jennifer, you just made my day! Imagine anyone being excited to see my name! I’m so glad you enjoy the contests and whatever other high jinx and shenanigans go on around my blog. Hope you have a GREAT writing year!

  19. Your sweet (chocolate) spirit and lovely disposition always shine through your words, Susanna. Thanks for always inspiring!

  20. This was great to read and empowering. I want to keep the empowerment and get back into my writing chair
    And write something new. And keep chocolate nearby.

    1. I’m so glad you feel empowered, Sheri! Now. Think up a character. Add in a funny or difficult or tricky situation. Gather up some chocolate on your desk (or wherever you write). And in the morning you’ll be ready to go! Nothing can stop you!

    1. I SO know how you feel, Rebecca. But along with the self doubt that seems to plague us all there’s a little ember inside us that glows constantly with the desire to write and nothing can put it out. It’s there for a reason. We have something to say. We have a special voice or talent or just plain desire to say it. So believe in yourself. Know that your writing is important. Know that everyone in this community understands and supports you. Believe in yourself and write!

    1. So glad if you liked it, Carrie, but you of all people should stand up strong and believe in yourself as a writer! You ARE a writer! I hope 2018 will be full of inspiration, creativity and all kinds of writing success for you! <3

  21. Thank you for the great post and all of your offerings to the kidlit community! Here’s to a chocolate-filled year of inspired writing!

  22. Love the gentle nudge to acknowledge ourselves! A great post to start off the year. I’m looking forward to adding LLAMA to my Susanna Hill collection!

  23. What a great way to start of the year, Susanna! I AM a writer. And I love chocolate, so I’m so glad that is an essential part of my job. Thanks to the generosity of my family and Santa, I am well-stocked and ready to begin 2018 with a generous supply of chocolate, several notebooks full of ideas for my new drafts, and several WIP I’m ready to revise. 12×12, here I come!

  24. Are you ever not inspiring? I feel happy for your children…and all of us out here in kidlit land. Thanks for all your words of wisdom and encouragement! ?

  25. Oh, Susanna, how can you be both hilarious and inspiring at the same time?! You’ve done it! I snorted when you got to costumes, man colds, and mothers-in-law. Yes! you are soooo spot on! Thanks for the pep talk! I’m hitting the ground running….or at least hitting the ground! With chocolate in my pockets, mind you. Thank you!

    1. Yeah… I am SO not making any of that up! Some of the things I mentioned have become running jokes in my house 🙂 And you made me laugh out loud with your “at least hitting the ground”! Don’t do that, Jilanne! Do the running! With chocolate! And write on! 🙂 Hope you have a FANTABULOUS writing year!

  26. I have to say “I’m a writer” because I do spend a great deal of time writing. I even had ‘business cards’ printed that say I’m a writer. Nothing published in kitlit yet, but I keep writing anyway. It makes me happy.

    1. One of the nice things, Tiffany, is that you can take comfort in the fact that you’re in good company with those insecurities – we ALL have them! I think it goes with the territory of being creative because it’s work that makes you feel vulnerable about exposing your innermost thoughts and something you’ve made out of nothing in a way that totaling up columns of numbers or fixing a car engine just doesn’t! Here’s to a great writing year in 2018! 🙂

  27. Susanna this is SO right for this time of year – or any time really. I think I’ll print this off and post above my desk. Thank you for your inspiration – and I agree about the chocolate!

  28. Inspiring and funny – you are the ultimate cheerleader for republished writers. Thanks for getting us off to a great start in 2018.

  29. My 2018 mantra, “I Am A Writer! I Will Have my Stories Published!” Thank you Susanna for your inspirational post.

  30. Thanks for the empowering words Susanna! I am so guilty of shying away from telling people I am a writer. No more!! And thank you for the pep talk to get 12 x 12 off to a good start. I am resolving to write 12 manuscripts this year…at least!

  31. You go, Mary! Think how great it will be to finish up 2018 with 12 (or more!) new mss! As a bonus, we all tend to get better with every word and every story we write, so you’ll be just that much more accomplished by year’s end! Have a great writing year!

  32. Thank you for this post, Susanna! I’m feeling the excitement and thrill of the new year (AS A WRITER!) thanks to your motivating words. Currently looking for a bowl to keep on my desk for all of that necessary chocolate. 🙂

  33. OK Susanna – mouth literally hanging open! I’m not surprised though … just so happy to read this knock-it-out-of-the-park post!! You pretty much summed up every feeling I’ve ever had about being “a writer.” The hardest part is not having “the proof” when people demand it! But it will happen and this post has definitely motivated me even more to take my work to the next level in 2018.
    Thank you for this and for all you do for us writers!!

    1. I’m glad it resonated with you, Jen, not because of the doubt, but because it’s important to know that we’re not alone in these feelings – it’s the same for all writers, and I’d venture to guess other creatives as well – artists, musicians, etc. We may feel marginalized or undervalued but we have each other and it’s up to us to stand up for ourselves and claim what is ours – respect, validation, belief!

  34. What a lovely way to start out our year. I’m feeling like 2018 is going to be fantastic–in part because it started on a Monday (and it’s an even year, but that’s just me!). Happy New Year!

  35. Yes I am a writer — a Picture Book writer to be specific. Excellent start to the new year as we own our writing career and push ourselves into the excitement of 2018. Thanks, Susanna!

  36. Great post, Susanna! What a great way to kick off 2018!! Thank you for all the advice, especially to ‘Believe in yourself and write!’ I really connected with; ‘Because let’s face it: for writers it’s not really what you do. It’s so much more than that. It’s who you are.’

    I AM a writer… and I love chocolate, especially Hershey Caramel Kisses

    1. It’s so true, Sharon. I think it’s because writing comes from such a deep place within us, and it’s so personal, and something we create ourselves out of nothing. It truly is WHO we are. Here’s to a fantastic writing year… and lots of Hershey Caramel Kisses!!! (I love ALL chocolate, but I confess a special weakness for Snickers 🙂 )

  37. Thank you so much for your inspiring post, Susanna! I’ve gotten better about telling people I write, but I usually stick it in at the end a long list of other stuff I do. I’m going to challenge myself to put it out there front and center. I am a writer! Also, congratulations on your new book! That llama’s hair cracks me up. 🙂 I can’t wait to read it!

    1. Keep up the good work, Becky! it’s so important to be proud of yourself and own what you do and who you are! Thanks for the congrats, and so glad you like the Llama – if you like what you’ve seen, just wait until you see the rest of the interior art – SO good! 🙂 Daniel is amazing!

  38. This post hit home with me. I have do have trouble telling people I’m a writer for many of the reasons Susanna mentions. I think that has stopped me from getting my work out there. This year is my year to make some writing breakthroughs, starting with thinking of myself as a serious writer! Thankfully I already have a serious chocolate habit, so I already feel ahead of the game.

    1. Congratulations on your strong head start with the chocolate, Elaine! 🙂 And yes! Don’t let other people’s opinions hold you back. Be proud of your work and get it out there. The worst that can happen is it gets turned down and we ALL deal with that all the time – it goes with the territory. It’s not a personal rejection or a comment on you as a person or even your writing, many times – there are all kinds of reasons why editors pass. But you can’t get an acceptance unless you submit, so go for it in 2018!

  39. Thanks for your tips Susanna. Your wisdom continues to help me in my writing journey. And yes chocolate
    is a necessity, especially for revisions. I did notice you numbered chocolate in #7, 8. and 9. Hmm… was that a shout out to our Tara Lazar? Looking forward to reading all about Llama’s haircut.

    1. 12x 12 is amazing, and SUCH an incredible resource!, Jane We are so lucky to have it (thank you Julie and Kelli!) And have you ever seen those memes that say something like “writers are people who turn caffeine into stories”? I think I need a mug that says “Writers turn chocolate into picture books”! 🙂

  40. Thanks, Susanna, for helping me start the year off right — with even more chocolate than I ate over the holidays 🙂 ! The diet will start tomorrow (and tomorrow and tomorrow), but the writing starts today. Thanks for the incentive to get going.

    1. Woohoo, Diane! You’re so right! The writing starts today! And isn’t it exciting to think of what awesome new thing we might write?! Also, just so you know, there’s nothing wrong with including chocolate in your diet… or maybe just having an all chocolate diet… 🙂

  41. Congratulations, Susanna, on your book. What a great way to start a new year. I started 2018 by writing a new draft on New Year’s Day, and now I am further inspired by your suggestions. Thank you for sharing some really good points.


  42. That is a BIG one, I am a writer! I am a writer. I think I have to keep saying that to myself. Thank you!

  43. This is a perfectly wonderful post, Susanna! It’s very motivating. I especially love your comment to not “deal with man colds” during your writing time. It gave me a good chuckle!

  44. Thank you Susanna for a post that really hit home! Owning it and loving it are key to saying “I am a writer” or “I am a children’s book author” and not focusing on how the other person responds. And if there’s chocolate involved, so much the better! 🙂

    1. I’m so glad it hit home with you, Deborah! As I’m sure you can tell, it’s certainly something I feel and have struggled with. I think we all do which is why it’s so great to have each other – we all get it! And as writers we do have an advantage that many people don’t – we DO love what we do! And that is a privilege. Sending loads of chocolate and good writing vibes for a great 2018!

  45. Thank you for an energizing post to start off the new year! I love that you say we should identify ourselves as writers. I’ve started to do that, but feel like I always need to add, “But, I’m not published yet.” 🙁

    1. Nope! Never add that, Lynn! It’s like apologizing that you’re not good enough or something and that is SO untrue! you show up at your desk. You write. You create. You make something where there was nothing. There are so many people in the world who would have no idea how to do that, or wouldn’t have the motivation to bother. So say proudly that you’re a writer and don’t feel like you have to elaborate with negatives! Here’s to a GREAT writing year in 2018…and maybe at the end of it you WILL be published!

  46. Thank you for such an inspiring start to 12 x 12 in 2018, Susanna – just what I needed as I try to get back into the writing groove this year! Happy book birthday!

  47. I am a writer! Declaring so I can get to the chocolate-mmmm. Thank you, Susanna, for the tips and the wonderful things you do for the writing community. Your contests offer opportunities for us to stretch our imaginations with an inspiring chocolate goody. I’m looking forward to 2018!

  48. Susanna your words were so timely for me. I used to keep my writing totally to myself, but then someone asked me what I did and before I could answer my daughter told them I was a writer. The response wasn’t too bad and I realized that I needed to own what I do and be proud of it if I wanted others respect. My daughter taught me this. She is proud of what I do whether or not I am published. So yesterday, I met her physical therapist and when she said goodbye she wished my daughter luck with her junior year and then she said to me ” and good luck to you.” I had no idea what she was talking about. Then she said, “I think what you are doing is admirable. Rachelle told me that you are a writer. I will keep my fingers crossed. I can’t wait until your book comes out.” So this is proof that some people really get what we do and support us wholeheartedly. That made my day!!!

    1. That is wonderful, Marilyn! And best of all, it shows that your daughter is so proud of you – that must make you feel great! It’s funny you mentioned this because that was actually one of the things that encouraged me to start owning writing – when my son told a teacher that I was a writer and the teacher told me about how proud he was of me – I had no idea! Out of the mouths of babes, right? 🙂 Good for you, owning your writing, and here’s hoping 2018 will bring you lots of writing successes!

  49. I smiled as I read your post today. I just moved and I know as I meet new people they will be asking me “What do you do?” I will be more bold with the answer, “I’m a writer!” I also have the luxury of being able to set up a room in my new home for just writing. Your post was a great way to begin a new year! Thanks, and pass the chocolate!

    1. What perfect timing, Karen! Even though moving can be hard, there’s a freedom in starting in a new place where people don’t know you yet or have any preconceptions or assumptions. You’re in the perfect position to tell everyone you meet that you’re a writer in your most confident voice! 🙂 Passing the chocolate 🙂

  50. Having been in a writing slump, your inspiring post gave me the “oomph” I needed to get back in the chair and get back to writing…after all, I am a writer! Thank you, Susanna!

  51. I’m so glad if I supplied “oomph”, Liz! That is my number one goal 🙂 And the great thing about writing is that the more you do it, the more ideas you get. Hope you’re filled with inspiration and the words and stories flow in 2018!

  52. Thank you, Susanna! Like so many others have mentioned, it is hard to say “I am a writer!” But then you dove into my head, grabbed the fear and doubt, and held them up to the bright January sun so I could scream, “I AM A WRITER, GOSH DARN IT!”

  53. Love this! My counselor actually told me one of the ways I could fight depression was to own being a writer and give it the same importance in my life as I gave my other jobs. It really does help.

    1. I’m so glad if it helps, Chris, and it’s nice to know your counselor agrees – that is very validating. I think because writing is so much a part of us we really do need to recognize it and own it, and make sure the important people in our lives understand just how much it means to us. Have a GREAT writing year! <3

  54. Thank you, Susanna for the PEP UP talk. I feel as if we (including myself) are our biggest obstacles to success. As a novice, I feel as if I have to put in my 10,000 hours (and have at least one published work) before I can brand myself “an author.” Your article makes me rethink this!

    1. Yes, sad but true 🙂 We certainly do have a tendency to stand in our own way! But we can also encourage each other to get out of our own way 🙂 So go for it, Patricia, and show everyone that you’re a writer in 2018!

  55. Hi Susanna!
    Wow, your message is so inspirational! I have yet said out loud that I’m a writer except to my husband. I will diffidently practice this new concept. I know positive can generate positive. And chocolate! Yes! You are so right, how can we leave out our chocolate. 🙂
    I want to also thank you for you beautiful stories you have written. I have given each of my six grandchildren a copy of at least one of your books. Keep writing!
    I will work on my draft so I may enter into your drawing. Such a great reward for the winner.
    God Bless, Dianne

    1. I’m so glad you found the post inspirational, Dianne! And I can’t thank you enough for your kind words about my books and for purchasing them for your grandkids – that means so much to me! <3 Best of luck with your draft – you can do it! You're a writer! 🙂

  56. It is difficult saying I’m a writer since I’m not published yet. But, I have been saying it with conviction recently. Hopefully, I could soon add published writer instead of pre-published.

    1. Even if you’re not published yet, you’re a writer if you write, Barbara! And the only way to get published is to keep writing! So go forth and write and one of these days you’ll be posting pictures of your debut picture book on social media for the whole world to see 🙂

    1. You ARE a writer, Jennifer! And just think of all the amazing things you’re going to write this year! New stories, each one a little better than the one before as you hone your craft! Have a great writing year!!!

  57. Thank you Susanna. I will get there slowly but surely. I am a strong-willed woman but I have to admit that, especially since my work is still unpaid, it often takes a back seat to everyone else’s needs–even in my own mind. However, your words give me courage to try to change that. Thanks again!

    1. Just remember, Elizabeth, that in order to get published you have to have time to write and submit. So take yourself seriously – value your goals and your work – and encourage others do that too. You will be proud of you and they will be proud of you when it all pays off! 🙂

    1. So true, Pat. It’s hard to set aside the distractions and feel like it’s okay to take that time for ourselves, but so important. If we don’t have time to write, we’ll never get anything written! Here’s to a great writing year in 2018!

  58. Hello, and thank you for taking the time to give us all that wonderful information. You are correct – I need to start telling people that I am a writer . This is something I have kept to myself for sometime (writing in secret) afraid to tell anyone thinking of what they might say – I guess this is why I have not sent anything in to agents.. ( THE REJECTION LETTER) – New year and time to get over that… Thank You 🙂

    1. It’s hard, Heather, I totally understand. It’s so personal, and it means so much to us. But it’s important to value ourselves enough to find the time to write and be brave enough to submit. Rejection is hard, but at least it means you’re getting your work out there, and that’s the only way you’ll ever get published. And you have all of us here in 12×12 who understand all the nuances of the writing life! Have a great writing year!

  59. Didn’t feel like I got my fresh New Year’s start until week 2! And didn’t get to this great post until week 3! But Susanna, so happy to have read your wonderfully, encouraging words. So many things resonated with me: first and foremost – giving yourself the licence to write! YES! I am a writer/illustrator and happily, finally have “my space” and am making the time to do both!

  60. Such good advice. Thank you. I read all of your tips carefully and agree with all of them, but I can definitely get into the chocolate “tip” – it does make everything better!

  61. Your inspirational article is timely, as it is my aim to focus on developing myself as a writer in 2018, and own it! With your helpful tips, and 12×12 by my side, I feel that I can move forward to achieve and learn more.
    Thank you.

  62. Oh, dark chocolate does wonders. My list would have looked more like this, Susana:
    1. Eat dark chocolate. Next, Identify Your Career – Name it. Own it.
    2. Eat dark chocolate with almonds. Then, Find a space to write – establish your “office”
    And so on… hehe!
    Thanks for such great advice and your lovely books 🙂

  63. Honestly, I don’t feel comfortable telling people I’m a writer when I don’t even have a contract. But I can focus on some of your other suggestions to help me do what a writer does: write. Establishing regular office hours is a great idea. I’m happy to say that I’m already good at chocolate-eating!

  64. I often hesitate to tell people I’m a writer because of their next question: “What have you written?” My only PB publication was years ago and even the travel aticles are getting a bit long in the tooth.

    1. Take pride in your work, Anne! If people ask what you’ve written, tell them about a couple of your favorite WIPs, or tell them you write every day and are working toward a publishing contract. You ARE a writer! And you could sell your next PB tomorrow – you never know! Hope you have a fantastic writing year in 2018!

      1. Thank you, Susanna. I’d not thought to say about WIPs – I tend to keep them quiet as I’m writing. However, recently, when someone asked if I wrote every day I was thrilled to be able to say yes. Thank you for taking the time to respond.

  65. YES – I love this post – it rings very true for me. Not sure I’m ready to say “I am a writer” (yet) but you’ve challenged me to approach that statement head on, and soon. Also, I literally told someone about the “putting your face in a position of happiness” trick yesterday afternoon….such a coincidence. 🙂
    I am feeling incredibly energetic and ready for 2018. Thanks!!!

  66. Susanna, Happy Book Birthday to you! I look forward to adding, When Your Llama Needs a Haircut, to my library. Thank you for your sage words and mentoring voice.

  67. Thanks so much for your post, Susanna. The best points are the ones dealing with chocolate! (Just kidding!) I do identify myself as a writer and have for a long time. What I struggle with more is the judgement I put on myself that I am not a very good writer. In my head I know that’s not true. I’ve published in many different areas: newspaper, magazines, anthologies, and published an adult resource book with a small press. I even edited a children’s magazine for five years. I know I have the skills and ability, but I still have a hard time convincing my HEART that I’m any good or that I DO have something worthwhile to contribute to the children’s book industry. It’s something I’m working on and hope to do a better job of being kinder to myself this year.

    1. Haha, Susan! You made me laugh 🙂 But I know how you feel. I think it’s something all creative people struggle with. Many of us, certainly me!, feel that we have somehow fooled everyone into thinking we can write when we can’t, or that it’s only a matter of time before people realize that we’re not so good at what we do, or that we may be published, but our work doesn’t compare favorably with so much of the other published work out there. Comparison and self-judgment can be dangerous things. But sometimes knowing that we all feel this way can give us strength and heart. So be kind to yourself and keep writing for children and one of these days you’ll add a new credit to your publishing accomplishments! Hope 2018 will be the year for it! 🙂

  68. Terrific article, Susanna. I like to think of it this way… I may not (YET) be an author, but I am most definitely a writer!

  69. Great post! I agree that it’s a huge and essential step to be able to say to people that you’re a writer. Especially if you haven’t been published. And even now that I have a book contract I still find myself hesitating momentarily before telling people what I do. Partly it’s because I’m home full-time with my son and once people hear that they don’t even think to ask if I do anything else. So then I have to interject and say, “Oh, and I’m a writer too!” But so worth it to say it aloud.

    1. Staying home with your son is a worthy and valuable thing, Serena, but being a writer is too… and it’s okay to say that first! if you want to instead of as an add-on 🙂 As in, “I’m a writer and a stay-at-home mom!” 🙂 Hope you have a great writing year in 2018!

  70. Thank you for the encouraging post, Susanna! What a great way to kick off 2018! I’m also impressed that you replied to so many people personally – I don’t know if that’s a 12×12 thing or just you, but the interaction is lovely to witness! Just joined this community and it’s such a great resource already.

  71. Susanna and Fellow Writers,
    I am cheering with you today: “ We are Writers!”
    Thank you all for your comments and involvement in this beautiful community of writers.

    May 2018 be a very fruitful year for you all.

    Susanna, thank you for inspiring us to carve out regular Writing times in places that work for each of us. May we treasure those times this year as gifts!

    1. Being part of this wonderful community of fellow writers makes us all stronger and makes it much easier to say we are writers, Brenda, don’t you think? We’re in it together! 🙂 Hope you have an inspired, productive, successful year of writing in 2018!!!

      1. Thank you for the time you are spending responding to each person’s comments. I am learning a lot by your example!

  72. Thank you, Susanna for sharing your knowledge and experience. This year, I had to come to realise that point 10 is my biggest pitfall. 2018 is a year of moving countries, travel and upheaval of all things I am familiar with. Not having a home and place to write in peace is a challenge in itself. I’ve noticed, because I am ‘around’ now, my loved ones expect me to be ‘around’ all the time to do all and everything but write and illustrate. I must learn to set my boundaries. I’ve worked so hard until now and am determined to continue. This is why I joined 12×12. To stick with it, no matter what. I hope that by realising what I have so far I will be able to overcome point 10 and get a good step closer to becoming a respected writer and illustrator. 🌸🙏🌸

    1. I know how hard it can be to make time and space in your life for writing, Monique, especially when you are “home” to a family that’s counting on you. But it’s so important for you to find a little time for yourself – for what matters to you and fulfills you. You will be a better partner/parent/child/sibling/friend/coworker if you feel good about yourself, and at least part of feeling good about yourself comes from writing and illustrating, exercising your creativity, producing new work that you feel good about – even if it’s only a little. 12×12 is a wonderful, supportive community that will help you feel at home in the midst of your moving etc. Being around people who love what you love and do what you do is like a little port in a storm 🙂 Best of writing luck in 2018!

  73. “Because let’s face it: for writers it’s not really what you do.

    It’s so much more than that.

    It’s who you are.”

    Tattooing this on my forehead (ok, maybe just copying into my bullet journal). Thanks, Susana!

  74. I’ve always thought this about writing – that t’s what I AM, more than what I DO.
    One of the big reasons I decided to finally delve into 12×12 was to take my writing more seriously. It’s been pushed to the back burner for the past couple years and I can’t stand it. I’ve noticed when I’m not writing, it feels like something is missing. I feel a hole in my life. That’s because of the “AM.” When you’re not doing what you were created to do, something feels wrong. Always.
    Very glad to be doing the 12×12!! It’s already been a huge motivational kick in the pants.

    1. It’s so true, Wendy. We are writers. It’s who we are. And we can’t deny that part of ourselves without consequences. Like you say, when you don’t write, you feel like something’s missing. I’m glad you’re participating in 12×12 this year and that you feel like you’re off to a good start! Go get ’em! 🙂

  75. “I am a writer.” I also love chocolate. 😉 And after this month, I really am starting to believe in myself. Thank you so much for the encouragement and advice!

    1. Hurray for you, David, recognizing and claiming yourself as a writer! Also a chocolate lover 🙂 I’m so glad you’re starting to believe in yourself, and I’m sure your writing will show the effects of that blossoming confidence! Have a great writing year in 2018!!!

  76. What a great post to start the new year, Susanna! Sound advice and also very practical tips on how to get to a place where we can all say, “I am a writer” with confidence and pride. You are such a gift to the kidlit community. Thank you for all that you do!

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Melissa, and that your writing year is off to such a wonderful start! You’ve got good things coming 🙂 As for the practical tips, it’s not every writer who recognizes the value of chocolate in the writing process as I do, and I feel it my community duty to share this hard won wisdom 🙂

  77. Can’t believe I only found this posting today! Obviously still getting my head around 12×12!!! I said “I am a writer” our loud and it did, indeed, put a smile on my face. I have started to tell people this when they ask what I do, and it feels good. Everything else, except for the eating chocolate bit, is a work in progress!

  78. Hi Susanna, I love your post and your list of goals for the new year. You are so right about the power of identifying myself as a writer! I started with a whisper, I admit, but am up to stating this to others using my “inside voice.” Hopefully, with practice, I’ll be shouting it from the rooftops by the end of the year.

  79. Thank you for your inspiring post! I always feel shy of claiming to be a writer, as if people will view me as such me sort of imposter. Your tips are helpful and empowering. Thank you!

  80. Hello Susannna. I would first like to thank you for sharing your wisdom and knowledge, I so enjoyed the read. Second, for me the reason I sometimes don’t share the fact that I’m a children’s author is because for me it is such a humbling experience. It’s like opening up your heart for all to see. What makes you tic. Thirdly, you had me at chocolate! Have an amazing day !

  81. Great post! I can relate to so much of it. While I consider myself a writer, I have a hard time believing it myself after all the rejections.

  82. Hi! Thank you for your positivity and tips (tho I think chocolate should be number 1 LOL)
    I like “pre-published writer” because it answers the question after you say “I am a writer” that is generally asked: “Oh what have you published?” Thanks again!

  83. Susanna,
    Your point about treating it as seriously as any other profession is really important. I always put my writing last – after I’ve made all the doctor appointments, finished my paid “day job” assignments, and took care of everything else. I know that has to improve. Wishing you a productive, satisfying, and happy 2018.


  84. So empowering to call oneself a writer. So joyful to fill one’s days writing. These are some marvelous tips. Thank you!

  85. I love yiur success and those cute cute llamas! Your Making Picture Books series is awesome and being a fellow lover of all things chocolate, Love Ya!!!

  86. I definitely struggle with the “what do you do” question. Writer? Artist? Builder? I feel like I do everything and nothing (and yet, things are getting done, so I must be doing something…)

    I’m off to a good start this year with a rough manuscript I don’t thin I would have written if I hadn’t joined here, so yay!

  87. I love this. I feel like I’ve been telling my husband for some time now “I can’t do all this stuff at home AND focus on my art and writing! I need help!”

    I guess I’m going to establish my hours and if we’re eating cereal for dinner then so be it. I appreciate this so much.

  88. Thank you so much for this post! This past year I devoted myself fully to my writing, (leaving behind some things that paid better but didn’t move my writing career forward). It was worth the effort! I may never be rich, but I have grown by leaps and bounds, simply by taking my writing career seriously.

  89. I tell kids all the time I’m an author and so are they. But, it’s the last thing I tell people (if at all). I’m just beginning to tell people I’ve been writing, when they ask what I’ve been up to. It’s a process, isn’t it?

  90. What a great post! I was at a SCBWI conference in September, and the speakers encouragingly referred to many of us as “prepublished” writers or authors. I have wholeheartedly embraced that term. Of course, I’m also one of those lawyers you mention in that article above, but my heart screams “I’M A WRITER” every day!

  91. Love your post. My husband and kids still struggle with the fact that I have a job now. It doesn’t seem real to them, but we are making progress. I claim the title of writer now and protect the time needed to do it.

  92. It’s hard to keep doing something you love and never get paid, because no one takes you seriously until you do, and let’s face it—skilled writing is hard work. And when you think you’re finished, guess what? You’re not. It takes a warrior to stick to writing when the rest of the world doesn’t validate your skill, but if you’re a true writer, you’ll never quit, because you can’t. We are warriors! Read our roar!

  93. Thank you. I usually get lost in the mumbling about…not much new…doing the same-old, same-old. Now and for sure, I’m going to say I’m a writer. I write picture books for children. Thank you.

  94. Thank you, Susanna. I have to learn to be tough like you and enforce office hours. I love that writing is flexible, but sometimes you’re too flexible, you don’t get anything done.

  95. I just re-read Susanna’s post and I’m so glad I did. Some days I do not feel like a writer. Some days I feel like I’m wasting my time. But Susanna – you just gave me a huge boost when I needed one. Thank you!

  96. Thank you for this post! Sometimes it’s hard to say I’m a writer when people ask, I love how you lay it out for us! Thank you for sharing!

  97. A great start to the new year! Many of these are things I’ve read before, but 218 is the year to make it happen.
    Thank you for a great reminder to take writing more seriously.

  98. Yes to this – “Because writing is about who you are as a person: the way you see the world and want to share it…”. Thank you for your inspirational words. What a great way to kick of 2018!

  99. Hi! Thanks for a supportive post about how to start believing in my career as a writer. It is hard to say out loud. I have started to talk about it with my family and very close friends which feels good. And practice makes perfect!

  100. Great start to the year – thanks Susanna.

    Now to work on owning it – I AM a writer (honestly, I am!)… Not so difficult to say in this community of supportive fellow writers. Going to have to dig deep to find the courage to say it in ‘real life’ though!

  101. Thanks for getting us started in such an enthusiastic way, Susanna! You got me to say, “I am a writer!” out loud, (for the first time, btw) and it felt good! So excited to be a part of 12×12!

  102. Inspiring advice to believe in ourselves and to stay the course, even when facing the uncertainty inherent in this business.

  103. Thanks, Susanna, this is the first year (after a decade of writing) that I feel comfortable calling myself a writer and saying it out loud to others. It’s so important that we encourage each other like you have here. Great post.

  104. Thank you for the words of encouragement and the permission to eat chocolate! Personally, these words were very important for me to read as I embark on the new year and this new 12 X 12 challenge. I feel like a foreigner navigating a strange land and it is good to remind me that I have legitimacy even in these infant stages of writing and writing mistakes.

    “You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not your successes or failures.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

  105. Thank you, Susanna, for the encouraging words and a list that is will be going up on my wall. 🙂 It’s a good reminder that we shape our own realities, and these realities need our positive attitude and confidence to flourish. Thank you!

  106. I have a sign posted above my computer that reads:
    Quiet! Writer at Work.”
    I have had this sign up for years and every time something happens that I question myself all I have to do is look up and see this and tell myself. Yes ! I am a writer!

  107. Thanks so much for the inspiring post! It’s scary to make the public commitment. Helps to know there’s so many of us in the same boat!

  108. Love this post Susanna. When I first started writing, I would tell people, “i’m a mom…and I also write books,” but then I realized no one says, “I’m a mom, and I also transplant livers.” I’m a writer and I’m a proud mama too! Congrats on your adorable books!

  109. Thank you, Susanna, for the inspiration. Re-reading this post made me realize how much I struggle with taking myself seriously. I mentioned to my poet-daughter that when I become a writer… And she stopped me and said, “You are a writer- say it!” I really need to work on carving out my time each day- it’s a process!
    Thanks again!

  110. I have a terrible secret, which is that I can take or leave chocolate.
    Can I substitute baby carrots and hummus? Seltzer? Those were my muses last night but I’m concerned they won’t have the same positive effects.

  111. Thanks, Susanna! I can say I’m a writer. I need to learn to stop there and not add all the “buts.” My 14 year old recently got into my folder of half finished stuff, and told me, “Mom, you’re a writer. You need to write.” I only hope I can live up to his faith in me, and maybe find some confidence of my own. It definitely helps to know I am not the only one who has struggled with this.

  112. Wonderful post! I once said, “I’m a writer” by accident and I was mortified! But like you said, it is less about what we do than who we are. Still, I hope to have your courage and one day if I am published I will say, “I’m a writer.”

  113. I am a writer!!!!!! Your class is awesome, Susanna. Thanks for all that you do for our community….and your books are fantastic!!

  114. The toughest few words to say – I am a Writer.
    I commit to doing it more this year and have already increased my stash of chocolate. Thanks Susanna for super encouraging & motivating post.

  115. Susanna, you are the best booster-upper, slap-on the-back, go-get-em girl, you got this, have some chocolate, CHEERLEADER for all of us fellow writers. Thank you for your words of encouragement!

  116. Here’s a way to trick yourself into acting the role of writer… have a special set of “reading glasses” (mine are real these days!) or a hat, or a special coffee mug when you sit down to work. It’s like taking on a magical persona! Cheers to all!

  117. Yes! I recently updated my twitter bio and added “writer” in an attempt to convince myself I’m doing this for real.

  118. Of all days, I got to read this post today and it was so fitting. I’m not going to vent here, but I really need to make people understand that this “thing” I do isn’t a hobby. I’m a writer. It’s my job. 🙂
    Thanks, Susannah!

  119. And more chocolate!! Thanks so much for the good advice! I struggle with carving out time to write, but I’m committing to doing it! Thanks again (and my kids and I are off to the library to look for your books!)

  120. What a great read for a cold and dreary day! Thanks for the inspiration:) Oddly, it is when I am brushing my teeth that I get my best ideas…so, looking in the mirror might not help, but proximity to it seems to do the trick! Any suggestions for the “waiting-for-query-responses” time period (besides copious amounts of chocolate–which should not violate my “less-sugar” resolution, because it is, uh, medicinal, right?!)

  121. Susanna, thank you so much for the inspiration! I needed to see my name in print before I finally felt like a writer. Setting aside a place and time to write is so important. This year I am going to use a planner to organize my time, and to make sure that I plan enough time for writing. I am happy to say that “I am a writer.”

  122. Susanna –

    Thank you for your great tips. It was amazing to read what you were saying about even if you are not published, you are still a writer!! This felt good to hear!

  123. Thanks Susanna…You always seem to provide the best information and tips…also love the annual contests you sponsor for writers. It’s nice to have someone who has found success to be supportive and inspirational to others who are working at it..that deserves another..thank you!!!

  124. What an inspiring post! “I am a writer!!” I have a background in theatre and I always felt I had to throw away the line “I’m an actor” when speaking with someone – even though it was how I made my living! I wonder if this feeling is consistent throughout all creative fields? I loved tips 7, 8, and 9 as well! I write when my youngest child is napping and/or after I get my 3rd child to bed – oh, and most consistently when my husband is working out of town! ; )

  125. Thanks Susanna for such a fun, upbeat post. And great tips! Claiming the hours for writing (it’s WORK!) while ignoring the smelly dog, snotty husband and squalling kids is the hardest part. I’m working on it…

  126. Dear Susanna,

    As our characters go on a spiritual journey, so do we with legitimacy 🙂

    Writing can give a sense of purpose and a sense of belonging, feeling true to oneself in sudden harmony with the world. It can also feel excruciating and paved with self-doubt, constantly honing our craft.

    Thank you for reminding us that legitimacy comes from within.

  127. Hi Susanna,
    Great post. I always introduce myself as a writer (being that I was a Creative Director/writer in the ad world) but it’s been getting harder and harder to say “I’m a writer” out loud since I don’t have any picture books published yet. The truth is that I feel introducing myself as “an idea person that has a lot of funny, clever stories to tell (which may or may not turn into a picture book).”

  128. I said it aloud today. It felt so strange, but I’m going to keep saying it every day until it feels natural.
    I am a writer!

  129. Hi there. I just finished a wonderful “continuing ed” workshop with Donald Maas I highly recommend, called Emotional Craft of Fiction. It is mostly for MG and YA and adult, but I can apply it to picture books. Claiming time is my next battle. Turning off the brain to the rest of the TO DO list is very challenging.

  130. Thank you for reminding us (me in particular) that we are born with a love of language. We didn’t choose it. It chose us. We find out we’ve been chosen when we’re young…We use words like persnickety and shambles before our kindergarten friends can say “picky” or “messed up”. Finding the exact right word keeps us writing things over and over and even then they never meet our exacting standards for language and communication. I am a writer. I was born this way. I hope one day to be published in more than the magazines I’ve already written for. I hope one day to be published as a children’s writer. But, even if I never am, I am still, a writer. THANK YOU.

  131. Ironically, I had a meeting earlier today with the former dean of the business school I attended and he asked what I am doing now. I said everything except that I am a writer. I identified very strongly with what you wrote and I love the plan for 2018. Very inspirational. Thanks.

  132. Ha Ha. It was hard to find the bottom of the comments. About 900 people must have commented! It always makes me laugh when I can’t explain my day job of high tech ceramics to people either. Blank stares can look so funny. The more I try to describe any of it, the more confused they look. Thank you!

  133. Susanna,

    Thank you for a fabulous kick-off to 2018! I am a writer! It’s so easy to keep quiet and let impostor syndrome take over. Your tips for planning the writing into your life are really valuable. Here’s a to a productive writing year for everyone!

  134. I’ve been thinking about/dabbling in writing for many, many (sigh) years, but this is the first year I’ve made the push to do it with serious intention, starting with 12 x 12. In just one month, I feel like I’ve learned an incredible amount from what I’ve read and discussed with others, not to mention all the writing and brainstorming (via StoryStorm) that I’ve been doing. But it’s so nice to be reminded that the struggle to call yourself a writer is real, even for those who have published. Thank you for the wonderful advice and inspiration, Susanna!

  135. My name is Laura, and I am a writer, and I love chocolate. I think I can do this! Great post. Thanks for starting 12×12 off in this new year in style.

  136. Thank you for the inspiration. I am looking forward to my first year in 12×12! And 4th year of serious, dedicated picture book writing!

  137. Susanna-

    I think I read this earlier in the month, but I needed a refresher today. I am a writer. I am a writer. I am resolving to describe myself as a writer from now on instead of a retired ER nurse, a mom (of three grown children), a professional volunteer. I. Am. A. Writer.


  138. That was an inspiring post! It felt good to read it! Thank you!
    And thanks for making me laugh (“…deal with man colds, or explain time zone differences to your mother-in-law!” LOL That definitely rang home!). Carving out that uninterrupted writing-time is such a struggle. I’ve finally learned to embrace writing in the local coffee shop and in parking lots during my kids’ activities.

  139. Hi, this post really resonated with me, especially as someone who has a FT job, kids, etc. Thanks for the pep-talk!

  140. Always chocolate! And haircuts. Congrats on your new books!!! I cut my sons’ hair, they both let me, but sometimes I mess up and they have to get it professionally done. Should probably give up that job and just write! I AM A WRITER, not a stylist!!!

  141. Yes! to all of these. Thank you for the tips, and the encouragement, and the boost of confidence! I’m trying to commit to #6 this year, showing my work, even if it’s still very unfinished!

  142. This is a keeper:
    “Because writing is about who you are as a person: the way you see the world and want to share it, the fact that you love the flow and play of language – finding the perfect word or phrase to express yourself accurately and articulately, or to evoke emotion in your reader – the fact that you use story to connect with the world and help others feel connected too.”
    I’m going to print this out and hang it over my computer. This is one of the best explanations for why we write that I have ever read. Susanna, thank you for all you do for the kid lit community. This post is inspiring on so many levels.

  143. Susanna, what a perfect essay of inspiration to begin this new year. Thank you. I love the tips, and I love the positive energy you evoke. I love chocolate, and I am a writer.

  144. Susanna! I was standing and cheering as I read this, for you, me and all of us 12x12ers. Thank you for being one of our greatest cheerleaders, but more importantly, reminding us all to OWN IT! I am a writer!

  145. Thank you, Susanna! Next time I’m asked, I will bravely say, “I’m a writer!” And then I’ll eat chocolate, hehe!

  146. HI Susanna. I have owned the “I am a writer” for a while now (although I still do put “tutor” on anything that requires my occupation – hmm) but last year was a real crisis point for me. I lost my confidence as a writer but am slowly regaining it so this is a very timely post. Thank you.

  147. What a wonderful cheerleader you are – with chocolates instead of pom-poms!!! Nice, bracing essay covering all the points. I can see this thrilling a rank beginner as well as an older, weary writer. Thank you!

  148. I love lists. And lists that endorse chocolate are the best lists. Since I have a career that isn’t related to writing, it is still hard for me to say I’m a writer. But I am working on telling people that PB writing is going to be my second career!

  149. I read this early in the month and thought I might possibly be brave enough. Maybe. Would I actually say I am a writer, or would I soften it? “Oh, I am writing” isn’t as much of a commitment as, “I am a writer.” Would I say it to a friend, rather than just an acquaintance? Well, I told two people, both friends, and I survived. I told a stranger, which was easier, and then another friend. It makes me smile, and mentally defines my path. Thanks!

  150. Thanks Susanna! I am always interested to hear how other writers think and how they work. I especially appreciate hearing how other writers make time and space for their craft. I have always considered myself a writer. That part has never been hard for me. I am now challenging myself to let my writing out into the world. This part takes a lot of effort and discipline — so, thank you for the support, guidance and inspiration!

  151. Susanna thanks for the inspiring tips to honor our call as writers. I am holding my head higher after reading your post.

  152. Thank you for this! I have such a hard time saying it, especially because I have not yet made any money from all of my writing and illustrating….but I will keep saying it and telling people that is what I do!!!!
    Great post.

  153. A very inspiring post , Susanna. I love your positivity. I did as you suggested (I read this whilst still in bed first thing) got up, brushed hair, smiled in mirror and said, I am a writer! The mirror smiled back and I’m still smiling writing this. And thanks for the chocolate tip. I’d never thought of it as a veggie before. Love it!

  154. Susanna, thank you for making me laugh out loud about the silly pressures we allow others to put on our writing (e.g. bathroom grout and Raisin Bran). Growing up, I used to alternate my answers to the question: “What will you be when you grow up?” “Writer,” “Teacher,” “Writer,” Teacher,” I would equivocally respond. Now that I’ve taught for a good 25 years, I’m ready to fully possess my truest identity. I. Am. A. Writer. Thank you again for you tips and affirmations.

  155. I am a writer! Thank you Susanna! And, I’m going to act like one! Thanks for the tips, I particularly liked the chocolate ones.

  156. Susanna, your post was a shot in the arm today! My affirmation now for every day will be “I Am a Writer!”. You were so right about it. Here I was thinking I first needed to be published to be able to claim this honorable title. Not so! I was selling myself short. Writing is a passion. It’s a destiny if you want it bad enough. I always told my own children and my students that some day, when I grew up, I’d be writing books for them. I’m doing it now and can’t wait to share. . . because I Am a Writer!

  157. Thank you for the motivation and reminding us all to carve out time, schedule for it and make writing happen! …and for the reminder to go purchase more brain fuel…chocolate neurons go!!! 🍫

  158. I needed to read this today. Thank you. Insecurities tend to paralyze me and I’m working on my own character development to outgrow them!!! Unfortunately, my elephants learn faster. This is my first year with 12×12 and the support this community has already showered me with has been overwhelming. I will continue to educate myself, write every day, and of course, EAT chocolate!

  159. Ah yes, been practicing a couple of years now. Maybe it helps that I have art for people to see. Stories are so hidden from view until published, and even the dummies with unfinished art. I generally say, “I am a pre-published picture book author -illustrator”. That helps a little. Or if I forget, and start with, I am working on picture books, they tend to ask what I mean. Either way, there is a usual point where most glaze over trying to hide their “oh, not really” reaction, when they find out I am still seeking an agent. The worst negative responses I have received sadly were from two local not so close friends [in community] – one a published writer of adult historical pagan fantasy – with a niche publisher, and the other a barely employed independent child care teacher who let me know she had illustrated two picture books. Because she did not go after them, and they were done for a friend who wrote them, she merely was given a job and completed it.
    So the idea that this is a competitive field does not occur to them. They feel it is simply that I must not finish the work. No understanding – or interest in learning – that full-color dummies are not generally acceptable.

    The good thing is, I have managed to see their perspective, been able to praise their successes, gotten great practice under duress at claiming who I am. It is nice when someone can see who you are, but most of who we are is really under the surface. It is also a very amazing gift when one person does not get that loo, and instead their entire faces open in glee and hearts shine an understanding. This situation can help define true connection.

  160. Hi — I apologize in advance if this shows up many times. I have been trying unsuccessfully to comment on these blog posts, and I know they sometimes all show up at once when you try multiple times.

    Thanks for these helpful ideas and excellent reminders.


  161. Hi Susanna,
    I LOVED your article. I totally related to what you said. It had me giggling too when you talked about feeling overwhelmed and needing to do housework, even dust. I can totally relate to that. I loved this encouragement. Thank-you so much for sharing.

  162. Thanks for this post. I’ve been writing for such a long time yet it is so hard to say I am a Writer. But it is true after all. I think.

  163. Great article, Susanna! I’ve noticed lately that my “office” space and hours are being invaded a lot. I need to take those back and put some boundaries up again. Thanks for the inspiration! I’m also glad to learn about your class!

  164. I AM a Writer!! I can feel it. It’s time to focus, remain in control, and soldier through the obstacles. I have been looking at my drafts and moving forward. Even if it’s a millimeter, I am moving forward. Bring it on, 2018!

  165. I’m in the pits right now. My friends are publishing like rabbits. I’m collecting really nice rejection letters. Thanks for the pep talk.

  166. What a wonderful post for the beginning of the year. A great way to get motivated and such a positive outlook. Thank you.

  167. Thanks. I needed this reminder. Like some of the other posters, I have a FT job and kids. I tend to think of my writing as a fun thing, a hobby that I can do in my “free time.” But you’re right that I need to take it more seriously than that.

  168. Great post. Thanks for the encouragement. I am not published yet except for several short stories and picture book stories in a couple anthologies that my writing group has put out. I have received a check for under $10 for some of those books that did sell. Well, I took that first check and decided not to cash it but to frame it. It makes me feel more legitimate.
    When one is asked and then replies, yes, I’m a writer, what is a good answer to the inevitable question that follows, you know the one, What have you published: would I know anything that you’ve done? I mean, it isn’t feasible to explain the entire industry and how slowly it can work. It’s a dilemma.
    You’ve addressed the overall dilemma so well here. Thank you Susanna.
    I just keep working and feel better about what I do after reading this. Hip Hip Hooray for Chocolate!

  169. Inspiring Susanna – love the tips, the encouragement, the warmth! I am going to unwrap writing every morning like a present. Thank you 🙂

  170. Claiming we are writers is so important. Somehow, claiming this makes me accountable to actually write! Sharing the with others opens up many interesting conversations. Thank you for the pep talk. Just what we need as we begin the 2018 12×12 journey!

  171. You are such an inspiration Susanna! You do so much for the KidLit community. Thank you for all of your encouragement, very helpful advice, amazing contests and entertaining posts! Congratulations on Llama – hope you are having some chocolate to celebrate. 🙂

  172. Oh, this is a tough one–declaring myself a writer when people ask what I do! But I’m all about the to-do list, so here I go… I am a writer. Thank you!

  173. Thank you so much for such a kind-hearted and encouraging post. It resonated strongly with me.

    I have started to tell a few acquaintances that “I am a writer” and it felt odd. And I only worked up the courage to do that knowing I have a book coming out soon. We are funny creatures!
    Thank you!

  174. Well then, that was an awesome post. Seriously. Filled with words I really, really needed to hear. You’re exactly right about everything (especially the chocolate part cause……chocolate).

    Okay then….it looks like taking myself seriously is something I need to work on. It was a Great List! Thank you!

  175. I love this post! I started telling people I was a writer a few years ago. I thought people would think it was crazy (I’d been secretly writing for a long time), but my friends were so supportive once I admitted to it. The people who know me well weren’t surprised. 🙂

  176. I am a writer…I wrote it on the medical form when going into have a colonoscopy…
    Ha, the doctor wanted to hear about what I write and hoped when I come back in five years I will have my picture books in hand.
    I am a writer…and will have doses of Vit C…AKA chocolate as needed!
    Thank so sharing your ideas…known them now to do them.

  177. Susanna, your post is truly inspiring. It felt like you were talking directly to me. I am going to start each morning by saying “I am a writer!”

    Thank you and congratulations on Llama.

  178. Susanna, your post is truly inspiring. It felt like you were talking directly to me. I am going to start each morning by saying “I am a writer!”

    Thank you and congratulations on Llama!

  179. It’s always great to hear some cheerleading! Thanks, Susanna. I think this line especially applies to me:

    “It’s hard to believe in yourself as a writer when you can’t point to a publication of any kind that has your name on it. (Yet! )”

  180. Thanks for all your inspiration, Susanna. I still hesitate to tell people I write because the next question is always, oh, and what books have you written? If only they understood all the years of work that never become a book. Still, I certainly love what I do.

  181. Hi Susanna,

    Thanks so much for the tips! Even thought I’ve been writing professionally on the side for years, I still struggle with really identifying as a writer. This was so encouraging. Thank you so much for sharing!

  182. Susanna, thank you for being a writer’s cheerleader. Your post was the morale boost I needed. Let me also thank you for your wonderful website and all you do for the writing community as a whole.

  183. To fully accept and own the gift of being a writer— not a one-time thing, but a process of learning to manage its demands, responsibilities, temptations, disappointments–and successes too. Thanks for the encouraging exhortation! Doesn’t have to be grim.

  184. Susanna, first, I was so happy to see your face and post up here! Second, your tips were exactly what I needed going into this year. Even with one book out, as you say, questioning and self doubt continue. It’s a good reminder that the belief starts with yourself. 2018 is already off to a good start!

  185. Cervantes had Don Quijote declare, “I know who I am. And I know who I can be!” I am a writer. Thank you for reminding us of the power of declaring ourselves!

  186. Cervantes had Don Quijote declare, “I know who I am. And I know who I can be!” I am a writer. Thank you for reminding us of the power of declaring ourselves!

  187. I don’t have a problem calling myself a writer but I feel like I shouldn’t call myself an author until I am published. I ‘ve mastered the chocolate and I’m working hard at writing everyday. I do want to look into signing up for a writing class and hope that I can make that work for me. Thank you so much!

  188. Although it is hard to ask others to treat my work as a job when it barely pays for itself (all that continuing education and those membership fees, etc…really add up when your only writing income is from poetry competitions!), I feel lucky to have kids and a husband who are on-board with having a writer in the house…and will do victory dances with me whenever I do get published!

  189. Hello! My name is Krissy and I am a writer. Gee that has such a nice ring to it why am I afraid to use that line? Thanks for your inspiring post. 2018 will be a different and better year.

  190. Thanks so much for the post, Susanna – what an inspiring perspective!
    I’m a writer – I don’t say that often enough, but that’s going to change, starting now.

  191. #10. That’s one I think about on a daily basis and causes me so much internal conflict. I’m lucky to be with someone who is supportive, loving and always encouraging. It makes it easier for me to go easier on myself. Thank you for this post, Susanna!

  192. This is spot on for me! I used to say “I am a teacher,” but now I say “I teach part time and write kids’ books.” It is so hard to say, “I am a writer.” Thanks for empowering us all!

  193. It’s always the loaded question: “what do you do?” and I am finally happy to say “I’m a writer”, which makes me glow every time I say it. ; )

  194. Having just retired from my “real job” it is quite relevant for me. Funny, isn’t it, how we have no trouble saying that we are “doing some writing” but can’t actually claim to be “writers”. And totally agree about chocolate!

  195. Thank you for this post. When others ask me what I do, I proudly say I’m an author/illustrator. Being pre-published has nothing to do with what I do—or better put, who I am, like you said, Susanna. I’ve never once felt like I needed to hide behind that I’m an artist, and I hope anyone else who is a creative professional never feels like they should. We change the world, folks. Hold your heads high.

  196. Really helpful, really practical tips–especially the part about chocolate! Thanks so much for the wisdom and encouragement.

  197. Thank you! It’s all so true. And we know it, but we need to hear others say it.
    Now I’ll say it, too. I am a writer!

  198. Susanna,
    Thank you for your “Kick-to-write” inspiration. Thank you you for the chocolate validation. It has been a struggle to get down and writing, but I did a great job of organizing my writing book and inputting my submissions. Sometimes you have to do the business part of this endeavor. I did find that time away helped me get inspired for revisions and writing a new draft. Your kind words made me feel like I was on track this year.

  199. Thank you for reminding us that writing is a gift and for all you do for the kidlit community. It’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve started to say those powerful words, “I am a writer.” And it feels good.

  200. Susanna, These are great tips, helpful no matter what stage of writing we’ve achieved. You are the best writer-cheerleader ever! Congratulations on Llama, and thank you for all that you do to support other writers.

  201. Thank you so much for your kind words and tender encouragement Susanna! You are sharing such truth…. I have just started admitting to people that this is what I do, what I love… and it IS helping me keep my writing time sacred and give my writing the place in my daily life that it has in my heart. Love that you encourage us to honor our writing even if we are “pre published”!

  202. I am a writer. Thank you so much for this post, Susanna! It was exactly what I needed to begin a new year of writing. And based on the comments, I’m far from the only one! 🙂

  203. Thanks for the encouragement, Susanna! Love this post. And love chocolate…chocolate coated pretzels, that is! Congratulations on Llama!

  204. Thank you for this encouragement! I am ready to improve my craft, learn a whole lot more, and connect with others who will say, “I am a writer” with me.

  205. Such an inspiring post! I can’t believe the timing — today was the first day I heard myself say the words, “I am a writer.” Now reading your post, I feel a sense of pride for speaking them out loud. I plan to continue to do so and feel more confident than ever. Thank you!

  206. Great post Susanna, I had a real rocky end to 2017 in terms of writing. Our family of 4 repatriated after 3 years living in a foreign country. Every single family member has had different needs in terms of support throughout this transition and of course, the writing has been the first thing to take a back seat! Reading your list of tips is very refreshing. A great start to a new year, time to start new habits, in a new environment with fresh new writing ideas. Thanks for the inspiration! 🙂

  207. I needed this advice! Have felt like a failure for not earning money as a writer. My mindset was dragging me down. Time to get back to work.

  208. Hi Susanna! *waves* Thanks for being part of this community and for all you do for writers! I love all your awesome contests, which remain my one motivation whilst waiting in the query trenches! See you soon in Valen-tiny land 🙂

  209. Thanks, Susanna! I like your comment about establishing our hours. I still
    haven’t found what time of day I work best. I hope doing 12 x 12 will help
    me find out.

  210. Hi Susanna thank you for the great post all the helpful tips are great and now I really want to eat some chocolate.

  211. Such a fantastic post, and so true. I really resonate with it – it took me a while to say to people, ‘I’m a writer’, but once I did, I felt like I started writing better, getting more results, and beating myself up (a little) less. We’re our own worst critic, that’s for sure, so if we find ways to support our inner child, then I think we can better help the children who will one day read our books. Thanks for sharing Susanna!

  212. Since I’m just starting out I’m not sure I’m bold enough to claim the title writer yet, but I can see your point. And I definitely need to educate myself further on writing picture books!

  213. Susanna,

    I loved your tips. I really love the aspect of continuing education. To value your job you must stay aware of new trends and new publications. Thanks for the post.

  214. You gave me an idea as a conversation starter: If you could do anything in the world, what would you want to be doing? For me the answer would be writing. I guess that means, I’m a writer?

  215. Not sure how I missed this in early January, dear Susanna. Oh wait! I do know how I missed it – I was with family in Brazil. I know you can relate!
    Thank you for your inspiring words & tips for progressing in this career. 2018 – the year of the Writer! Happy New Year!

  216. Thanks for the encouragement Susanna! I just came out of the writing closet to my immediate family and a few close friends. Not sure I’m ready to share outside of that but this post has me thinking twice!

  217. I’m so glad I read your post Feb 1st, rather than early Jan. Will probably return to it at the beginning of each month to get another hit of New Year energy and inspiration. THANK YOU!!!

  218. Thank you for those inspiring words to start 2018!! I really enjoyed your Picture Book Magic class two years ago and I love our 12×12 community!! I hope you have a great writing year!

  219. Susanna, Your writing voice always makes me smile. Thank you for all you do for the kidlit community. I am a writer, hear me roar! Oh, wait maybe that was your lion.

  220. Thanks for this post Suzanna. It is definitely hard to tell people I’m a writer with little to nothing with my name on it out in the world thus far. I’m working on it! Also, thank you for your Valentiny contest. It’s a good challenge to get a story down below 214 words!

  221. WOW! What an inspiring blog. Calling myself a writer (and believing it) is actually one of my goals for 2018, so this post was very timely for me. Thanks heaps for inspiring us all,

  222. Thanks, Susanna! I really needed this right now. I told my sister-in-law the other day that I have been working on several picture book manuscripts and realized that even knowing me for eleven years, she had no idea that writing was something I was so passionate about. It’s time that I shout it from the rooftops and let everyone know – I AM a writer!!!

  223. Others seeing our writing as an “endearing eccentricity” or “waste of time” is SPOT on! Thanks for the confidence-building motivation.

  224. Thanks, Susanna! I needed this inspirational kick-start to 2018! Your words are inspirational! Congrats on your great work.


  225. The office struggle is a real when you like to write at coffee shops but your hometown doesn’t have one! Luckily, my three month stay at my boyhood home is coming to an end sooner than expected and I’ll be heading back to NYC in a couple weeks! Adjusting to my hometown after a decade on the road and at sea (aside from writing, I am an actor), has been… interesting. For the record though, I still found a way to pump out a couple new drafts, outline a couple ideas, and jot down at least a dozen more to revisit!

    Can’t wait to get back to the city, find a new apartment (hopefully with enough room for a desk), and be back in a place where you can find everything you need!

    Thanks for your post! Congrats on your next release! All the best to you this year.

  226. Thanks for the encouraging post, Susanna. Believing in yourself before you get outside confirmation from others is tough, but part of the process. It’s nice to have the kidlit community for support. Everyone is terrific.
    Love the titles of your newest books — attention grabbers right from the start. Congrats!

  227. Susannah! Thank you for this very encouraging post. I hope to take your Picture Book Magic Course some day. I don’t always feel like a writer and so your thoughts are very relatable. All the best with your books!

  228. Excellent advice, Susanna! It is sometimes hard to say “I am a writer” when I don’t have an actual book to show for it (yet), but this is an excellent reminder of why I should keep on saying it!!!

  229. This really speaks to me. I have a hard time adding writer to my list of “jobs” because I don’t have anything published. Maybe I can change that!

    1. And I love what you shared in the comments to another about when we make time to write and pursue this it demonstrates something powerful to our family…. I agree!

  230. Thank you for this post. It really hit home. There is an odd angle to saying “I’m a writer”, if you’re not getting paid for it. Yet. This is great advice for owning who you ARE, not just what you DO. Cheers to us all getting over that hurdle in 2018!

  231. Thank you for this inspiring article. You are an encouraging person. I needed that push to say, yes I am a writer.

  232. Thanks for this! I found the tips very useful – esp. the guts to say “I’m a writer” when it makes me feel so vulnerable. Every day I’m writing it feels more and more comfortable to think and say it, even if I’m not yet published.

  233. Yes, the second year at 12×12 is like another chocolate. I am cherishing my best pace snd space of writing this year. Good luck with your book launch! Thank you for your post, Susanne!

  234. Susanna, I AM A WRITER!! Fabulous advice! I am checking off all the numbers with a great, big magic writing marker!
    Keep spreading your magic!

  235. Hello Susanna! I learned a lot from you during the Making Picture Book Magic class and will keep those lessons with me forever!!

  236. Yes! I was having a very similar conversation with myself a few weeks ago. I have started telling people I am a writer, but I need to get better at believing it myself! And setting clear boundaries around my “work time.” Thank you, Susanna. This was very helpful.

  237. Wow, Susanna, your tips are so aligned with things I’ve done. 2018 is the year I’ve affirmed that I’m a writer. I finally turned a vacant bedroom into my office and organized it too. I usually write 2x/ day. Have to skip your one of your tips because I’ve haven’t submitted or self-published any of my manuscripts…YET! Chocolate is necessary for life just like air and water, right? I don’t know if that makes me a geek, but I like learning about writing almost as much as like writing. Wrote my first draft and revision for 12 x 12 Challenge 2018 and I already started my February. So all your tips are spot on. I’m right where I should be. So, thanks, Susanna, I’m glad to be here in 12 x12 with everyone!

  238. Thanks for the great advice! Finding it super hard to call myself a writer, out loud any way. Time to get over it.🖒

  239. Thank you Susanna. Up until last July I worked as a lawyer for an entertainment company. This career change is dramatic. Every one of the issues you raise I’ve been wrestling with. Your post is most helpful.

  240. First off, holy cow–I have never seen so many posts!
    Second, what a timely message, as I was just speaking to a co-worker at my day job about writing and illustrating, and she must have heard something in my voice to prompt her to tell me,”Don’t discredit that!” I thanked her for the encouragement and I thank you!

  241. So many good tips and ideas for maintaining our focus and keeping our identity as writers. My favorite line is when you say that writing is not so much what we do – it’s what we ARE! It’s the way we see the world and the way we want to share it. That is so true with me – the more I want to share something, the more likely I am to write it up in a letter or write a poem! My New Year’s resolution is to say to myself every morning in the mirror: I AM A WRITER!

  242. Thank you for the great advice Susanna. I could totally relate with everything you shared, especially the part about making writing time sacred and establishing a space to write. In a busy household full of children and dogs it’s not always easy to do these two things, but I can see how important and effective your advice is. Thanks for sharing.

  243. This really was just the perfect post to read at the top of a new year. Thank you for the pep talk and wisdom. And congrats on your new book release!

  244. Yes! Yes! YEEESSSSS! I needed this pep talk, Susanna! I really need to do some of the tips you listed, I think it will help me focus and take myself serious as a writer. Thank you so much! Hope you have a great year!!! 🙂


  245. I read your post early in the month and much of it has been bopping around in my head all month. Especially the part about owning it. Thank you for the inspiration–it was a great kickoff to anproductive month!

  246. Susanna, Thanks for the validation, the encouragement, and the chocolate-covered advice! I am a writer. Have a great 2018!

  247. Thanks for the great advice, Susana! I’ve been telling friends about my writing and it feels great. My office is being built and I can’t wait to move in and use it!

  248. I could sit and write oodles of reasons why I needed to read your post. What practical and inspirational strategies for getting myself started with the story I’m trying to put down on paper. I might just go grab some #7 and #8 and reread your entire post all over again! Thank you!

  249. Thank you, Susanna, for the inspirational words. I am new at this, and am proud to say out loud, for the very first time, “I am a writer! Hear me ROAR!” I am excited to be a part of this amazing community.

  250. Thanks Susanna and I want to share that your series of board books have been very popular in our library this year! Great job!

  251. It is huge making that leap to telling people you are a writer! I tell people I’m a writer and illustrator. I either get a positive response or this awful static. The static is what kept me from telling people because I was not getting positive responses. Took a bit of thick skin to get past it.

    I’m working on establishing hours with a 2 year old and a 7 year old. Schedules are crazy. When someone gets sick it’s awful. Baby and I are sick today. Finally feeling well enough to post! Thank you so much for your post! ❤️❤️❤️

  252. Hey Susanna

    Thanks for the great inspiration and simple reminders. I’ve been writing on a more ad hoc basis (basically whenever my boys give me free time). But I need to push myself to be more regular. Thanks again. Cary

  253. I am a writer!

    I never used to think that. Then I started to think that.
    But I still never said it. Then, this year, over the last 6 months, I’ve started to say it, to a select few.
    Next, I think I’m going to shout it. It might terrify my interrogator, but it will be more fun for me!

    Thanks for this post, which somehow is timely, regardless on where on the admission spectrum each of us may fall at the moment! 🙂

  254. I love this! I will put these tips on stickies and cover my monitor with them!

    But…(there’s always a but)…

    I struggle with the “setting time away to write” part.

    I have four jobs (I’m including being a writer).

    I am a single mother and I find that the more I “set that time” and inevitably can’t do it, due to (oh god…making lunches, feeling so exhausted I literally can’t keep my eyes open during the bedtime story, being to work/school on time etc.). I end up feeling extreme guilt which, in turn, takes a nice big chunk out of my creative juju and lands me in a depressive, uninspired slump. It’s a similar feeling one gets when the doctor is adamant about you getting eight hours of quality sleep, which will solve ALL your health issues, and you know you’re LUCKY to get five. It brings upon that sort of guilt where you feel like you’re between a rock and a hard place. SO…that said…

    I decided to STOP “setting time” to write this year and start giving myself accolades for the small tasks I do accomplish (towards my writing goals) each day instead.

    Some examples are:
    1. Checking in on my book’s Facebook page and commenting or adding an update about publication.
    2. Writing down some random ideas for PB’s I had while making dinner in my journal by my bed at night.
    3. When I’m fresh out of ideas, I redesign my website and ensure the best images are displayed to match my work or pick new background themes.
    4. READING. If I really just “can’t” do SOMETHING that day, I give myself credit for reading. Reading anything. Because to become better writers, we must read.

    I decided to stop beating myself up about my haphazard creative cycle and how it compares to others’ because….to keep a roof over my head and pay my bills, I CAN’T rely solely on writing right now. But, my dream never dies. I take myself seriously and I always tell people ALL FOUR jobs when they ask me “what I do” at the grocery store or in the school parking lot. If they don’t have time to listen to them all, or are secretly wondering how my head stays attached to my body…that’s on them.

    Write on word wizards!

  255. Aloha Susanna, Thank you so much for the wonderful post and tips and congrats on your latest book! Your line: ‘The fact that you can’t not write.’ really resonated with me because that is exactly how I feel! Thank you for saying that. You have inspired me to actually tell people that I am a writer. Mahalo!

  256. I am a writer! I am a chocoholic, 12×12-lovin’ writer! These tips are super-helpful, so many thanks for sharing the motivation!

  257. I always need encouragement to say “I’m a writer”. Thank you for the great list, and I already have 7-9 perfected.
    I am still working on the space, or rather, I migrate to wherever the sun is shining. Thanks for the inspiration!

  258. Thank you for the post. I’m proud — and always have been proud — to call myself a writer. When I’m creating something with words, I feel better about myself. It’s magical.

  259. Thank you, Susanna, for helping me start the year off right! I have just begun to get comfortable telling people that I’m a writer, and I’m finding that people are incredibly enthusiastic and supportive when they hear that. When I had to fill out “occupation” on one of the endless forms that appear in my life, I used to write “kid wrangler.” I still do that with my five munchkins, but from now on, it will always be “writer.” I am a writer!

  260. Great post susanna! I have a “day job” that I’m very successful (I help people build brands), so I always had a ‘convenient excuse’ not to say I was a writer. Weirdly enough, once I started owning it, and telling people (everyone who asks!)…”but my other job is that I’m a children’s book author” that I became truly committed and a more prolific writer! Surprise…commitment follows intent, which follows…putting yourself out there! Just do it. And never be afraid of the “crappy first draft” as Anne Lamont would say (:>). You can’t edit a blank page, right?

  261. Great post susanna! I have a “day job” that I’m very successful (I help people build brands), so I always had a ‘convenient excuse’ not to say I was a writer. Weirdly enough, once I started owning it, and telling people (everyone who asks!)…”but my other job is that I’m a children’s book author” that I became truly committed and a more prolific writer! Surprise…commitment follows intent, which follows…putting yourself out there! Just do it. And never be afraid of the “crappy first draft” as Anne Lamont would say (:>). You can’t edit a blank page, right?

  262. “It’s not what you do, it’s who you are!” Yes!! I am a writer and an artist, and you are so right, we need to believe in ourselves if we expect others to believe in us too! This post pumped me up! Thanks for the nuggets of wisdom, Susanna!

  263. Thank you, Susanna. That’s is just what I needed in this dreary winter month. I think we keep a stereotype of a writer in our minds, the intellectual professor in his office with patches on his checked jacket and a pipe in his mouth, and not a plain person like myself. But as Brenda Ueland said:

    This is what I learned: that everybody is talented, original and has something important to say.

  264. Thank you, Susanna. I love how you deliver your words of wisdom and inspiration with a huge serving of chocolate.

    I am a writer! (sips on frothy mocha!!)

  265. Such great motivation! Still struggling to really believe it with conviction but will work on that, it’s definitely and critically important! Thank you!

  266. Thank you for such a great article! Someone asked me if I work the other day and for the first time I said “Yes, I’m a writer” and then felt like an absolute fraud. Will keep practicing though!

  267. I’m so excited! I am a writer! A beginner at picture books, but ready and willing to get the ball rolling. Thank you for your helpful hints Susanna. Can I replace chocolate with Swedish Fish ?

  268. I usually don’t do New Year’s resolutions (I try to do these throughout the year), but Susanna’s article got me fired up! I’m resolving to take these steps seriously, especially the chocolate. But seriously, thanks for the running start for what is going to be an amazing year. I AM A WRITER!

  269. Hi again Susanna. Thank you for this blog post. I feel pretty good after reading this. I have my writing space, I educate myself with conferences, webinars, workshops, challenges such as this, and of course your Would You R