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12 X 12 July 2017 Featured Author – Leanne Shirtliffe

12 x 12 July 2017 Featured Author – Leanne Shirtliffe

12 x 12 Member Leanne ShirtliffeHey 12 x 12ers,

What a delight it is to be here. Can you see me waving from Canada? There’s no wall!

I have a few counter-intuitive ideas to share with you regarding this crazy writing journey we’re on.

1. Don’t quit your day job.

I still haven’t. I teach high school English full time (I just finished my 22nd year in the classroom on June 30th!) I really like not being dependent on my writing income. Not only is it easier to live above the poverty level, but—when I’m not economically beholden to something—I can do whatever I want. I feel this spurs my creativity (while also making me exhausted, much like Stevie’s mom in this spread from I LOVE SHARKS, TOO!).


2. Take time off.

It’s okay not to produce twelve drafts in a year. It’s okay not to write everyday. We don’t all have a room of our own, metaphorical or figurative. I’m on my third year of 12 x 12, and my record is finishing four drafts in twelve months. I tend to super-polish only two drafts each year.

If you create more than this: great! If you create less than this: great! You’re still creating. Also, if your body tells you to abandon writing and revising and all things except hibernating do it. I took three months away from writing due to a two-month battle with anxiety and insomnia. Then, from January to April, I had my most creative output ever. Time off can help show us which direction is forward.

I’m pretty sure I was vibrating like Stevie before I took some time away from writing.


3. Dare to suck at writing.

I frequently tell school groups that I’m a really lousy writer; I’m just an excellent (and relentless) rewriter. I feel like my first drafts are my cavewoman way of saying, “See? I found this rock and dragged it here with me.” Revision is my way of sculpting that rock into art, piece by piece.

If only I could write and revise as fast as a Shortfin mako shark…


4. Go ahead and get caught in the rejection cycle.

If you are rejected, it means you’re putting your work out there. I created the graphic below to show you what a healthy rejection cycle looks like.

5. Compare yourself.

Comparison may be the thief of joy, but only if you compare yourself to others. Compare the writing you do now with the writing you did five years ago. You weren’t writing five years ago, you say? Well then, look at what you’re doing now. You spun adverbs like they were fidget spinners? Go ahead…open some old files and see how far you’ve come!

Heck, compare yourself to a shark!


6. Don’t take any of this advice.

Unless it works for you.

Wishing you many words and much laughter on this crazy journey!


Leanne Shirtliffe is the author of four published picture books, with another set to be announced. Her latest, I LOVE SHARKS, TOO! was a 12 x 12 draft from 2015 and was released last month. I LOVE SHARKS, TOO! is illustrated by Lorenzo Montatore. It features a sassy young boy named Stevie who adores sharks. In fact, each time his mom asks him to do something, such as brush his teeth, Stevie responds with a cheeky shark fact, creating a conflict that escalates until bedtime. I LOVE SHARKS, TOO! also features extended back matter that will leave you laughing. Learn more about Leanne and her books at

This Post Has 303 Comments
  1. Excellent advice, Leanne, especially Dare to Suck at Writing! I don’t know why it’s so hard to remember that it takes many revisions to write something good, many more to make it great. First drafts will never be good, let alone great, and that’s okay. It’s just a first draft, people, keep working! I look forward to reading I LOVE SHARKS, TOO! 🙂

    1. Hi Lauri,
      Well, the blank page still horrifies me too, especially if I’ve recently polished a draft to the submittable stage (I seem to forget it started out as crappy, too). I’ve recently started calling my first drafts “Playtime”; I actually write this word on top of my document. I’m not writing; I’m merely playing… It helps. Sometimes…

      1. Love your idea of “playtime” on first draft. Great description. Usually and idea surprises me and it really is playtime getting it on paper! Thanks for your article. Loved it.

  2. Great post Leanne! I love your rejection cycle graphic!! Thank you for the inspiration to keep going, especially your “Dare to Suck at Writing” advice… which reminded me of a motto that I love and try to follow which is, “Dream Big and Dare to Fail” and is attributed to Norman Vaughan, the chief dog driver on the first Admiral Byrd Antarctic Expedition in 1928-30. Norman also participated in 13 Iditarod’s, running his first one at age 72. He completed 6 races with his last finish being in 1990, when he was 84. Can you imagine traveling 1,000 miles on the back of a dog sled at 84 years old?

  3. Leanne,

    I’m in love with this post! I needed to hear all of this. Have I heard it before? Yes. But hearing it again in your creative way helps me to remember it will stay true all along my writing journey. Whether published or pre-published your post is one all should read and heed!
    Congrats on your success 🙂

  4. Thanks for relieving the pressure of an everyday writing regimen. I still get a draft done a month even when it is sketchy but the revisions go on and on. I probably should send something to someone someday.

  5. Congratulations Leanne on your balancing both your passions. I am in education too and I find it hard at times to make space and find energy to write. You are an inspiration!

  6. Thank you, Leanne. I like #5. I will remember to compare myself to myself. That is much more encouraging than thinking about the rejection cycle.

  7. Thanks Leanne for this great post. I really like the idea of looking back at old manuscripts to see how far I have come.

  8. Happy Canada Day to you! And thanks for sharing part of your journey. I especially like the part about comparing yourself to yourself.

    1. Thanks, Stephanie. I figure it’s impossible not to compare yourself; so just change the object of the comparison! I still fail at this pretty regularly (and wish I were Mo Willems or x), but I try to remember only I can write the stories I write, even if they sit on my hard drive (where MANY sit!)

      Happy writing, eh!

  9. Loved everything you said. Take the advice or write the way you need to, and it is definitely turn advice into something that works for you. Its a journey you need to enjoy the process.

  10. Thank you, Leanne.
    Your tips are good reminders about being honest with yourself, persistence in the process, mixed with humor and some great PB takes from I LOVE SHARKS TOO.

  11. Hello from the east coast, Nova Scotia! I appreciate what you shared and all your advice, Leanne. What I need is the energy to fine tune some of my drafts into good submission-ready manuscripts. I don’t want to end up with 12, or however many, drafts at the end of this year and not have any ready to go.
    I have I Love Sharks, Too! out from the library right now. It will be featured in a review on my blog in August. Your sense of humour is enjoyable.

  12. It’s great to hear from someone who successfully broke “the rules”. Thanks for a reminder that “the rules” are really just suggestions that don’t work for everyone.

  13. Great advice. Thanks so much for sharing! and I love the excerpts from your I LOVE SHARKS, TOO! What would you say makes a great Nonfiction Picture Book?

    1. Great question, Dina. Off the top of my head, a great nonfiction PB needs:
      (1) an interesting subject
      (2) an arc
      (3) voice
      When I was drafting and re-drafting SAVING THUNDER THE GREAT, my voice was far too distant for the first dozen or so drafts. As my critique group told me, it sounded like someone was telling the story, rather than in the story. I found it really hard to get the voice…

      1. Thanks Leanne!! I agree, the voice is a really tricky one… I also struggle with the arc though, especially for informational PBs which is why I found your PB on sharks so ingenious! 🙂 thanks again.

  14. Leanne,
    Thank you so much for the reminder to be me! So often writers will hare how they do writing, and then I assume I must be doing this writing thing the wrong way. Great inspiration to keep working on my own individual style! Loved the excerpts from the book!

  15. Thanks, Leanne for sharing your thoughts on using what works for you! I will look for I Love Sharks! Revision and learning. Revision and learning. Two key words that I’m going to post on my bulletin board along with your revision chart!

  16. Love, love, love this ? I’m going to read this a few times so it truly sinks in. Thanks for sharing your experience and knowledge, Leanne. ?

  17. Thanks for the reminder that taking a break can be good or even necessary. It helps when someone successful says it!

  18. Thanks, Leanne. Your comment about not forcing yourself to write all the time really hit home. For a while, I thought my anxiety was triggered by not writing enough. I’ve since found the anxiety is less and my writing better when I don’t push it so hard. Go figure!

    1. I often think of the metaphor of resting on the seventh day. I don’t take it literally, but I think a break can spur creativity (and even if it doesn’t…doing nothing is sometimes lovely!)

  19. Hi Leanne,

    As a fellow Canadian and a teacher who plans not to quit her day job, it was a pleasure to read your post. Your advice really resonates. Best of luck with your book. 🙂

    1. Happy July, Cynthia! I can imagine you gasping for air now that you’re out of the classroom. Most of the time I feel so glad I teach in Canada since we’re compensated quite well. 🙂

  20. Leanne, this article was full of relatable ideas. I especially appreciate the ‘rejection cycle’ and ‘comparing yourself’. Your transparency is refreshing. Thanks for the helps!

  21. Leanne –

    Great, quick advice…love the rejection “map”….been on it a few times myself…always good to know everyone goes on this journey! Thank you for sharing your advice!

  22. I LOVE your post! It came just when I needed it. Reminders on a Sunday are the best. Going to print this post out and hang it on my work station! And how did I miss your book?! Going to run out and get it for my shark-crazy son ASAP!

    1. Thanks, Kara. I have such trouble comparing my work at the first draft stage (blech) with the last manuscript I polished (shiny). Makes whatever new draft I’m starting seem like it sucks. I’ve taken to saving the first drafts of everything in all caps so I can find it easy (and see how much it sucked at Stage 1, too!)

  23. Love the advice, love the book, love that you’re from Canada…I love that place!
    Thanks for sharing and taking the heat off that sometimes we put on ourselves!

  24. Great advice! Especially that second one. It’s tough to keep writing (or illustrating) all the time. It’s good to know it’s okay to take a break. Also, there wouldn’t be a wall. I’m in BC! Yay, Canada!

  25. Wow, as quick and powerful as a shark bite, @LeanneShirliffe! Especially the rejection graphic. Thanks for sneaking up on us with it!

  26. You’re right – I think we can get caught up in the ‘shoulds’ of writing. It’s more helpful to do what we can and push ourselves when we know we can cope. Your book looks great – a clever idea.

  27. What a great humor-filled post packed with excellent insights into “do what works” for each of us as writers! Thanks, Leanne.

  28. What great advice! Your sense of humor is delightful! I relate to all of your bullet points, but especially to the one about being okay with not writing a new manuscript each month. I have been disappointed with myself that I didn’t get a new story written for June, but you’ve reminded me that it’s okay. Schedules and self-discipline are great, but sometimes we have to just give ourselves a break.

  29. Thank you Leanne, you had me laughing from the start with your wall comment! I thought, “This is going to be a good one,” and it was! I loved the mental picture of a first draft being like dragging a huge rock along with you. First drafts are my nemesis and that’s exactly how it feels. “Hey everyone, I made this great big ugly blob of rubbish and now I can’t unmake it so I suppose I have to DO something with it.” There are lots of rocks dragging behind me at the moment, but hey, it’s better than having no rocks I suppose 🙂

  30. Leann, I read the featured post at least twice, once at the beginning of the month and once at the end. I am printing your post so I can refer to it often. I just finished reading a book about comparison being a joy zapper— nice reminder from you about knowing that when we look back at the very first thing we wrote…we are better. Thank you for being a part of this community…and for teaching high school.

  31. Great advice and I’ll take all of it, Leanne 🙂 Thank you for the encouragement and inspiration to keep writing, revising, and the best part…don’t feel guilty when you need time away.

  32. I appreciate your slightly different approach to dispensing writing advice. Reading the experts and then cherry-picking what will work for oneself is not always easy, but you make some great points! Love your Rejection Cycle graphic.

  33. Thank you for complimenting your writing advise with delightful visuals-differentiation!
    I especially liked the Rejection Cycle !!

  34. Thanks for giving permission to not feel guilty about taking time to do what we need to do in order to be our best. Yet you don’t give permission not to get back in there and try again. I appreciate your honesty. Thanks for putting into words what we are afraid and embarrassed to do once in a while.

  35. Ha! I love this! I have a graphic designer friend who – when she gets stuck designing a logo or something like that – tells herself to “design the opposite” of what she was working on before. So often, that counter-example, or flipping your perspective, is the perfect way to unstick a better idea.

    Thanks for these uncommon perspectives!

  36. I liked the advice; I’m keeping it! I also need to get this book for my friend– she loves sharks, and she’ll love reading this to her 4 year old. Congrats on the book!

  37. Your book looks amazing and kids will remember your comparisons. I can’t wait to read it! I love your post for us, too. I just recently told my critique group to look how far we’ve all come – just since January when we joined 12×12.

  38. Thanks for the advice! I’m not going to follow it, according to your advice…or would that be following it? Hmmmmm…maybe I can turn this into something 🙂

  39. Thanks for the advice, Leanne. I sometimes feel a great deal of pressure in this business – mostly from myself! It is important to remember to find what process works best for me and go with it. Congratulations on your book. You give so much inspiration and hope to us 12 x 12 ers!

  40. Thanks, Leanne! There is so much great advice in this post… I think I might have to follow it. ? Every bit of it resonated with me! I really needed to hear it’s ok to NOT quit you day job. It’s ok to only write a few polished manuscripts a year. It’s ok to take a break. And it’s ok to suck sometimes. Whew! I feel better already! I struggle with anxiety at times as well, and unfortunately much of it is related to the pressure I put on myself. This is day 1 of a 2 week vacation and of course I brought my computer to write. However, I’m going to give myself permission to write a little less and hope the break spurs my creativity as well. Thank you again! This post is a keeper! (P.S. Your book looks hilarious! I need to add that one to my wish list!)

  41. Thanks, Leanne! Your blog was perfect for me today. I really needed #2 cause I’ve been taking a break from writing. Well, actually, my creativity has taken a break from me. As soon as it returns, we’ll move forward together. This is my first run-in with writer’s block, but I won’t let it keep me down forever. I’m just trying to “ride the wave.” Don’t want to push or force anything.

    Thanks so much for all the advice.

  42. Great tips, Leanne! Thanks for sharing them in a light hearted way. They made me smile as well as think. Take care!

  43. What a whimsical post! 🙂 Thanks so much for diving in and connecting with us again. And I really enjoyed seeing some pics from your upcoming book. Did you market it to your agent as a nonfiction or hybrid of fiction/nf? Enjoy your summer!

  44. This post was such a breath of fresh air and exactly what I needed to hear! Can’t wait to read about Stevie. 🙂 Thank you!!

  45. Thanks Leanne for the fun post and looks into your book! The shark facts are great. As a fellow teacher I appreciate the advice and plan not to quit! I’m enjoying some quality writing (and beach time) this month.

  46. I loved reading your post, Leanne. It’s filled with great advice for all writers. Congrats on your books.

  47. Thanks Leanne! Oh anxiety and insomnia…I know that well. Maybe a break from writing is a good idea. I like the idea of taking 2 or three manuscripts and working on tweaking those instead of putting pressure on yourself to write a new one each month. Love the advice. Congratulations on your books. They look awesome. I’ll check them out.

  48. Leanne,
    Such a relief to hear that you are slow and sure as I am. Sometimes I feel like I’m going in slow motion. I will use the rejection/ acceptance chart.

  49. Great post! I like the way you used your book to give advice.
    I can’t wait to read, I Love Sharks Too!

  50. Thank you, It’s so nice to know that I am not the only one who is not writing 12 drafts in 12 months. I probably can but I would be pushing myself. I work full-time and with 2 active kids and sometimes I feel like I am falling behind on my writing. I am also writing a middle grade book and that takes up any free me time that a have (when I have it) so just knowing that there is someone else not hitting the 12 drafts takes a little of the anxiety away 🙂
    Have a Beautiful Day…

  51. Not sure how I missed this post when it came out but I finally just read it … Wow! LOVE your advice and pragmatic approach to the writing life. It’s really great to hear this and understand that we all work differently. Your book looks fantastic – can’t wait to read it! 🙂

  52. Wonderful & encouraging advice. Loved this image: “I frequently tell school groups that I’m a really lousy writer; I’m just an excellent (and relentless) rewriter. I feel like my first drafts are my cavewoman way of saying, “See? I found this rock and dragged it here with me.”

    Thank you from a fellow “cavewoman” in writing, Carrie

  53. Hi there!
    Thanks for sharing these thoughts with us! All sage advice, really. I laughed at the cave woman reference. Writing can certainly feel JUST like dragging a heavy boulder, in the first draft stage, and even through several rounds of revision. But it feels GREAT when we finally get to something polished and sparkling. It’s definitely worth all of that lugging and chiseling and buffing, eh?

    (Also, we just moved- and I LOVE SHARKS, TOO! was waiting for us, on arrival at our new house. I couldn’t wait to order it, and to read it while we waited for the shipment of our household goods. We’re big shark fans- always have been!)

  54. i love the visual I got of the cavewoman dragging the rock in. That is how I feel when I write a blog or a PB or anything. Sometimes I just have to tell myself….hey….you are onto something here. Just write about it and revise later. It is so much easier to revise….or sculpt when there is actually something on the page. Thanks!!

  55. Thanks for the advice-keep chiseling! There are diamonds in some of those rocks!
    I live near the beach. Sharks intrigue me too. I look forward to reading your book.


  56. Hi Leanne! Congrats on your book. I loved The Rejection Cycle Post and your cavewoman attitude. Yes, roll it around and turn it into art! Genius!

  57. Loved this post Leanne–lots of great advice that brings things into perspective! I like comparing yourself to yourself, this is a great tip for all areas of life! And I appreciate you saying to take the time off if you need it–the unseen pressure to produce sometimes overshadows the love of it–it can be easy to see people slamming out drafts weekly and feel useless or stressed. I should print this out and hang it up in my office! Thanks again.

  58. Thank you Leanne; I feel better already. I’ve been reading Stephen King’s ON WRITING, which is great, but it has made me feel like a sloth given my writing schedule. 🙂

  59. This has been the best uplifter I’ve had all week. You put a smile back on my face where there were two months of depression.And I want to thank you for that, Keep up the pep talks you remind me of myself.

  60. I write most days, but I’ve founding that obsessing over writing (or anything else) doesn’t work. When I take time off, I come back refresh and anxious to sit down to write. Taking time off does work! Letting my writing suck is what I have to work on. That critic! Get me a crate!

  61. I love, love, love this so much. Thank you for sharing your perspective. It is so easy to bet overwhelmed by everyone’s advice and shoulds and musts. This was a breath of fresh air. We have to all do what works for us. Thank you for the reminder.

  62. Thanks, Leanne. Whale sharks can’t stop moving or they die? Wow. Maybe reading your advice would help!

  63. Thank you so much for sharing Leanne – good to think back on your positive and reassuring tips. And love the rejection cycle. I think I’ll print it and pin above my desk.
    Best wishes,

  64. Thanks for the reminder to hike my own hike. There is no one way to be a picture book (or any kind of) writer. And that rejection cycle illustration is a keeper. Thank you.

  65. Thanks for all the great reminders , especially that it’s Okay to take time off. I don’t have to feel guilty for taking time to live. To play. To spend time with friends and family. Life is short.

  66. Thanks for your leavening humor . . . it’s so easy to forget the saving grace of a light touch and not taking oneself too seriously when one’s heart is so heavily invested in striving for an outcome. In August my goal is to let go and be goalless, for a bit . . . {smile} And to be okay with failing even at that.

  67. Leanne,

    Number 3 ‘Dare to suck at writing.’ is my favorite. Your sense of humor is infectious and reassuring. I look forward to reading this book…I too, love sharks!
    #justkeepwriting #justkeepwriting

  68. Thank you, Leanne! I like how down-to-earth you are, and what you say about re-writing here! My mom always told me, “Just write the c**p out of yourself.” (Uh, thanks Mom. What are you trying to tell me?) And here I am,…still trying to write the c**p out of myself and hoping something good comes of it =). Congrats on all your fabulous-looking books. I’m excited to try to get some over here in Europe.

  69. I took a self imposed break from writing too, and I’m having the same result! Thanks for your excellent advice! Tongue in cheek and yet truly helpful ???!

  70. Thank you, Leanne. I need to remember that my own writing pace is OK, that breaks are necessary, and that bad writing is too!! The art and hard work is in the polishing.

  71. Great advice Leanne. I often look back at my early writing. Ugh to think I thought I could write then. I’ve come a long way, and have a way to go. So I write and revise, revise, revise…..

  72. Thanks Leanne- I really like your comments about not comparing yourself to anyone. Comparing your own writing to what you did in the past- growth yardstick I am thinking- makes so much sense.

  73. Wow! You seem to be responding to all comments! Awesome! When does school start in Canada? I am also a teacher – second grade. Looking forward to using your shark book during our information writing unit. It’s a perfect fiction text to use with nonfiction about sharks! (I am also taking your advice about keeping my day job.) Thanks for your fun post!

  74. Howdy from the Canadian East Coast! So glad you were able to share some of your journey with us all. Thank you for your encouraging words, specifically regarding comparison of oneself to other writers–it is far too easy a trap to get caught in! I also will be printing out your rejection cycle for my writing wall (and possibly have it printed on a rejection cup!)

    I wish you success in all of your future projects and look forward to seeing more from you!


  75. I’m sorry I’m so late commenting! Usually I read and respond immediately after it is posted.

    Thank you for this GREAT advice! I especially love 5 and 6! It is also encouraging to know you are still teaching. I have a feeling I will be too, even if one day I eventually sell something.

  76. I love the idea of a playtime draft. I also agree about not pressuring yourself trying to live on your writing salary alone. The writing salary is icing on the cupcake.
    I’ve been in 12by12 three years too, but am on a different schedule.

  77. Thank you, Leanne. This post was just what I needed today. I’ve been beating myself up about my lack of discipline in writing every day. This helped remind me I’m not the only one who struggles with this,

  78. I super-enjoyed your charts and permission to suck at writing 🙂 ! I agree that writing is in the rewriting. Thank you!

  79. What a great post! “Daring to Suck” especially spoke to me. One of the hardest things in starting a draft is knowing that it is not going to be good. (Cue inner voice: What if I don’t ever get it polished and someone finds this after I die!! lol). Thank you for the great reminders. And I Love Sharks Too is adorable!
    All the best to you.

  80. I loved this article! You’ve given us permission to not beat ourselves up, but to just keep on truck’n on. Thank you.

  81. Thanks! I have the “I wrote a really stinky draft in July” but it is a story about sending my son to college and the stages we’ve been through since his birth. The draft stinks but I got it down, with tears, and maybe sometime I’ll be able to polish it without tears and make it into something. I have an idea for my August draft though so onward I go!

  82. Leanne!!! You are a gem! Fabulous, practical advice! Keep doing what you are doing!! It works!
    Thank you for being real.

  83. I love your counter-intuitive advice and then advice not to follow what you say, Leanne. It’s a bit of a catch-22 but you remind us this industry is subjective and to forge our own paths with abandon! So, thank you, and congrats on your success.

  84. In my many years of life, I’ve learned that everyone has an insecurity of some sort. That’s what makes it ok for me to be a sucky writer too. Thanks for the post.

  85. Leanne. How’s it going, eh? Hope that wasn’t un-PC. That’s my greeting of endearment for and from my Canadian friends. Thanks for the hint to drag the rock. I’ve been pushing them uphill and so often they roll over and flatten me. Good thing writers can rebound like our protagonists. I loved your Dare to Suck advice. That will be my new 12X12 anthem. And some of us dare to suck just under the wire. Living on the edge. Woo hoo!

  86. This is such a great list of advice! I especially love the idea of comparing your writing to the writing you did five years ago! Now that is encouraging (and somewhat mind-blowing). 🙂

  87. Hi Leanne,
    I love your Canadian socks! …and…your rejection cycle made me laugh. I love how the only place it really leades is “Write some More”…so true! thanks for posting.

  88. Thanks for the great advice. I felt much better after I read “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert. She said much the same thing about supporting your art instead of expecting your art to support you. I’m a school teacher, too. I teach early childhood, and boy am I pooped at the end of the day. I like your advice to take breaks and listen to your body. It’s hard to do, but I’m getting better at it.

    And sharks are very cool!

  89. There is so much to love and relate to in this post, Leanne. And your book looks so clever and fun. Congratulations!

  90. This is great. Love the rejection graphic. Love the advice to compare yourself. If you’re that shark, and you keep moving, you’ll always be further ahead than way back then, whether you’re an ice-cream truck shark or an Usain Bolt shark. Thanks for a fun, inspiring post.

  91. I especially love your “dare to suck at writing.” Most days, I feel like I’m nailing that one. 🙂

  92. Thanks so much for the awesome, inspirational advice. Congratulations on the success of I LOVE SHARKS, TOO! Wishing you many words and much laughter too! Love the mittens. 🙂

  93. Thanks Leanne! Such a good reminder that everyone’s writing path is unique – that it’s not necessary to fit a mold and that it’s important to listen to your body (and even take time off). I also appreciate the “dare to suck” advice. I can feel the weight lift off my shoulders when I allow myself to write from a place of complete disaster. 🙂

  94. I totally agree with all your points. I kept saying to myself, “Yep, that’ makes total sense.” This book looks awesome. What a clever premise and the art is eye-catching. Best of luck in your writing journey. I was a high school English teacher three years before I had my family and retired. Good for you. Teachers rock!!

  95. I had a smile on my face the entire I was reading your post, Leanne. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

  96. hi Leanne – I love all your advice . . . especially The Rejection Cycle . . . it all leads back to the same goal, keep writing! Thanks for this wisdom. And your book pages made me laugh. Can’t wait to read this book! Good luck with your upcoming releases as well.

  97. Love the cave woman analogy! I can’t wait to get my hands on this book. Such a creative way to write an animal book. And I appreciate your tips.

  98. Thanks for this great (and real!) post Leanne. It is so helpful to hear your words of encouragement and solid advice. Love the “dare to suck” as we are so often hindered by our own self-doubt. As you note, the most important thing is to keep going, keep writing and keep telling the stories within our hearts! I Love Sharks Too looks awesome (love the concept and illustrations!).

  99. Leanne – thank you for the sound advice. I especially like that you said not to be too hard on yourself if you slow down a bit. Keeping up has been such a challenge during the busy summer months. I look forward to reading your new book!

  100. I am someone who takes breaks. I am always thinking stories, but get stuck writing them down (I edit ahhhhhhh,) I am not giving up , Thanks!

  101. Thank you for posting. Perfect for Shark Week! I am hanging the Rejection Cycle on my wall! Thank you for that.

  102. Leanne, thanks for the advice, and thanks for saying not to follow it, if it wasn’t for us. I was unable to make time to write while I was teaching elementary school…I’m happy for you that you can do both. Knowing that it’s okay to ‘suck’ at writing, is comforting. And, your rejection chart is encouraging, so thanks.

  103. Great post! I also tend to have stops and starts with my writing. Loved the rejection graphic. It’s tough to go back and write after a rejection, but it really is important to do.

  104. This looks like a great book, Leanne. I like the way you’ve presented the facts in a fun, creative way. I know a shark lover who will love this book. I’ll recommend it to him.

    Thanks for all the good advice, and I totally understand the need to take a break once in a while. I’ve had to do that due to a bout of sleep deprivation. One’s health comes first. But now I am back to writing.

    Good luck with your book and your writing.

  105. Nice post Leanne! I also work full time and have two little ones, and due to the fact there are only 24 hours in a day (never enough time!) put a lot of pressure on myself to write and draw in the pockets of time I have. Thanks for the reminder and tip that’s it’s okay to give myself a break once in a while 🙂

  106. I love everything about your post, Leanne. Whatever works for you is exactly right, as long as you keep writing. Thanks for this fun piece of inspiration.

  107. After viewing the OSCAR awards for short films drama and animation and seeing which film actually won confirms the knowledge- story, story,story. A story well told. The films that won could have been picture books. Your diagrams show again; we picture book writers think in pictures

  108. “Dare to Suck” — this is so important and so hard. I’m so glad you brought it up because I forget it, too. One challenge with 12×12 is no one wants to suck publicly, so people don’t post. (I’m not making this up. I know a member who doesn’t.) The flip side to this is we are called to “critique” on 12×12 so we can get out our magnifying glasses and scalpels and cut in with a zealousness pushes aside the notion that the patient is here to suck. Both sides of this coin ignore that sucking is good and necessary and tremendously powerful in our lives as writers. So yes!—let’s remember to suck, and give people some room to be brave and try things out.

    Thanks for this good post, Lianne!

  109. Love the advice and the reminder that it may or may not work for everyone. I’d add: or all the time. I’m learning (again and again) that it’s okay when the process changes. Summer is a challenging time to stay balanced.

  110. Some terrific advice, Leanne. Can’t wait to look back at some of my early manuscripts & see how I’ve evolved as a writer.

  111. What a timely post! Thank you so much. I’m playing catch up as we’ve just repatriated to the UK after 3 years in China and of course the school holidays kicked in immediately. I simply haven’t had the time, headspace or inspiration to put pen to paper! I’ve been feeling so guilty about not finding the time to write. Your words gave me a kind of relief!! Give myself a break… It’s OK, it’s allowed! Thanks for the reminder and such an honest post. There’s real truth in your words!!

  112. This post couldn’t have come at a better time! Life has not only been throwing me lemons, but the cherry pits as well. I’ve been feeling guilty that I haven’t been writing as much as I should but this was a ‘sign’ to take some breaths, deal with life, and later….write, write, write. (Even if it’s really badly written, it’s something)

  113. Thanks for a great post Leanne! Love this: “Time off can help show us which direction is forward.” I also really appreciated your rejection graphic with the most important take-away being to write more!

  114. Thank you for permission to just breathe. We have a new puppy and my time has been hijacked. I’m getting lots of ideas for blog posts. However, he is being bigger and is eating my pens and paper and planting his big paws on my keyboard.

  115. I like how, no matter what happens, it’s important to keep writing. We get that vibe thru 12 x 12. Having it reinforced here shows us again that ideas are endless but that we need to capture them.

  116. Love the advice, especially the caveat of not taking advice if it doesn’t feel right. I, too, am a lousy first drafter. For me, the fun lies in the revising. I keep telling my son that, but he’s not buying it. One of these days…..

  117. Thank you for the great advice and for your honesty. I haven’t felt brave enough to enter the rejection cycle yet but hopefully I will be ready soon!

  118. I can’t wait to read this book. I had no idea sharks were so fast, and so slow! Especially love the rejection diagram. It’s going on my wall. Thanks for a wonderful post.

  119. I love everything about your post, it feels like a breath of fresh air right now. I made some notes to remember “not everyone has a room of our own, metaphorical or figurative,” compare yourself with yourself, the cave rock metaphor, and the healthy rejection cycle graphic. Thank you!!

  120. Thanks Leanne for your post and all the images of Stevie and those fabulous sharks! I’ve taken a few months off and now I’m feeling I have my writing mojo back again. Onwards and upwards!

  121. Leanne
    I appreciate your light heartedness and especially your forgiveness for not producing 12 X12. I agree that everyone has different rhythms and with that different times to be most productive. However, I find I am fidgety and a bit anxious when I am not writing. I think it might be a symptom of getting bit by the bug.
    Really enjoyed your post,

  122. Thank you, Leanne, for sharing your suggestions. You make it okay to stop judging oneself and simply get on with the activity of writing when and how it suits us. Love it!

  123. Great advice! Thank you. I felt a warm relief when I read you only manage to write 4 drafts a year. 2/Take time off & 3/Dare to suck at writing really speak to me.

  124. Leanne, I love your energy and I was truly inspired to be persistent and find my strength in daily writing. Thank you!

  125. Leanne, this was fabulous. Thank you for the reminder to just have fun with it and just on my own journey–whatever that is 🙂 no right or wrong, just keep going. Loved it! Best of luck on your journey too 🙂

  126. Love your post Leanne! Thanks for sharing. I was going to take #1 seriously until I read #6. But you gave some good thoughts to ponder before I take the leap.

  127. So glad to see a humor based writer for 12 X 12!!!
    I try/attempt/yearn to write quirky, weird and funny stories to make children (and adults) laugh.

    My problem is that I can not find an agent that specializes in wacky, humorous stories. It’s far easier to find a publisher for said stories, but doing the reverse research for a proper agent is much harder, (in my sometimes humble opinion.)
    Wondering how you went about finding the right agent/publisher?

    PS: looking forward to your post-July 12 X 12 July session!

  128. Thanks so much for your post Leanne! I really loved the cavewoman and sculpting imagery
    and can really identify 🙂

  129. Your advice is very soothing. Good vibrations and reassurance. Makes me realize it’s ok not to be a 24/7 dynamo. Thank you, Leanne!

  130. Leanne, thanks for the encouragement and fun graphics. We all have to find our own type of
    writing/illustrating schedule that works so we can accomplish our goals.

  131. Thanks for your suggestions Leanne. I love the rejection graphic. I think I’ll put it on my wall.

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