Creative writers: Two things you must have that I can’t give you

I’ve been thinking about teaching. I think about it a lot.

You see, I’ve been gathering notes for another tutorial to add to the girl & duck Institute. This one’s about voice. Voice is one of my FAVOURITE topics. It should be every author’s favourite topic.

Well. Top five at least.

By the way…

Do you know about the girl and duck Institute?

There are THREE insanely helpful online tutorials for sale over there. They’re about writing Picture Books.  CLICK HERE to see how the Institute can help you zoom ahead in the PB world! (The CLICK won’t take you away from this blog. I’ve designed it that way. Clever, hey? I don’t ever want to lose you!)

Back to this.

So, here’s what I CAN give you.

I can give you all the goods on voice, structure, setting, character, plotting, planning, research. I can teach you about dialogue, categories in kid lit, formatting. The list goes on and on. For living proof, check out the rest of this blog. Or have a squiz at my Youtube channel.

I can even give you insights into the publishing industry and what goes on behind the paper curtain. Man, I’m good.

But I can’t give you stickability.

And I can’t give you fire-in-the-belly.

Holy shizzle. Imagine if I could! I’d be a feckin’ SUPER STAR!!!



I’ve done some navel gazing and tried to figure out why I have these two qualities.

It’s probably just a fluke.

Or written in the stars.


Maybe it’s because…

I was totally CRAP at sport when I was a kid.

You might think, meh, so what if she was rubbish at sport?


To be crap at sport when all that matters is SPORT, can make you feel sad and inadequate. It can make you feel like a failure. A weirdo.

It can make you hang your head, hide away, resign yourself to a life of mediocrity


It can make you determined to be good at SOMETHING.

Yep. I had that calling. A calling to master something. Something cool.

But I tucked it away for years.

I had a strong desire to prove myself. Not to the kids at school. I wanted to prove myself to MYSELF.

But I ignored it.

After which

A series of bad career choices came along. That always happens when you’re not watching. Something, anything, rushes in to fill the gap that is YOUR LIFE.

I learned HEAPS from my bad career choices.

About people and life and myself. About what I didn’t want and didn’t like and couldn’t tolerate.

And my restlessness grew.




I got to hang out with them. Every day. For YEARS.

Life got exasperated, too. And, finally, Life ramped things up.

Betrayal, heartbreak and divorce sashayed in.

What a crock that is.

My god it sucks.


In her book, Your Heart’s Desire, Sonia Choquette calls these hard-arse life events, the Creativity Sergeant. She reckons, if you ignore your calling long enough, the Creativity Sergeant will visit you.

And it won’t be pretty.

The Creativity Sergeant turns lives upside down.

Look alive! Smarten up! Watch me flip your coffee table!


Ultimately, divorce was a chance—a big, beautiful, mind-blowing chance— for me to reinvent myself.



It was also a chance to reconnect with that smouldering need to prove myself. To myself.

And that’s when, at the age of 34,  I FINALLY started writing.

Neat, hey?

Ultimately, I don’t know which comes first. The fire-in-the-belly or the stickability.

I don’t know if they’re preordained, in your cornflakes or genetic.

I do know, however, that they feed off each other. They grow stronger as you foster them. And you need BOTH in order to succeed in this biz.

I can’t give them to you.


I can prompt you think about them.


If you want them, they’re yours. You have them, too. Somewhere inside.

You don’t have to wait for the Creativity Sergeant to box your ears and give you a wedgie.

But you must find a way to access them; stickability and fire-in-the-belly.

They’re yours.

If you really, REALLY want ’em. xo

Jen Signature_web

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