I’m about to get on a plane to Nevada, and attend the SCBWI Nevada writing weekend at Fallen Leaf Retreat.  So my mind has been very much focussed on my writing journey, and how I got to this exciting place in it.

When I was seven years-old, I was asked to recite my poem at school assembly, and that was the day I decided on my future career.

It took a while to get a book published, but no matter where my life has strayed, I have always been and will always be a writer at heart.

Of course a bestseller would be nice – but most of all I write because it’s an intrinsic part of who I am.

Letters to Leonardo Book CoverI was discussing this with my teen boys the other day and we were talking about goals, and how fulfilling them is what the journey is all about. My fifteen year-old wants to be a stand up comedian. My seventeen year-old is a scientist and great people person, and would like to combine these talents.

We are all different, but we realised we have something important in common – we ALL care about the world we live in, and in our own way, we want to make a difference.

This is what keeps me writing – helps me rise above rejection, battle through writer’s block and scrape the money together to do things like the mentorship I’m embarking on (although I was extremely lucky to receive a financial contribution from CAL to enable me to take up this opportunity.)

I write to make a difference in people’s lives. I write for the girl who came up to me at a school visit and said that Letters to Leonardo was the best book she’d ever read.

Hope for Hanna_CovWebI write for the boy who read Letters to Leonardo and said how great it was to find a book about someone who had a parent like his (one with a mental illness).

I write for the kids who read Hope for Hanna, and were inspired by it to raise money for a village in Uganda.

I write for kids who need a voice, for kids whose life is hard, and need reassurance that they are not alone, and for kids whose life is simple and good, but who will develop empathy from reading about kids who aren’t so lucky.

My writing journey has had many ups and downs, but they have all contributed to who I am today as a writer – and I have learnt so much along the way – not just about writing – but about making the most of the journey.


  1. Celebrate every success, no matter how small it seems
  2. NEVER compare yourself to any other writer or to their successes.
  3. Try not to dwell on the rejections, the hard times. Allow yourself to be disappointed, upset etc but move on.
  4. Always have something to look forward to – a pot at the end of the rainbow. It doesn’t have to be anything big – it could be attending a writing event at your local library, networking with another writer, sending out a new submission – anything to help you feel you are moving forward.
  5. Network with other writers – sharing a problem/experience can help diminish the pain of rejection, and it’s so much fun to be able to share good news with people who get how significant it is.
  6. Be patient – even if you’ve written a fabulous book, it could still take a while to get published.
  7. Stay true to YOUR vision for your story – listen to advice but only take on what works for you.
  8. Involve your family and friends in the journey – kids can be great critiquers, partners can be great supporters and friends can help you stay focussed (particularly writerly ones).
  9. Take risks – be prepared to step outside your comfort zone.  A few years ago I wouldn’t have dreamed of hopping on a plane by myself and going to the US.
  10.  Enjoy the ride.


Below are some images from the first book I ever wrote and illustrated. I think I was about 11.

I have to confess that some of the pictures were copied from a beautifully illustrated version of The Ugly Duckling . The storyline was definitely original though – it was about a duck who got her neck stretched and became a swan. (I wasn’t very well versed in biology in grade five:)


IMAG4498IMAG4494 It is fun to reflect on your writing journey and look at where it all started, and where you are now. It helps you realise how far you’ve come – even though at times it might not seem like it.

If you have tips to share on how to make the most of the writing journey, please feel free to include them in the comments section of this post.

The Journey Continues

I arrive in Nevada on Thursday 24th October and while I’m there I’m going to try and blog daily about the experience and share what I learn.

Happy Writing:)



  1. What a lovely post Dee, thank you for sharing. To enjoy the journey of what we do and achieve is so very important. Society today is so fast paced and people often get caught up on achieving the next thing, that they do not allow themselves the chance to enjoy even the smallest of successes at this moment. We have just arrived home from taking the kids to LA, Grand Canyon and Nevada (Vegas). If you have never seen the Nevada desert, you are in for a real treat. It is dramatic and striking, so beautiful and nothing like we expected. Enjoy your time and congratulations on your success. I look forward to reading about your trip.

  2. Thanks Donna,

    I know exactly what you mean – we don’t often take time to enjoy the journey do we?

    Your trip overseas sounds amazing. I have never seen the Nevada desert so I guess I am definitely in for a treat.

    I know I’m going to learn so much and I look forward to sharing my newfound knowledge on this blog.

    I really appreciate your lovely comments, Donna.


  3. Thanks Kay,

    I’m glad you found it inspiring:)

    I think it’s great for any writer to look back on the journey so far and see how far we have come – that we have made a lot of progress even though it might not seem like it at times.


  4. …beautiful post Dee …thank you …I’ve followed your posts for a while now but this is truly inspirational …all I can say as an author is YES …keep writing every day and never give up the dream it does pay off in the end, if only for your voice to be heard by those who care in the same way…Penny

  5. Thanks Penny,

    I love what you said about “Never give up the dream” – it’s true – dreams and hopes are essential to our survival.

    We have to be open to the possibility that the dream doesn’t always manifest itself in the way we hoped or expected, but it can still bring us great joy anyway.


  6. …oh absolutely …I know this to be so …from an Indie author of 2 years to a ‘discovered’ author with a publisher …I’d never dreamed of this possibility but it does happen …yes indeed, dare to dream …I wish you joy on the journey …Penny

  7. Thanks for sharing your experiences Penny, and congratulations on your successes.

    The writing life is full of ups and downs, but I am enjoying the journey – there’s a new adventure waiting around every corner.


  8. Your heartfelt words are an inspiration, Dee.
    To make a difference in someone’s life through your writing is the best award of all.
    Looking forward to hearing about your mentorship.

    Best wishes

  9. Hi Dee, loved your duck book! Hope you have yourself a ball in the states, looking forward to reading your posts about this amazing piece of your writing journey. Danielle xx

  10. I really love this blog, Dee esp How To Make the Most of Your Writing Journey. It spoke to me personally. I’m so glad you commented on my post which drew me to yours.

  11. Thanks John,

    I’m so glad my post spoke to you and thanks for recommending it. I’m so happy for your successes with your poetry. It’s wonderful to have a publisher come looking for you:)


  12. Safe travels and inspired writing, Dee. Having followed your – and Ric’s – journey for a number of years, I’m excited to see you undertaking this mentorship and know you will make the maximised most of the whole experience. I look forward to reading more about it – and seeing the revised story that comes as a result. xx

  13. Thank you so much for sharing. I am a writer, I mean just unknown one. I think my worst weakness is always comparing myself to other writers and feel down in the dump that I am not a great one at writing. It really sucks. I know I should not. Everyone has their own style, own writing journey. Good luck to myself! Have a nice day!

  14. Thanks for commenting.

    You’re right, comparing ourselves to other writers is a natural thing to do, but it doesn’t make us happy.

    We have to focus on our own writing and develop our own style.

    Happy writing and good luck:)


  15. Wishing you all the best on your exciting adventure in the US, Dee. It is obvious from your childhood picture book that you have a writer’s ‘voice’. And the illustrations are gorgeous too.

  16. Hi Dee,
    Hope you had a good flight to Nevada. Congratulations on getting your CAL grant – what a fantastic opportunity to attend the SCBWI writing weekend. Good luck with your mentorship and I look forward to hearing about your time in the US.

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