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The Secret to Overnight Success...

Cheryl's Musings: The Secret to Overnight Success...

Cheryl's Musings

How to Thrive on the Writer's Road


The Secret to Overnight Success...

I just read an inspiring interview with author Kersten Hamilton, compliments of Cynthia Leitich Smith ( --another great resource for children's writers). When Kersten describes her process for writing the picture book Red Truck, it's one of those picture-perfect ideals of the way we *wish* writing happened. She tells Cynthia:

"Sometimes a book hits like lightning, and a story is burned in your mind. Red Truck was a lightning book. It was fast, and came out just right the first time. I think it took a whole week to sell."

Wow. Like lightning? Don't you want some of that instant inspiration?

My latest WIP, Luciana Unlimited (title for the moment, anyways), gives me a little of that feeling. I came home from Peru with a rough outline, sat down, and poured out the words. My main limitation is time. No matter how well-organized I am, I can't find as many hours for writing as I want to spend writing. (My sweetheart claims the number of hours I desire is a moving target. Just because my goal for writing time has migrated from two hours a week to six or seven or eight hours a day!)

I've heard other authors talk about stories that hit like lightning. How does that happen?

My theory is simple: we hear a lot more about the lightning-bolt stories than the stories that drag in the mud. As a writer, I might need to try a thousand blind alleys before I hit an easy road. And I won’t ever find that lightning-bolt story if I’m not willing to write the other stories. A LOT of other stories. To become a successful writer—even an overnight success—we need to write and write and write.

And by the way, Hamilton reported that every lightning-bolt tale is followed by one that’s slow and painful to write. Expect to work hard, but seize the muse when she calls!

:) Cheryl

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