Today I have the sincere pleasure of hosting Marcie Colleen as the Tuesday 12 x 12 author.  Marcie keeps a wonderful blog – The Write Stuff.  I especially love her Wednesday weigh-in series because they always get me thinking about writing from a different angle, especially after reading the comments from all the others.  I also love how Marcie applies lessons from running to writing, as I too am both.  So, please welcome Marcie!

In January 2011 I ran my first race – a 5 miler through Central Park in NYC – as part of my training to run a half marathon a few months later.  I remember clearly standing in my corral waiting for the starting gun feeling like I didn’t quite fit in.  Everyone else around me looked like the “real deal”, wearing cool gear.  I looked like I was wearing a costume. “Hi, I’m Marcie.  I am a dressed as a runner for Halloween wearing various mismatched pieces of workout clothes I found buried in my closet.”   I was sure that someone would stop me and say, “Oh, I’m sorry, you do not belong here.  Please exit the corral.”  But no one said that, so I ran it and crossed the finish line with a big (albeit sweaty and exhausted) smile!

This scenario has proved a wonderful analogy for my writing career.  It has also helped me boil down my adventure into two distinct concepts which I would like to share with you.

1)     Find ways to treat yourself like a writer.  (build confidence and craft)

2)     Find situations where others will treat you like a writer. (build connections and community)

When I first started out, I packed my days with activities that fulfilled the first concept.  Yet, I didn’t quite understand why, despite all of the time spent in front of my laptop researching, reading, and actually writing, something was missing. It was not merely enough that I was “wearing my writer costume”…I needed to get into the corral with all the others in order to fully “run the race”.

When I trained for the NYC Half Marathon it might have been my own two feet that got me across the finish line, but I didn’t do it alone.  I had coaches, mentors, running partners, my amazing boyfriend, family and  friends that were a part of each step I took.  Through  wisdom, encouragement, laughter and cheers they all fueled and fed me.  Just like running that race, life is about community for me.  And what my writing “career” was lacking was community.

The real moment came for me when I signed up to participate in PiBoIdMo in November of 2011 which then led to participation in 12 x12 in ’12.  I originally decided to participate in both of these challenges in order to give myself goals to work toward, but what I found was greater than that!  I suddenly gained entry into a family of likeminded picture book writers who provided support, encouragement, and wisdom.  This community shares its ups and downs, its struggles and triumphs.  I found a writer to swap manuscripts with through email who doesn’t even live in the same country as me.  I gained 24 hour access to writers to bounce ideas off of.  My blog quickly gained Followers and became a true place of discussion!  It was clear that this circle of writers from various reaches of the earth were a community in every sense of the word.

I value my friends and colleagues of both PiBoIdMo and 12 x 12 in ’12.  I am proud to be counted among you.  You treat me as a writer and therefore I am able to treat myself like a writer with more confidence.  On the day that I am finally published, it will be my name on that book, but I won’t forget that you have been my coaches, my mentors, my “running partners” who along with my amazing boyfriend, family and friends make every step on this crazy journey a triumph and a joy.

Marcie Colleen is a pre-published Picture Book writer living in Brooklyn, NY.  You can read about her journey on her blog, The Write Routine (http://writeroutine.blogspot.com). Her new Friday Treats segment deals with the two concepts mentioned above and provides ways to bring them into your own writing life.  She loves the challenge of balancing her fulltime job as a nanny with her writing career and various other activities she dabbles in. She will be running the NYC ING Marathon for the first time on November 4, 2012. 

Categories: 12 x 12 in 2012, Authors, Friendship, Picture Books, Writing · Tags: , , , , , ,

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60 Comments

  1. I loved how you compared your writing community to your running community, Marcie! I’m glad to be a part of this community with you. Best wishes in your writing endeavors and in the upcoming marathon!

  2. I really like you two concepts. The 12×12 by community has been wonderful. I’m gaining the confidence to tell people that I’m a writer. Having a community on top of friends and family makes the journey to publication much easier!

  3. Great post. It’s only since joining SCBWI and groups like 12×12 that I’ve had the confidence to say I’m a writer – even though I have a PB out! It must be something to do with knowing other writers out there are ‘normal’ people too and not some breed apart!

    • Not sure “normal” is the best word for it. 🙂 But yes, I am well aware that these issues do not go away once you are published. 🙂 Congrats on your success!

  4. I love our sameness-the closeness of our writing community, and value our differences- you run, I walk, you live in the city, I live in the country….but we both write and hang out here! Good luck on your first race.

  5. Great analogy, Marcie, and wonderful post! It’s so true – being part of the writing community helps in so many ways – it’s support, understanding, help, validation – all things we as writers need – and I like what Mona said about how we all come from different places and interests, but we are all writers and we all hang out in this community!

  6. I am a runner too, Marcie, so I loved your analogy. I also struggle with calling myself a writer and feeling like a “real,” writer because I have never published anything. But involving myself in 12×12 has also bolstered my confidence quite a bit. What a great group of writers! 🙂

  7. Wonderful analogy, Marcie. It can be hard to stay focused and motivated when working alone. The online connections with writers and illustrators makes a big difference. Thank you!

  8. What a perfect analogy Marcie! I too feel the same way about this writing community. Best of luck with your November Marathon 🙂

  9. Marcie, you hit the nail on the head. If I say I’m a writer, people immediately want to know what books I’ve written. But in this community, the process is recognized,also. It’s understood that in order to get that “published” title that you have to write your butt off. Thanks for the wonderful post!

  10. Marcie, I think running is a great analogy for writing. You are a runner because you run, not because you look the part or finish with a great time. You are a writer because you write, not because you’ve been published. Great interview!

  11. This is a fun post to read, but just this portion is enough to make it worthwhile:

    1) Find ways to treat yourself like a writer. (build confidence and craft)
    2) Find situations where others will treat you like a writer. (build connections and community)

    Great stuff.

  12. Perfect Marcie! I’m proud to be among you all too! Good luck with your running and writing.

  13. Kathleen Cornell Berman

    Thanks for a great post Marcie. Joining PiBoIdMo and 12 X 12 has been a wonderful experience. Being a part of a community of writers has created a wonderful sense of camaraderie. And I want to thank you for creating our “offline” critique group. Being a part of a critique group has been very helpful.

  14. Jarm Del Boccio

    I so agree with you, Marcie! The 12×12 group has been such a boost to my writing…I am grateful to them all! I’m happy that you have found a safe haven with our group. We are proud to have you aboard…thanks for your post. Cheers!

  15. Great post, Marcie — community is so important.

    Best of everything with both your writing and your running! Keep us posted on that November marathon.

  16. Exellent, bodacious analogy, Marcie! I loved reading it and I send best wishes for your writing and your marathons. Nice to know ya! Let us do this! *waving*

  17. Keep up your pace and I’m sure you’ll be a winner, Marcie! The pre-published community is a strong bunch.

  18. What a great post, Marcie. I am also a writer and a runner, and I often draw connections between the two. Plus, I get my best ideas for my picture books when I am out running. I may be at the NYC marathon in November, too! We are waiting to hear in April if my husband gets in through the lottery. My picture book that comes out in the fall is about the NYC marathon, so we wanted to be there, and it has been my husband’s dream to run in it. Side question: do you already have a spot in the marathon, and if so, how? Did you qualify on time? We are trying to come up with other options in case the lottery doesn’t work out.

    Anyway, thanks for the excellent post, and I’m headed over to your blog now to check it out!

    • Awesome! Nice to meet you, Amy. Drop me an email at marciecolleen@gmail.com. I would love to chat with you and hear more about your upcoming pb.
      As for the marathon, I got in as a member of New York Road Runners. I ran 9 qualifying races and volunteered for one this past year to get in.
      If he doesn’t get in through lottery, he can always run for charity. I recommend Team in Training. I will be training with them. They rock!

  19. writing shoes? check.
    water bottle? check.
    done my finger stretches? check.
    OK – I’m ready to head for the writing corral… if I kin find that dern map!
    Thanks for putting it into perspective, Marcie.

  20. Thanks, Marcie! You wear all the write stuff.

  21. I really enjoyed reading your post, Marcie. You make excellent points. I can relate so well to your experience–without the running though!

  22. Marcie you describe what has eluded me for the last two months. I discovered the 12 x 12 group the last week of January. In the last two weeks I have felt different in a way I couldn’t describe until I read your post. It is your two main points:1) Find ways to treat yourself like a writer. (build confidence and craft) and 2) Find situations where others will treat you like a writer. (build connections and community). I feel more like a professional (albeit unpublished as of yet) – but with so much more purpose. And I know it is the connections. Thanks for your insight and solving my mystery!!

  23. Stamina, commitment, courage–among the things running and writing have in common. Like Amy, I do a lot of writing while I’m running. This year I’m doing (gulp) the Boston Marathon, and I have a great community behind me. Couldn’t do it without them, just like 12×12 and SCBWI. Good luck, Marcie, with your training, and your writing!

  24. Enjoyed the post Marcie. You made some really interesting points. Something to think about. Glad 12×12 has given you self-confidence.

  25. I, too, am a runner. There is nothing better than a long run to create stories in my mind. As you mentioned, running does serve as a great analogy for writing. Great post, Marcie. And congrats on finishing your half marathon.

    • Thanks! Unfortunately I have yet to figure out how to write when I run…I usually just space out. But clearing my mind is the best benefit of running so that I can create later on.

  26. I love your two concepts! Great post Marcie! I think I might print those out and post them in my “creative” space. Sometimes it is hard to remember to treat myself as a writer since I still have SO much room to grow.

  27. Wonderful post Marcie, I look forward to finding your blog. I always wanted to run a marathon, funny how things change now my sister who was the lazy one is running a quadrathlon this year in Scotland across lochs and over hills, crazy!

  28. Congratulations on finishing your race! I like your analogy – and I agree that building a community of like-minded people is as important as developing your craft. It takes a village to make a book.

  29. I love your tips! 🙂 I’ll always keep them in mind! Great post!
    Erik

  30. Great analogy, Marcie. I think of this when I encourage my writer friends to get out and network more.

  31. Julie – I’m really glad you forgot and had to update the post. I would have missed this Marcie’s great post.

    Marcie – wonderful post. Everything was great especially your two main points – I ditto Ross

  32. Oh my, how come I didn’t see this before……. This post brought tears to my eyes….. I loved what Marcie had to say. I too shrunk away from people who immediately thought I had a book out. It’s only here in 12x12in 12 and in the Childrens Hub, that I have felt comfortable to say I am a writer. Thanks Marcie.

  33. I usually feel quite isolated from other writers, sometimes to the point of even wondering if I even am one myself. This was a good post, Marcie. Thank you.

  34. Thank you, Marcie! Your post is inspiring…and oh so true! This community of writers is amazing…they encourage and motivate…most of all, they care!

    Congrats on training for the marathon (or half marathon…13 miles, 26 miles…I’m totally impressed after 5:).
    My son has run the marathon in Boston and Chicago…and also ran in San Fran…he and his wife have lived in all of those cities over the past 10 years. 🙂

    I’m actually a NYC girl…born in Manhattan and grew up in Brooklyn (waving hello from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado now).

    I’ll hop over to your blogsite and visit there…I can see I can learn a lot from you.:)

  35. Colleen, this was a great post! The members of my local writers’ critique group were the first people to treat me as a writer. I thank them for building my confidence. If it weren’t for them, I don’t think I would have joined 12 x 12. Then, I would have missed out on so much — new friends, new ideas, and lots of learning.

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