The Elephant House where JK Rowling wrote first drafts of Harry Potter.

The Elephant House where JK Rowling wrote first drafts of Harry Potter.

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to travel to Scotland and I fell in love with Edinburgh.

We visited many magical places, including The Elephant House, a cozy cafe that witnessed the birth of one of childrens literature's most famous characters: Harry Potter. Out the back window of Elephant House is a stunning view of Edinburgh Castle, which no doubt inspired the setting of Hogwart's.

DSC00401While we were there, I took the opportunity to write in my journal. One of my writing goals is to write in my journal every day. I don't always manage that (still using the same journal I bought on that trip...) wonderful thing is, each day gives me a new opportunity to achieve that goal.

I also have a lot of other writing goals. Writing from the heart of the prairie, I don't have a castle out my window to inspire me. Fortunately, I do have the support and encouragement of other writers: my local critique partners, SCBWI friends, my VCFA classmates and advisors and writers I've met through Twitter and social media.

My main writing goal for 2014 is to write something every day. I realize we're only 12 days into the new year, but so far I've been successful. I'm also participating in a Twitter challenge: #dailywordcount, which Kellye Crocker (@kelcrocker) pointed out. #dailywordcount has really lit a fire under me, plus I have a brand new work in progress (wip, for the uninitiated) that I'm totally in love with.

This new WIP has helped soften the sting of a rejection or two I've had lately, because my other writing goal of 2014 is to actually send out queries for my completed manuscripts. I had a big boost on that front last week when I participated in #pitmad on Twitter, organized by the generous Brenda Drake. On a specified date, writers tweet pitches of their completed, polished manuscripts. Editors and agents let writers know if they are interested in the concept and I was lucky enough to snag several requests. 

I also had several requests when I participated last year too, but life got the better of me. After sending out a handful of queries, I got bogged down with family, organizational and work commitments. I accomplished a lot in 2013 - taking my Dad to chemo and radiation appointments, leading a Girl Scout troop, writing a book for the day job, and all the normal things that go along with being a wife, mom and pet owner. Somehow, most of those accomplishments didn't do much for nudging my career as a kidlit author. 

I am resolved that 2014 will be different. Life is full of all those things we can't control like family health issues, home repairs and the daily requirement of sleep. That's why it's so important to take charge of the things we can control like watching less tv and handing off those organizational commitments. I'm no longer a Girl Scout leader, or the grant coordinator for the Oklahoma Writers' Federation, or a weekly school volunteer. I thoroughly enjoyed doing all those things, but wearing too many hats ate away at my time and kept me from where I really needed to focus:


Do you have writing or reading goals for 2014? Tell me about them - I'd love to cheer you on while we work to achieve our dreams.

Writing at The Elephant House in Edinburgh, Scotland

Writing at The Elephant House in Edinburgh, Scotland


2 comments for “Inspiration

  1. January 13, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    Finding time is always a challenge. I snatch moments of it during the day and I hardly ever watch TV. My friends are always talking about wonderful TV series I’ve never seen. I’d rather write or read in those spare moments than watch them. But there are some I may watch on Netflix when I take a writing break. Good luck with the writing in 2014!

  2. January 14, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Oh, Gayleen, your inspiration and commitment are so inspiring to me! Your 2013 sounds VERY full, and I’m glad you acknowledge that you accomplished a lot. (So often I think people, especially women, minimize all they are doing and, for the most part, extremely well.) Now, it’s true that you weren’t able to do everything you wanted to do with your kid lit writing–but I’d argue that living such a full life definitely will feed and benefit your creative writing…you never know how these things will find their way into the work.

    I also applaud you for setting reasonable yet ambitious goals for 2014–and for making hard choices in giving up some things that were positive but taking time from your writing. I’ve had to step back from #dailywordcount to get myself organized while wrapping up some obligations from 2013 as well as starting a new job. (I’m a freelancer. and this is a weekly online newsletter). I haven’t quite figured out how to balance my time yet, but I keep seeing that when I start with the paid work, I don’t “get around” to my fiction. (I’m also missing my Twitter time, lol!) I need to clarify my goals and then set to work!

    Good luck to you on your goals. I’m so glad we’ve met online and will be cheering you all the way!


    (By the way, so fun to see JK Rowling’s coffee shop! Thank you!)

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