Nurturing Our Babies

In my last post I shared about the sparrow family that made its home in the bird house outside our kitchen window.

I was amazed at the amount of labor the momma and daddy put into crafting their nest and preparing for the birth of their babies (see previous post). But I've been even more impressed with how much work they spend nurturing the chirping newborns.

Never have I seen such dedication as I have with the momma and daddy sparrow. They spend every waking moment gathering seeds and insects into their beaks and flying back to the bird house to feed their babies who are constantly squawking for more. Patiently, consistently, determinedly, they nurture the tiny lives that depend on them for survival.

As writers, we prepare for the birth of our stories, spend time plotting, outlining, and researching. But how much time do we spend nurturing our stories once we start writing them? What are we feeding our writing and our stories to help them grow?

If we want our writing to mature and our stories to be ready to fly, then we'll have to approach them with dedication, hard work, patience, consistence, and determination--the same that the sparrows have with their babies. But what else nurtures our writing?

  • Read writing craft books: I'm never without a new craft book in hand. I have two long shelves full and my library is steadily growing. I keep a running list of books others have suggested. I usually check them out from the library first and then if I like them well enough, I buy them. During the process of writing my last book, I read about five new craft books.
  • Read writing-related blogs: I haunt several blogs that are jam packed with excellent writing craft advice: Camy Tang's Story Sensei, the Seekers, and others. (Check my side bar for More Help For the Journey.) When I find helpful information as I'm reading a blog, I jot it down on a notecard.
  • Take notes: I have a stack of 4x6 index cards rubber banded together. These are the notes I've taken from writing books or blogs over the years. To remind me of the important things I've learned, I read through a few cards every so often.

What are you doing to nurture your writing? Are you approaching it with the right amount of dedication and determination? And are you giving it a steady diet of craft-related food? Please share ways you feed your writing, and if you've read any helpful craft books lately share that too!

Join in on Friday to discuss how to know when our babies are ready to fly!

P.S. Fellow writer and blogger, Heather Sunseri, just started a new blog yesterday. Check it out here.


  1. You've humbled me. I need to read more craft books!!! I've started several and read a few, but nothing like I should... I know. I'm in the middle of JSB's Plot and Structure, but my problem is time. Isn't it always?? I have such little time to write, that when I"m in the "zone" I want to do nothing else but write, write, write. I occassionaly take a break and read another fiction book in my genre... it helps my juices get flowing again and in its little way, reminds me of structure, setting, characters and all the things that makes a good book.

    That said, I really do need to read more craft books. Thanks for this kick in the pants, Jody!

  2. Hi, Jody, I do all the same as you. I think I've got most every craft book out there, good thing people keep writing them. I want to pick up Jeff Gerke's new one called The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction but it's not yet available on the Canadian Amazon so I have to wait a bit to get it.

    Every craft book has some nuggets that speak directly to me. You really can't lose by getting any of them in my opinion.

    Have a great Canada Day in the U.S.!

  3. Reading writing craft books--check.
    Reading writing-related blogs--check (loving yours).
    Taking notes--check.
    Writing, writing, writing--check, check, check.

    I actually am in a weird place where I'm feeling a need to ease up a bit and pour a little more time into my family. I need to keep my focus on writing, while still nurturing my three little birds (hey, sounds like a song I know) at home.

    ~ Wendy

  4. Jody: I like the index card method, too.
    I use them to hide the Word in my heart, learn new words to build my vocabulary, and prayer requests. Of course, mine are varicolored-- white is too boring for me!
    Thanks for being our momma in this writing journey! Your blog is always a great source of nourishment.
    Love, Jen

  5. Good morning, Jody.

    Thanks for the insight. I read some craft books but not as many as I should. I have several stacked on my desk that glare at me every day. I usually try to position my laptop so their spines aren't in my line of sight, but they're there, even if I can't see them!

    I read a LOT of books in my genre (YA fantasy) as well as genres I'm interested in attempting (mystery and historical fiction). I learn so much from reading great writing. It encourages me to work harder.

    I'm going to get some note cards this afternoon! I tend to keep all my notes in various notebooks and then stash them away when they're full. They don't see the light of day again until I spring clean! Sure, it's exciting finding all those gems, but I need them in front of me, not hiding away in a box!

    Happy Wednesday!

  6. I do much of what you do, but really like that index card idea. So often I've read really great advice, or a helpful tip, only to put the book away and later forget about the advice. It seems like an effective way to keep the good ideas at hand, reading a few of those cards from time to time.

  7. Hi, Jody! Thanks for mentioning my blog!

    Great post today! You're so right. We need to constantly feed our minds with information, whether it's from books, blogs, or notes we've taken. The more we learn, the more we're able to nurture our writing and produce the best quality work.

    The other thing I'm doing lately is constantly practicing my writing skills. Even when I send a short email, I try to make sure I've punctuated correctly and used proper sentence structure. And just to irritate my husband and make him laugh, I like to pull a big, fancy word out of the thesaurus for emails to him. I can always use to increase my vocabulary.

  8. Hi Jody -

    While I read blogs, I haven't read many craft books. You've inspired me to be more diligent in that area.

    Thanks for the ideas. How do you keep your index cards organized? By subject?

    Susan :)

  9. You are so right, we must nurture our writing. That reminds me, I still have a pile of craft books to finish. =)

  10. i so the same things, as well. i've learned that even 10-15 minutes of reading a craft book pays off. eventually i get the thing read and i'm not losing all my writing time.

    Eileen - the content of jeff's book can be found on his website on his Fiction Writing Tip of the Week column. check it out!

  11. For me, reading good literature in general really 'nutures' my writing. More than craft books, I like to read that fantastic Newbery winner again or pull out some favorites from my youth. They are inspiring :D

  12. Hi Jody! I am slowly building my writing book library and like Jeannie, I read in small spurts and come away with nuggets of wisdom to incorporate. Of course, your blog is one of my favorites to inspire me!

  13. I'm obsessed with craft books. I'm currently reading Dwight Swain's Tecnhiques of the Selling writer. The man's a genius. I'm also reading Finding your Voice...which isn't really a craft book, per se. But it's still about writing and it's great so far. I have Plot and Structure waiting for me to finish and Fire in Fiction waiting for me to start. I LOVE them all!

  14. I think craft books and blogs from other writers can be really helpful, but for me the best thing I do to improve my own writing is read others. I don't just count reading books in my own genre, but rather try to read all different types of books and also newspapers and magazines. I think just having this constant stream of how other people use words and put together stories, even when I am not consciously deconstructing all the elements, is still teaching me something and improving my own craft.

  15. Hmmm, great questions. I'm horrible at reading craft books, but I do like craft articles. Does that count? LOL
    I'm not sure what I do to nurture my writing....

  16. I try to read plenty of fiction in addition to the craft books. It keeps the creativity up and just brings me joy. And now and then I'll take an online writing class.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  17. I haven't read a lot of craft books, so I KNOW that would help my writing. But I do jot down ideas I hear and apply them to my novels. I also read helpful blogs and take helpful advice from my critique partners. It's amazing how much you can learn from other people without having to spend a dime. Everyone out there is so helpful and all you writers really know your stuff :D Thanks for all the wonderful advice and insight you give on your blog, Jody!

  18. I'm reading a craft book right now, and I check out the blogs and keep a notebook of notes but mostly I write and rewrite and read others. That helps so much!

  19. I love the comparison you made here. I've been doing a lot of editing. Every time I read my MS, I find new things to change. Will it ever end????

  20. Reading craft books, checking blogs (love Rachelle Gardner's!) and then re-reading craft books. There's so much there that I always find something new when I go back over a craft book I've read before.

  21. Hi everyone!

    I love your reminder that we also need to be reading LOTS and LOTS within the genre we're writing (and without too)! I'm between books that I'm writing right now and have found this to be a wonderful time to read and refuel my creative juices!

    And Susan, in answer to your question, I don't have my notecards organized yet! But thanks for the suggestion. My stack is quite large now, and I should probably come up with a system for categorizing them!

  22. I must admit to reading only a few craft books. I do subscribe to and read all the writing magazines. I've learned the most from my blogger/writer friends like you!

    I have spiral steno notebooks with words, ideas, characters, etc. I have a long list of blog and websites on writing saved to "favorites"

  23. Thanks so much for mentioning my blog! I appreciate it!

  24. I've got the writing blogs reading down pat, just started reading some books about craft, writing like crazy...the main problem is patience. I have about as much of it with my book as I do with my kids! (I'll let you interpret how much that is. LOL They may possibly both need some work)

  25. I need to do more craft reading, it's been awhile. I enjoyed taking my writing classes because they kept me in the loop and up to date on good books to read. I think I'm going to take another class now that my little one is getting older.

  26. I've come to the conclusion that I should only read craft books between WIPs. Otherwise I find myself being so conscious of trying to include whatever I'm learning that everything grinds to a halt in the story. I'm better at reading the craft book first and trying to implement things in the story later.

  27. I re read the same craft books over and over. I think I read Deb Dixon's GMC about four times a year. I also rewatch the DVD set, The Heroes Two Journeys by Michael Hague and Christopher Vogler about once every six weeks. A little slow learner here.


  28. Camy! Thanks for stopping by! I'm honored! And Tina R. you too! I've heard so many great things about Dixon's GMC, that I think it's next on my list to buy!

    And everyone else, thanks for your input! As always, I learn so much from each of your comments! I appreciate your input!!

  29. I am doing all of those things to nurture my writing. Well, I'm not reading books on writing yet. I've heard Stephen King's is a great one to read.

    I wasn't nurturing awhile ago when I wanted to divorce my book, but things are much better now. Yay for growth!

  30. Hi Jody,

    Of course I read lots of blogs. Love your idea about the index cards and intend to use it myself. Thanks for the tip!

    I, too have a list of books to read on craft and in the genre I'm writing. In fact, Christmas and birthdays ALL I want are books. I need more book shelves! LOL

    Wishing you a wonderful 4th of July weekend.

  31. What a lovely post combining two of my favorite things -- birds and writing. I'm jealous of the nest outside your window!

    I do the things you mention to nurture my writing, plus spend as much time as possible with my writing group sister/friends, and attend conferences a few times each year.

  32. To nurture my writing I read several writing blogs - yours is one of them. I read the blogs of at least 3 others who have commented here, too. My writing is different, so not everything carries over. But, I do catch some great ideas. The index card was one.

    How do you take notes and store your information? Index cards? Computer? That is something I have wrestled with for years, and have changed numerous times. That would make a good blog post, perhaps, if you'd be willing. Often, I spend more time taking notes on a book than I actually do reading it.


© All the articles in this blog are copyrighted and may not be used without prior written consent from the author. You may quote without permission if you give proper credit and links. Thank you!