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Friday, July 05, 2013

Friday Speak Out!: Moooove As a Writer—Don’t Be a Cow, Guest post by Sioux Roslawski

Stella Adler (the great acting coach) once responded to a student who said they were “content” by saying, “Dahling, only cows are content.”

Should we stand there, chewing our cud, our warm eyes staring off a bit vacantly, content to stand there in the middle of the field? Or should we wonder what is in the next pasture? Should we swallow what’s in our mouth—it’s been savored, it was delicious but now it’s chewed up and merely mush—and look for something else to grasp in our teeth?

If our writing “field” is our area of expertise, our comfort zone, it’s dangerous (to our health as a writer) to remain rooted in the same meadow forever.

Don't be content to be content.

If you are a fiction writer, foray out and see if indeed truth is stranger than fiction. Try your hand at creative nonfiction. Chicken Soup is always looking for slice-of-life stories. Publishing Syndicate has dozens of anthologies they’re developing. They are two different markets and the tones of the books are different as well. Do your research and check out a book from each publisher; you could even take the same real life story, write two versions (one sweet and one snarky and edgy) and submit them to both of the publishers.

If you have avoided fiction like the black plague, dip your toes into it. Write a flash fiction piece. Try a short story and immerse yourself in a made-up character. When November comes dragging itself along, try NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). You may not get to the finish line of 50,000 words when midnight chimes on November 30, but you may have a beginning of a novel…and it may ignite a fire inside of you to finish it.

You’re in a writing critique group and it’s working well? You meet every week, every two weeks, once a month? You’re getting helpful feedback? Participate in an online critique group. Go to a venue where they’re doing read-alouds. Join a different writing guild group within your city and see how they can help you improve your craft.

If you’ve never gone on a writing retreat, do it. Even if you don’t know any of the other participants, it can be a chance to grow as writer. Or better yet, plan a retreat with a circle of writing friends. It could be at a plush retreat center, it could be held at a friend’s weekend home. One day or a weekend or (dare I say it? I’m drooling already) even longer…

You may have many notches on your publishing belt. You may have earned some notoriety as a writer these days. But there’s always tomorrow…and there’s always different markets and genres to explore.

So mooove into a style of writing that’s new to you. Nibble a little. You might find you relish it.

Sioux Roslawski is a third grade teacher, a dog rescuer for Love a Golden Rescue, and a freelance writer. She has been published in various anthologies, is one of the founding members of the infamous WWWP writing critique group (Wild Women Wielding Pens) and her weekly writing can be found at

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!



  1. Great essay and very motivating. I need to push onward...but also need a lot of pushing right in my own areas. I wait too often for inspiration I too content with status quo!

  2. OK Sioux, get off my toes now. Good article and reminder for me that 1) stretching our writing is uncomfortable sometimes and 2) that's OK. Thanks ....I think.....

  3. I couldn't agree more. When I first joined a critique group years and years ago, I only wanted to write fiction for kids. Then they would talk about different places accepting stuff or hold little contests and I branched out. It has been nothing but good for my writing. I think this makes the writing that you are comfortable in even better!

  4. Maybe you've prodded this cow into dipping a hoof into the black plague.

  5. Anonymous3:06 PM

    Thank you for the reminder! I need to try new things to keep my writing fresh (I have the attention span of a toddler). This summer I've been writing book length adult nonfiction for the first time. What a challenge!

  6. You are absolutely right: move around the pasture. You are a perfect example of branching out to new genres. Great article!

  7. Bookie--Thanks.We ALL need prodding. This time I had the electric cattle time, you'll have it in your hand.

    Julie--Thank you. Uncomfortable is sometimes good--once we get over those initial equilibrium problems...

    Margo--You are definitely right. When we stretch our writing muscles doing something new, our muscles become stronger when we write in our "usual" genre.

    Val--Black plague? That means you're going to write a serious historical fiction piece, right?

    SueBE--A toddler's attention span? You can focus longer than me. I have the attention span of a 56-year old man who's listening to his wife. I'm working on a "longish" piece of fiction, and it's a huge stretch for me. Good luck with your book-length nonfiction.

    Linda--Yes, move around the pasture, but watch out for the cow patties. (And thank you.)

  8. I agree. It may not be comfortable, but it's the only way to grow.

  9. Mama Zen--That's easy for you to say. You're the chameleon--you change with every 17-word poem you write.

  10. Wonderful post Sioux and your proof in the pudding with the different cud you chew...

  11. Lynn--Thanks. That means a lot, coming from you--a novelist/poet/memoir writer.

  12. Well put in so many ways. And I needed this inspirational advice.

  13. Tammy--Yeah, right. You NEED to be inspired? You forget I have the privilege of reading your work on critique nights.

  14. Excellent advice, Sioux. I've been needing some motivation lately. (I don't seem to be moooving adequately!)


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