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Say YES to the Next Writing Project Thing with Me (And 5 Ways to Kick It Off)
Written by
Deborah Siegel
January 2011
Written by
Deborah Siegel
January 2011

Deborah Siegel pauses at the entrance of the writing cave and invites She Writers inside.
I have a confession.  I’m superstitious as a baseball player.  Though I’ve published two of them already, I’m afraid to say “my next book” in public.  The reasons I’m afraid to say this, She Writers may recall, are listed here.  While a new idea has been brewing and I’m mentally ready to work it out, I haven’t fully committed—until now.  Here.  With this post.

There.  I did it.  I’m committing publicly to my next…writing project thing. 

I live in a city of writers.  I know I’m not alone in feeling afraid to attach the possessive pronoun “my” to the sacred noun “book” until the concept is more fully baked.  It’s hard to feel legitimately grounded in a project until we’re immersed in a daily routine that contains the breathing room we need in order to think. 

Come February 1 (my birthday month!), I’ll be doing that.  Immersing and baking and thinking and all those other verbs we writers fall back on to describe that magical thing that happens when we enter the writing cave.

Giving ourselves permission to enter that cave is elemental.  To enter the cave is to embrace the unknown, reaffirm our faith in our own ability, and claim (or reclaim) a vital piece of ourselves that often gets put on hold while we’re off focusing on equally important things.  

I’m excited.  I love the cave.  I feel in touch with the red, hot core of life there and, when I’m there, I feel like I’m being something I’m meant to be.  But I hate the isolation.  So I’m inviting all of YOU to join me inside.  That’s the beauty of She Writes, you see: we enter the cave with 13,000 sister-writers by our side.

Please watch this space for future posts from me as I figure my new project out while spearheading an exciting new She Writes initiative we're calling the Social Book Project.  More on all that to come later.  For today, let me introduce you to my new Tumblr blog--The Pink and Blue Diaries--which I’m using as a thought/link/post/quote container while I work out what this “thing” is to be. (See image above!  Those are my baby twins' shoes.)


For those of you similarly inching your way toward that next big project, let's get tactical. Here are 5 things I've started doing as I stand at the edge of the cave:


1. I'm reading like a writer--and taking notes.

2. I've started a new notebook (remember our notebook mashup here last year?! Mine's a cardboard-cover Moleskin with grid sheets)

3. I've printed out a few slides from Christina Baker Kline's terrific She Writes webinar, Getting Started and have taped them to the wall above my desk ("It's the Writing, Stupid!" "Avoid Self-Sabotage," "Everything Is Material," "Beg, Borrow, and Steal")

4. I've booked a 2-day yoga retreat to clear my head (I haven't had a vacation in a good long while, so I'm pretty psyched)

5. I've told all of you I'm starting something new!

What are the rituals YOU engage in when you start something new?  Please share, with a comment or a post at your SW blog.  I'm really eager to hear.



New Project, New Fears, New Resolutions by Tayari Jones

Cave Photo: Carissa Rogers/flickr

Images: Marco Siegel-Acevedo

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  • Tami Lynn Kent

    I love the analogy of the cave. This spring, I published my book Wild Feminine: Finding Power, Spirit, & Joy in the Female Body, which I wrote on and off for 7 years. During the same period I gave birth to & mothered my three sons. It was the mothering/writing cave. I emerged into the light with a published book and children who are increasingly expanding into their own lives. As I emerge though, from this more intensive period in the writing cave, I realize how essential it is for myself as a writer to stay connected with this inner sacred place. And to do so, I must write. Cheers to you!

  • Irene Zanini-Cordi

    Deborah, I am exactly were you are, staring into the cave but not trespassing yet, afraid that the shadows in my cave will not live up to the real world outside. I love the cave, it drains me and I forget myself in there. But I need to retrain my eyes to the darkness, to the humidity and faint smell of mould (archival documents!), to the practice of chiselling words and sentences, to turning stones that reveal no gold. I will do my daily yoga, drink my green tea, burn incence sticks, plaster my walls with visual goals and reminders. Knowing that many of you out there are working in the cave next door makes it less scary. I will "write it down, let it free". Grazie!

  • Jan Nerenberg

    Thanks so much for sharing.  That took courage.  I'm working on my last semester at Lesley U - a MFA in Creative Writing.  The book was going well but lately I just couldn't force myself to sit down and just write.  I spoke with a writer cohort, asked her a question, and as soon as we talked it out, the block was gone.  I am so excited about this new addition to She Writes.  Thank you for starting it.

  • Kierie

    You've lit a fire under me! I want to own the project I've been dancing around! THANK YOU!!!

  • Candy Fite

    Best of luck, Deborah! I wish I could accompany you in step 4! I teach yoga and also practice myself. It's a spectacular way of clearing the mind, body and spirit and an excellent writing tool! Keep us informed, I know I'd love to hear your experiences, good & bad on this new journey.

  • Donna Lawrence Writing

    Thanks for your courageous sharing, Deborah. It takes courage to say it out loud! My new book. I look forward to reading more as you step into the cave. And yes, it's time for me to get a clean notebook too and start putting together the pieces of the new novel that has been swirling and rearranging itself in my head.

  • Susan Conley

    Good luck, Deborah! And I am intrigued to read more. That photo of those baby shoes is already so compelling I'm just waiting to read more! And love the explicit list of things you've done to get ready, there at the edge f the cave!

  • Melissa F.

    Looking forward to hearing more, Deborah!  I've decided this is the year for my novel to be completed too. 

  • Andrea Doucet

    Deborah - Love this inspiring post and the cave metaphor. It is the one that comes to my mind as well... although not in the beautiful way that you have etched it here. (I also found that coming out of my first year of raising twins was a bit like walking OUT of a cave of a different kind! You do deserve a vacation!)  

    I enjoy your creative Tumblr and also love Cathy's idea of the Pillow book - both containers that work against the linear logic of most book projects. I look forward to the The Social Book Project Initiative! I'm half way into my sabbatical year with two books to complete. I've been moving in and out of 'the cave' and need to now hunker down for the winter -- I''ll be logging into She Writes for inspiration, guidance, sisterhood. 

  • Deborah Siegel Writing

    After reading about Pillow Book I think I'm a little obsessed too - it's such an interesting concept.  And you bet -- I will continue to post about my next project here at She Writes.  It's actually going to be a part of a She Writes initiative called The Social Book Project, once we redesign the site!  More about that in due time, and as it all unfolds. I look forward to your participation Cathy, and others who are interested too.

  • Deborah Siegel Writing

    Aw, it makes my day to read your comments - thank you!  And Cathy, keep us posted on The Pillow Book - I love it.

  • Bobbie Handy

    Yesterday's Food for Thought on my blog Grand Gifts:

    The smallest good deed is better than the grandest intention.   -- Carolyn Coates 


  • Adrian Ruiz

    I will say "no" to living vicariously through the submissions and works of others and will say "YES" to entering the cave to discover the next new writing thingy....  Sounds inspiring!!! 

    I have the 5 steps in place!!  Thank you Deborah and good luck to you!!

  • Kim Koning

    Great post Deborah!

    Looking forward to hearing more about the jewels of inspiration you find in the treasure chest hidden in your writing cave.

    Intrigued also about this Social Book Project idea...

    Good Luck...

    I am also starting a new project...