Category Archives: Starlighting Tips

Where Ideas Come From

I still remember the salesman who came to my 10th grade class.  He was hawking magazines, I think, for a school fundraiser.  What I remember distinctly were his words.  He lifted a stack of magazines and proclaimed: “Information!  This is … Continue reading

Posted in Starlighting Tips, Agents and publishing, Parenting with Renegade Rules | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

16 Responses to Where Ideas Come From

  1. Emily Plank says:

    This just makes my heart feel peaceful to read. Thank you.

  2. deidra says:

    Once again spot on! here is what happened on our “unstructured” Saturday. As see-saws are a thing of the past. My son came up with the idea to put a really long thick stick through a low lying v-shaped tree trunk. VOLIA an instant see-saw. Later, on the same tree he found and L-shaped stick and hung it over another branch and made a stick swing. Finally (on the same tree) he found two long sticks, he leaned up against the tree. He laid shorter sticks across in an attempt to make a ladder.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Love your see-saw story! So glad your son’s getting plenty of time to invent and create. And, by the way, where did all the see-saws go? They have certainly disappeared from playgrounds.

  3. Julie says:

    Thank you for the reminder to not only create space in our own lives, but also the lives of our children…

  4. Zane says:

    Love this post, Heather. So, so true. I get my ideas on long walks too. To tell you the truth, that’s half the reason why I wanted a dog again—so I’d have to take long walks every single day!

  5. Thanks, Heather. A good reminder for me to unplug now and then. I do feel overwhelmed by too much input at times. But I’m going up to the BWCAW for a several day solo canoe trip, and will hopefully recharge the ol’ inspiration battery then. I also get some creative thinking done when listening to my favorite music .

  6. Laurie says:

    Heather — “…make space for our own thoughts, dreams and ideas. Some information is good, but too much can drown out our own voice. We need to leave room for IDEAS.”

    I resonate with your observation to my very core!

    You asked, “What prompts your best ideas and creativity?

    I pulled a sentence from a post I wrote in March 2010 that speaks to my thoughts on space: “…space for transformation to occur; space to find new direction.”

    As a minimalist, space is like a compass for me — it points me in the right (and WRITE) direction.

  7. So well said. With so much data to inflow, the creation of data is therapeutic. I’m happy for your kids.

  8. Pingback: Weekend Reads 4.6.13 | Not Just CuteNot Just Cute

Delicious Downtime

I was told by my wonderful blog mentors, that an active blog should appear at least once a week.  Well, I just violated that — on purpose.  It was the holidays and time for some downtime. Our family spent part … Continue reading

Posted in Starlighting Tips, Parenting with Renegade Rules | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

5 Responses to Delicious Downtime

  1. Laurie Buchanan says:

    Heather – “…thoughts need space to wander.” Yes, Yes, YES!

  2. It follows that allowing kids to be kids (giving them plenty of playtime) is valid advice for adults, as well. Glad you took time to recharge your batteries, Heather.

    I suspect that many people who are constantly busy, constantly socializing, constantly doing something, anything, do so because they are afraid to spend time alone to get to know themselves. Or they’ve done that, and don’t like what they discover.

    We could use about six more inches of snow here in southern MN so I can get out and uncover a great story idea while cross-country skiing, too. 🙂

Mean Mom Manifestos

I wrote recently about chores, and today guest author Denise Schipani, author of Mean Moms Rule is joining me to share her thoughts on the subject.  She also touches on another important aspect of this blog, which is how to … Continue reading

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2 Responses to Mean Mom Manifestos

  1. What a pleasure to meet you, Denise. I enjoyed reading your guest post, particularly that you factor in a child’s abilities and proclivities, rather than having hard and fast rules.

    Growing up my parents treated my sister and I differently, and our consequences for poor behavior were different as well. It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that I asked my mom about that. She said, “Why on earth would I treat the two of you the same? You’re different people, you have different likes and dislikes, and you respond differently.”

    • Thanks, Laurie! That was my grandmother’s parenting advice: “Your kids will let you know how they need to be parented.” That said, though I tailor my approach to fit my two very, very different sons, the rules are the same for them both. Mama’s in charge around here!


Time-creating tip: the “Morning Light”

I started writing a novel last year.  Of course, with two young kids and a day job writing nonfiction, I had no time.  If I was going to get up extra early to write, that precious ‘starlighting’ time in the … Continue reading

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4 Responses to Time-creating tip: the “Morning Light”

  1. Brilliant – simply brilliant!

  2. What a good idea. You’re very resourceful, Heather. Luckily for my writing, I don’t have distractions like little children who need my attention. Plus, I can’t put a coherent thought together before 9 am, so I’d never try writing then anyway. 🙂 I can certainly write at 10 PM, however.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Finding the right time of day is crucial. Glad you’ve found that night hours work for you!

Creative Deadlines

I woke up with a dent in my forehead.  It comes from dressing up as the Headless Horseman for Halloween last night.  Turns out it’s tricky to make your head disappear, ride a cardboard horse, and balance a 10-lb. pumpkin … Continue reading

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2 Responses to Creative Deadlines

  1. Deidra Gorgos says:


Time for vacation

I’ve been away for two weeks.  Not far.  Only about 15 minutes from home, but a world away at a lake cottage filled with cousins and grandparents.  On the lake there’s a canoe, rowboat and five loons.  When I wake … Continue reading

Posted in Starlighting Tips | 4 Comments

4 Responses to Time for vacation

  1. Heather – I enjoyed reading this post. The photograph is precious! I particularly resonated with your observation, “…being unreachable is vital sometimes.” Yes ma’am – you hit the nail squarely on the head! It’s key for ANYone, but critical for writers.

  2. It’s definitely harder to disconnect while on vacation because it’s so easy to stay connected, given that the internet is nearly ubiquitous. I disconnect at least once a year up in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern MN. Lots of loons and other critters–moose, otters, eagles, deer, beaver, grouse, owls at night, the very rare encounter with a bear. Cell phones don’t work, plus it’s pure wilderness, no electricity, running water, conveniences, etc. You carry your gear on your back over portages between lakes, and paddle your way to your destination.

    The best feature in the BWCA is the near absolute quiet one can get on certain days and certain times. Occasionally the birds are still, no frogs or crickets talking, no wind, no other humans within miles of you, as quiet as is possible in the open air. Magical.

    Good luck with your book, Heather!

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Love the BWCAW! I lived up there one winter and canoed there a few times. Glad to hear you’re a fan, too, Chris. Thanks for the luck!

Priorities and precious minutes

The next Starlighting author to be featured hails from Milwaukee — Jeanette Hurt.  I met Jeanette at the Madison Writer’s Institute standing in the hotel hallway with her two-year-old son, Quinn.  I’ve brought a toddler to a conference before and … Continue reading

Posted in Starlighting Tips | 4 Comments

4 Responses to Priorities and precious minutes

  1. I had the privilege or meeting and presenting with Jeannette at the Writers’ Institute. I know first-hand that she has a high-wattage smile, is a wonderful facilitator, and has lots of vim and vitality!

  2. My first priority is myself. Keeping me in as good a shape as possible in all ways. Then comes family, mainly my wife of course (no children). Then writing. I get a pretty steady 12-15 hours per week of writing done. But during the golf season, golf creeps up the priority list enough that I might not get those 12 hours in. 🙂 What can I say? I’m addicted to the silly game.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Ah – I’m guessing golf season is sneaking up the priority list now. But maybe that fits in with your first priority of taking care of yourself in all ways? Good for you getting in so many good writing hours a week, Chris.

What are you waiting for?

It always makes me marvel when novelists write, complete and publish novels at an early age.  Take the Bronte sisters, for instance.  Emily died of tuberculosis at age 30 after writing Wuthering Heights.   Anne died at 29 of the same … Continue reading

Posted in Starlighting Tips | 5 Comments

5 Responses to What are you waiting for?

  1. Heather – It’s working!

    Time is a funny thing, isn’t it? I talk with my clients about not “spending” time, but “investing” it instead — doing things that are positive, uplifting, constructive, and healing. Writing definitely falls into the “investing” category.

    I love the idea of the Bronte Sisters as action figures – and enjoyed the short video clip.

  2. Heather Shumaker says:

    Investing time is a great idea. Happy writing and investing! Glad you liked the novelist action figures — my new image of ANY novelist who completes a novel is an action figure. It takes action to get that work done.

  3. I think an Edgar Allen Poe action figure might be popular with all the horror genre fans. 😉
    Not sure about Stephen King, though. 😉

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Ooo – Edgar Allen Poe. With a raven. Just think of how many action-figure writers we could dream up!

  4. Jim Lyon says:

    I agree with youwholeheartedly, but am curious how you prevent your childrens grades from being affected by the no homework prohibition. Have you actually convinced their teachers to not send homework home?

Staking out Time

I used to wonder why I couldn’t write fiction in the evenings.  I had free time, the house was peaceful, the kids were in bed.  For years I berated myself: I call myself a writer and yet I’m not using … Continue reading

Posted in Starlighting Tips | 8 Comments

8 Responses to Staking out Time

  1. “The most important thing is to claim your time, and shift around until it works.”

    yes, Yes, YES!

    I’m an ALL or NOTHING writer. I have three possible days in a week when I can write: Sunday, Monday, and Thursday. In advance (pre-planning) I pick one or all of them and then ONLY write. I sit for 6-8 hours at a time and simply let it flow.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Great discipline! Love your approach to all or nothing, Laurie. Other writers – take heed.

  2. I’m a Mon-Fri. long lunch hour writer. Usually from around 10-2. For some reason I can’t bring myself to do any writing on weekends. Ocassionally I’ll get an idea and write some in the evening, but midday seems to work fairly well so far.

    I also have to write outside of my house–usually at a coffee shop or the library–because there are too many distractions at home (self-made, unfortunately)–and making the trip downtown and buying a cup of coffee commits me to actually writing, not goofing around. It’s almost as if I’m paying a certain small price for the privilege of writing, so I make it worth the expense to write. Oh well, it works for me. 🙂


    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Oh, a lunch hour writer. My hat’s off to you! Glad you found your time and space. I know lots of people share your views on coffee shop writing. Paying to write is a GREAT motivator!

  3. You’re so right, Heather! I’m actually writing all the time, preparing for lectures, etc., but now my trick is to find the time to write fiction. It’s strange to have to set aside time from writing (for my day job), so I can write (for fun). But I would say, don’t completely rule out the possibility that sometimes being tired allows you to turn off the pre-editing function of your brain and get some pretty creative stuff. Once in a while, everyone should change it up, step outside the writing comfort zone and see what happens! – JP

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Good point, Jim. Shaking things up can produce some interesting work – so maybe writing while tired has its good side, too! Best of luck making room for your fiction writing.

  4. Vicki says:

    I’m a playwright and mother of a toddler. I write when I can at this point. I know my writing would improve with daily and/or habitual practice, but it is what it is for now. The upside is that when I do have free time and creative energy at the same time, writing feels like such a treat!

    I found your blog through Mark Rigney (I am a former student of Diane’s). I’m eager to read your parenting book! I love and abide by the title!

  5. Heather Shumaker says:

    Glad you found the Starlighting Mama blog, Vicki! You fit right in. Ah, yes, writing and toddlers – a challenging mix. Enjoy the treat times you have to write. I think parents with young kids make some of the BEST writers because they are some of the most motivated writers. No endless time stretching out before you. Young kids take lots of our time, but they also give us the gift of motivation – making every minute count. I’ll let you know more about the parenting book when it comes out!

Happy Mother’s Day to Starlighting Writers

Happy Mother’s Day to all!  Kids take up heaps of time – that’s why so many parents who write are forced to starlight.  If you want your kids to grow up believing in their dreams, remember to act on yours. … Continue reading

Posted in Starlighting Tips | 3 Comments

3 Responses to Happy Mother’s Day to Starlighting Writers

  1. “…but I also want my kids to see me as someone who has her own dreams and follows them. That’s a powerful message to send.”

    Amen siSTAR!

  2. You’re right: it’s so powerful! Hope you had a very happy Mother’s Day!
    And… I LOVE the new title & cover of your upcoming book. Can’t wait to see it.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Thanks! The book is getting very real now. Mother’s Day was my best ever – homemade poems and songs from the kids, a hike and campfire, AND I got to write!