Finding Inspiration and the Drive to Succeed by Vonnie Winslow Crist

I asked published author Vonnie Winslow Crist to write an article for my blog. I wanted all you authors who are working to build a dream to read her words. Here they are and I think her sentiment is just marvelous!


VonnieFinding inspiration to write or paint is the easy part of being an author/illustrator. From the sound of rain to the appearance of evening’s first star to the scent of crushed pine needles under foot, our world is filled with places, people, and life experiences that inspire. The trick is to pay attention, then take the time and jot down (or sketch) your ideas while they’re still vivid.

If you’re looking for realistic dialogue, eavesdrop! Sit in a shopping mall, cafe, or coffee shop with a pad of paper and take notes. And while you’re there, people-watch. But don’t just write down the a physical description of some of the passersby, speculate on where they’ve come from, where they’re headed, and who will be meeting them there. Watch children playing, then write about a childhood experience. Sit in a garden or wooded lot and describe the location using all of your senses. Then, imagine the lives of the animals that live there. Look into the night sky and write about someone else who’s looking at those same stars. The chances for inspiration are endless.

And since I think the world is bursting with inspiration, I don’t believe in writer’s block! A writer can always write. Perhaps the next chapter in a novel won’t appear when you’d like it to. Instead of sitting before a computer screen pulling out your hair – look through your research and write an article, or read a book and write a review, or pull a dusty short story from the back of a drawer and revise it, or… Well, you get the idea. And before long, the ideas needed to pull together that next chapter will pop into your mind.

I think writers and artists are often driven by a desire to communicate. They tell a story through words or paint, and all they need is someone on the other end of the conversation to read their books or view their artwork. The creative process for most authors (and artists) is a lonely one. Hours and hours are spent hunched over a computer keyboard or drawing pad. When they eventually publish their writing or show their art, they’re really sending a message out into the darkness in the hopes that some one will look or listen and say, “I understand. I’ve felt that, too. I get your story. Tell me more.”

To me, success is creating new stories and sending them out to readers when they’re published. Therefore, the drive to succeed is also the drive to communicate. When a story, poem, or piece of my art is published, I hope that someone I haven’t reached before picks up that book or magazine and discovers my tales.

Those writers who see money and fame as success are likely to fall short of their goals. There are only a small number of authors (and illustrators) who are able to achieve great wealth and celebrity because of their books or illustrations. Most of us will publish a few books that will hopefully break even and be read by a small, but enthusiastic readership. And that should be enough – enough to make us smile, pick up a paintbrush or pen, and create the next story.

The Greener Forest

Vonnie Winslow Crist is author illustrator of The Greener Forest, River of Stars, Essential Fables, Leprechaun Cake & Other Tales, For the Good of the Settlement, Blame it on the Trees, and the soon-to-be-published Owl Light (fantasy stories) and The Enchanted Skean (young adult novel). Find out more about Vonnie at her website: ,blog: , Facebook page: and Twitter: To buy her books: or


1 ping

  1. Thanks, Nick, for inviting me to guest post. I hope your readers enjoy my “take” on inspiration & success.

  2. Very good post! Thanks, Vonnie

  3. No problem! I enjoyed reading it!

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