Why This Blog?
CourtSchurmanGO.com is a personal blog about getting unstuck. Cherishing the beautiful outdoors. Moving onward, upward, forward, sideways. Doing something – anything – different, whether that’s trying something new like forest bathing or picking up James Clear’s useful book, Atomic Habits.
I’ve coached outdoor athletes for over 22 years through Body Results. I’ve also participated in Precision Nutrition’s Psychology of Change master class. Change is hard! And essential. I will eventually return to working on my middle-grade novel because I promised myself I would. But right now, I’m exploring and expanding my world. I invite you to do the same.
Tired of working on yet another draft of my current novel and wanting something to show for my efforts this summer, I toyed with the idea of undergoing “fifty home projects in fifty days,” something others could relate to during a pandemic. Perhaps I could write about the personal development that occurred while doing such a project. To my surprise, my accountability buddy, Elena Hartwell Taylor, developmental editor at Allegory Editing, suggested I blog about it.
But starting a blog meant overcoming my tremendously hampering fixed mindset around ever-changing technology. No way. Too much to overcome. Too much change is required.
Why not write a personal blog about getting unstuck? Granting oneself permission to make and learn from mistakes? Cultivating a growth mindset and finding the motivation to keep going, even when we don’t understand what we’re doing? Readers can surely identify with that. If I could develop and launch a blog on my own, imagine what others might do with the right encouragement and motivation.
On July 14, I bought CourtSchurmanGO.com and gave myself two weeks to prepare a blog. First I played with designs and themes and conjured up ideas for posts. Maybe some of my favorite photographs from my Capture Your 365 project on Facebook could spice things up. What about logos and slogans? “Get organized, get outside, get out of your own way”? Too clunky. “Get outside. Just go”? Too similar to others. “Onward, upward, forward,” won.
As July 28 approached, I wondered whether I was doing the right thing. What if people hated it or didn’t read it? My husband pointed out that I’ve been sugar-free since July 20, not July 28. No reason to launch on the date I’d intended. And when my twenty-year-old back injury flared up, I had to face a familiar foe: impostor syndrome. Did I really think I’d find enough to post weekly?
When The Outdoor Athlete came out in 2009, impostor syndrome grabbed me by the throat. I remember thinking, “I put everything I know about training for the mountains into that one book. There’s nothing left for me to write about.”
For the following three years, my writing consisted of newsletter articles about personal training as well as private journal writing. But when our dog Emily died in 2012 (my daughter was eight at the time), I registered for a writing conference as a knee-jerk reaction to the grief. I’ve attended Write on the Sound in Edmonds, WA, ever since, joining the WOTS steering committee in 2019.
During a session about writing picture books, I found myself thinking, “Hey, I adored reading picture books to my daughter. They’re light and short, simple and funny. I could do that. Writing 32 pages is way easier than 320.”
Or so I thought. I’m a writer, not an author-illustrator, as the colorful journal post on the letter “C” clearly indicates.
Moving Up with Kiddo
One of my manuscripts was a finalist in a 2014 picture book contest sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association making me think writing picture books could be my niche. Once again filled with optimism and enthusiasm for writing, I enrolled in a year-long Writing for Children certificate program through the University of Washington. I dabbled with submissions to literary agents but had no luck finding representation. Wanting to keep the passion going, I enrolled in a year-long Memoir course the following year, hoping to discover my own arc.
As my daughter turned double digits, I moved up along with her and thought I’d try my hand at writing a middle-grade novel. Simple, right? After seven years, I had three different stories I’d written during National Novel Writing Month. I now have 23 drafts of what I feel is my strongest manuscript. Despite submitting to a developmental editor, participating in the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators‘ mentorship program, and sending it to appropriate agents and editors, I’ve had nibbles, but no bites.
Writing for a living is not for the faint of heart. It requires tough skin. Countless rejections. Ten thousand or more hours honing our craft. Throughout COVID, I told myself to keep going, keep putting my butt in the chair. But in April 2021, thirteen months into lockdown, I ran out of steam. If not adult non-fiction, memoir, or children’s stories, what COULD I write?
I could practice character arc, stories in verse, nature pieces, motivational pieces. Maybe others would enjoy pictures of all the Pacific Northwest hikes I’ve done with my six-year-old Labraheeler, Ajax. What if I shared a hodgepodge of things to see if I could hone my authentic voice? Or write about personal anecdotes and conservation principles I discover while volunteering at Woodland Park Zoo? Best of all, I could collect all the motivational strategies that help me stay out of my own way.
I could blog.
So for now, I’m exploring the larger world around me and sharing it with you: 50 posts in 50 weeks. Join me on my adventure.