Welcome back to our online discussion on the book, On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life that Lasts, by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig!

If you don’t have the book yet, you can pick up a copy here.

I have so enjoyed the interaction that has taken place so far around chapters 1 and 2.

If you missed the first two chapters on Identify and Arrange, you’re definitely going to want to go back and check them out by clicking here and here.

For an overview of the whole six-week discussion including some suggested writing prompts and link-up themes, click here.




So today we’re discussing Chapter 3, on the topic of Surround.

Here are co-authors Ann and Charity with some interaction on this theme:



Have you ever had writer’s block?

Run out of inspiration?

Couldn’t come up with an interesting topic to write about?

In this chapter, Ann and Charity share from their own experience about how they draw from their surroundings and incorporate those surroundings into their writing lives. They write about how they intentionally and unintentionally surround themselves with people, settings, and circumstances that will generate ideas and inspiration for their writing.

In the video above, Charity says, “Typically, the best way to find things to write about is to surround yourself with the things you’re most interested in writing about.”

It sounds simple enough, right?

But are you doing it? Am I?


“Surrounding yourself means immersing yourself into whatever it is that you’re most interested in writing about.” ~ Charity Singleton Craig


On her personal blog, Ann Kroeker recently shared a post on How to Generate Ideas for Writing. Definitely worth reading and bookmarking for later reference.

What do you surround yourself with? Does it inspire you? Is it intentional, such as going to an art museum, or unintentional, like when you find yourself on the sidelines of your son’s soccer game?

Art museums and soccer games alike could lend themselves to usable content, if we think about it and put forth the effort.

If I already have a topic idea, but just can’t seem to get into the “groove” of writing and finding my voice, I often turn to writers whose style I adore. I read just a few pages, feel the movement and cadence in their voice, and am soon inspired to write more beautifully myself.

What tricks do you use?

How can you make use of your current surroundings and turn your unique situation into a blog post, article, journal entry, or chapter in a book?


Link-up topic suggestions:

Write your own blog post or journal entry on one or more of the following topics: 
Take a step back and consider what you most often write about. Does it reflect the things you surround yourself with? Does it reflect what you’d like to be writing about? 
What new topics or ideas would you like to tackle in your writing life? What can you surround yourself with, in order to make that happen? 
What changes should you make to surround yourself with inspiration, when you hit a dry patch in your writing life? 
Make a list of places you can visit, music you can listen to, books you can read when you’re lacking ideas for writing content
What inspires you in relation to your writing? Are there certain writing “voices” you just love? Who are they? What do you love about their style of writing? 

Go ahead and share your thoughts in the comments and/or link-up below — then come back on Wednesday (August 26th) to chat about Chapter 4, “Notice.”

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24 thoughts on “on being a writer :: surround {chapter 3}

  1. I feel like Seinfeld sometimes. I make observations about daily life and provide my own commentary. I’m writing a lot about motherhood lately, even though my intention was to write about balancing as a youth pastor’s wife, mom and full-time employer. But right now, I’m surrounded by all things motherhood, and my writing seems to reflect it.

    • Love Seinfeld! So many times in our activities, I’ll say to my husband, this seems like an episode of Seinfeld. Because Seinfeld was all about finding the ridiculous in the everyday and he was a genius at it.

  2. Just wanted to say thank you for hosting this discussion. I’m really enjoying reading and reflecting on the book and hearing other people’s thoughts and it is definitely increasing my motivation for writing. I like your point about making use of your current surroundings. It’s not always possible to choose our surroundings but often there’s a way of seeing those surroundings or the situation we’re in that can influence our writing.

  3. Another really good chapter. I’m so glad I made the jump and decided to try this group. Writer’s Group was a scary term to me and I am definitely a novice, but am enjoying it so much. Also enjoying meeting new people and reading their writing. Thanks!!

  4. I am so energized to follow along with this book. The writing I read this morning on blog posts linked to this site were fantastic. I am in such good company. Anyone out there do artists dates? Where have you gone and what impacted you the most. Do you go alone?

  5. Kate, this morning I am realizing how this year I have been so blessed by the FMF community, the Write 31 Days challenge, and so much more. You all are my people and this morning, as I wrote, I realized that only God could truly orchestrate these friendships and relationships. It is so often the words of the other bloggers that encourage me to be better…that encourage me to write even when I think I have nothing to say. I love this quote from Charity in this chapter: “Writing requires a flow both inward and outward of ideas, thoughts and stories.”

    • Tara, I agree with you so much–only God could have truly orchestrated these friendships and relationships. When I began my post about the topic of surround, I was in awe of how He has surrounded me with a community of writers both offline and online. I think He knew that I do pretty well at getting my surrounding right, getting in the word, seeking out books and content, but I needed a little extra help with divine-appointed relationships to help encourage and spur on this gift. So amazing to be a part of this group and to hear all of your thoughts!

    • I feel the same, Tara! So blessed by such a rich community of online encouragers. So glad to have you as part of this group! Thanks for joining in and sharing your thoughts!

  6. I’m catching up but have already found inspiration and understanding in the opening chapters of this book. Thanks for creating a discussion group and link-ups, Kate.

    • Only a pleasure, Debby! And I’ve purposely set the link-ups to be open for a whole month so you can take your time if you’d like to join in! Thanks for being part of this group!

  7. I missed you all on Monday, so I’m playing catch up with this discussion. Surrounding myself with inspiration is an interesting concept as I spend about 3 hours a day in the car and a good portion of time in the kitchen! I do listen to books and memorize Scripture in the car, so maybe I need to be aware of moments of inspiration during those times. I’m gonna read Ann Kroeker’s blog and hopefully gain some insight there. Happy writing ladies!

    • Good to see you here again, Kristie! I definitely think we need to take advantage of those moments (and hours!) in the car, and in the kitchen, too! I suppose the key is being intentional about paying attention and then recording ideas that come to mind. I’ve been known to grab my mini-notebook and a pen when I’m stopped at red lights to jot down an idea or line, since I can’t guarantee it will still be there when I get home! 😉

  8. These are some great questions to ponder. I tend to write about issues in motherhood because this is the season of life I’m in with five under 12. I’m most passionate about writing about how both a truth and a lie changes a life. For it all comes down to a spiritual war in the end. The authors that inspire me are the ones who dug deep, suffered long and wrote gold (Lewis, Bonhoeffer, J.C. Ryle & Phillip Yancey). Of course, that route is not appealing for sure. 🙂 I will be thinking deeper about this idea of “surround” and how the Lord may want to open my eyes a bit wider.

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