Writing lessons from the heron outside my window

writing lessonsHe shows up at the pond day after day, sometimes in the still morning, often at sunset, and once I saw his outline in the reeds after dark. Stealthy on his stilt-legs, he seems to glide through the brown water, step after slow step. He’s fishing, I assume.

Now, I have never seen him catch a fish. (I’m sure he has, but I have not yet seen it.) I only see him showing up and stalking. Day after day.

Showing up

That kind of discipline is perhaps the biggest difference between “writers” and professional writers. Professional writers know that you can’t just write when you feel like it, or when you’re inspired, or when the topic is interesting. Professionals show up at the keyboard day after day. They know the chances of getting inspired are much higher there than anywhere else.


Professionals also understand that writing is a process. Very rarely does a novel or a fundraising letter or a website pour forth from your fingertips as if you are taking dictation from your personal muse. More often it’s tedious work that involves plodding through the brown waters of research, sorting through reeds of data, slowly marching around the same pond of nouns and verbs over and over again.

Writing lessons, illustrated

In fact, thanks to William Holmes, my effort to photograph the heron is a fitting allegory to the process of writing:

writing lessons
Many of my photographs look like this—blurry, dark, indistinguishable.
But I keep trying—different lighting, different lenses, different approaches.
But I keep trying—different lighting, different lenses, different approaches.
writing lesson
And sometimes, after showing up and stalking this heron time after time,
I get a decent shot.

Professional writing

My heron photos aren’t great yet. And I’m not a professional photographer, so maybe they never will be.

But I am a professional writer, so I apply this level of discipline to all my clients’ projects.

To get the results they’re fishing for.

Contact me: [email protected]



4 thoughts on “Writing lessons from the heron outside my window”

  1. I enjoyed your article about the heron and the comparison you gave about writing. The last picture of it came out good also. You are a great writer. I assume there are fish in the pond and let me know when it catches one. :-)

    • Bev, you are very kind, and I appreciate you. :)

      A couple times tonight, I saw something jump in the pond. Perhaps a fish, or maybe a frog? Whatever it was, Mr. Heron did not catch it.

  2. Nice. I too enjoy watching herons, so methodical and patient in their approach. I have also found, in various aspects of my life, that “showing up” is half the battle and “trying and trying again” until you get it right is the other half of success. This fact often frustrates me. I think from now on I will conjure up the image of the stealthy heron for motivation.

Comments are closed.