Day 1 – Your Fairy Art Parents

It’s Day 1! Let’s get started!

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After we finish these five days, you will have a really strong sense of why you’re writing.

  • What you SHOULD be writing.
  • What your SHOULDN’T be writing.
  • WHO your role models and mentors are
  • How to stay on track and truly BELIEVE that you are a writer and you should be doing this work.

Over the next 5 days we’re going to create your ‘Writer’s Manifesto’, a document that will help you understand why writing matters to you and what you want to bring into the world, through you creativity.

It acts as a decision-filter for the way you work on every scene, every story, every piece.

Two Examples

When I was procrastinating on revisions to a story, I wasn’t sure what was wrong. Then I looked at my Writer’s Manifesto and realized that the cynical little story I had drafted didn’t match my goals for me, as a writer and human.

That realization freed me to let that draft go, and work on something better…which came much more easily.

Likewise, in trying to write a scene in my novel, it kept trending to a tone that didn’t match what I had written as my aspirations for my work. Remembering that allowed me to find a better tone for the scene, which then flowed better, because I believed in it more.


We start by figuring out who we admire, as creative — who are our ‘Fairy Art Parents’…


Write a list of creative people you admire and what attracts you to them.

Don’t spend too long on this.

For example, I wrote:

Amanda Palmer. For her commitment to making the art that only she can make and for finding ways to get paid for it. outwith traditional structures. And for her commitment to openness.

Mary Robinette Kowal science fiction, fantasy author, whose pursuit of the craft of writing and storytelling is detailed and, logical. For her willingness to share that with others and to keep on turning out her own work and building an audience at the same time.

Nick Stevenson for what I call his calculated openheartedness, the way that he communicates with his readers.

Kim Stanley Robinson for his unique style and optimism.

Neil Gaiman for the same things, and for the literary family tree that he grew out of.

Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams for their quirky style, their humor, their big ideas and for the fact that what I get from them. I can only get from them.


  • So write down your list of people who inspire you, writers, artists, creative types.
  • And then write down what it is that each of those people. What you admire about them and the way that they do business.

Today’s is a tiny task, but it lays the foundation for the really important process that we’re going through this week.

We’ll be back tomorrow to take the next step with this list that you’re making today.

Who did you pick as your Fairy Art Parents. Leave a comment and let us know!

Keep writing,

Julie (signed)

P. S. Have a friend who should be going through this challenge with you? Send them a link to sign up at storyaday.org/jan-challenge

62 thoughts on “Day 1 – Your Fairy Art Parents”

  1. I am starting again. I understand that this will be available only until Saturday. It is Saturday night. I still revere Jane Austen and Alexander Pope. I love satire. The best satire points the way to a better life by ridiculing what’s wrong with individuals and with society. I admire G.K. Chesterton, though I often find him difficult to read.

    What I wrote last year is still true.

  2. Terry Brooks – for his ability to write a sweeping epic saga that continues to hold interest over generations.
    Patricia A. McKillip – for her ethereal, dreamlike language and holistic use of themes
    Ursula K. LeGuin – for her ability to weave real-world political and social themes into her fantasy
    Louis L’Amour – for his research and use of settings

  3. I posted my response in the wrong place, so I’ll post here again:

    The more I think about this question and these writers, the more writers come to mind. With our complex world, there are so many people who are exploring these new ideas, social and political change. Climate change, and its effect on people and the environment, is involved with many books that try to foresee a future.
    Willa Cather – I like her beautiful writing, which matched with the expanses that she wrote about, the life on the prairie, the exploration into ancient indigenous cultures, the relationship of people against these landscapes.
    Lorrie Moore – She writes eloquently on daily living
    Margaret Atwood – she melds the personal and political in her writing. In her later works, she uses what she has read about scientific advances and includes these in her stories to present possibilities for the question “What if?”
    I wrote longer entry on Kim Stanley Robinson, who is incredible in his world building (even though his style of writing is not so great)
    Ray Bradbury – one of the developers of science fiction which allowed us to understand how science fiction can help us understand our present lives.

    1. Sounds like you’re excited by ideas. Good to know! If you get bored with something you’re writing you can ask yourself “Am I exploring enough ideas that fascinate me?”

  4. This was such a great question!
    1.Write a list of creative people you admire and what attracts you to them
    -A. Author Richard wagamese- beautiful storytelling, spiritual message of hope
    B. Mary Oliver, poet. Nature, spiritual themes
    C. Author Alice Hoffman, The Rules of Magic. Imagination. Wonder. Endless Possibility. Beauty. Human nature.Good story and storytelling, magic. belief in what lies beyond.greater than us
    D. Rumi, poet, spiritual
    E. Stephen Quiller, artist who sees the world big, and uses colour, line and exaggeration to depict magesty and the spiritual beauty of nature around us. We are part if something bigger.
    F. My daughter Heather, who focuses her creative energy into turning bits of coloured fabric into gorgeous quilts.
    G. Tara Brach, whose creative energy goes into talks and meditations for the benefit of everyone.

    1. I see beauty, wonder, and an urge to bring that to others, in your list (also, how lovely that your daughter can be one of your fairy art parents!)

      Keep these in mind as you go forward…

  5. Stephen King: for knowing how to put words on the page that haunt us way after we’ve closed the book.

    Jennifer Weiner: a Jewish role model who is funny, real, and writes characters who people love.

    Jodi Picoult: for using four voices to tell the important stories that need to be told with details that have been well researched.

    Joyce Maynard: for writing characters you feel like you know and making every word on the page count.

    All my English teachers from 4th grade on who instilled the love of literature in me.

  6. I love the idea of listing your “Fairy Art Parents”. Prince because to me he was the ultimate creative. He didn’t just play music, he was music. He gave himself fully and completely over to his art, which showed tremendously. He shared his immense talent with us to the point of exhaustion. He laid bare his soul in song and squeezed every ounce of himself all over us every time he was on stage.

    Terry McMillan because she brought to the forefront in literature the intricate, complex, and layered lives of Black women. She shows that our stories aren’t just mired in tragedy but we live lives that are triumphant as well.

    J. K. Rowling for simply creating the most vivid and fascinating worlds I’ve read.

    1. There’s a bold, unbowed spirit showing through in your choices.

      You admire people who don’t play it safe. Worth remembering…

  7. I loved this because it gave me a chance to think about why I admire these people. I tried to think about all different kinds of reasons. My uncle, for example, could sit down at the piano and play anything, the music just flowed out of him. And writers who are unafraid. Friends who don’t question the quality or value of their art. Craftspeople who stitch and sketch because they have to. I want to adopt bits of pieces of all these people. Thanks for the inspo, Julie!

    1. We all crave a little approval but look how you admire people who are willing to do what they want, because it matters to them.

      I think you get to give yourself the gift of seeking approval from yourself before anyone else!

  8. Margaret Atwood because she writes some of the best women-centric stories around with dry wit and a vivid, unrestrained imagination.

  9. I like what I wrote last year. It’s all still true.
    I might add Maud Hart Lovelace, who wrote the Betsy-Tacy stories. I also admire Alexander Pope’s heroic couplets and the poetry of A.E. Housman.
    Oh, yes, and then there’s Peter D. Gorman. I have loved everything he has ever written.

  10. Claire Keegan- for exquisite use of language
    Elizabeth George – for spot-on setting and amazing plotting
    John Boyne – for making historical moments immediate through voice, character and story
    Jessie Burton, Ken Follett (Pillars of the Earth)- for historical detail
    Kate Chopin and Charlotte Perkins Gilman – for doing the work at a time when women couldn’t!

  11. My list included family (4), fellow writer groups (2), 2 semi famous Canadians, one famous Canadian, a very famous Dutch artist and a USA movie director. I was surprised at who I chose. I have done this exercise before, but, alas, I don’t think I kept that list. I wonder how much it has changed?

    1. The list might have changed but I bet some of the things you discover over the next few days will stay fairly constant.

  12. I made a list, and then I read the comments here and thought of more people to add to the list! I won’t list everyone, but I’ll share the most common thing I wrote about why I’m drawn to these artists/authors/makers–they are committed and true to their vision regardless of trends and naysayers.

  13. Wonderful! In just a few minutes, I started to see patterns among the creatives that came to mind. Mostly best selling authors, HA! That aside, here’s a single example: In Kate DiCamillo’s Raymie Nightingale, the story opens with Raymie taking action to entice her father to return to the family. Ultimately, Raymie finds new supporting characters and learns about her own strengths–and that she doesn’t need her absent (cheating) father to be whole. Probably not exactly right, but this is quick! The pattern I’m seeing is compassion my mentor authors feel for the young character facing everyday heartbreaking events

    1. Oh that’s good work, Chris.
      If that’s the kind of story that attracts you…are you writing those kinds of stories? Should you be?
      And hey, there’s nothing wrong with having best selling authors in your gang 😉

  14. Neil Gaiman. His unique voice, and a personal and intimate style I admire.
    Terry Pratchett. His sense of humor, worldbuilding, and imagination.
    Stephen King. Showing me where horror lives and how my words can defeat it.
    Diana Wynne Jones, Philip Pullman, Octavia Butler, Philip K. Dick, Orson Scott Card, Eoin Colfer, Darren Shan, and JK Rowling. Creating believable worlds worth escaping into and characters worth caring for.

    Gary Larson’s The Far Side. Point of view (POV) is so important in the telling of a good story that makes readers look at the world in a different way.
    Robin Williams. Endless creativity and willingness to entertain at the drop of a hat.
    Frederic Chopin. Telling emotionally intense stories without words in musical miniatures.
    The Nederlands Dans Theater 2. Inspiring me to view writing as a dance with words worth pursuing as they combine “balletic grace, virtuosic skill, fearless athleticism, passion, and personality” at every performance.
    The Michael Nyman Band and the Kronos Quartet. Creating deep joy through performing baroque minimalism and contemporary classical music in a profound way that fills me with awe every time.

    I want my words to entertain and satisfy readers who want to read well-told stories about characters they love and care for.

  15. J. Robert Janes & Max Allen Collins (historical mystery)
    S. J. Rozan & Gary Phillips (contemporary mystery, PI fiction)
    Octavia Butler & N. K. Jemisin (inventive, imaginative SF that comments on the best and worst of humanity; in Jemisin’s case does it with difficult, but brilliant language)
    Django Wrexler & James S A Corey (good, clean fun adventure)
    Vivaldi (the happy Baroque), Yo-Yo Ma (can make a cello do anything), and Gustav Klimt (wild color and shapes)

  16. My creative inspirations are:
    Connie Willis—for her generosity and longevity; for finishing what she starts; for kindness to young writers.
    Julie Duffy—for her generous willingness to share what she has learned, is currently learning, and what she hopes to learn. For teaching me that my story matters, and that I can write today, not just someday.
    Cathy McKinney—my friend who desires and dreams and jumps in with both feet. And for encouraging me in so many ways when I didn’t know how or if I could go on.
    Martha Wells—for creating completely original characters in a still developing universe, in her MurderBot Diaries.
    Andrew D Meredith and Patricia Meredith—my son and daughter-in-law. I admire their stick-to-it-ness. That they dream, follow their dreams, and that they are able to change or adjust direction as needed, while still moving forward. And for their generous encouragement for my own writing journey.

  17. Johann Sebastian Bach and Dieterich Buxtehude, for their great organ music. Johann Pachelbel, whose music I also enjoy playing (he wrote much more than the Canon in D). My fiddle teacher, who specializes in Scottish fiddling. Jane Austen, for her wonderful novels, her wit, her satire, and everything else. Swedish writer Torgny Lindgren, whom I would like to someday read in the original language (though he did have an excellent translator). Saint Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), Doctor of the Church, who led a religious community, wrote beautiful music, loved the earth, wrote philosophy, practiced medicine after a fashion, and even invented lavender water. Margret and H.A. Rey, German Jews who escaped from Paris just before it fell to the Nazis and took with them their illustrated Curious George manuscript.

  18. I still hear comments as I am working from two of my former music teachers, and actually feel energy from pieces written by the musicians who were composers, teachers, and performers. They continue to live in their creations, which is also the author’s story I am currently reading, The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

  19. Margaret Atwood, Ruth Ozeki,
    Toni Morrison, Gustavo Dudamel, Nadja Salerno- Sonnenberg,Marie Sklodowska-Curie, David Carpenter ( writer and my prof who would always ask me “ but are you writing yet?”)

  20. Heavily influenced by mostly recent influences more than having certain people I admire .. may need to dwell more on admire:
    – [ ] Haruki Murakami ( creativity and running! )
    – [ ] Amy@mindfulartstudio for mixing meditation, art and nature and diversity and zoom
    – [ ] The various cartoonists and illustrators who make fun of human nature with words and pictures (Jim Davies and Garfield as a start but there are a lot)
    – [ ] Paul McCartney – for simplicity and diversity of music (and for touring uni campuses in a camper van after a wings)
    – [ ] The creators of ‘For all mankind’ TV show for managing to weave in themes of human nature, politics and ethical issues within this parallel universe fiction
    – [ ] My language teacher for making any topic I bring up a teachable moment (is that an art?)
    – [ ] Of recent reading Matt Haig – interweaving creativity and life themes
    – [ ] Of past reading Jane Austen – minutiae of society and as a woman
    – [ ] Amitav Gosh for descriptive tales
    – [ ] Poets (I don’t have one name) but the writer of Jabbereocky comes to mind for use of language..and all the poets that have ever captured a scene or moment of human connection / nature in a few lines
    – [ ] Collin Cotterrell for series of detective books set in Lao

  21. David Bowie, Anthony Horowitz, Bill Finger, George Harrison, George Carlin, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Paul Simon, Ernest Thesiger.

    Off the top of my head after a bit of thinking (mostly because when someone asks me a direct “who do you admire” type question, my brain immediately goes blank).

    I’m sure I’ll think of someone later who I will have to slap myself for forgetting, but that’s what I’ve got so far.

    1. An imperfect list is somewhere to start.
      I love seeing the musicians too. Interesting how many people picked musicians and other artists.

  22. Richard Brautigan, Patricia Clapp, Ray Bradbury, Michael Parkes, Agatha Christie, Ricky Tims, and my mother, the most creative person I’ve ever known.

    1. It’s interesting to me that I’ve never heard of some of these people but that it soooooo doesn’t matter, because YOU have, and they mean so much to you that you’ve put them down here.
      And a high-five goes to you for mentioning your mum!

  23. Elizabeth Strout: her flawed, funny, human characters set in everyday life who remind me of myself
    T.C. Boyle: his metaphors, the way he makes me see, smell and feel his stories, wacky tales of ordinary people
    Delia Owens: the strong feel of her unusual setting, people living in an interesting environment, learning to get by on their own
    Neil Gaiman: shocking things people do in the future that people think are normal
    Robert Burridge: fun, great, prolific acrylic artist who teaches in a way it would be hard not to learn from, offers up totally new ideas of how to begin, loosen up, and finish

  24. Meryl Streep – incredible actress/artist who inhabits her characters, best of the best in acting.

    Stephen King – prolific horror writer who makes it seem so easy and immerses the reader in the world he creates.

    Claude Monet – painter whose work is calming and beautiful, regardless of the subject matter.

    Somerset Maugham – superb writer who manages to teach the reader with his fiction.

    Kelly Clarkson – phenomenal singer who can literally sing anything superbly.

    Pat Conroy – his fiction pulls you in so deep that you forget the real world exists.

    1. I love your focus on excellence and immersion, with a side-helping of ‘thinking about how it affects the audience’.
      I definitely see some common threads!

  25. Frank Sinatra, for his phrasing that elevates the song and because he always shares credit. John Oliver, for his ability to make complex issues relatable and funny. Tom Hanks , for his standard of excellence. Neil Young, for his longevity and work ethic. And Terry Pratchett, FTW!

  26. My husband Scott, My sister Theresa, writer Jean Alferie, Writer and plant person extraordinaire Peyton, writer Lainey LaShay, My sister Sandi, and StoryaDay mentor Julie D.

    These are all people who contain character traits that make them creative and successful.

      1. Robin Jenkins who brings the magic out of ordinary Scottish lives…. McCartney & Lennon for the genius of pop structure…
        Nae Tempest for powerful honest observational crafted work…. Orwell for making ordinary people matter…. Gabor Mate who nails my way of thinking about human behaviour and relationship

  27. Isabel Allende, Francine Rivers, Louise Penny, Agatha Christie, Jim Morrison, Michael Card, Emily Freeman, KJ Ramsey, and Alina Smolyanski (artist and art therapy instructor).
    This was a great exercise. I just went with my gut and didn’t think too deeply. The list is giving me a lot to think about.

  28. I’m here for the first time and this is already enlightening.
    I found that, next to writers, I had a good number of actors and musicians on my list. I think the actors stand for wanting to dive into the minds of my characters and to let them speak for themselves (through my writing). The musicians represent my need for artistic (self-)expression and for the courage to do so – one day even on a “stage” (by getting published).

  29. Susanna Clarke, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Diana Wynne Jones, the painter Franz Marc, and my violin teacher 😊

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