Dojo Wisdom for Writers Book Club – Lesson #2

Welcome to the Dojo Wisdom for Writers Book Club! Every Wednesday, we meet to discuss one of the lessons in Dojo Wisdom for Writers. We’ll go in order, so it’s easy enough to follow along. Read the lesson, then read the blog post, then comment in the comments! Do feel free to comment on each other’s comments. I’ll answer questions as quickly as I can.

Lesson #2. Trust Your Teacher

Last week, I talked about finding your teacher—but not giving up your own authority over your own work. This week, the lesson is on trusting your teacher—being willing to try something that a teacher suggests.

One of my favorite stories is how I got started writing romance. Some years ago, I was working on a mystery (it had never occurred to me to try my hand at writing romance). My agent said the secondary plot of a love interest in the story wasn’t working. A colleague who was that moment’s teacher, said, “Why not write a romance? That’ll teach you what romance looks like.”

My response was something along the lines of, “Write an entirely different book in order to get this one right? That sounds like the kind of thing only an insane person would do. I’m game.”

So 50,000 words later, I had figured out what romance looks like. I revised the mystery. The mystery didn’t sell (later I rewrote it as the romantic suspense Date with the Devil). But the romance I wrote ended up being my first published romance, Love by Design. And then I wrote about three gazillion romances after that, so it was a risk worth taking.

Have you ever done anything that required you to make a leap of faith based on what a teacher suggested? How did it turn out? Share in the comments.


Dojo Wisdom for Writers, second edition, now available!
Catch a Falling Star (by Jessica Starre) and The Matchmaker Meets Her Match (by Jenny Jacobs), two of my favorite novels.

And don’t forget classes for writers—and more on writing at



  1. Oh my, this is a tough question and an interesting one. Many, many years ago, I attended the Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop and all my teachers demanded that I do one thing that scared the living heck out of me: I was required to write a story AT Clarion. Being required to produce on the spot froze me up so much that I struggled for weeks to come up with something, while my classmates churned out mountains of finished stories. In the end, I wrote a not-very-good, but thankfully, completed story and learned that I could write on command. I didn’t have to wait for inspiration. It was a great lesson to learn.

  2. Oh, I love this lesson, Diane. If there’s one thing a professional writer has to learn, it’s not to rely on inspiration! Although I admit the work is a lot easier when the inspiration is there!

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