Thirteen years. On March 24, 2011 – 13 years ago today – See Jane Write was born. The past 13 years have been filled with trials and triumphs, grief and gratitude but absolutely no regrets.

See Jane Write began as a meeting with a dozen women writers at a Mexican restaurant in Birmingham, Alabama. We talked about our writing dreams and the obstacles we faced while pursuing those goals. Two months later I hosted a workshop on how writers could use Twitter to elevate their writing careers and 40 women showed up. Shortly after that, I hosted a panel discussion on blogging, and 75 women showed up.

Much to the chagrin of my very frugal (but very supportive) husband, I continued to host See Jane Write events for two years paying for everything myself and not charging attendees a cent.  In 2013, for the sake of the Bowser bank account, See Jane Write became a bonafide business and is now See Jane Write LLC. The See Jane Write Collective – our paid membership community was created. I started offering courses and coaching, too. And instead of being a community only for women in Birmingham, we now have members across the country.

To celebrate See Jane Write becoming a teenager, yesterday I had a birthday brunch with some Birmingham-based Collective members. A time was had! We talked about marriage, motherhood, politics, the Royals, solo travel, college memories, writing (obviously) and so much more. We dreamed about renting a Barbie pink RV to travel cross-country and visit all the Janes in other cities.

I have so many dreams for the future of See Jane Write, but first I want to reflect on the past. I want to share 13 lessons I’ve learned during 13 years of See Jane Write.

Writing is a communal act. We may do most of our writing in solitude, but writers need other writers. Period. Your writing community can keep you accountable and keep you encouraged as you go after your goals. Other writers can give you feedback on your work. And seeing the success of writers in your community can show you what’s possible. This is why See Jane Write exists.

Know what you want and ask for it. The Collective members who are most successful are the ones focused on specific goals. And I am most successful when I not only get clear on what I want but also get bold enough to tell the world.

You can write your way through anything. I’ve seen the women of See Jane Write do this. Cancer taught me I could do it too.

You can write your way back to yourself. Writers write. So if you’re not feeling like yourself, if something (or everything) around you and within you feels off, it’s probably because you’re not writing. So, girl, just write.

A great deal of writing happens off the page. Sis, I want you to write but you’ve got to live your life, too. Have fun. Try new things. Spend time with the people you love. All of this will only make your writing stronger.

Your story is your superpower. Job interview. Speaking engagement. How-to article or blog post. Conversations with friends. All of these things — and so much more — are made better with your story.

If your story is your superpower, journaling is your secret weapon. Journaling is a great way to unearth your story. Journaling also helps me process things. It helps me understand the world around me. It helps me understand myself.

Storytellers have the power to change the world. And we can use this power for evil or good. For example, we can use this power to scare people into thinking that diversity, equity and inclusion are harmful. Or that certain books should be banned. Or we can use our stories to empower others and ourselves. To celebrate diversity and to tell the truth – even when that truth is hard to hear.

You can rewrite your story. And you can write as many drafts as you need. Don’t feel like you’re stuck with a narrative that no longer serves you. You can rebrand your blog. You change your niche or genre. You can change your life.

Self-love sparks creativity. When I’m feeling good about myself, when I’m taking care of myself and celebrating myself, and even taking myself out on solo artist dates my creativity begins to overflow. I can’t yet explain why this happens, but this remains a motivation to prioritize self-care. After all, self-care is simply self-love in action.

Inspiration is overrated. And this is coming from someone who is often called “inspirational.” Don’t get me wrong. We writers should definitely do things that inspire us, but we can’t rely on inspiration alone – especially if we want to write for a living. We must be disciplined to write even when we don’t feel like it. And as See Jane Write moves into her teenage years, my goal will be to motivate members to DO THE WORK, not just feel inspired.

Writing for a living is great, but writing for yourself is even better. I love being a full-time freelance writer. But I often lament that at the end of the day I usually have little energy to write for myself. When I do write for myself – whether that’s a journal entry, essay, or a poem – it feels magical. Powerful. Spiritual.

You can keep saying you don’t have time to write, or you can make the most of the time you have. A friend of mine with a husband, two kids, and a VERY demanding, high-profile job recently completed a writing program that has allowed her to fly to New York and pitch her book idea to agents and publishers. She followed through despite her busy schedule. She was more committed to her goals than to her excuses. And listen, I’m talking to myself here, too. I’ve got to stop using “I write for a living” as an excuse for not launching my Substack or working on my next book. Let’s ditch our excuses together!

What’s Next for See Jane Write?

Like most teenagers, See Jane Write is trying to figure out who she is and who she wants to be. She sometimes falls into the trap of comparing herself to other writing communities. She’s not sure if she wants to continue to be a space for multi-passionate writers and writers of all genres or if she needs to niche down. Should she start a club just for women who love to journal? Should she be a non-profit? Like most teenagers, See Jane Write is eager to get her own place, but I don’t want her to grow up too fast.

To be honest, maintaining See Jane Write along with my own writing career is VERY, VERY hard. So I don’t know exactly what the future holds for See Jane Write. But because I love the See Jane Write community SO MUCH, I am sure that See Jane Write has a future and that this future is bright.

If you’re interested in joining our membership community, the See Jane Write Collective, enrollment is now open! Learn more here.