The Cow Who Climbed a Tree AND Other Ways to Kick Doubt Out, by Jeanne M. Curtin

the cow who climbed a treeI’ll be in the middle of writing and I’ll get this unwelcome visitor called Doubt. *sigh* And this visitor asks all kinds of annoying questions. Can you write? I mean really write? Will you ever be published? What are you doing? Are you wasting your time? Should you keep plugging away?

And so if you’ve ever experienced a Doubt visit, you’ve got to read The Cow Who Climbed a Tree by Gemma Merino. To discover Impossible! Ridiculous! Nonsense! is absolutely possible. Even when there’s a ton of naysaying from your herd or in your own head.


mat de la pena

Matt de la Peña is proof. He received the 2016 Newbery Award for Last Stop on Market Street. His acceptance speech mentions Doubt.Here’s an excerpt:

This job can be a lonely, lonely ride. And there are moments when it’s nearly impossible to maintain a belief in yourself. Ninety-nine percent of the time the words don’t seem quite good enough. Or the characters don’t seem quite real enough. Or, worst of all, you don’t feel quite talented enough.

So how can we kick Doubt out? These are the branches I climb:

  • I’m open to learning. I read, read, read. I attend workshops. I’m a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writersand Illustrators(SCBWI). And I’ll be chairing/co-chairing a new SCBWI picture book critique group in Mechanicsburg, PA (interested? contact me at:
  • I surround myself with positive people. I can’t imagine life without my loved ones and friends cheering me along the way.

make your magic

  • I have reminders in my environment. Like these words on my wall:

Make your Magic = write. Be Grateful = I take a moment of each day to acknowledge people/things in my world for which I’m genuinely thankful. Believe = that my goals of publication will happen.

  • I keep healthy. I walk. Run stairs. Take time to enjoy life. Adventure. And eat right as much as possible.
  • I practice, practice, practice.



Have you used these Doubt busters? Do you use other ways to kick Doubt out? Please share in the comments below!


Learn more about Jeanne….

Curtin Corner Blog where you can meet artists who transport us to worlds beyond the corners of our minds…
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12 Responses to The Cow Who Climbed a Tree AND Other Ways to Kick Doubt Out, by Jeanne M. Curtin

  1. rosecappelli says:

    Great post Jeanne! Thanks for the reminder that everyone experiences doubt. You’ve challenged me to be more open with my writing – I tend to keep it private, probably because I just don’t think it’s good enough. Hope our paths cross again soon!

  2. Wendy says:

    I keep a now dog-eared copy of BIG MAGIC readily available to assail doubt. Flip to almost any page and remind yourself why you write, and what is entirely in your control (which is, unfortunately, not the getting published part!). Celebrate small accomplishments of what you can control.

  3. Sam Redshaw says:

    Thi was a really great message, I’m aiming to work my way up to be published and it seems like such a mountain! Thank you for sharing a little advise and hope.

  4. Nadine Poper says:

    I do most of the things you suggested…stay healthy, take time to enjoy life, adventure. But as I look around my writing space, I don’t have any reminders like you have hanging on your wall. Thank you for that idea, Jeanne.

  5. I loved your post! Yes, doubt… It’s so hard not to be swept off my writing feet by the waves of doubt. I get good feedback when I submit, but I’m still waiting to hear “what else do you have?” Or “please resubmit after you revise.” But, I try to keep faith. At Rutgers last year, my mentor Gail Carson Levine said “I think you’re doing everything right.” That praise has gotten me through the worst periods. I may not be ready yet, but my time will come. Thank you!!!

  6. Thanks, Virginia! And yes, you will reach the top of your tree and soar! Just keep climbing those branches. Know you’re not alone. And keep kicking Doubt out.
    Best of luck! And hope to meet you one day soon! Truly!!

  7. Wonderful post and wonderful responses! So great to have a community to share the ups and downs. Looking around my writing space I see a card I taped up on my bookshelf that says DREAM. There’s a postcard of a child and a unicorn, a reminder to be open to wonder. Below those are sticky notes with some writing rules that I’m trying to teach myself NOT to break. And I have a hedgehog hand puppet on my desk who keeps watch over my words so I never feel completely alone. He’s quiet and never says a bad word about my writing–EVER!

    • Thanks, Chrissa! Glad you enjoyed the post. And yes, it’s wonderful to be a part of such an amazing community. From the sounds of your writing space, it’s setting the stage for all things possible. Keep climbing those branches. And best of luck!

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