Iris Schram

That’s a nice view from up there.

That’s a nice view from up there.



I went on a number of countryside and forest hikes in my first two weeks away from the keyboard, which was very refreshing. There even were a lot of ripe blueberries in the forest! I have never seen so many in the Netherlands.

Then a few days ago I was at a wedding where one piece of story stuck with me. I’d like to share my version of it with you here, because, if you’ve been feeling like being creative in the midst of Everything Else is an uphill battle… this might be a nice way of looking at things.


If you feel any creative inclination, you might have a dream that you aspire to that represents a highlight of success. Publishing a novel. Creating a business that pays the bills. Performing in a theatre.


You start to take steps, tiny steps, and things will start to happen.


You are climbing the creative hill. But like any hike, you need to watch your step. And sometimes you stumble on a loose rock. It’s normal. But as long as you have friends around you, the journey is much more enjoyable. Plus, they can grab hold of you when you stumble and prevent you from falling down.

If you already achieved a first highlight, usually, next dreams will pop up. What if you could have a tour in another country? Build your business out so that it not only pays your bills, but also enables you to help save the environment? These highlights are so shiny that you can’t wait to get over there at the top!

But there is one thing that you shouldn’t forget…

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What would you take with you if you had to leave your house in the middle of the night?

What would you take with you if you had to leave your house in the middle of the night?


phone. keys. half-full bottle of water. packet of biscuits. two bananas. photographs of loved ones. warm hat. scarf. raincoat. rain pants. jumper. two warm blankets.


Those were the things I grabbed.



It wasn’t enough for the few days that I ended up staying in the hotel for. But it was enough to get me through that night and morning. The rain pants weren’t useful at all — but I could lend one of my blankets to a neighbour.

And it is telling of character.


So what would you take?

What would the main character in your story take?

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Start with the end in mind

i am not a big puzzler, but i recently started one and i know one basic rule of puzzling: start with the straight edges.

writing is like solving a puzzle…. suddenly a piece will click and then you look back at the entire thing and it makes sense (hopefully).

if you don’t know where to start,

start sorting through all the ideas

and find the ones that have an edge

for the longest time i have been floundering about

not knowing what my plot should even really be

and today i decided to start writing my ending

because it turns out that i have had an ending in my mind for quite a while, too

and i didn’t let myself write it

because first i had to write all the rest of it

and figure out where to start and how to connect it to that piece

but today i was talking about how to end a story arc in my last coaching call of the course.

and one of my participants said: i’m going to write a short story with the end in mind. i’ll start with the ending and work my way backwards.

and i knew that that was what i had to do too.

so i did

and i started writing the scene that i have known that i wanted to write for a long time

even though i didn’t know, when i started it, exactly how it would flow

i’m part of the way through that scene and i can tell you

it’s such a relief!

i feel inspired again now. this is why you have to find something that feels meaningful to you. this is why you need to go for the things that really move you.

because once you find that,

and most importantly,

allow yourself to follow it

and not discard it

then you’ll be typing up a storm and it will just have to happen.

then there is that power behind your fingers and inside your words.

happy typing 🙂

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Making writing fun atop a busy week

In the weeks that work or personal life gets busy, it’s even harder to make time to write or explore your creativity. Of course, we all know that that is also exactly the moment that you might need it the most…

But when you’re tired, it can be very hard to sit down and create something new. Writing may not have that “fun” label attached to it as an activity to fill your depleted “fun” bar.

So how to keep writing from feeling like a chore?

I feel like a broken record at this point, but for me, that’s where the inner goal comes in again. The personal goal that’s bigger than the project, but shapes you in some way.

But Iris, that doesn’t make it fun. I’ve done big and important projects all day, and now I just want to unwind and relax.

I hear you, my friend.

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Is doing research okay?

Writing Update! Just over a week into this adventure, and I’ve mainly concerned myself with running the Creative Month Course for my lovely participants…. and building wardrobes and bookcases! Someone close to me is moving house this week and I’ve been assisting a lot. It is exciting and fun and also exhausting, but very worth it.

Today I went to that second-hand shop again to find some books about Utrecht. I knew they had a section and was hoping to find some local legends or folk tales.

The water legends from the islands are interesting — but if I want to make it really believable and embedded in the city culture, then I need to know more. Even though I was born here, my parents are from different parts of the country and I didn’t grow up in the city itself.

So these are a bit of required reading for me!

This big book, Ach Lieve Tijd, is a collected publication of magazines from 1985 by the municipality (Gemeente Utrecht) and the main museum that has Utrecht history (Centraal Museum). There is a lot of information on social issues throughout the centuries as well as architectural history on how the city took shape.

And cities taking shape is exactly the kind of thing that tickles my Ravenclaw nerdery!

I mean, just look at those glorious old city maps!

Research vs. Writing

I’m not writing scenes yet, but as I want to focus on writing good scenes this time and planning the novel out first, that’s okay.

And I haven’t been planning the novel beyond the rudimentary plot elements I shared about earlier, because I feel like I need to do this research into Utrecht’s history and legends first.

Sometimes people can get lost in doing so much research that they never get around to writing the actual story. I’m aware of the trap of knowledge…. and yet, this time, I know I have to immerse myself in the knowledge. I think I can write a much more rich and powerful book if I do that now.

So even though I did say I would be writing a good part of the novel this July, I consider this progress. Because who knows how long I might have put this off if I didn’t focus my July on this?

Who knows when I would have finally gone to the library? Put those plot elements on paper?

You only know what your next steps are once you’ve taken the first few. And you might be surprised… 🙂

I know, in an ideal world, I would have been done with all of this before July. But alas, this world has its rough edges!

In any case, it’s getting further along, and that’s the important part. 🙂

PS. Know about a good Utrecht folk tale or legend? Especially with water or supernatural beings (Witte Vrouwen, anyone? I know it’s an old wives’ tale, but still)? Please share! I’m hungry for all knowledge on the topic!

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Getting over the fear of simply starting

Hello friends.

We had the first call of the Creative Month Course the day before yesterday as I type this, and we will have the next call today already, and there is an interesting mixture of feelings inside of me.

There are all kinds of things that need arranging and organising and preparing, and so I have had less time than I had hoped to actually start writing.

However, the process of hosting a workshop is even now already surpassing my hopes. And the fears are manageable. (Please tell me this when I get nervous again!)

Cool things happened in that first kick-off call that I would not have expected, or hoped for, until the end of the month. So that’s promising!

One of the things we talked about was how to get yourself to take those first steps. How to get out of that feeling of being petrified, and keeping yourself safe by staying put… and start moving instead.

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Join the Creative Month

Sooooo….. Because I’m going to be writing a good part of my novel during July and I know several of you are creatives or writers as well and you have trouble focusing on one thing at a time…… I hatched a plan.

I want to invite you to follow along with your own projects, while getting some coaching and gathering a little community.

So I’m giving a small training that I’ve called the Creative Month Course.

There’s no big launch or fancy sales page, but I shot a 7-minute video for you explaining the course.

Watch the previous video here

Live call dates

Thursday 1st July (getting started!)
Saturday 3rd July
Saturday 10th July
Saturday 17th July
Saturday 24th July

Calls will be via Zoom and Discord, 90 minutes each at 20:00 CEST (Amsterdam) / 14:00 EST (New York). You will receive e-mails about all of these. Any extra bonus sessions that I come up with will also be communicated via e-mail.

Price: €31 / approx. $37

Payment options: iDeal + Stripe

[[Sorry!! Registration has closed. Sign up for the waitlist here:]]

Exciting!! Let’s make miracles happen!

xx Iris

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How To Plan Your Novel When Your Ideas Are Scattered All Over

How To Plan Your Novel When Your Ideas Are Scattered All Over

Once upon a time, there was a girl with big plans.

This picture was taken in 2011… in the midst of writing my first novel draft during November. (As well as learning Old Irish in my first year of university in the company of my sweet cats, oh, the good old days!)

The ideas were there… the tenacity was there… I made it to 50.000 words, after all.

It was an important milestone. But.

The story never got finished. And I don’t think it ever will. The plot was too vague, the characters too flimsy. But it did what it needed to do at the time.

It got me writing.

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All the story ideas

All the story ideas

Let’s dive into the writing realm some more.

(I may have found my sweet spot there. I just can’t stop talking about writing and my stories. But we’ll see what happens!)

I have a promise that I want to make to you.

July is going to be my writing month.

I hope to finish (and start… ahem…. I got a bit sidetracked re-reading all of Harry Potter…) planning my novel in June so that I can — gasp — Write The Thing during July!

But why July?

Because there’s Camp NaNoWriMo!

What’s that, you ask?

If you’ve known me for more than half a year, you’ll know it’s that crazy thing I do each winter….. writing a novel in a month.

If you’ve never heard of it, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and always runs in November, but this is the summer “camp” edition! It’s a world-wide awesome community-driven challenge where you promise yourself to write 50,000 words in a month. Usually, that means a small novel! And you can’t stop! Because that means 1,667 words every! single! day!

I’ve found it incredibly helpful to just Make The Thing. My brain works very, very well with a deadline.

Also, there’s nothing more inspiring than knowing there are countless writers all over the world, all typing at the same time, striving for the same goal.

This year actually marks the 10th year I’m writing with NaNoWriMo. (I know, crazy, right?!)

I’ve won 3 times (2011, 2018, 2019) and done serious and significant attempts another 3 times (2012, 2014, 2020). The other years I didn’t get far, but still, I got started.

And this little book….. contains all my notes from all those years!

Yeah, it’s not much. Most of the writing is on my laptop, anyway. But this little book is quite special!

It contains everything, from my galaxy story “On Top Of The World” to snippets of the fantasy stories “Running, out of time” and last year’s “Alle water stroomt naar zee”…

For this week’s blogpost, in honour of my 10 years of noveling and also so that I would have a better overview of all the story themes, I decided to put all of my novel draft attempts side by side.

Let me take you on a little tour around my virtual Bookshelf, okay?

We’ll go in chronological order. Please be patient with my writing style of 9 years ago! I hope I’ve gotten better in the meantime…

(And at the bottom there’s a hint of what I’ll be writing next!)

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Diving for inspiration in secondhand bookshops

Diving for inspiration in secondhand bookshops

Last week, with the warmth, I took it a little easy and went on nature hikes in the forest and beach. Nature always restores me.

The beach was also an inspiration for my writing… And then, when in a second-hand shop yesterday, I found this gem:  “Waddenlegenden“! (The artwork + “The Mermaid” book were birthday gifts!)

(For the non-Dutchies, Waddenlegenden refers to the legends/sagas/folktales of the island group in the North Sea, north of the Netherlands and Germany.)

The novel I’m working on has a lot of water elements, so all of this is inspiration! I’m thinking Low Fantasy, set in our real world, but with magical elements and mysteries. Hopefully I can incorporate some of the actual folktale mysteries that surround the Dutch waters, so that my magical elements feel more cohesive and… dare I say it… realistic?

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